When did you have your first job? For me, I was 15 working at a skating rink while living in Iowa with my dad. I wasn’t even driving yet, and I had my first job. I wanted to make my own money so I could buy my own things. I wanted ownership of what I had. When I started driving, I started bringing friends home from school so they didn’t have to ride the bus. I would charge $5 per week to help cover the cost of gas. At some point during my 15/16 year-old life, I even worked as a telemarketer calling people for credit card insurance. I absolutely hated that job, but it paid well, and I liked to shop.
Fast forward 25 years, my children are learning the concept of money. My daughter has her cell phone, and the deal is that if she keeps her room clean and does the chores asked of her we keep her service on. When rules are not followed, there is usually a come-to-Jesus meeting, and she’s back on track. My boys, however, are so different. They do not get an allowance; if they want money, they need to do extra chores around the house. I want them to learn what it means to be financially independent. I never realized how expensive all of my extracurricular activities cost until I had my own three children I had to start paying for. Dance class, costumes, private lessons, competition fees, soccer clothes, cleats, socks, soccer balls–I mean, the list is never ending. Sometimes I feel like I should be running a side hustle at night to keep up with all of their interests. We are at a stage with the boys where they want everything and we are having to wrangle them in. You want another pair of shoes, but the ones you have are perfectly fine, just maybe dirty? Sorry, you need to save up for that. How? You can pull weeds, clean the bathrooms, help cut the grass, or do a chore to help your mother take a break.
My boys’ recent business had me cracking up. They came home from school saying they were getting paid 25 cents a day to draw pictures that their boss would sell. After listening to what they were doing, I asked, why don’t you be your own boss and work together as partners? This way you could split the profits instead of getting such little pay for your work. Well, they liked this idea. They would draw pictures and make them color-by-number pictures. Next, they had a marketing strategy: hit the family up first. This was comical in itself, listening to them talk to the iPad so it would type up the text. They were actually negotiating at one point for a custom drawing with my sister-in-law. Needless to say, this only lasted a few days, and I don’t even think they followed through with the process, so no money was made.
Kids are always learning at every age. There is no right age to teach them about money, only a right strategy depending on their age and understanding. If we want our children to grow up and not have the “it’s owed to me” attitude, you have to hold them accountable and teach them their values. Teaching your children how to manage their money is very important not only for their future success, but it also instills discipline and prepares them for the expenses I never thought existed when I was their age.