Tough Love, Tough Learning and Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees

My child. She is the love of my life, one of 3 reasons I get up in the morning and one of my favorite people on this planet. She is also only 7 and as a 7 year old, she’s of the opinion that money must grow on trees and Mom and Dad always have extra to spare. You have kids. You know what I’m talking about.

Last night, we all ended up in a conversation where the Monkey basically informed us that since I work, I have money all of the time. Nope. Sorry kid. If wishes were dollars maybe. It all started with poser bacon. You know what I mean..turkey bacon. She had laid out a package without telling anyone and then walked away. Her theory was that since I had 1. bought it on sale and 2. used a coupon with the sale (.74 each after coupon and sale) that it wasn’t a big deal. Our issue, as parents, was that it may only be .74 but a .74 waste over time really adds up. No matter how hard we tried though we couldn’t get this very simple concept through her head. (Yes, I realize, she’s 7..but she can do simple math, it shouldn’t have been this hard).

So that lead to today.

My child, will now pay for the use of everything in my home. As soon as she walks in the door from school, she will sign a lease. Yes, an honest to God lease. That’s it up there…pretty ain’t it. On said lease is a price list of what each and every action will cost her. Breakfast, lunch and dinner? $1.00 each for the first serving, .50 each for additional servings. She needs to potty? That’s another .25 each time plus a .10 tp surcharge per day. I have to do her chores (load dishwasher, wipe counters and clean litterbox) and that’ll cost her anywhere from $1.00 to $5.00 for the labor costs…and on it goes. Wants to use the pc? .75 an hour. Rent? $10.00 a week.

She has a $50.00 budget to start with for the week. I will be handing her an envelope with “$50.00” in it. No, I’m not 100% certified so I’m not actually handing my 7 year old $50 in cash, it’s play money, but it’ll get the point across. She has an assortment of “bills” from .50 to $10.00. Once her “money” is gone? That’s it.

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She also has a credit line of $10.00 for the week. Why? Because I want her to understand what happens when you borrow and can’t pay it back. In order to pay back her credit, she will get a “job” here at home and work until her credit is paid off.

Why am I doing this? Because my normally very intelligent 7 year old doesn’t understand that in today’s world, everything costs. Even a free coupon deal costs money in time and transportation costs. By the end of this week? She will understand and hopefully this is a lesson she will never have to be taught again…and she’ll finally know that money doesn’t grow on trees.

Disclaimer: I am a mother first and foremost. No, my child will not be neglected or not taken care of because she does not have the money to pay. She will be fed, cleaned,  etc no matter if she has the play bills or not. SHE is just under the impression she will not. She needs to think that way. If she doesn’t, she won’t learn a thing.

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Stacy Barr
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Stacy Barr

Stacy Barr is the face and brain behind the frugal living and lifestyle blog Six Dollar Family. A true gypsy soul, her newest blog, Unsettled Hearts, chronicles the journey of her family to become full-time travelers. By the age of 30, Stacy had overcome an alcohol addiction, a drug addiction, divorce, survived domestic violence and had built a life for herself and her daughter after spending 10 months in a homeless shelter. Her book, also called Six Dollar Family, has sold more than 7,000 copies since its release.

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  1. Tammy Frederick-Leckbee says:

    Nice! I wish I had thought of that when my kids were younger. Maybe they would be a little more frugal at now. They are 21 and 24 and for the most part my daughter, who is the mother of 3, is kind of understanding but my 21 year old son hasn’t got a clue; and yes he lives at home. He does have a job but it is part time and he just started there so the hours are slim at best.

  2. Love it! I really wanted to do a $ system with my kids once older (similar to what you did above) and let them decide when to save and when they will be behind each month if they blow it. Problem is I have a split family and what do I do for the one who lives away from us 75% of the time? I don’t think that family would be on board with us. I can’t wait to hear more of your story here.

  3. This is awesome! I think my mom should do this with my brother (he is 20) lol. I swear he thinks that he doesnt have to pay for anything. My mom even pays for all of his buddies when they come over and eat all of her food. His money from his part time job always goes towards parties.

  4. Can I send my 16 year old to live at your house. I made her get a job but she is still asking me for money and wants me to pay her gas . It is her car you pay the gas to drive yourself back and forth to school or ride the bus it is your choice. Kids these days. I would love to know the outcome.

  5. Most of the ideas I agree with. The bathroom one I have a problem with because it might cause serious emotional damage. It could also cause physical damage. If she elects to save money by holding back on tolieting. One way around this might be to charge her utilities rather than pay per toilet usage. Otherwise I think it is a good plan.

    • She’s allowed to go to the bathroom even if she doesn’t have the money. Like I said, I’m not going to let her be neglected or harmed in any way. She’s not saving money in that way though, in fact, it’s the other way She’s down to like $15.00 plus her $10.00 credit in just 1 day.

      • Wow! Well like I said I like most of the plan. It should do a nice job of showing her the value of money.

        • That’s what I’m hoping. It’s not about the poser bacon that started it. It’s about her learning (at the least) that money isn’t always there just because Mom works.

  6. I would love to see the whole lease lol

  7. Love this. Wish I would’ve thought about it when my son was younger but he’s a teen so it’s still not too late. Great idea Mom.

  8. LOVE this idea! My 3 boys think that because I blog, I must be rich..from their mouths to God’s ear! But, sadly, that’s not how it works! I will have to steal your idea and use it especially with my 13, 12, and 6 year old!

    • That’s pretty well what she thinks too. Mom works so of course she must be rich…lol. She did very well today though. She helped with dinner which meant she didn’t have to “pay” for it, cleaned the bathroom (read=picked up her dirty clothes, her so she got a free pass on bathroom charges too and only spent $1.50 out of her “money” today for tv, snack and pc.

  9. I do something similar with my kids. They get 3 chores a day, homework, room and a chore they pick. They a quarter for each one they do without augment. They choose what they want to with there money. On school days they have to buy TV time an computer time. 25 cent for every half hour. With a limited to hour of each for the day.
    We curved misbehaving with a chore jar. ( it is filled with real chores and crazy ones. Ex. Run around house, read n write about a book. Etc.) If they need pull a chore they pay me a quarter n still have to the chore. Since this was started we have only need to use about ten times. My boys are 10 of my boys has autism. I feel this worked out so well I normal have to fight my 10 yr to do homework but now once he walks through the door he sit down to do it.

  10. I love this, so smart. I need to do this with my 10 year old. She is always wanting something or other. She sort of understands, but just too many things calling her name. It happens with us all, but I just wish she would understand all she asks.

  11. Stacy, how did you word your lease? I have a 6-year-old that I think this will work well for, but I am stuck with wording it!

    • I’m gonna do a post on it later today Lisa…you’re not the only one who has She’s doing really well with it too now. Better than I thought she would

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