Last week, I talked about a way I hoped to teach my kids stewardship. I left off by saying that I wanted to tie work with money. So, I stopped calling it “Allowance” and started calling it “Commission”. As we know, commission is what a person earns by selling something, by working. So, Keri and I (ok, mainly Keri) set out to develop a list of chores she could do to earn her commission. The chores we came up with were quite simple and age appropriate, but Eliana, like all normal kids, struggled to get them done. So, my thought was to help her understand that:
- Work = commission (money)
- Less work = less money
- No work = no money
When we reviewed her weekly chores, the first week, she did a few of them, but not all. So, I paid her $5 instead of $7. And, of course, to make it a bit more painful, the $2 shortage came out of her Spend envelope. She was not happy. I explained that in order to receive the full amount, a full week’s work was expected. The following week, she went on strike. She did no chores. Like most normal kids, she was testing me. I wasn’t going to bend. So, when it came to reviewing her work for the week, she revealed she did nothing…and she didn’t get paid. This made her mad, but she was catching on. The following week, she did them all, and I gave her full pay.
Fast forward to 2015, and Kya turned 7. Same thing, same rules. Pretty much the same story. She did chores for a while, then backed off, then refused to do any. She quickly learned the tie between work and money, and did a pretty good job of doing her chores faithfully each week.
Fast forward to 2018, and Everett turned 7. Again, same story. But something was happening to my own budget along the way…paying commission to three kids was getting expensive! By 2018, Eliana was getting $12, Kya $10 and Everett $7. I was paying $29 per week in commission! Yet, the stewardship principles they were learning were worth it IMO.
For example, after I had been paying Eliana for a few months back when she was 7, she still wasn’t quite sure what to do with her Give envelope. I tried to coach her on all the needs that others had (sometimes it’s hard for kids to understand that there are people less fortunate than them) and how she could bless them with her earned money. I mentioned paying for the car behind you in a drive thru, and around Christmas that year, we found ourselves in a McDonald’s drive thru. Her voice came from the back of the van. “Hey Dad, can I pay for the car behind us?” She caught me off guard. Tears welling up in my eyes, “Of course you can! How much do you have in your Give envelope?” “I don’t know, I think like $6.” My gut sank as I knew that wasn’t a lot of money, and that the car behind us was a van, and that it could have been a big bill. But I wanted her to have the thrill of paying for the whole bill. I prayed a quick silent prayer to God that $6 would be enough.
We arrived at the checkout window and paid for our meal. I then told the lady that my daughter would like to pay for the van behind us. “Wow, how kind!”, came the response. “Let’s see, that’ll be $5.99”. Just enough! I breathed a sigh of relief and nodded in affirmation of my daughter’s act of kindness. “Anything you want me to tell them?”, asked the drive thru attendant. I looked back to see what Eliana wanted to say. “Tell them Merry Christmas and that Jesus loves them.” I nodded, the lady acknowledged. I drove away.
There are many other stories of my children’s acts of kindness with their Give envelope. There are also many stories of the dumb things they buy with their Spend envelope. There are stories of how there’s been times when they’ve not done their chores, and I’ve chosen to show grace and pay them their full commission anyhow. There are stories of how they have given to Operation Christmas Child and how they have bought nice things for their friends at birthday parties. There are stories of times when I’ve paid a bonus when I’ve seen them go above and beyond when helping me or mom.
It’s 2020. I’m now paying a total of $35 per week to these kids (that’s $140 per month for those keeping score at home). Yet, the reward of seeing them steward their money is priceless. I’ve got 2 years until Eliana turns 16 and I’ll drop her weekly commission. And, there will be a day when Everett drops off too. The commission I’ve paid is nothing compared to the lessons taught, and hopefully learned. I know this idea isn’t for everyone, it is expensive, and I’m certainly not saying this is the best way or only way. And, needless to say, I’m certainly not pushing my views on you. But I hope you, gentle reader, have picked up a thing or two that you can implement into your family’s financial lives. Teaching stewardship is hard. But consistency and effort are key.
I don’t know what my 3 kids will do when they’re all grown up and have there own lives and families. But one thing I know for sure, they know the first 10% of what they earn goes to God (to their local church), the Tithe envelope. The next 10% goes to others in need, the Give envelope. The next 20% gets saved for future needs, the Save envelope. And the rest can be spend on whatever they want, the Spend envelope. They will know that the order matters, God first, then others, then self.
Is it perfect? No.
Am I forcing my views on others? No.
Am I being intentional in teaching stewardship to the next generation? I’m trying.
I hope you will to.
What about you? What ideas do (or did) you have when teaching your kids about money? I’m hopeful my community can share with each other as we all learn and navigate this idea of stewardship together. Feel free to reply to this email or leave a comment on Facebook. We’re in this together!
Thanks for reading!