One of the things we have pondered in our simple living journey as a family is the issue of pocket money. Do we give it? How much? And what for?
For us, we are on a pretty tight budget. We don’t believe money brings people much joy, and our desire is to raise kids who are content with what they have. To find happiness comes from within, rather from all the bright shiny things you can buy. It is also really important they are able to happily pull their weight around the house because it is the right thing to do – not because they are paid for it. The sheer volume of marketing that is directly geared towards children in todays modern world to make them want all kinds of junk greatly concerns us too. But like most parents, we want them to know the joy of working hard and earning their own money and the pride that comes with achieving their goals.
So, week to week we do not give pocket money. But if the boys come to us, wanting to earn money we will give them extra jobs with an agreed price and they can start and stop those as they desire.
The jobs we do not pay them for, nor negotiate on are:
- tidying their room (It’s not my crap in there.)
- putting the clothes in the wash/putting clean clothes away. (Because one day I hope they find a wonderful partner and no one likes a slob.)
- picking up after themselves (Its not my crap, and once again no one enjoys living with a complete slob.)
- helping with general indoor housework like vacuuming/dusting (unless I’m ill and Will vacuums the whole house, or if he is particualy helpful above and beyond, I might give him a few dollars as a thankyou.)
- feeding/watering the animals (They depend on us and are family members.)
- picking up after the animals (basic hygiene)
- doings dishes etc. (they are not all mine, and its not all my job,)
- watering the garden (because I’m not convinced they do it well, it usually ends in a water fight - haha!)
- setting/clearing the table (not all my mess and I’m not a maid.)
It might not seem like there is not much left they can do but I assure you there is. See we don’t pay them for these things as I don’t consider them as “extras”. I consider them as the responsibilities of the whole family to ensure we live in a clean and somewhat tidy house. That all members of the house are cared for, including the furry/feathered and scaly ones. I am not the only one who makes the mess, and by golly I am not going to be the only one who cleans it up. But these things are not usually a point of resistance. Work is not an un-plesant thing to do, infact it’s a good thing to do. So, I don’t find it hard to motivate them generally. I mean they play with the animals as they potter about, and its caring for their own stuff.
If they are not willing to tidy up their mess, then they probably do not value it enough. It might mean it is time to have a chat to see if they have out grown it and to take it away and donate it/bin it or what ever the appropriate action is. Kids love to help other kids, if there is a consistent conversation in the house about helping others, about how grateful we are for all we have, and about passing on those things we don’t need then we can empower our kids to be generous.
The TV goes off, we do our jobs as a family and then we can each go and do what interests us, after we might do something fun, or they are free to potter in their own little worlds. I don’t hassle them about doing “extra” jobs for pocket money – that is up to them to decide for themselves. I believe it is important for them to have control over their finances from a young age, so they naturally develop an understanding about earning, saving and spending as they are ready. I believe they need to be self-motivated about it. I’m not interested in nagging them, it doesn’t bother me if they are broke.
Here is an example of what it looks like for us. A few weeks ago, Angus was desperate for a Lego Ninjago book with a figure that came with it, from the school book catalogue. The problem was that he didn't have enough money for it. He was a bit upset, but we talked about it and I pointed out if he saved more he could buy himself a small box of Ninjago, which would be better value for his money. We had a look and he found the very one he wanted which was $22. So, we gave him a job of filling the wood bin. Every day he gathered wood with his little trailer and filled the wood bin by the back door, and the little box near the fire for which he earnt $1. We gave him other options of earning money as well, but this was the job he choose and was willing to do. Once or twice he got upset and went on strike, as the goal seemed so far away. $22 is a lot to earn for a little fellow! But he quickly picked up his little socks and got on with it again, after I allowed his big brother William to do the job and earn the $1 allocated to it. (He quickly learnt there is always someone else to do the job if he was not.) Every day after he had done the job well, I paid him his $1 coin. It HAD to be a $1 coin, it couldn’t be any other combination of coins to make up the money. Each night I had to go and swap out the money from his money box so I would have the right coin for him ready for the next day. I even tried to give him $2 one day, to give him a boost along, but he was adamant he had only earnt $1 for the wood. Angus is what we call very particular, and a little obsessive. 😉
Eventually he earnt his $22 and we went to the shop and he bought his box of Lego – he was SO proud of himself! He has played with it every day non-stop. Carefully making it on a tray, keeping track of all the pieces. One day he accidentally dropped his most prized Lego man and Aggie the Scottish Terror chewed its arm clean off before he realized. My goodness there were tears and my heart broke for him after all his hard work. But, William came to the rescue with a solution much faster than I could. He went and broke two of his Lego men to get a red arm and then a black hand off a favorite Star Wars man so his little brother could have his back intact, perfectly as it was. (With Angus’s obsessiveness, these things are BIG things in our house and he was genuinely shattered.)
This way of pocket money is completely dictated by the boys. It is initiated by them, it requires self-motivation, and they will achieve their goals at the pace they are willing to work. William is perhaps less focused, and driven, but he also applies himself well when he wants too.
When it comes to what they are able to buy – crappy toys that break and will simply go to land fill are a firm “no”. But this is not hard to explain, and I get very little kick up about it. They are all too aware of the disappointment that comes when they have been given something for it to only break that same day, and William is turning into a little environmental warrior! Lego, books, balls, games pieces, collecting cards, stickers tend to be the things they like. William likes to buy succulents. (which I can’t love enough, seriously how cool is that?!!)and earnt his $1. Once or twice he got upset because he seemed so far away from his goal, but after a day or so of moping (and watching his big brother doing his job and earning his $1!😂) he picked up his little socks and kept on going. Today he finally earnt his last dollar and got his Lego, he is SO proud of himself! I'm really proud of his determination and all the little lessons he learnt along the way. Every day he counted how much closer he was to his goal and kept on chipping away, even when it seemed so far away, $22 is a lot to earn for a little fellow.
I wonder how others on the simple living, consumer avoidance path tackle the same topic?
xxand earnt his $1. Once or twice he got upset because he seemed so far away from his goal, but after a day or so of moping (and watching his big brother doing his job and earning his $1!😂) he picked up his little socks and kept on going. Today he finally earnt his last dollar and got his Lego, he is SO proud of himself! I'm really proud of his determination and all the little lessons he learnt along the way. Every day he counted how much closer he was to his goal and kept on chipping away, even when it seemed so far away, $22 is a lot to earn for a little fellow.