Daughter, Mom, Wife and Friend, these are all titles that are easy to identify about me. If you were to see me at a coffee shop you could quickly recognize I am married because I have a ring, I am a mom because I have every protective cover offered to man on my iPhone and friend, daughter well those are given. What you may not know by quick glance is how passionate I am about finances, how I was raised or what I have gone through in life. With this being said, I believe it is a good idea to give space on this blog to who the I am personally and how it relates to finances.
When I think back to my childhood and my introduction to finances, I do not have a tangible memory of when I was first introduced to the topic. What I do remember is earning an allowance at a very young age. In the summer, I would wake up and before I had breakfast made for myself, I had already reviewed my chore list for the day. It would read something like, "Good morning, I am at the Shop...vacuum, dust and start cutting the grass Love, Mom. Day after day we would have chores we were responsible for written on a new piece of paper. My sister and I would negotiate who would do what. It did not matter when we did it, just as long as it was done before Mom got home. As I write this, I am missing these daily letters from my mom. Yes, they were written chores, but it was her being such an intentional mom. The chores helped her, but more importantly, they helped us. I believe my responsibility derived from these daily letters.
As of today, Spencer and I have a 7.5 year old and a 3.5 year old. Our children do not have a written chore list, yet, but we are working with them by integrating kindness and thoughtfulness into their everyday which leads to financial reward for them. We did not Google the best approach to raising our children with financial wisdom, but instead we spent time thinking about how our children respond best for their ages. We created a simple chart labeled, 'Helping Hands' that hangs on our refrigerator. How the Helping Hands Chart works is anytime Spencer, myself or a sitter witnesses the kids loving, encouraging, serving and/or honoring one another or themselves we quickly say, "That just earned you a Helping Hand!" They quickly run and grab a marker and color in a square however they want on the chart. The chart is a joint chart because we believe it is important that our kids are one another greatest supporters, we do not need competition among one another. We want them bettering themselves today (more on this another time). To encourage this mindset, we have one Helping Hands Chart. When the kids have filled in more than 1 square they are allowed to withdrawal their earnings. Each square is worth a quarter. If there are two squares and Payton wants to make a withdrawal we will physically give each one their share of the Helping Hands. It is up to them if they decide to spend their portion. If they do not, they can either keep the quarters, or give them back to withdrawal at a later time.
I believe this is our age appropriate equivalent to my childhood chores and allowance. It is a core culture in our family that our kids would have strong character. That they would see a need and be motivated to take initiative to care to the need. We want them to serve others and love themselves well. Of course they will not always be financially rewarded for these characteristics as they grow older, but our hope is the Helping Hand Chart creates the gap between good deeds and financial reward. As Payton and Elliot grow older we will likely need to adjust our approach, but for now we are seeing a lot of fruit from the Helping Hand Chart.