On The Money: A Bad Case of the Wants

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It’s come to my attention that one among us has what you might call a “bad case of the wants”.

He begged for a new backpack when school started last week.

But feeling bitter from the cash we just dropped to buy school supplies for two children, I didn’t think it was right to run back to the store and get him something he didn’t need just because he asked. The backpack he has now works just fine.

But as is typical for said child, his emotions are BIG and he is relentless. Clearly I was going to have to come up with something other than my usual speech about money management.

I could tell by the way his eyes glazed over that I’d overplayed my “we just got back from Disney” card.

We’ve resisted allowances for, like, always because it wasn’t something we felt was necessary and, on a lazy note, seemed like another thing on our already overflowing plate of things to micromanage.

But I decided to take a walk on the wild side and suggest that if he wanted to get a new backpack, he would have to earn it.

It hasn’t been all sunshine and roses. There’s definitely been some tears as he went from doing almost nothing around the house to consistently helping with chores. This morning he posted the above list on the refrigerator. He said his teacher asked him to write down all the ways he helped at home. I love his honesty in that he’s only put a sticker by the ones he did today.

In the interest of full disclosure, I walked by the much coveted backpack at Target the other day and noticed it was on sale.

There was only one left.

It now lives in my closet, safely concealed until he acquires enough George Washington’s to buy it from me.

Your turn: If you are a parent, do you pay your children for work done around the house? Allowance only? Allowance that is chore-dependent? 

Let’s Discuss.


  1. Rachel Schemm:

    We are starting to tread water in the “I want” pool as well. I have been contemplating the types of chores and how to track the completion of chores for months now (almost a year!). Earning money for chores is still a bit too much of a delayed satisfactory response for my 5 and 3 year olds, but they do like earning money. I have decided to try and put my Pinterest-inpsired ideas aside and just take the plunge on initiating a chores-for-allowance and privileges system. I have purchased 3 small pencil pouches for each of my 2 older children and will be labeling them (with my handy-dandy Silhouette Cameo and some vinyl) “SPEND”, “GIVE” and “SAVE”. This way we can hopefully help them learn the value of saving and tithing from an early age, as well as learning some responsibility around the house.


    • Heidi:

      Thanks for commenting. Yes, we’ve thought about it, talked about it, but never taken much action. If I initiated half of what I read in terms of advice and wisdom of the experts, I’d be miles ahead. But, we avoided it and now we’re trying to implement change. I agree, the spend/save/give system seems to be what works. Good for you for starting “young”, I know that will serve you well.


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