What Are the Rates at the Bank of Mom and Dad?
Lord knows, you can’t pick your parents. Fortunately, my husband and I were both very lucky, and we both have excellent parents. They taught us so much directly, and they also taught us so much by example.
When I was growing up, I remember so well my parents’ financial discipline. They never used credit cards. If they didn’t have the money for something, they simply didn’t buy it. They worked hard, and they saved up. To teach my sister and me about money, we got an allowance early on, we were encouraged to save money, and we were supported in getting jobs at early ages. My husband’s parents had a different approach: He didn’t get an allowance, but they paid him for doing extra jobs around the house.
Now that Tyler and Austin are six and four, my husband and I do a bit of each. Each week, our boys can earn an allowance. If they haven’t broken too many house rules that week, they earn $1. Each time they do something extra good, without being asked, such as if they pick up something someone dropped on the floor or do a kindness for each other, they earn a “bonus point.” For each five bonus points they earn in a week, they earn another $1.
Tyler and Austin also can pick up extra “jobs” around the house to earn a dollar, such as folding socks, running the little vacuum cleaner, and helping to empty the dishwasher. It’s true the “jobs” are mainly about trying hard and keeping me company, but they enjoy doing them to earn extra money.
Tyler and Austin are pretty much always saving up for something, such as a new Star Wars figure or toy. Generally, they save up for it, and then they buy it. Otherwise, they can “put it on their wish list.” Occasionally, they see something they want and have a good reason to fear that if they don’t buy it now, it’ll be gone, such as if the store only has one left. If they don’t have the money, they can borrow from the “Bank of Mom and Dad.” We loan them the money to buy the item, and the item goes up on the fridge with a note of how much money they’ve borrowed. The key is, if they borrow from the Bank, they can’t spend any other money on anything until they’ve paid that money back!
All of this gives us tons of opportunities to practice math, “Let’s see, your Star Wars figure cost $12, and you have $10, how much more money do you need to earn?” It also is teaching them how hard you have to work, and sometimes how long you have to wait, to afford what you want. And it’s giving me lots of company folding the laundry and emptying the dishwasher.