Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Money Talk

Driving home from school the other day, I stopped to get some milk.  I meant to do it before all the kids were with me to avoid all the "can I have a...," "will you get me a candy bar and a...," etc.  

But it didn't happen, so I braved what the Berenstain Bears appropriately call the "gimmies" and headed into the convenient store with my four kids in tow.

"No one's getting anything," I informed them as we made our way through the front door.

"What if I pay for it, can I get a candy bar?," one of the older ones asked showing me a pocket full of change.

"Hmmm, I guess so," I replied.  "Where did you get the money?"

"Oh I found it in your purse," my child said with a satisfied smile.

"Um, that's not finding, that's stealing," I informed the smiling child.

My kids "find" money and fill their pockets.  They also ask to do chores.  They've even set up a store upstairs and sell old magazines and necklaces they've crocheted.  They are begging for an allowance.  
There are rules in my kids' store, know that.

As a good parent, it is my job to talk to them about money, to teach them about responsibility--they are screaming for it.  There's just one problem, and it's a big one.... I suck at money and oh yeah, consistency.  And my husband, my co-parent/co-pilot isn't much better.   Ugh.

When you know better, you do better.   Right?  I think I heard Maya Angelou say this on Intimate Portrait.  Do you remember the biography show Intimate Portrait on Lifetime?  I loved that show.

When Tim and I fell in love we fell fast.  He was still in college and I worked in nonprofit making less a year than what I now spend on groceries annually.  We financed our love with credit cards and dreams. He and I never talked about being wealthy.  I'm not wired that way.  No, we talked about living in an old farm house, making a difference in the world, having beautiful babies and staying together forever.

A couple of young late nineties idiots hippies in a way. 

Once we knew we were really going to make a life together, we tried to be more practical and smarter with our money.  When we were engaged, Tim and I signed up for a financial planning class.   But being the idiot hippies living on love that we were, we thought it would be more fun to skip the class and have dinner at Pizza Hut.  Not a great idea long term, but in our defense it was half off the all-you-can-eat salad bar night.

Over the years, we continued trying to be more practical and less impulsive, mostly failing and stressing and worrying.  

Finally, now we are feeling a little more in control, less stressing more accepting; less scraping together, more managing.  We can taste the freedom that comes with being smarter with finances.  For all of you non-idiot hippies, you've known all along that it's not about wealth, it's about security.  

We know better and we're doing better.  And we want to do anything we can so that our kids don't make the same mistakes we made. Duh, we want them to go get their own mistakes.  Sure they may move in with the wrong person and get their heart broken, get a piercing they regret, get stuck in a stupid job, but by god I hope they will have learned enough about money to have a f#&*ing savings account.***
***Tim is having a heart attack reading about what mistakes like piercings and living w/somones his kids might make.  Let's face it, I'm way more hippie than he really ever was/is.***

Allowance? Chores for allowance? How do they earn it?  What amounts are reasonable?  Ugh.
Tim giving his money talk to the kids, yeah we did a video presentation.
After a few days of research online and reaching out to a few mom mentors, here's what Tim and I came up with and presented to the kids last night:

  • Allowance will be given to everyone (excluding baby Wade) twice a month in the amount of $5 per child.
  • Twenty percent must be put into a savings piggy bank.
  • Charitable giving is encouraged and will be analyzed/discussed at the end of each month.
  • Allowance is given every two weeks no matter what.  Chores are separate and done as part of the responsibility of being part of the family (you know like a hippie commune).
  • There is potential earning power.  If the kids want to earn more money for a particular item/goal, they can negotiate extra chores/projects/jobs to earn that extra.
  • Fun piggy banks will be designed and painted. Creativity and imagination is highly encouraged (the hippie thing I just can't let go of it).

The older kids seemed interested.  The younger kids not so much. Wade was licking the couch and JT was pouting because he couldn't play on the iPad.  But they all paid attention when we mentioned they should all save up for a puppy.

So there's our plan.  I'll keep you posted on how consistent I/we can be and how it's working.  And of course I'll put up pictures of the cute painted piggy banks.

It's a start.  An intentional, thoughtful beginning to what is hopefully a life full of their own mistakes, no credit card debt and a savings account that actually has money in it.

What do you do with your family?  I'd love to hear how your family talks about money, handles allowance, etc.


  1. We do something very similar, but a little less hippie - we deduct for missed chores.

    You're a good mom (not just a funny one).

  2. I agree. You're a good mom (and a good writer).

  3. I love that you skipped the seminar for Pizza Hut :) I think it sounds like you're starting off on the right foot with them. My kids are still too little to quite get the money thing but the 5 year old does like to "find" money around the house (aka on my Tim's dresser).

    1. Yeah, the "finding" money is pretty funny and age appropriate for a 5 year old. My kids were getting waaaay too old for it. Thanks for reading. And thanks for finding humor in the Pizza Hut story and not judging! :)

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