The money game

It seems that there comes a time in every lils life when they are curious enough about money to want some of their own.  For us, this came in the last six months of our time in India. I guess that the lils had heard enough of us converting prices and exclaiming over the relative price of things, and wanted to have a little bit of pocket money of their own. I was surprised that it came this early, but saw an allowance as a good way to teach about managing money, so we agreed to start contributing.

I had put a good deal of thought into how they could earn the allowance already, and talked to Willy about paying them for special chores.  I didn’t want to be giving them money just so that they could have money, and felt that they shouldn’t be compensated for chores that were part of their regular contribution to the household (ie clearing their dishes after a meal), so we started to pay them for special chores, things that weren’t part of their regular routine.  Chores like pulling the laundry out of the washer and bringing the basket to me, or bringing me one of the endless things that I had forgotten elsewhere in the house but was too lazy to go and get myself.

For the most part, they loved it.  We were living in India, so they were paid in rupees.  The rate for a chore was in the neighbourhood of 2-5rs (or 4-10₵), which might seem really low, but actually allowed them to but tonnes of stuff. At first all they wanted to do was play with the money, which was fine until it all gravitated to Woo’s secret hiding place.  We redistributed and eventually convinced them to go shopping and see what they wanted to buy.  They knew that they could buy ANYTHING they wanted, but both wanted books. I felt bad that they were using all of their allowance on something that I would have bought them anyway, so we struck an agreement. We would subsidize the cost of anything that we would have normally bought for them, like a new book they were keen to read or art supplies, but that they had to pay the full price for toys or treats.  We were all happy.

The allowance practice has continued since we have returned to Canada, although we have converted to Canadian dollars and upped the rate a bit.  Their willingness to do chores is pretty sporadic at best, but so is my ability to remember to come up with chores for them.  They actually haven’t had a chance to spend any of their allowance since we moved home, and, given that they seemed to care more about getting a coin that was from their year of birth than they were the value of the coin, I was beginning to worry that I needed to rethink allowance as a way to educate them about managing money and it’s purchasing power.

That changed this evening when the lils were sent to tidy the play room.  It had been well played over the course of the weekend, and needed quite a bit of work.  I was curious when Woo returned to the kitchen after just a few minutes in the basement.  He was looking a little too pleased with himself, so I asked him what was up.  He replied that he had made a promise to his sister.  He convinced her that she should clean the mess in exchange for some coins from his piggy bank! I did not expect that he would be paying her to do his work at such a young age, but I was impressed that he had negotiated it with little fuss.  I wasn’t sure how to react, so I headed down to check with Goose, and make sure that she was aware of what she had agreed to.  I found her in the basement, happily tidying and singing to herself.  She recounted the same story that Woo had told me, and seemed to be happy.  When the tidying was done, Woo did pay her 51₵, an amount that pleased them both.  Maybe they are getting the hang of this money thing.

Category: life, Lils, Parenting | 1 comment

  • That’s quite fascinating.
    I now want to do some research into where bargaining/negotiating comes in as far as developmental stages.
    Thanks for giving me something interesting to contemplate.


  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>