I’ve tried hard over the years to teach my children the worth of hard work and the value of money.  In America, we’re a blessed people.  Granted there are millions of people who are food insecure and homeless, but for the most part, if you want a job, you have a job.  And if you have a job, you have money.  And if you have money, you have choices on what to do with it.  From a simplistic point of view, those choices are limited to saving, spending, and giving it away.

From a young age, I’ve paid my kids a commission, not an allowance.  A commission is something you earn; an allowance is something you’re given.  They earned their commission by doing chores around the house that were assigned to them.  They were taught to split their earnings into 4 envelopes: Tithe, Give, Save, and Spend.  For our family, our faith is important to us, and as such, we believe that the first part of what you earn goes to your local church.  This is called the Tithe.  The next envelope is helping others above and beyond the Tithe…their Give envelope.  It’s paying for the person’s coffee that’s in line behind you or dropping some cash in the hat of the homeless person on the street corner or giving to a non-profit that pulls at your heartstrings.  It’s putting others above self; we need more of that generosity in this world.

Then there’s Save.  It’s building that Emergency Fund and putting money aside for retirement someday (I know, they’re just kids, but it’s never too early to start saving for retirement!)  And finally, Spend.  The only rule there was you could spend your money on anything you wanted, except dumb things!  And who got to decide if it was dumb?  Well, the employer (i.e. the one handing out the Commission…Me!)

And yet, even with this process in place, which I tried to stay consistent with over the years, I can’t help but wonder how it will all turn out.  My oldest is heading to college this fall, I’ve long since stopped her commission when she got her first job at age 14.  Does she truly understand the value of money?  Or has she become desensitized of its value having grown up in a white-collar American home?  She’s gotten everything she’s ever needed, and most of what she’s wanted.  My second daughter turned 16 recently.  She has a summer job and has just recently discovered that paying for insurance (I charge her half) and filling up her gas tank takes a lot of money.  Then there’s Everett who’s only in 6th grade…aloof to the whole thing.  He’ll learn soon enough…I hope.

So how do you teach the value of hard work and money in a society filled with getting what you want when you want it?  I came across an article the other day that I think sums it up well:

“As for teaching kids the value of money, people of affluence have to manufacture scarcity. Don’t buy unlimited data plans for their phones. Force them to choose 1-2 streaming services at a time. Tell your kids “no” a lot, and make it clear that it’s not because you can’t afford it, but because you choose not to spend your money that way.

Teach them about making quality purchases and avoiding junk. Don’t buy things the first time they ask; if they’re serious about it they will nag you into submission over a period of weeks. I have no idea if this stuff will ultimately work but I think my kids are trending in the right direction.”

I love this idea of manufacturing scarcity.  If you get everything, you value nothing.

I’m not sure if the whole commission thing I’ve done for my kids over the years will ultimately work, but I tend to think they’re “trending in the right direction”.

So, what about you?  What kind of methods have you used to teach and mentor your kids on the value of hard work and money?  Parenting is hard.  Let’s help each other figure out how to best guide our kids on their path to financial stewardship!