This past year in school, Little Miss learned about commerce. She became particularly interested in marketplaces and started making all sorts of crap to sell.
She tried to sell us, her customer base, scraps of paper and weird little creatures made out of foam paper called sushi monsters (love the name by the way, hated having them all over my house). Then she priced all the stuff in our house and tried to sell it back to us. Even the dog was for sale.
This particular dog is always trying to find a new home anyway, so why not get a little money for it.
Little Miss threw a few free items in there (mostly Mr. TJL’s action figures). They belonged to us anyway, so we gladly took these off her hands.
Partly because I am a terrible mother and partly because I don’t carry cash, I did not buy her worthless crap (I certainly didn’t buy that dog back!).
Instead, I decided that since she wanted to make some money, she should offer a service. I used the opportunity to set up a bi-monthly allowance in exchange for actual chores.
Here was the deal.
She would receive her age in dollars every two weeks. She could spend 50% of the allowance and put the other half in the Bank of Mom (an envelope I keep in the kitchen). Once she accumulates enough cash in the Bank of Mom, we will invest the money and add to it once a month in a real account.
Every year on her birthday, she will receive a raise. The chores will adapt with her competence, just like a real job.
Skeptic note: I know, only sycophant, brown-nosers get promotions and raises, but that is a lesson she will have to learn later. For now, I am perpetuating the myth that hard work reaps rewards.
To receive her earnings she must:
- Wash the dishes at least 3 nights a week
- Help with the weekly laundry
- Help clean the bathrooms
Since she is still in training, we have to help her with her chores. This is no big deal since we are doing these chores regularly anyway, but now we have to slow down and include her in the task. It is a great way to learn basic life skills.
A tale of warning and intrigue
Speaking of basic life skills, let me tell you a story.
Several years ago, a young engineer in his mid-twenties revealed to me that he did not know how to do laundry. Instead of washing his clothes, he would buy new clothes when the other clothes got dirty. He had hundreds of pairs of jeans, it was ridiculous! I offered teach him how to do laundry, that is was so easy! He declined because his future wife from an arranged marriage situation would be arriving in a few months and she could start cleaning all his dirty clothes.
Honestly, I had no idea how to respond and assumed it was a cultural thing so I butted out. But seriously, a grown-ass man who cannot manage to learn a few essential life skills is not my idea of a good life-long help-mate.
He drowned in a swimming pool a year later, leaving behind a widow. I guess he couldn’t be bothered to learn to swim either.
I don’t want Little Miss to drown in a pool, so she takes swim lessons. But more than anything, I don’t want her to become a helpless adult. She should learn how to do the basics to manage a household and live a sanitary and frugal life. I do not want her to feel she has to out-source every facet of her home life because we didn’t take the time to teach these skills.
The fact that she is starting the habit of saving half of her income is an added benefit. I have noticed that she mentally budgets when making a purchase and carefully weighs whether she wants to blow all of her spending money, or keep a little for something she might want later. It might not stick, but it is a good start.