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Friday, June 11, 2010

i want my two dollars


li'l ~j. is now a babysitter.

She's had loads of experience here at home, and now has ventured out into the wide world of Watching Other People's Kids.

She's very good. (I'd hire her.)

Last weekend she had opportunity to watch (I can't use the word tend -- can't) a cute little boy for some hours, and she earned $30. Girlfriend b u r n s this money. She's set aside 10% for tithing, and other than's gone to chocolate and Icees at the gas station, along with an agenda to see a movie.

Just a couple of days ago she made a list and I took her with me to the market; as soon as she had gathered everything on her list she kept searching...searching...for something else on which to spend her money.

The whole time I cringed.

"You know, you've gotten what's on your list," I reminded her. "Besides, think of the other things you'll want to buy later."

"I know, Mom, I just..." she trailed off.

"...You just want to spend it?"


"Remember, it's a good feeling to walk out of the store with money still in your pocket," I said to her as I pushed the cart to the cashier.

I paid for my items and then her order began. The girl bagging li'l ~j.'s goods commented, "She's got good taste."

"It's all her -- money from babysitting," I explained.

"Woah! My mom wanted me to give her half of my babysitting money, to save it for me, but I didn't want to. NOW I WISH SHE WOULD HAVE DONE IT! I'm in college now, and I wish I had some of that money at this point in my life, when I really need it."

"Did you hear that?" I put my arm around my daughter. "She wishes her mom would have made her save her money."

"Oh. Wow," was the answer marinated in disinterest.

I've been trying to come up with a way to have this all balance out. In some ways, I don't even care. It's like, go ahead and spend it, you'll learn about paying tax and adding up your totals, and getting a tummyache (similar to the Halloween program: just eat all the stupid candy, get it out of our house, and then I won't have to hear you fighting about it).

Tonight, though, something happened that makes it all more of a pressing issue, for me anyway (when it shouldn't be - it should be my daughter's pressing issue, so I'm going to hand it right to her):

li'l ~j. came home from playing with her friends. She had, in hand, a huge frozen slushy drink from one of the local gas stations. When she came inside she told me that she and a neighbor friend had gone together to get some treats, and that the friend said, "Remember, you owe me a dollar? Can I have it now?"

My daughter, with cash in hand and while buying things in front of her friend, answered, "No...I don't have it right now."

"Well...could I get it by this Saturday?"

"Mmmm...I don't think so."

"What about next Saturday."

"No. Sorry."

So I asked my daughter, "Do you, in fact, owe her a dollar?"

"Yes," she replied, "but all I have left is my tithing money [which she hasn't yet turned in, obvs] and the money for my movie."

"If you owe her money, and you have money, you will pay her. Tomorrow you will pay her out of the money you've put aside for the movie."

"But...!" And on and on went her protests.

Then the phone rang, and it was the neighbor friend, calling to tell me the situation. I listened to her, even though I had just heard the story, and assured her that she would get her money tomorrow. li'l ~j., hearing my side of the conversation, rolled her eyes to The High Heavens which certainly doesn't help her case with me at all.

I have to say that I am impressed that our neighbor, this girl who only just finished 4th grade, had the courage - and that her mom encouraged her - to call me and let me know of the situation. It can be confusing for a mom to know when to step back and let kids fight their own battles, and when to help out; I've gone with the notion that if it were my kid and I'd want to know, that's when I step in. And this case is a perfect example of that. I'm glad to have gotten the phone call.

Part of me, based on this experience alone, wants to insist that from here on out my daughter hand over her babysitting wages to me; this same part of me knows that my insistence and force will likely breed resentment toward me on my daughter's part, and why would I do that?

Still, something needs to be done. I know there are a million methods out there - a certain percentage goes here, the rest goes there, etc., but there's got to be a way to have it work out so that my daughter sees that it's beneficial for her as well . . . maybe even one of those Magical Mommy Switcheroos where it ends up that my daughter thinks it was her own idea.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic.


lisa said...

I have no real thoughts on the subject other than the fact that you are a FABULOUS mother and that lil ~j is pretty smart and will connect te dots here just fine.

But...had to say I loved "the answer marinated in disinterest"!

La Yen said...

