As Kindergarten registration begins in March (shudder), I decided to get his immunizations up to date and out of the way. Surprise, surprise, when I showed up for the appointment only to find that our former pediatrician’s office had only sent Zane’s medical records from his last visit back in January of 09. With no exhaustive immunization record on hand, they couldn’t very well administer any shots.
Unfortunately, I had already built up the trip to Castle Toys that would be occurring directly after the going under the needle.
Couldn’t back out now.
Having just taken my second class at Financial Peace University the night before, I had no intention of simply buying Zane a toy in order to appease the pain he would be feeling in his arm after receiving his shots. Instead, I had him remove money from the Spend section of his bank – a bank which has three compartments: Give, Save, and Spend. If he wanted a toy, he would have to purchase it.
I was simply serving as his means of transportation.
He walked proudly into the store with his $10 and marched directly over to the Playmobile section where a red dragon was waiting just for him. He pulled it off the shelf and handed it to me.
“This is what I want.”
It was $20.
To explain to a 5 year old that he doesn’t have enough money and that Mommy isn’t going to kick in the remaining $10 is torture. We went round and round and up and down about it, but I remained firm. He even checked out some other non-Playmobile dragons, but didn’t want any because they “didn’t move”. He knew what he wanted, and couldn’t purchase it.
To say he was disappointed is an understatement.
He was down-right pissed.
In the end, however, he chose two smaller Playmobile pirates at $3.99 each. And while he is very satisfied with these two new additions to his collection of Playmobile, he has not ceased talking about that dragon. The dragon I told him he would have to save up his own money to purchase.
Let me repeat. The dragon I told him would have to save up his own money to purchase.
I’m not buying it.
We have been hot and cold on giving our kids chores around the house, and even more cold about giving them money to do them, and yet this summer I began treating their chores as jobs. Come to work – get paid. Don’t come to work – don’t get paid. This worked. For a time. But I made some small errors in implementing the plan which contributed to this project failing.
At class Thursday night, Dave Ramsey talked about a similar system by which he used a chart to list the chores to be completed by his children daily, each worth an equal monetary value. Every day his kids would either CHOOSE to complete the chores or to ignore them. At the end of the week, the number of chores completed would be added up and his children would be paid accordingly.
This is exactly what we were doing with our kids this summer – but without the chart. No visual aid – our first error. It worked for awhile, but since they couldn’t see the list of chores, or check them off, they lost the sense of ownership, and I found myself continually having to remind them of what was expected.
Nothing like hearing Mom’s nagging voice every day.
Tonight I called a Family Budget Meeting. I explained during the meeting that Daddy and I were working at using our money well, and working towards getting out of debt. I explained that getting out of debt meant to not owe anyone any money. I then shared with them that I had cut up several credit cards because I had paid them off.
And then, I unveiled their Commission Charts.
Why Commission? Because in the real world, one doesn’t make any commission if they choose NOT to work. We are treating chores as a job. A real job. I’m a Mary Kay consultant. As a consultant I am able to receive 50% commission on every sale (barring discounts, giveaways, etc.). If I sell our full Timewise Skincare set for $90, I take $45. If I sell $300 in a week, I take $15o.
If I sell NOTHING. I get NOTHING.
In our house, both kids have the same chores – chores that I have deemed necessary for insuring that our household functions smoothly on a daily basis:
1. Placing dirty clothes in the laundry basket every morning. (I do a small load daily, so if the clothes don’t get put in the basket, they will not get washed. I don’t run around picking up after Harper and Zane. If they’re out of underwear because it’s all in a pile on the bedroom floor, it’s not my fault. Have fun going commando, kiddos!)
2. Straightening up bedrooms – and specifically, the floor. (We spent the day doing this in both Harper and Zane’s room today. The rooms look AMAZING. Harper’s especially. She loved having friends up there tonight when they came for dinner.)
3. Gathering personal belongings throughout the house and returning them to their “home”. (That means shoes, toys, coats, Transformer’s, and Playmobile pirates.)
4. Putting all folded clothes away. (I do a FULL load daily. Wash, dry, and fold. I do NOT put their clothes away. When the kids get home from school there is a nice folded stack either at their bedroom door, or, in Zane’s case, waiting for him on his bed.)
Now, Dave Ramsey could afford to give his kids $5.00 a week for chores. I. Can. Not. My kids get a whopping $.05 per chore. Or, $.20 a day. $1.40 per week. $5.60 per month. While payday is Saturday, I keep clear glass jars in the kitchen and fill the jar every day with their take so that they can actually SEE the money that will be theirs at the end of the week. The amount they receive is directly related to the chores they complete. THEY CHOOSE.
They are already in the habit of putting aside 10% for tithe, 50% for savings (they are getting passbook accounts this week), and 40% for spending. (Yes, of course I help with the calculations.)
One extra piece to insure that chores are accomplished? No screen time until chores are done. We don’t allow TV or Wii (for Harper) during the week. However, she does get time on the computer (and some TV if there’s something good to watch – we’re being soft during the Olympic Games). Zane does get some Wii and TV during the day. But neither kid gets any screen time unless chores are accomplished.
And that’s how we roll.
And really? The pressure is on me to encourage, rather than nag, about completing their jobs. Think about it. Do you feel motivated by your nagging micro-managing boss???