Thursday, September 24, 2009

Why I Pay My Kids in Monopoly Money

Last week I posted on housekeeping with the kids, and mentioned that I pay my kids their "allowance" in Monopoly Money.


Glad you asked!

You see, several years ago I decided I wanted to teach my kids the importance of money. So I made up a small chore list and gave them three piggy-banks each: one for savings, spending and church.

We had agreed on a certain amount per week. I think it was three dollars, but really its unimportant, because it only lasted about a month or two.

The problem is that I never have cash. I spend 98% of our money using a debit card. Every week I had to be sure that I had the exact cash for each kid, and then I had to check the chore list all the time and be sure that they had done their jobs, and so on and so forth.

So, I never really kept up.

This summer, while playing Monopoly Jr. with my kids I had an epiphany: pay your kids using this money.

I figured it would save me the trouble of finding one dollar bills every week, and I can use it to teach the kids a little bit of the "economics" of this household, while also learning some autonomy regarding spending.

So here is how I handle it:

Each child receives $4 a week on Monday. (Yes, they get paid in advance.) At the top of the stairs I have their daily schedules and their chore charts pinned to a board.

There are also two little envelopes that I place the money in each Monday morning.

If they do their jobs to the best of their ability, and without more than one reminder a day, then they keep all their money. BUT, this gives me a lot of room to teach them both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

For instance, a certain youngest child, who shall remain nameless, had a very difficult time understanding that money (of the real kind) doesn't belong on the floor, or in a shoe, or under the bed, or...well, you get the idea. I want her to learn that money has relevance in our life, not just to have it, but to use it well. To be (financially) responsible.

So, Rule #1 was born:  if I find it anywhere else than in the envelope, its mine (even if you had it all crumbled up in the mini-van last Thursday because you thought we might buy something, and forgot to bring it back inside, but you really meant to bring it back to the envelope). Finder keepers, losers weepers.

Rule #2: If I have to remind them to do their chores more than once, they owe me a dollar.

Rule #3: They are not to loan out  their Monopoly money to the sibling. You may give the other sibling money if you feel the need to donate to a cause (and this has happened with both children), but a gift is something that must be done without strings attached; it cannot be held over as collateral when the time suits you; and must be done without the expectation that the other will reciprocate.

Rule #4: (This was new rule added a couple of weeks ago, and honestly hasn't been entirely enforced) If  I find shoes, toys, or articles of clothing laying in the middle of the kitchen... school room... hallway... den... my office... the stairs ... any place that I must pick it up and deal with it, you owe me a dollar, or more, depending on how I feel at the moment.

At the end of the month, they may choose to do several things. They may go shopping, or they may save  their money. Or, when I am out shopping and they want to buy something they can pay me back in Monopoly cash, then they may buy it. Essentially, my bank becomes their ATM.

This is a win-win situation.  I don't have to feel irritated that I am spending my cash on junk from the dollar bin, and they learn that spending "just a dollar" on items they don't really want (and break before we get home), is like throwing money away.

This also helps me because my kids are at an age when the old ways of disciplining are less valuable. I am hoping that through the lesson of Economics, learned in the safety of this home, they will learn a valuable lesson for all of lifeYou can choose your actions, or you can choose your consequences... Generally, you can't have both.

Some of you may wonder about how we teach our kids about tithing.

I hesitate to write about it, because it can be a hot topic.

This is what works for our family, and yet, we understand that our philosophy isn't the end all-be all.

Here's the deal. We believe it is very important to tithe. We also believe our children need to learn the importance of generosity; that all good things come from the Lord: and that as we are given the opportunity to do good, we should (Gal 6:10).

However, the reality is, my kids have limited resources. We want to cultivate in them the desire to give of what they have, and right now they have a lot more time than money. So they might "do good" by writing to the Compassion child we have sponsored for 10 years in the Dominican Republic. Or they might visit someone in the hospital, or bring cookies to a neighbor, or serve tea to a friend. We want them to learn that giving should always be more than a required 10%. And sometimes, it might not have a financial value.

There will be a time in their life when they have to make their own decisions about giving. We want them to learn to give in the way the Lord leads them, not in what we make them do. Much of their learning will happen as they watch their parents.

At the end of their day, they will learn generosity by watching us. If my children are greedy, the consequences of my actions will be blatant.

That, is the very round and verbose nutshell, of why I pay my children in Monopoly Money.

Do you give your kiddos an allowance? Would love to know what works for your family!


mer@lifeat7000feet said...

This was an awesome post, Kellie! I want to copy your system down to the last detail! May I?

Candace said...

Fabulous. I feel like this gets me ahead of the game. I get the feeling I'm a little more Type B than you, but it gives me great inspiration for really doing allowance well. Maybe I should start now? AG is almost five. When did you start a chore system?

Gretchen said...

Wow. Does your home school academy accept 40 year old Kellie wannabes? Because I would like to enroll. I have references. This is marvelous. I may tweak and copy or be as blatant as Mer. ;) 'Course I'd go to her academy, too, if she had one.

meh said...