I can't begin to recommend The Parenting Breakthrough by Merrilee Boyack enough. You can buy it at the Des, since I know you are averse to the liberry.

My feeling on it (as someone who has payed many a price because of poor money management skillz) is that you need to force it anyway. because it is needful--just like you force handwashing and homework. She has no choice in the matter, because people pay bills and people have savings. The end. And resentment can come and fester all it wants, but when she has $1000 in savings she will get over it. She is smart enough that a huge wad of cash will get her over the resentment pretty quick.

But the book has some great ideas for incentives and getting the kids on board.

Emily said...

If I give the kids allowance, they are required to save half after tithing and can do whatever they want with their spending half. If they get other money, from jobs or birthday, they get to choose how much they want to save. It's worked pretty well.

Iann said...

When I was young, I got an allowance every Saturday for doing my weekly chores (honestly I don't remember how much). Ten percent went to tithing and HALF went to my savings and then I got to keep the rest. Every couple of weeks, my mom would go and put that savings into a bank account. By the time I graduated from high school, I had over $2000.00 in the bank. It was the best of all worlds: spiritual duties, responsible duties and a little left over to buy a big 'ol slushy drink!

Semi Granola Mom said...

Saving half, is not much, and seriously, when she is 16 and wants to go on dates or wants to save for a car and already has that nest egg from all this babysitting, she will be grateful :D


Mrs. O said...

We do the tithing first, then 50 savings/50 mad money (out of what's left). But it's their choice. We match whatever they deposit into savings and savings can only be pulled out for college, missions, or weddings.

Delayed gratification is a good thing to learn. I have a family member who still hasn't gotten this concept and she's 35 (super painful to watch and she blames her parents for not teaching her). I say much better to sort it all out when you're young.

QueenScarlett said...

I'm going to have to read that book La Yen recommended. I also think they'll be more fun lil ~j stories! ;-)

Also... that money TP just looks like it'll chaff if I use it.

Chelsea said...

We give our kids allowance according to their age once a month - so not too much. We then have them pay tithing. Then half goes into saving and the other half is spending money. We take the kids to the store every once in a while and let them go wild. It is much like the others have said.

sue-donym said...

I'm with you fellers. 10% tithe, 50/50 save-spend. But maybe out of that 50% savings you could help her decide an amount that could go towards a bigger purchase she would like in the future. Like a DS, or a pony.

kacy faulconer said...

Your neighbor called you over a dollar? Ward cruise?

~j. said...

I appreciate the feedback. My ideal is also: tithing first, then 1/2 in savings, 1/2 for whatever they want. What I'm looking for, though, is a way that I can help her see the benefit in this. Let's say she gets $20: that's $2 for tithing, $9 in savings, and $9 for her. In her mind, she's thinking, "I just got paid $20, and all I've got is $9." I will enforce the saving, etc., from now on, I'm just looking for ways I can help her not feel like this is a huge ripoff, if that's even possible.

Steph said...

With our boys we have always done 10% tithing 10% saving and the rest is to do with as you will. One kid saves all his money and the other one has it gone before the ink is dry.

I really commend you for having her pay her debt. It is a good lesson in never going into debt. If you don't have debt you can keep the money you do make.

cabesh said...

Try having her keep a record of her income and outcome. A simple notebook, set up like a checkbook register, but with and extra column for "category". So, she'd write down the date in one column, the income (source) or expenditure (place spent) in a second column, the amount in a third column (plus or minus) and the total holdings in a fourth. Does that make sense. Seeing it on paper may help her realize how much she's spending where, and how it might be worth it to her to save some.

If you think she'd be more likely to do it and she'd enjoy it more, set her up an account on your computer using Microsoft Money or Quicken. Show her how it works, set up the accounts with her, etc. She can even set savings goals in there and run reports to analyze her habits.

When I was her age I would've have felt so grown-up and done it religiously.

cabesh said...

Another thing might be to ask her what she wants to do when she grows up. Let her answer be anything--go to Harvard, teach dance, buy a car, go on a mission, travel the world... Then research her answer with her. Let's say she wants to go on a mission. Tell her how much a mission costs per month, then have her do that math for 18 months. Then figure have her figure out how much she'd have to save per year until she's 21 in order to have that amount. Then, do it again but with the assumption that she doesn't save until she's 18. Talk about how starting now will giver her more freedom when she's older. This can work with any scenario she comes up with.

