Step 7 – Finances part 2!
The first half of step 7 deals with finances. We have talked about the Family Bill Book as well as the the budget sheet and bill payment planner. Before we move on to paper clutter and filing, I want to quickly touch on allowance pads and the Pig.
First, keeping track of allowance. Part of being a parent (well most of being a parent – aside from feeding, clothing and keeping them safe) is to teach your children how to be a responsible member of society. One way to teach them about finances is to give them an allowance. Now, I have heard all kinds of debate on allowance. Should they get allowance for doing chores? How about for being a member of the family? Maybe they should get allowance so that they have a set amount of money and you don’t have to continue to shell out money. Whatever the reason it is probably wise to start allowance at a young age. There are several different ways you can do allowance. I’m not going to address any of those. Personally, I think that you do chores because you are member of the family and you should do your part. However, I also believe that children NEED to learn about money and how to manage their money. Not teaching your children this skill will really hurt them in the long run. Credit is still fairly easy to get and they could get into a lot of trouble quickly if they don’t understand how money works. That said, I think allowance receipts are a great way to teach your children about money. This is not anything fancy, just common sense. Don’t you just love common sense? 🙂
If you don’t believe in allowance you could also use these as a way for them track money they earn for doing odd jobs. Begin by writing down the amount of money they are starting with. Teaching children to “live within their means” will be important for their future. If they know how much money they have at any given moment, they will be more responsible in their spending. I recently had a chat with my children about this. My two oldest children were spending money like crazy! They were taking money for the school store (can I just say I am NOT a fan of school stores!), they were taking money on field trips and everywhere we were going as a family. One night I made them dump their piggy banks and count their money. They were shocked to find they had spent most of their money. I guess they thought it was somehow regenerating itself in their piggy banks! Their brother on the other hand never spends money and he had three times what they did. They have lately been much more careful with their money.
Next, Have a line for tithing or charitable donations. It is a great idea for kids to learn how important it is to be generous. Make sure they understand what this means. If it is tithing or a donation for your church teach them where that money goes and how it is spent. If you would like them to donate to a charity, sit down together and give them some choices. Let them choose one that means something to them.
Next, have a spot where they can subtract the amounts they owe. For example, my son lost his shoes last month (how in the world do you come home from a school swimming activity with no shoes????) so he had to buy himself some new shoes with his own money. This is subtracted from the total income. If you have more than one item (the same child had a difficult month last month – shoes, library books, and music lessons that he chose to skip were all deducted from his total) list them out individually so they can see how they add up. It may be no big deal if they have to pay for something small here and there but combined they can add up to a larger sum!
You should also include a line where they can put some money in savings. Whether this is a bank account or just a piggy bank is up to you (I recommend a bank that they can’t easily access!). You may even want to talk about what they are saving for. If they have something they want or a trip they want to save for, this can make a big difference in their motivation to save. You could have a few different things they are saving for (a mission, college, etc.) that you can list. You will also want to show the running total here so they can see their progress.
Finally, set some “spending” money aside. This is money they can have whenever they want it. This money is easily accessible for whatever they may want to spend it on. It’s what we call our “fun money”! This is probably going to be their favorite line! 🙂
It may sound complicated but once you get started it’s a piece of cake. Keeping track of their money now will help them learn how to be responsible in the future when it really counts. Sometimes we have to learn the hard way and that is never much fun. Hopefully if they have some background on the subject by the time they get to college, on a mission or get married they will know exactly how to budget and track their spending habits.
Here is a sample you can use or tweak if you want to: Allowance Receipt. This will you something to start with.
The last thing to discuss on finances is the PIG! This is a fun family idea to save all of your extra change. Find a fun piggy bank that cannot be opened unless you break it. Since you are already using the cash system (we discussed that in the first part of Step 7) round everything up to the nearest dollar. All of the change you get during the day is brought home and put in the family pig. The spare change can up fast. Having all of it in one place will help you save for something important like a family vacation. You can also use this as your Christmas Jar (check out our post on The Christmas Jar) if you want to donate it to someone in need. This can turn into something fun and be a great way to save money.
Finances are not always fun so we have to appreciate the fun things that come our way! 🙂