Our kids are fast approaching the teen years and Jen and I are starting to get a lot of questions about money. Frequent questions include ‘how can I get more money?’ and ‘can we drive them to Five Below, Target or Dollar Tree?’. We have done allowance for years, but the harder task is teaching them about the value of money and responsibility.
I desire to teach my kids they can earn money by working hard, but you also must do work as a part of living in our home. Growing up I used to mow about 10 lawns per week. This allowed me to earn some cash that I wisely used to purchase late 1980’s and early 1990’s sports cards. Thankfully my dad required me to save and invest half of the money. The cards are now worthless except for a few (not rookie) Michael Jordan cards and those are worth more to me as memories than I could get on eBay. I did not, however, earn any money from mowing my own yard. It came with being part of the family. I was about 10 in the picture below helping my dad with our landscaping.
Josiah had his 10th birthday earlier this year and I figured he should start mowing the lawn. Our yard is big enough that I could justify a zero-turn mower (which would be fun), or I could hire a landscaper (who would likely try to see how fast he could get the lawn cut, which would be entertaining). I decided against both options and purchased a second lawnmower instead. Josiah starts in the back, and I start in the front. We mow until we meet in the middle. The first few times he asked if he got paid and I said he did not earn money, but he would get the satisfaction of doing a job well. The picture below shows him having a great time working hard and before he got too hot. I also explained that ice cold lemonade while looking at newly cut green grass is the best way to enjoy lemonade. After I included some cookies and his siblings did not get any such goodies, he started to believe me.
I am also learning a few things during this process. I like lines straight and want the grass looking good. 10-year-old boys don’t mow in straight lines right away. It takes time for them to learn. Patience does not come easily for me, and this is a great opportunity to grow in this area. What do I value more? A perfectly cut lawn or a young man growing in his responsibility and taking satisfaction in a job well done? I am happy to put aside my lawn preferences for his long-term benefit, but I am teaching him to mow straight.
I’m not sure what I will think in the future, but today I don’t want my 10-year-old son playing video games while someone else mows his yard. I want him to take responsibility, work hard, and contribute. This is one area where we can work together and hopefully he will learn the benefit of hard work and I will learn patience.
Kaylee seems to think that if she helps mow, she will also get some lemonade. Please don’t tell her that her mower might not be fully operational or that hugging daddy will also get her some lemonade.
What have you found helps teach kids about money and responsibility? We would love to hear your ideas.