Sometimes kids only realize the cost of things that they buy or do with their own money right now (candy, movies, ,etc). When my kids talk about buying something expensive I'll often say something like, "that would take 3 months of your pocket money" or "that costs as much as Daddie makes for 40 hours of work." It helps to put "adult" purchases in perspective for them.

Carina said...

I'm just here for the advice party. $2 cover? Cool.

Annette Lyon said...

I'm just thinking you're an awesome mom. And that with my girls reaching babysitting age . . . I don't even wanna think about it!

Kalli said...

I've got nothing, I wish someone would just control all my money, or lack thereof for me.

P. would kiss you one the mouth for quoting "better off dead" though, so feel better about that.

Heather of the EO said...

My boys are only 4 and 2. I am not wise on the subject. BUT, I am thinking

hmmmmmm, yes. I see your dilemma. Because you make her do this or that but you want her to see the value in it, literally. and for her to have good intentions about it. and for her to be honest with her money because her heart tells her to be...and so on. I want that for my boys too. And this is when my bff (with older children) looks me straight in the eye and tells me to stop imagining a utopia and to keep living the way I want my kids to live so that they will want to emulate it...later rather than sooner. Because we all know how long it really took US to mature (or maybe that's just me, the lone late bloomer? really? oh...)

So I guess I'm being a total downer and saying that maybe this is one of those things that you have to pray and wait on....for years, hoping that she'll grow responsible with life experience. And stuff.

The End.

LKP said...

ok phread, this is probably going to sound like broken record, cause i'm sure i wasn't the first to figure this one out. in actuality i KNOW i'm not the first one cause it's what my mom tried to do with me. the difference? i'm a stickler about it, where my mom became a bit of a pushover.
so, i have NOTHING to do with my daughter's money as far as handling is concerned. immediately 10% comes out for tithing. then the remaining 90% is divided in half. one half goes into savings, the second have my daughter can spend however she chooses (as long as the purchase is within our family's standards...ya know, like she CAN'T buy a PG13 or R-rated dvd...can't go see a movie we haven't already viewed & approved...can't buy cigarettes or scratch tickets with it...which she doesn't want to, nor could she at this point anyhow). as far as savings is concerned, i'm a stickler or driving her to the bank and she fills out the deposit slip, and she does the transaction with the teller. she even gets the lollipop at the end.
as far as that savings account is concerned, it is one my husband & i opened in our names, and then added her to. as far as withdrawing from the account, she cannot. depositing, she can.
this way it's not me dealing with the money, it's her learning how to handle the money, how to go through the process, how to use self-restraint. it's all her "idea" basically, ya know? cause she feels grown-up getting to do this herself. there could BE NO LOLLIPOP, and that alone would be enough of a reward from the experience. so that's how it works for us. only other thought is with the tithing, we have extra offering envelopes at home, so as soon as she receives money she can sit down & TRULY set the money aside....keeping it physically separate is less of a temptation to just pay it "next time."
alright, so there you have it!

p.s. we also don't do allowance btw. i know it works for many families, but for us i think it's better that my daughter recognize the work necessary to obtain means. there's no hand out at this house for merely breathing or doing what is required as a member of the family.

have a great weekend! ;)

LKP said...

once the light bulb goes on regarding the fact that the longer the amount is left, untouched, in the bank, the bigger the actual end-amount will be? yeah, once that goes on, if she's at all like my girl, you might notice a little more than 45% going into savings each time. so that helps with the "long-term" outlook/dangling carrot.

kacy faulconer said...

Except for tithing we've been letting our kids (age 12 and under) do what they want with their money. We entice them to save by matching anything they put into savings. We found that when we controlled it too strictly they lost their incentive to work (mowing lawns and babysitting). I'm all for teaching them to save and may enforce it more when my kids are in high school but it's kind of hard to say: work hard, take the initiative to find paid jobs, save half of that for something like college or a mission which is ten years away and which I also,by the way, will probably make you do whether you can pay for it or not. See? It's a lot to teach all at once. Line upon line? Start with tithing? I guess that's where we are right now.

swampbaby said...

