Simple Service: Spend, Save, and GIVE Jars

Happy Labor Day, a day in which we pay tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers!  In honor of today, I wanted to write a post about a simple way we can teach our children (on an age-appropriate level) about the many who struggle to make ends meet, about the importance of how we use and manage our money, and about how we can help others if we have the means to do so.  This simple activity also teaches our children about serving our families and the value in working hard in order to support each other.  This is complicated business, I know, but the following ideas help to set the tone for these discussions with little ones.  

This is what we have established in our home.  Your strategies do not have to look exactly the same.  Do what works for your family!  

 

1.  Do Service at Home (in place of chores):

A few years ago, a post was published on our site about the difference between chores and service at home.  It stresses that doing day-to-day tasks around the house does not have to be a dreaded activity (a.k.a. "a chore") that can only be accomplished with a reward at the end of it.  It is something that can be fun and intrinsically rewarding.  It is about the happiness that comes from serving those you love most.  I encourage you to read it!  

I realize that getting our kids to do everyday tasks at home is not always easy, nor is it often fun.  That is how so many things are with little ones!  This is a judgment free zone:  there are a multitude of activities that I have to reward my kids for doing - otherwise they would just never happen!  However, I like the idea that we must encourage our kids from a young age to do tasks around the house without expecting an external reward.  This is an important life-lesson!  There are many things we have to do throughout life without being rewarded for them externally.  They just simply need to be done.  That is what service is: selfless.  And it applies at home, just as it does out in the community.  The service we do at home can be intrinsically rewarding, just as community service is!  It is all in the way we frame it.

In our house, the way we serve each other is by completing things that are necessary as a part of living at home (e.g., putting plates in the sink after dinner, making our beds, putting clean clothes in drawers and/or dirty ones in the laundry basket, picking up toys, using our handheld vacuum to clean excessive crumbs under the table, etc.).

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2.  Earn Money for the "Extras":

In our house, my children earn money for doing tasks above and beyond the day-to-day tasks.  This will look different in every household, but in ours it is usually tasks like dusting, vacuuming, helping to take out the trash or recycling, spreading mulch in the yard, etc.  Earning money for hard work teaches them that money isn't something that falls out of the sky.  It is something that requires time and effort.  Money is also not something to be taken for granted.  

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3.  Decide How the Money Will Be Used:

             (Spend, Save, and GIVE)

When we first started this system, we began by reusing old yogurt containers to create three piggy-banks.  The labels for the banks were spend, save, and give.  As my kids and I created them, we had a discussion about the significance of each.

  • Spend:  
    • We began by talking about how wonderful it is to be able to earn money to spend on things we not only want but also what we need.  We talked about how not everyone has this luxury and that the amount of money people have is not directly related to their work-ethic:
      • Some people work multiple jobs in order to just barely make ends meet (or work multiple jobs and CAN'T make ends meet).
      • People are born with different opportunities.  We talked about how my children were born to a family in which both parents have a higher-level education.  Not everyone is born with this advantage.  People are born into a variety of situations, socioeconomic conditions, social situations, etc. that color and shape their opportunities.  
      • Some people are never able to find the work or help they need in order to survive, despite their best efforts.
      • Having money to spend is not only shaped by our hard work and efforts, but also by our opportunities.
  • Save:  
    • Next, we talked about the importance of saving our money so that we always have something in reserve.  We never know when something might happen that takes away our opportunities, our ability to work, or if something might break that we need to replace or repair.  We always want to have extra money for those "just in case" times.  
  • GIVE:
    • Finally, we talked about the importance of (if you have the means and the ability) giving back to your community, your world, and to others who are struggling.  
    • The nicest thing about this piece is that each child can decide what cause he or she is passionate about.  Children can choose where they want to use their money to serve others.  If your child loves animals, maybe he or she saves money for an animal shelter.  If your child is concerned about other kids who don't have necessities like toiletries and clothing, maybe he or she gives to Bags of Love.  Each of our children has the ability to make a difference in the way they find most important, and that is powerful!

Each time my kids earn money, their earnings are divided into these three banks.  Over time, they count the money in their spend and give jars and decide how and when they will use those funds.  It gives them the opportunity to manage and have some control over their money, and that is a wonderful life skill as well.

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How do you manage allowance and chores?  

I'd love to hear other ideas on how to not only teach our children important life skills, but also how to incorporate service and kindness into them.  Let's create compassionate, socially conscious leaders in life and in business together!

 

Much love,

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