Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Money, Money, Money

Generosity and compassion are virtues we have emphasized with our children. Recently, however, my children have become a bit more interested in material things. As a result, we have decided to introduce a more formal approach to money.I thought I would document it in case it gives anyone else any ideas that might work in their family.

We have a magnet chart we have used for various reward systems(including potty training) over the last two years. We have most recently transformed it into a monetary reward system that we hope to use to teach some basics of stewardship. The concept is simple: children are rewarded for extraordinary behavior with a magnet for their chart.

I use this system to emphasize different things with different children: Because R is my child who is most likely to explode in an emotional outburst and K still struggles a bit with using a whiny voice, we have a 3 magnet reward for making it through the morning with no complaining, arguing or whining. Because P is my child who most frequently requires repeated requests to stay on track, we have magnet rewards for completing elements of the standard morning routine without being asked. Additional magnets are rewarded for being completely ready for school (shoes and jackets included) before the 3 minute warning, offering to help with chores like dishes, laundry or setting the table. We also reward kindness with magnets. Ugly behavior results in the removal of magnets--and to keep everyone's motives clear, magnets MAY NOT be requested. If a child ever asks for a magnet in exchange for a behavior they automatically forfeit their ability to receive one.

As I am typing this it sounds more complicated than it is...It is actually really straightforward--and the kids understand it and are motivated by it.

Each child has 20 magnets to 'complete' their section. When they do so, they are rewarded with $3. (We decided on this amount because it made the next part of the lesson easier. We don't understand the value of coins yet.) This makes each magnet worth 15 cents.

The 3 dollar bills are given to the child and they must put the first $1 in their Give jar. The second $1 must be put in their Save jar. To help them understand 'saving' we have asked them to tell us what they are saving for and we have that on a sticky note on top of that jar. (K is saving for a new stuffed lambie, R is saving for a Spiderman toy he saw in TJMaxx and P is saving for a hula hoop.) They get to decide what to do with their third $1: Give, Save or Spend.

I know there are preprinted systems and 'banks' out there, but I just made the jars out of plain Mason jars purchased at the grocery store. I liked the idea of using clear glass so they could see their money as it accrued. Using a Sharpie in each child's special color I labelled the jars as Give (with a cross), Save (with a dollar sign) and Spend (with a question mark). Because there are nine jars, I have them on the lowest shelf of my pantry.

We are only about 10 days in and each child has been rewarded once. K is getting very close to her second 'pay out.' The jury is still out on the long term success of our little system, but so far so good.


earthchick said...

Thanks for sharing this! Our boys are getting more interested in money and how it works, so we've been talking about how we might handle it, knowing that we wanted to include giving and saving in whatever we do. I really like your explanation of how you use the magnets - I am way past the time I should've been using a chart like this already. Thanks for your good thoughts!

Erin said...

Hi. :) I have just stumbled across your site via clicking links from other blogs.
Is the envelope a Dave Ramsey thing? What a great lesson for kids! (well, and us grown-ups too)

deborah said...

We do this sort of system with our boys as well. (Dividing up their money three ways, not the magnets or charts.) I love how it works for them to seaparte and to know what their money is for. (Only I use baggies for the Spend/Give and they put their Save money in their banks.)

I love your idea to use a sticky note to label what they want to buy. My boys will change their minds like the weather...(the oldest especially) and it bugs me when they want to spend their money on "junk." Only they could probably say that about me sometimes too....

We've been doing it for over a year and it works well for us. When you start early they don't know any different!

Christi said...

It sounds like a great system; we've been looking for something along these lines, so maybe we'll give this a try!

Tee said...

Dave Ramsey uses something like this with kids. He suggests you wad up the dollar bills before you put them in to the jar, especially the savings jar, because to a four or five year old it looks like lots of money. He tells a great story in one of his lessons about going to "Toys Are Them" to buy a Barbie, but his daughter didn't have enough money saved. If you aren't familiar with him check him out at www.daveramsey.com

Danielle said...

Thank You! I love this and have been trying to figure out how to get this financial message across as well. Our boys have saved all their birthday money for the last few years and we finally took it to the big bank and opened accounts - something they still do not quite understand now that their money is out of sight. I love the magnet system and how you have implemented it. Each of my children have their own little struggles as well and this seems a good way to address all the behaviors in a more positive way. Thanks again - I am totally going to give it a try!

The Muncies said...

Found your blog from another...love the jars! I teach 6th grade and came across this -- very similar to yours.