We have the kids pay tithing, then 10% for savings, which that savings is then deposited into their personal savings account at the bank. The incentive is that any money they save in the savings account we match. The kicker is that that savings account is not free for them to access unless it is for mission funds or college funds. After that, they are welcome to whatever is left. Any other money they save or spend as they like.

swampbaby said...

PS It helped my Big J to really want to save when I told him that rich people are rich because they know how to save their money, instead of spending all their money. For some reason that clicked with him and he no longer has money burning a hole in his pocket.

Untypically Jia said...

Great life lesson. What a good Mom you are! I wish, wish, wish I had been taught more about money and self control when I was younger. I wish it had been beat into my head!

La Yen said...

Thinking about the notion that it is a bummer that she earns $20 but then only gets $8--I guess I am a bummer mom, because that is how the world is. Daddy may "earn" 100k but, really, only "gets" 70. 60 after tithing. And that is before paying for the kid to eat and sleep and breathe. That is the way the world works, and I would rather the bummer moments be at home where it is safe than when she is at college and in the grasp of creditors.

bernthis said...

I've given Phoebe a choice and so far she's put it all into savings. I hope to high holy hell she keeps this up but I would do what that other commenter said and that is half in the bank and half to the kid.

Elisa said...

I have this problem too. I don't want my daughter to feel like she has to borrow money from her friends, so I try to make money available for her to earn.

I also do the 401-MOM savings plan. Whatever she saves, I match. She turns 16 next year, which is what prompted the whole 401-Mom savings plan to begin with.

All of her friends were *given* a car when they turned 16. I refuse to do that, but I will help her save for one.

Seeing her money grow is encouraging to her, and teaches her not only about saving but investments as well.

I however DO NOT insist that she put 50% into savings. I can't even do that, for google's sake. I only put 10% of our income into savings, and so I ask that she do the same. 10% Tithing, 10% savings the rest to do with as she pleases.

If she can learn now to survive on 80% of what she makes she will be WAY ahead of the game.


Seymour Chase said...

perhaps you guys could decide together that she can do it her way for the first couple months (maybe 3 or 4 depending on how many gigs she gets) and then she has to do it your way for the next few months (incl the savings acct/bank trips and/or the computer money mananging programs) and then after the 6 months you guys sit down and compare. what does she have to show for the first three months vs the next 3? can she now get something that she really wants - something big that will last? when she gets it, would she give it up for 20 slushies? then the next lesson can be long term savings and the incentive of interest.
of course, it could backfire and she could pick the 20 slushies, but then maybe you can just enforce a 25% or 50% of every other paycheck rule because saving money is like going to school and eating veggies.

Melissa LeVesque said...

I like that last idea - it might help for her to see what she really winds up with doing it both ways. (The CPA in me would run her some examples in Excel, but I doubt she would be as enthralled as I would be. I was clearly born to be in Finance!)

I was going to suggest that you talk to her about what things she wants for "someday", as in way down the road. Does she want to go to college? That costs $x. A computer? Another $x. A car? $x more, etc. Then she could start saving for one specific thing at a time. I happen to use ING Direct for my savings accounts (and how much I LOVE LOVE LOVE them is a story for another day), and I kind of have it set up like the envelope system previous generations used: I have an account for vacation, one for home improvements, one for emergencies, etc. There is also a "piggy bank" account in there for whatever I want: feel like buying some stock? starting a new hobby? buying an ipod? Whatever, there is a little bit in there for that. It sits there untouched and grows until I want it. If she gets to pick which things she's saving for, maybe it will seem more fun, and she'll think it was her own idea.

Anonymous said...

Taking a slightly different perspective, I think of the non-payment of a loan more than just a money management issue. Your daughter might try putting herself in the other girl's shoes. What if her babysitting clients decided not to pay her (or pay her only part of her wages) just because they didn't want to? What if they said "no, we won't pay you now, or this week, or next week"? She's doing the same thing to another person. A reminder of the Golden Rule might be appropriate.

Even from a more self-serving perspective she might consider that when others need to ask her repeatedly for what she owes them, she hurts herself in addition to them. When friends are put in this awkward and unfair position, they are (understandably and justifiably) likely to distrust her in the future. How would she feel in the same situation?