*This post was originally posted on Go Team Duncan in 2012.
How do you teach your kids about money? Ever sit down and explain how it works? Why you need it? The best ways to spend it (or not?)
For most of us, we start out trying to give them a little experience through an allowance. Allowances, however, can be complicated when you want to teach a lesson or build a sense of responsibility within your kids. You have to ask yourself questions like these:
- What do we require of them to earn it?
- How much is fair?
- Do we pay weekly or every payday?
- Do we give them a flat rate amount or earn little by little?
- Is there wiggle room? (In other words, do they lose the whole amount for one failure to do something?)
Here’s how I earned an allowance (of sorts) when I was a kid –
Coffee has been a large part of my family’s staple since I can remember. When we’d go on fishing trips, there was always a pump pot or thermos. Every morning, the pot was the first stop (or second… there’s a couple of necessary ‘pots’ to visit every morning, right?) It also ran all day—sometimes into the night.
Yes, the coffee pot was easily the workhorse of all our kitchen gadgets.
So, when the decision was made to start letting me do something to earn a little cash to play with, my parents capitalized on the coffee pot. I started earning “coffee money”. At a rate of a quarter per pot. (It doesn’t sound like much, but I’m telling you, my parents drank a LOT of coffee!)
How it works
The basic gist of coffee money is easy. All you have to do is:
- Keep a sheet of paper on the refrigerator or a cabinet door.
- Mark off daily sections, and keep a pencil handy. (We use a pencil in case the little miser “accidentally” puts too many marks.)
- Explain that when they do a certain chore or something without being asked 50 times to do it, they can add a tick mark to that day’s tally.
- Keep it running like a score card. Each tick mark is worth a quarter.
- Tally up their tick marks at the end of the week (or two weeks, depending on your budget) and that’s their allowance. (Add a little bit of math reinforcement by having them do all the figuring.)
Too easy, right? Quarters are the perfect amount to use, as they can potentially add up quickly, but they aren’t so much that it will break your bank every week. Plus, they are easy for kids to count.
For extra fun, you can “secretly” tell them to add a mark here and there for extra good behavior, our “just because”. Before long, they will be doing all kinds of things around the house on their own for extra marks. Win for you—win for them.
Have a different way of doing it? Please share! We’d love to hear how you do this with your little ones!