Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Financial Peace, Jr. - Chores and Money!

My husband and I have been "fans" of financial teacher Dave Ramsey ever since we were dating. We've read his books (some of them numerous times), listened to his show, and implemented many of his "baby step" ideas in our own family's finances. While thankfully we have personally never had any debt to have to get out of, we do use Dave's cash-envelope budgeting system idea, we have an emergency fund in place, and we are currently in a phase of being "gazelle intense" about saving up a good down payment for a home of our own (we currently rent a small duplex unit). Never heard of Dave Ramsey and have no idea what I'm talking about? Check out his website or grab a copy of his bestseller The Total Money Makeover!

One thing that Dave Ramsey promotes is "changing your family tree" and leaving a legacy to your children. My husband and I have really felt strongly that we want to pass Biblical principles of stewardship, strong work ethic, smart budgeting, saving, and generosity on to our boys. That will require us to not only model those principles in front of them; but to actively teach them the value of working, the discipline of saving, the need for making wise spending choices, and the joy of cheerfully giving in ways they can understand now and appreciate as they grow into men.

So as we were looking for ideas for beginning to teach Big Brother how to be wise with money, we were happy to come across Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace, Jr. Kit for children ages 3-12!

Dave does not advocate giving children an "allowance" just for existing, because this teaches them to expect to get something for nothing. But he rather encourages parents to set up a system in which their children can earn "commissions" for responsibly completing certain assigned chores. Then parents work with their children to help them learn to budget the money they have earned into simple categories like Give, Save, and Spend.

We are very happy with using this program so far! Big Brother was really excited to get his own Dave Ramsey materials and to start regularly earning his own money!

The kit we ordered includes:

- Parent Guide Book
- Activity Book
- 3 zipper money pouches
- Magnetic chore chart & marker
- a download link for a book called Smart Money Smart Kids written by Dave and his daughter, Rachel

The magnetic chart hangs on our fridge, and we use it to keep track of his chores and his earnings. It also has a spot for tracking his saving and giving goals.

The Activity Book features 4 lessons for the child to complete in order to get the most out of the program. There are fun stories about a boy named Junior, Scripture verses, pictures to color, and other fun activities to make the lessons fun and helpful.

My husband and I both read through the Parent Guide before we got started, and we discussed together how this program was going to work in our family. We decided that some things like doing his schoolwork, making his bed, cleaning his room, having good behavior, taking care of his own hygeine, and helping out with something when asked were simply things that are expected of him as a member of this family. So those things do NOT earn him commissions. We felt it important to make this distinction up front so as not to constantly hear "Do I get paid for this?"

We set a weekly limit for how much commission he can earn. We decided that he would complete lessons in his Activity Book on Sunday afternoons with Daddy, I would assign and supervise his daily chores through the week, and he would be paid for his work on Fridays.

This is our first week, and so far it is going great! Big Brother completed his first lesson with Daddy on the value of working on Sunday. He liked the story and activities that went along with it! I assign chores that need to be done each morning, and Big Brother gets right to them after breakfast without a fuss.

We have set it up so that he can actually earn $8 in chore commissions per week ($1 for each year of his age), and if he responsibly completes all his chores every day he will receive a special $2 bonus as an added incentive. So basically if he works well he can get up to $10 total per week to divide among his Give, Save, and Spend money pouches. If he doesn't work, he doesn't get paid. The amount of money he receives (as well as the amount of responsibility) will go up each year on his birthday. We feel these amounts are appropriate and more than fair for him at this time.

We are using a 10-10-80 plan right now to teach him basics of budgeting. He is required to put at least 10% of his pay in his Give pouch and at least 10% in his Save pouch. The other 80% is free to be placed in his Spend pouch or, if he wishes, he may add extra into the Give or Save categories.

Through this program, Big Brother is learning that we have to work to get money and that we have to plan and save up for things we want to buy. For practice, he has chosen his first Saving goal. He is currently working toward saving up $30 to purchase a new LEGO set he has picked out. His math skills are getting a good workout as he has been planning and figuring up how long it will take him to save up $30! Eventually he may set larger saving goals as he gets older such as saving up to buy his first car.

We are also allowing him to choose where the money in his Give pouch will go. "God loves a cheerful giver" according to 2 Corinthians 9:7, so it is important that this money goes to causes that he really cares about. I was very proud when he immediately began listing out big ideas he has for this money! This week he says he plans to put his first Give money in the offering box at church. He has also mentioned giving to our local Christian radio station, making donations to Feed My Starving Children, purchasing supplies and postage for making and sending cards to sick children, and filling a shoebox of his own with gifts for Operation Christmas Child! I am excited because I know he is going to find so much joy and blessing from being able to bless others with money that he has earned on his own!

His Spend pouch is for him to...well...spend! He can bring this money with him whenever we go shopping; and if he sees some toy, book, video, candy, etc. that he wants, instead of begging us for it, he can buy it himself if he has enough spending money. No loans from us, and no taking money from Save or Give to cover impulse purchases! Hopefully this will help him build strong character and wise money habits now so that he will be better prepared for the much bigger challenges he will face in adulthood.

We have told him that as loving parents, we will provide him with things like a home, food, clothing, medical care, and school supplies (including curriculum, field trips, educational activities, etc.) as well as nice Christmas and birthday gifts. Above and beyond that, he is expected to earn his own money to spend on his other "wants!" We hope this will go a long way toward teaching him to be a more grateful, resourceful, and responsible young man.

Of course Little Brother is just 2, and for now a system like this is too far above his level of comprehension. So for now he is just learning to enjoy being helpful at home and that oh so difficult lesson that we can't get everything we want. I am sure someday he will enjoy Financial Peace, Jr. too!

How about you? How do you handle things like chores, allowances, and discussions about money with your children? Have you used Financial Peace, Jr. or some similar system? How did it go? I would love to get your input and thoughts on this topic!

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