Monday, May 12, 2014

The Entitlement Trap Book Review: Family Economy

So almost exactly ONE YEAR ago, I started writing a book review for one of my top three parenting books: The Entitlement Trap. I wrote about one of the three main family systems addressed in the book, family culture. Then I had a baby and got wrapped up in all that good stuff, but now I'm ready to post about the family system that the book is mainly focused on: family economy: how to teach your kids about earning, owning, and saving money. This is great stuff and it's helped us establish some great habits with our kids while they're young.

Here goes.
"Teaching kids how to work depends on teaching them why to work, and the best "why" is ownership!" p. 67
The idea behind this economy system in your home is that you will be taking what you're already spending on your kids and provide a way for your kids to earn that money for themselves. Then they not only learn the value of work and good habits, but they now have their own money to buy their own things.
"The basic thesis is that if kids are given a legitimate and fair way to earn money, they will develop initiative and motivation because they perceive ownership. If they have a chance to budget and buy more of their own things, they will learn discernment and discipline. If they save and invest their money, they will understand delayed gratification. And in the process, both their gratitude and their generosity will have a climate in which to grow."
Of course there are LOTS of different ways to set up a micro-economy in your home. The Power of Moms, an organization for deliberate mothers that was founded by the Eyre's oldest daughter Saren, suggests that you begin with a list of WHAT you want your kids to learn about money. Then establish a system that supports those values. The Eyre's suggest establishing your money system with your kids at the age of eight. We decided to implement a simplified version of that system for our younger kids now, so that we can establish those good habits early. Here's what we've done in the Phipps house:

 We set up a night with our girls to introduce our new family economy. I asked them to help me list all the things we have to do to keep the house in order and functioning. We made a long list with things like buying groceries, laundry, meals, dishes, bathrooms, cleaning floors, etc. We circled all of the tasks that they are in charge of, emphasizing that it was mom and dad who did the rest! On the other side of the board, I showed two fake dollar bills, one of which was cut into four pieces. Under the pieces I put four quarters (they don't quite understand money yet).
 I told them that they could earn a WHOLE DOLLAR every day during the week, if they do their jobs without complaining or needing lots of reminding. Then I showed them their chore charts, which they had already seen and helped with, so it was familiar. 

We followed the Eyre's suggestions to have four "jobs" each day. For our kids, they are as follows (pictured from bottom to top): 1. Morning Order: make your bed, get dressed, brush your teeth, put your jammies away. 2. Violin practice 3. Daily zone: We call this 5 o'clock clean up where we pick up our front room and vacuum the rug. 4. Bed time routine.
On Saturdays, all four tasks are replaced by a personal "zone," still worth $1. Hazel who was five when we started this, had bathrooms as her zone. (Isn't that an impressive toilet she drew??)

Charlotte, four, cleans the stairs for her zone.
Hazel drew the pictures for each ice cream scoop, giving her some ownership in this chore chart. As they finish a job, they add that particular scoop to the cone. Her pictures are my favorite part of the whole thing. 
There are magnets inside the felt so they stick to our door which I painted with magnetic paint. I had the whole chart made by a seller on Etsy for me. Contact me for more info if you want one!


I explained that if they earned all four scoops, they got to put a cherry on top which is worth another 25 cents. I emphasized that in order to earn their scoops, they have to do their jobs well, without whining or nagging from mom and dad.  
If your kids are old enough, you can teach them about the word initiative. (*Remember, you're not paying them to do their jobs, you're paying for them to do it willingly and well--you're "funding good habits!"--Entitlement Trap). I explained that if they whine and complain or drag their feet, they will still have to do their job, but they will not earn the ice cream scoop
I had eight scoops made for each of my two oldest daughters, so that there were more scoops they could earn for doing "extra" jobs. We labeled one of the extra scoops with a "13" and decided they could earn this scoop whenever they memorized an Article of Faith from our church.  
 You could use any tracking system that would be easy and functional for you.

As soon as they do one of the four tasks, they place that ice cream scoop on their cone. 

At the end of the day, after our bedtime routine, they come downstairs to the family bank. We had already spent a day or two working on this important part of the system, again giving the girls ownership in how it looks.

 I had a photo box that I spray painted gold and then let them decorate it to their hearts' delight.
It's simple: write your name on a slip of paper along with the number of scoops you earned that day. Mom or Dad initials it and they put it in the bank. On Saturday, PAY DAY, Dad opens the bank and makes a big deal about counting their slips.  He does the math ($.25 per scoop!) and then counts out their money in REAL DOLLARS.
 Here we are on our first pay day (my husband was laying sod, thus the Carhartts:). Our girls get so excited when they are handed those one dollar bills. That money goes straight into their piggy banks, and you can encourage them to save/spend however you feel is best. We have piggy banks that are divided into tithing, savings, and spending. We have them put 10% into tithing and save the rest until they have something special they want to spend it on. (Sometimes that something special is candy, but I let them do it for now so they can learn how it all works).

I highly recommend reading the book and choosing a system that works for you. Power of Moms has made some awesome video tutorials and worksheets for all three family systems that they sell HERE.

There it is folks. I'm kind of glad I waited to write this entry because we have been following this system for a YEAR now and I'm happy to say that it is still working. My girls don't use the scoops as much as they used to because they are old enough to remember what they did, but I still like using them as a tracking system for myself. Sometimes they go a while without turning in any scoops and then they have no money! I love being able to say to my kids when we're at the store and they want something, "You can buy anything you want--did you bring your money?"

I hope this post doesn't seem overwhelming to you. It took weeks for us to get this into place, but once we got started, it really has worked. This can be done with pencil and paper folks; it doesn't have to be fancy. And maybe, just maybe, we can all fight this wave of entitlement one kid at a time.
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  1. This sounds really cool. I'll have to remember it when my kids are a little older. :)

  2. Would you mind sharing the Etsy seller who made your ice cream scoop magnets? I recently read The Entitlement Trap and I would like to start a similar system with my almost 4 year old daughter. Thanks for sharing your ideas on your blog!