Instead of just sharing goals and products I am excited about for 2017, I thought I would also share things that really worked for me in 2016 and years past. I’m calling it the “What We Do” series. One of my goals at the beginning of last year was to finally figure out what our family’s “system” was going to be for chores and allowances and teaching our children about money. The children’s banks in today’s post have been so impactful on our family and, good news, one lucky reader is going to win a a family set!
About four years ago a friend invited me to hear the founder of a system called Faith and Finances for Kids speak at her home. She said this system had been so great for their family and so she wanted to share it with her friends. Unfortunately, I couldn’t go to the event, but I looked at the website and was definitely intrigued. The banks seemed more than I wanted to spend at the time, though, so I filed the name away in the back of my head.
Over the next several years my husband and I tried other methods of doling out allowances to our children but – and I am embarrassed to say – none of them we stuck to for more than a few weeks!
Then late last spring I came upon a Humans of New York story on Facebook about a little boy who divides his weekly allowance into parts: giving, savings, spending, and reserves. The giving section, he said, was to help people who didn’t have any reserves.
Then I remembered the banks.
They had a “reserves” section, too. (Many of the “divided” banks on the market there do not). So I went back to the Faith and Finances website and purchased three banks (one for each of my children) and one parents’ set (which you need to make the system run smoothly). The girls put the labels on their own banks and we dived into this new way of teaching of money management to our children.
After I purchased the set, the super sweet owner, Dottie Jones (who happens to live in Dallas), asked if I wanted to come to her house so she could explain them to me in person. I will not be able to do her explanation justice but here are some key points about the banks:
- It’s more than an allowance system; it’s really about teaching children how to manage an income and it’s based on Biblical principles.
- Parents choose one day a week as “pay day.” For us this is Sunday afternoon. Children are paid based on their age (it’s all spelled out in the parents’ kit). Every birthday the child gets a raise (which they love!).
- On payday, children divide their money into four parts: Giving, Savings, Allowance, and Reserves. Children are encouraged to say a specific Bible verse when putting their money into each corresponding slot. For example, the Proverb “Gather wealth little by little” is the Bible verse for savings.
- Parents buy all children’s needs (clothing, shoes, backpacks, etc.) and children use their allowance money for their wants. For example, if my seven year old wants to buy a new Beanie Boo at Learning Express, I tell her she can but has to use her own money. Parents are encouraged never to let children pay them back for purchases, but tell them they can bring their own money to buy it the next time you go to that specific store. (And usually by then they’ve forgotten about it!). Note: for my four year old who is still catching on to the system, I am obviously not as strict.
- Compared to other systems, it seems like you are “paying” your child a lot. For example, my nine year old gets $12/week (although after she puts money toward giving, savings, and reserves, the allowance portion is just $4.80/week). But the point of the program is teach children how to manage money wisely, including spending their own money for their “wants.” And they need enough money to be able to do that effectively.
- The point of the Reserves section is to teach children how to avoid debt. Part of it is used for taxes (which they pay to you twice a year – ha!). Within the Reserves section is also an “emergency fund.” In real life this would be something like needing new brakes or your water heater exploding unexpectedly (which happened to us!). For children, it would be if your son lost the backpack you just bought him or broke a neighbor’s window with a baseball.
- If you start the system at age 3, children will have more than $2,000 in the savings section by their senior year in high school. (Correction: in the original post, I had $12,000 and that was a typo but would be nice!). The program encourages parents to let children use that money for senior year expenses (which I had no idea were so many!). The goal is for them to form a habit of savings, which they need to do for retirement once they have a real job. Another goal is for eighteen-year-olds see how quickly the money they saved for 15 years can be spent!
- The cost of the banks was well worth it. It includes everything you need to make giving allowances and teaching your children about money super easy!
The system seems very detailed at first, but once you read everything in the Parent’s Kit and do it a few times, it makes total sense. If you miss a week, no big deal. (But your children will remind you!). We actually missed the whole month of December with my holiday gift guide craziness, traveling, and having my daughter in the ICU with pneumonia. So I just paid them for the entire month of December and now we are are getting back into our weekly payday routine.
So what about chores? Do we pay for chores? Well, the answer is no and yes. When my husband and I tried allowance systems that paid for chores, we failed every time. Things come up, I don’t keep track, children get sick.
This system is of the belief that children, as members of a family, should do chores to help out, not because they are getting paid. My children have daily chores (make bed, keep rooms tidy) and weekly chores (emptying trash cans, dusting, putting away clothes, etc.). I have grace with them if they are sick or it’s a crazy day. While I know there are differing opinions on this, not having allowance tied directly to chores has been good for our family. Having said that, if my girls want to earn extra money for something they want to buy or do, we will give them extra chores or big projects to earn some of that money.
After using the system for six months, I can say this has been a great thing for our family. It may not be for everyone, but I definitely thought it worth sharing on the blog.
Oh and my number one tip after using it for six months: always have enough cash on hand in the Cash Box (provided with purchase of the Parent’s Kit). It’s frustrating when you can’t do payday because you don’t have enough ones and quarters!
The owners of Faith and Finances for Kids are so kind and happy to answer any questions you have via the contact form on their website.