The value of money? That’s a lesson we could all do with learning at times I’m sure. As a child I was given weekly pocket money, which as I got older become a monthly allowance (partly because it was easier for Dad to pay me by Direct Debit once a month than remember to give me cash every week!) There were certain jobs I had to do to ‘earn’ this money – for example unloading the dishwasher daily and there were certain expectations of what I would spend my money on. Mum and Dad bought me the things I needed – school uniform, school shoes and basic clothes, I then bought the things I wanted be it toys and sweets when I was younger or perhaps make up and a new top in my teens. We absolutely were not ever allowed to borrow from Mum and Dad – if we had spent our allowance it was tough, we waited till the next month. I totally agree with the lesson Mum and Dad were trying to teach me there (though I can’t say I learnt it as well as they or I would have liked!)
So now it’s my turn to teach Ben the value of money . . . At just 4 he has a pretty good understanding of the fact that he can’t just have the things he wants all the time. I often say to him “We haven’t got money for that today” and he accepts it. He understands that money can only be spent once – if he’s had an ice cream then that’s his treat for the day and he can’t have a new toy too. I have explained to him that Daddy’s money pays the bills & buys food. Mummy’s money pays some of the bills and then is for extra things like clothes, shoes and treats – so if Mummy doesn’t work there’s no money for treats. Several times recently Ben has asked if we can go to the cinema or soft play and I’ve reminded him that Mummy doesn’t have any money till she has been to work but that I will take him soon – I am really impressed with how he understands this and much as I don’t want to spend my time telling him “I haven’t got any money” its actually a really important life lesson a) if it’s not there you can’t spend it and b) if you want money you jolly well have to go out there and earn it.
I recently wrote about encouraging Ben to save up for a toy he really wanted: Cash in your hand, dinosaur in your pocket! Since then he has started earning 10p here and there for chores, for example bring the washing downstairs and helping me to load the washing machine. These are tasks which are over and above my normal daily expectations and I do think there is a balance to strike between him thinking he only has to do jobs for payment and rewarding him for being really helpful.