That sounds like a really great plan...I NEVER have cash EVER! I need to think about if it can be incorporated in our family situation at this late date. I have a nasty feeling that if it was just J getting in on this deal, my 3 teenagers would mutiny. But they are a little beyond this now that they can have their own jobs out in the big, big world. Hmmm!

Laura said...

Great post! We do not pay our kids in money, we sorta do what you do w/o the monopoly money.

I am training my kids to be apart of our house in taking responsibility in doing the chores,I ask, but also if they see something that needs to be picked up then pick it up, or put it in the dishwasher etc. I never have cash either, so I tell them at 11 and 7 yrs old that I do my parts and you do your parts and we are all thankful for all that God gives us. So when we are out if you see something, in reason, I will buy it, just like I get to buy things. We also lead my example and I hope they learn from that too. ie. giving money at church, helping neighbors and always teaching that people come first!!

I may try this idea although I see my 7 yr old giving the money all to his big brother lol...

We do have actual savings accounts at the credit union, so we take the kids there when any checks come in the mail to put in their savings, so they get that experience as well. At birthdays and Christmas they get so many gifts and GC that the checks need to be saved, they each have saved $300, pretty good for little amounts going in. This will be used later for a larger item or books for college at age 18. They really like that.

Musings of a Housewife said...

I love this! Brilliant. :-)

Carrie B said...

When all the kids were home (younger) they received their weekly allowance by way of watching the Dad transfer it from our account into theirs. Wierd, I know but that's how the Hubby rolls. Ha
So, he would show them how their accounts were growing and if and when they "owed" us money for something he would then show them when he transfered it out.
Also while on trips he would give them spending money and tell them that for every dollar they came home with he would then match. So, in effect little things they thought they "needed" cost basically twice as much so it made them stop and think twice about spending it. Worked for two of them but #3, notsomuch. Kind of rolls like his mom and lives for the moment. Ha
If I were to start all over again, I would for sure go the monopoly money route.

mer@lifeat7000feet said...

Seriously, Kellie. I read this out loud to John. It's got the wheels in my mind turning!!!!!!!!!!

Carpool Queen said...

I give allowance (in cash) on Sunday afternoons. They all have their own wallet that they are responsible for keeping up with.

If we are out, they need to have their wallets with them to make purchases (tho' I occasionally will let them pay me back.)

I haven't tied allowance to chores, but I have tied allowance to paying back things of mine they have broken (like a new set of headphones that were intentionally/accidentally mangled) or special toys of their brothers that they broke.

We will soon start on the tithing lesson.

Tracey said...

Love this! We give our kids allowance..I finally broke down and got almost $100 in 5's and 1's and left it in a stack for 'pay day'. My kids have assigned chores for each day. If all of their chores are complete by noon on Saturday, they get the cash. If they are not complete by noon on Saturday, they finish the chores, but forfeit the money. It is teaching them time management because they are growing tired of spending Saturday morning rushing to get the work done. ;)

really.truly said...

We have not started allowance in our home yet. I love your ideas and will be "borrowing" them :) Thanks for sharing....especially the lesson of leaving money around, on the floor etc. Great ideas!

Kendra said...

What an absolutely brilliant idea! I will have to remember this system and use it one day!

Lori said...

Thanks for sharing - I love the Monopoly money idea! We're not quite to the allowance phase yet, but I can tell it's coming soon. It's great to hear about what other parents do! And I have to admit that I right-clicked on your picture to get a close look at your schedules, etc. Stalker alert! ;)

Tiffani said...

WOW! I've tried and failed numerous times w/ allowance...just don't love it so much..HOWEVER, this method is GREAT. When I get back on the bandwagon, I love all the "extras" you're teaching in awesome, girl!! I love it when you share homeschooling/parenting ideas...we need to have a big'ol brain swap, don't we?!

The Buntens said...

Oh, that is such a great idea! I am terrible at having cash to pay my kids, too! And paying them at the beginning of the week! Awesome!

adrienne said...

I love your ideas Kellie! I never have cash. And I do find the money they do have left lying around, in the dryer, in the respect for money now does not bode well for the future! I guess I'm off to Dollar Tree for monopoly money! And I will leave them home with daddy for this trip! Thank you for sharing your ideas, especially for tithing. It's only a touchy subject for those who don't want to do it!

Gretchen said...

Thank you thank you!
I think this is the perfect solution for our family.

GREAT post. Thanks for the visual and details!!

Unknown said...

This post has caused much discussion between my 2 daughters. One is in favour, the other against!

Time will tell if we decide to follow your example.

Thanks for the inspiration. Glad it works so well for you and yours!

Eatingjourney said...

I don't have children..but I will use this. Thanks.

Kristin said...

I don't really know you, I linked to your blog on another site, but I just wanted to say, we started this same system earlier at teh beginning of this school year, we didn't even make it through one month, I was nagging constantly, all day just for them to get chores done...that was the last thing I wanted to do, however, they got paid on payday, just like daddy did, after the fact. Do you think that if I gave them the money in advance, and then took it away that they would then understand the system so much more? Thanks for the post about this, I am glad to know it works- maybe my two are just too young.