Friday, August 14, 2015

Friday Q & A -- family economy

Thank you for all the great healthy snack ideas yesterday!  Totally inspired to go forward with so many of them.

I thought this question was particularly appropriate time-wise since many of us are probably setting up systems and jobs as the new school year approaches (or has already approached).

First of all, I love your blog and refer to it often for advice or just a good uplifting motivation in this journey of motherhood.  

Anyway, I think highly of your family and all the wonderful children that your parents have raised.  We are trying to revamp our family economy system right now and I have heard so many conflicting things about paying for responsibilities around the house.  I can see both sides, I want my kids to learn to manage money and have some motivation to get the work done but I can also see how kids need to be willing to help around the house because they live here and it is part of being a part of a family.  How do you distinguish between the two?

I have also thought about having my kids apply for jobs around the house just as they would in the work field but I am not sure if that will just steer too far away from helping because you are part of a family.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

This is a question we totally struggled over forever.  It's so important for kids to feel part of the family by doing the things they are expected to do.  Everyone needs to pull their own weight when you are a family.  We just DO that in life, we all help family life, future roommates, jobs, etc., and we wanted our kids to know that things like making your bed are not things people get paid for. So when our kids were young we taught them to do those things as part of the daily routine, no money attached. 

BUT as they got older we struggled to figure out a way to help our kids learn to earn and manage and save money.  We want them to always be in a habit of paying tithing to our church and saving and investing.  We also wanted them to be aware of how much things cost by contributing to their own clothing. They were too young to get jobs, but we wanted to train them early.  

So after trying for years to re-invent the wheel that my parents started (for the very reason you brought up: I didn't want to pay kids for day-to-day responsibilities), and failing with every thing we tried, we decided to try it out.  We pulled out the big old family bank I inherited from my Dad and got to work.

And you know what?  It has worked for us really well (much more about our family economy system over here:  After quite a bit of deliberation we realized that although we are attaching money to the big picture, that doesn't mean that our kids are going to go off to college and think they don't have to do anything.  Rather they will have learned that it makes a difference when everyone pitches in to help out.  And they will have learned how to clean, how to work...and how to spend and save money....I HOPE!!  

But that is not to say that our system will work for everyone.  Every family will come up with different answers from their experiences and expectations unique and genius to them.  Just because this works for us doesn't mean something else won't work better for someone else.  Over the years I'm sure we will tweak it or re-work it.  But it's what works for us right now so well so I figured I'd share.

It's so tricky as parents because we want so much to glean from any advice and examples we see around us, but in the end, after all our research and experimentation, we just have to do what we personally feel works best for our own families.  You and your husband are the experts for your own family.  You know what motivates your kids.  You know what worked and didn't work in the families you grew up in.  I'm sure you will figure out a wonderful family economy system that will work wonders for your family because you are striving to be deliberate about it.

I love that.

And I LOVE the idea to have them "apply" for jobs.  Hmmmmm...I'll have to think about that one!

Good luck!


  1. We have taken the system Shawni uses and tweaked it for our own family. our kids over eight (and they are younger than 12 right now) mark jobs off on paper charts (a house help chore, piano practice, exercise, babysitting, etc). They get .25 cents per task and can get extra by doing extra chores etc. we keep track of money in a notebook. They pay for 50% of all their clothes and shoes (which I love because they are much more careful with their stuff and mindful). But our kids also are expected to pitch in at times just because they are part of the family and we work together (for example, after dinner to clean the kitchen, we rotate assignments, cleaning their rooms, and other times when we ask, like we will set a timer for 10 min and everyone pitches in to put stuff away and clean up, etc). This system works for us, but it's true that every family is different and you have to keep tweaking things depending on your children and their ages.

  2. We have a slightly different approach (with hopefully the same or similar outcome)! Our boys have "family jobs" as well as their personal responsiblities like cleaning their room and doing their homework. We then give them a certain amount for their pocket money each fortnight where half goes in the bank (a real bank account) and half they get to keep and spend. This amount is a based on their age so will grow as they do, but is not directly linked to the jobs and responsibilities they have. As they grow (all boys are 9 and under) they will have the opportunity to earn extra pocket money for larger jobs around the home and outdoor jobs washing the car or mowing the lawn.
    I would love to hear more about what financial responsiblities you give them and at what age? (eg. paying for their own clothing etc). That's something I haven't thought too much about yet but with time flying the way it is I will have to consider it soon!

  3. We tweaked it a bit for our family too. We all help out around the house because we are part of a family. But if they do their jobs before they leave for school (or before 10 am in the summer) then they get paid to do the chore. They have charts printed that they bring to us to get signed off after they have done the chore. (Kinda like clocking in on a time clock) This way, they have a way to earn money, and I don't have to look at a sink full of dishes all day while they are at school.


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