(Legal) Child Labor
Our family room couch rarely ceases to hold my electronic-yielding children. There are semi-permanent impressions of their rear ends in their favorite spots. If the wrong child lands in the wrong butt print, there is major trouble. I’m serious – like World War III kind of trouble.
I often wonder how they can hold their heads in that slumped over position for so long? To balance out my guilt of allowing them to indulge in a hobby that is sure to support any chiropractic practice in the future, my husband and I have tried a commission approach towards doing work around the house. It’s a win – win, really. They get to help out with all the work around this joint and we actually see the whites of their eyes. This is a brilliant money management idea created by Dave Ramsey (I am sure I will share more of his brilliance at some point, but do yourself a favor and google him if you don’t know his work already).
While the plan is brilliant, there is one catch: it only works if we (the parents) stick to it. Easier said than done. Why is consistency so hard?
The idea behind the approach is straightforward – there are certain expectations we have for our kids as they are a part a family who all need to pitch in- not hanging out at a bed and breakfast (think making your bed, pick up your stuff when you leave a room, etc). In our house, the theory is that Mom and Dad do a lot, but the kids are expected to also. Beyond that, there are “opportunities” for them to take on a chore that is a bit more involved and earn commission.
Obviously, there is some training involved in commission jobs. I learned that the hard way. You cannot send a 7 year old off with a broom to “sweep the deck” without giving him a few pointers about how to systematically tackle the job and achieve some measure of success in this lifetime.
I’ve got to be honest, the training part is way easier for my husband than it is for me (says the T.E.A.C.H.E.R.) simply because he is always patient enough to allow them to do the work and empowers them to do it to the quality that they are capable of. I, other the other hand, am a self-professed control freak and constantly live in a world where if I do it myself, it will get done quickly and right. Great parenting, eh?
While making your bed and putting your laundry away are an expectation, helping to sand and paint the dock at the cottage, raking the backyard, or painting over nail holes in the wall is a choice. It doesn’t stop at yard work. Scrubbing the toilet brings in some serious coin at the Loritz house. OK, in reality it pays 50 cents, but do it every day to every toilet in the house and you are on a roll!
Every other Sunday, Paul and I have a “beer and budget” meeting. The kids know this is our time to sort through our finances so they give us space. I would tell you that this time is a lot like a date for us but, who am I kidding, we are talking about money at this time = NOT romantic whatsoever. A meeting such is this is always better with beer (we have learned over the past several years).
After our budget meeting is done, it is commission pay out time! (Insert a fun “cha-ching” sound effect here). Here is how it works, the kids come to the meeting with their ledger and their three envelopes: Spend, Save and Give. You see, (I say with my proud Dave Ramsey voice) what the kids get paid for commission job is not all for them to blow at the mall or on new apps. Their income must be distributed: 45% of their commission goes to savings, 10% goes to giving and 45% is theirs to spend. At first this was really hard for the kids (and for us) but, Dave Ramsey is a genius and we listen to him because we know that in order to truly learn how to appreciate how money works in the world, we must learn that we cannot possibly just spend everything that we earn. (This is a lesson I think I am still learning).
Now, this sounds storybook perfect, right? Like I said earlier, it all depends on how well we, as adults, stick to the plan. The intention of the plan is to allow the kids to learn the value of hard work and compensation for a job well done.