If I had to define one parenting "fail" in our household, it would have to be the lack of responsibility we impose on our children. When it comes down to it, it's just easier to do it ourselves than nag these little scoundrels to do it themselves! But, thanks to our latest read by Dave Ramsey, we realized these little scoundrels could very easily become enabled, entitled, and irresponsible big scoundrels if we didn't stop to become a lot more intentional in this area of our house. So this month, we decided to incorporate a similar envelope system with Cruz and Mila, and thanks to a couple of free customized chore charts I found on Pinterest and laminated to make them dry erase, our kids are finally pulling their weight around here. :)
We both loved that Ramsey is big on using the term "commission" with kids. He explained that the word "allowance" makes it sounds as though your children are "allowed" money, or entitled to it. Commission, on the other hand, comes from work. At the start of the month, we talked to the kids about some household tasks we wanted them to be responsible for each day. These, of course, varied due to their ages, and included simple, but important tasks that I wanted to become habits for them. Things like picking up their toys, putting their dirty clothes in the laundry room and putting their clean clothes in their drawers, clearing off the table after dinner, and putting their shoes, coats, and bags on their hooks after school. Mila received two of her own categories: not throwing a fit before leaving for school AND not throwing a fit at bedtime. Cruz threw a bit of a fit as to why we couldn't work for these tasks. :) We explained that we would be their supervisors over these tasks, but that they would take responsibility for the completion of them AND for checking them off on their chore charts. Sunday would be pay day and they would receive a small commission for every task they completed that week. For us, that's a quarter per job, $1 dollar a day, or a possible total of $7 a week.
Then, the first Saturday of the month, Beau and Cruz had their first lesson on money. For the first time in literally six years, Cruz spilled out the contents of his piggy bank and worked with Daddy to count his coins and begin to understand how it all adds up. As I saw the piggy bank and the piles of change, I began to wonder if our son is indeed a natural born saver, or if we have just spoiled him to the point where he has never felt the need to dig inside his piggy bank. His eyes lit up when Beau said he had $107.63. He felt rich!
After counting the contents of their savings, we then introduced Ramsey's envelope system with the kids. Cruz now has three envelopes in his top drawer, one labeled "GIVE," one labeled "SAVE", and one labeled "SPEND." Mila has the same labels, only we put hers on three big see-through canisters so she could see the money grow and add up. Each week, when they receive their commissions, they are instructed to put $1 in their "Give" envelope, and split the remaining contents however they might choose. We also encouraged them to identify a savings goal so they could work towards something together. They decided they would both like a trampoline for our backyard. Knowing that, we've encouraged them to opt for putting more of their commission in their "SAVE" envelopes, and talked about how neat it would be for them to earn and pay for that big purchase all on their own.
Their weekly commission comes out of our bigger envelope system where they each have a monthly amount that I manage. Each month when I head to the bank to refill our envelopes, I ask for a sum of Cruz and Mila's in quarters and dollar bills. Giving them a small piece of the plot to manage themselves is so beneficial for teaching them important lessons in spending, saving, and budgeting. I also love that the proportional giving becomes a natural response. I look forward to discovering giving opportunities with the kids, encouraging them to dig into their giving envelope and feel the joy of giving to others. I love when Dave talks about stewardship and says, If you want children who view wealth as a responsibility, not a meal ticket; if you want children who look at the future as a bright place; if you want children who function with a spirit of abundance rather than a spirit of lack, then you must teach them that they don't own money - they are simply managers, or stewards of God's money. As a family of faith, we believe that God owns everything, and we are asked to manage it for Him.
It's been a good time to start the kids' envelope system now that Christmas and birthdays are over and the kids are not wanting of anything. But I look forward to the next time we find ourselves in Target and I can have that first conversation with Cruz about his envelopes. Or the day they can proudly march to a checkout line with their savings and feel the satisfaction of paying cash for something big. We'll see how they work on commission in the months to come. I hope I can continue to increase their "sales goals" by adding a few more responsibilities to their charts. :)