Teaching My Sons To Give…on a budget

Happy Holidays to each of you and your families.  I truly hope you have a wonderful winter season full of health and happiness.  As every child does, I LOVED getting Christmas presents when I was young.  After having a niece, a nephew, and 2 boys of my own it quickly became more fun for me to give than to receive.  Don’t get me wrong, I still like gifts but I LOVE watching the excitement of someone opening a gift they truly enjoy or appreciate.  In a world of overindulgence and instant gratification, I want to teach my sons to earn money honestly and spend it with thought and wisdom….with the occasional splurge on themselves.

Throughout the year we donate toys, clothes, etc but the holiday season is a great time to teach about giving a gift from the heart.  Each year my son’s school has a Christmas Shop of some sort where the kids can purchase gifts for friends and family.  Most years (all two of them) we have given Jacob money in his wallet to go shopping.  This year we are doing that a little differently.  He is almost 7 years old and can understand monetary exchange.  I learned to budget the really hard way – aka rack up tons of debt in college because they offered me a free t-shirt with my new exciting credit card and spend decades paying that off.  Thanks credit card companies.  That shirt is long gone and I am left with the painful reminder that I learned more in college about life than I did about any given college credit.

Rather than handing over $15-$20 for him to shop with he is actually excited about earning it.  We took a lead from Moritz Fine Designs Blog and made a money earning system.  He has one week to earn as much money as he wants to spend on gifts, above the $15 minimum we set for him.  He has made a list of who he wants to shop for and I am thinking that amount should cover it just fine since most items are $1-4 in the shop.

First cut the top 1/3 off of an old folder.  These stunning specimens are from 1993 when I was in high school.  Awesome, I know.  Next remove the flap from an envelope (these are big greeting card size) and let your kiddo decorate the front.  This is where they will stash their earnings as they go.

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The next part is my addition to the original tutorial.  I sewed a line of stitches to make a pocket for each day’s dollar.  Necessary?  Probably not.  Super cool and over-analyzed?  Naturally.

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Next print out a list of chores or the template from the above linked website and fill it in as desired.  I found the spaces to be too small for lengthy wording so we just wrote topics like “Teeth, Toys, Homework, etc” to be done.  After all items are checked off for the day, the money is moved to the outer envelope until the week is done.

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There are 6 slots on the envelope so we do chores Mon-Fri and the final slot is called “Mom’s Choice” where I can choose something I need him to do but I don’t need it done daily such as “recycling to the curb, fold laundry, etc.”

How is he going to earn $15 in one week at a $1 a day you ask?  He is also offering help to others.  Today he took out grandma’s recycling (next door).  He can help decorate her Christmas tree and bake cookies to earn extra money (grandma is fully on board with this program)….and so on.  Yes these are things that he would do without pay but THIS week he gets that extra bonus of shopping money.

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What big brother does, little brother does.  The 4 year old’s will contain coupons for fun stuff to do, stickers, treats, etc.  When shopping day comes, both boys will have spent a week caring for others, learning to earn and save money, and be well prepared to spend that money once again giving to the people they love.

Please comment and share your ideas for holiday fun, lessons, traditions with your kids.  Thanks again to Moritz Fine Designs for inspiring me to create this money-earning chart for my boys!  Visit their blog for printables and more great ideas.