We (Hubs & I) had a talk with the kid about "goals" back when she was in 5th grade. We talked about why we need goals and how we always need to be working toward something or we lose focus in life. Then we all made goal sheets to hang on the refrigerator so we could encourage each other to achieve our goals. They were dumb. They said things like, “I will walk the dog once a week.” We made a point of starting out with VERY attainable goals so as to achieve all of them and be able to praise each other often.
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Unfortunately, none of her goals at that time related to finances. She asked us for an allowance and asked us to pay her for A’s on her report card… and I scoffed. She even tried to play the “My MOM says she’ll give me $10 for every 'A'!” I laughed and said, “That’s between you and your mom, but I am never going to pay you for something I expect you to do.” Needless to say, she was bluffing.
The kid does get an allowance – she has gotten a weekly allowance ever since she moved in with us. It’s $3 per week, and it all goes directly into a savings account for her. I can hear you all grumbling about what a cruel, wicked stepmother I am... but hear me out.
My reasoning is this: I feel that since there are many adults in this country who only make twice that in an hour, and the kid’s weekly chores are to clean her room and her bathroom, sort her laundry and vacuum her area of the house (not difficult or super time consuming), I feel it would be a great disservice to her to give her $10 a week for these chores. In a couple of years, she will start working a part-time job, and probably only rake in $7 an hour or so. Where’s the motivation to take orders from a middle-aged stranger at a minimum-wage job when she can do 30 minutes of housework (while happily going deaf from her iPod) for $10?
Besides, we, as adults, have chores that no one pays us to do! Even still, some of my friends tell me that my system is mean, but I think it’s smart. When she gets that $7 an hour job at 16, I hope she will wholeheartedly believe her time and her skills are worth $7 an hour, not $30 an hour.
Just a couple months ago, for the sake of “having spending money” (a necessary evil in order for her to learn to make her own financial choices... she is about to enter high school and all), we added poop-scooping to her weekly duties (no pun intended), for which she receives $10 a week. We have three dogs. Two of them are Labs, easily 100 lbs.each. The world is their toilet.
We were getting ready to call one of those poop-scooping services and figured we’d offer the job to the kid before outsourcing it. She declined immediately, and then when she realized how much money she’d be making and that it would actually be hers to keep/spend, she quickly jumped on board! Sure, she gripes about it every week, but in the eight weeks she’s been poop-scooping, she has been to the mall twice and Target about a zillion times and maybe spent a total of $10. When it’s HER money, it doesn’t seem to burn a hole in her pocket… imagine that! She’s hoarding it all to save up for a new pair of Converse – the ones that lace up all the way up to the knee… ugh. But at least she set a financial goal, and she's stuck to her guns! Who knew? The kid can make good financial decisions - and the proof was in the poop all along!