Everything in life costs money – a concept many tweens do not easily grasp. The reality of everywhere that money goes can fail to reach a tween-ager’s understanding. The solution? Introduce a Mommy (or Daddy) Money Economy. A parent-run economy means finally impacting the tween world with money (fake money is suggested) –everything costs money – turning on the tv, running the xbox/playstation/wii, a computer connected to the internet, using a cell phone, lunch for school, going out…. and time is a trade off as well. Here’s an example of a Mommy Money Economy.
Money must be earned. All money. No money is given “free.”
1. One dollar is earned for basic chores and getting into bed on time. If bedtime is missed, one dollar is fined.
2. Extra money can be earned, at a rate of one dollar per chore hour. These are voluntary chores the tween can choose to spend time on, if more money is wanted, or not if they just don’t want to earn any more.
3. Some chores and some homework may be “exempt” – in other words, the tween is expected to keep his/her room clean just for the privilege of having a nice room. Assistance at meal time or clean up is an expected part of living in a household. Getting homework done is an expected part of the tween’s job.
4. Extra money can be earned for “merit” or “bonus” performance, for example, two dollars per A on a report card.
Money outflows may look like this:
1. Tween requests computer gaming time with a friend – costs one dollar per hour per person.
2. Any activity that uses electricity or causes the purchase of supplies costs money, at a rate of one dollar per hour, or matching dollars for the costs of supplies.
3. Some activities, such as reading a book next to a sunny window, riding a bicycle outdoors, may be “free” activities that do not cost, unless tween does not return home on time or neglects exempted chores, incurring a fine.
4. If the tween behaves in any manner that costs the parent time or money – for example, missing the bus due to not waking up on – time incurs fines and penalties. A parent’s time costs money, a trip in the car to school costs money.
5. Occasionally, Mommy money may be exchanged for “real” money for a treat in real life, for example, turning in three mommy money dollars for three real dollars to buy extra snacks at school.
6. Larger spending and saving goals may be set. Donating to church or charity is always inspiring, and tweens may benefit from matching funds or a parental matching percentage to encourage the example. Likewise, saving for a large purchase or special outing with friends may help with the concept of delayed gratification.
The outcome of the Mommy Money Economy is often sudden realization that – money runs outs, money must be earned, and not having any money to spend can be a bummer! As a bonus, tweens may eventually come to weigh out their options – “if I spend my money on this, I can’t spend it on that…” or, “if I spend it now, I won’t be able to spend it on something bigger later!” It is not an easy lesson to learn – that everything in life is a trade off – but the sooner tweens can start understanding, perhaps they can become better savers earlier in life. And, the best bonus might be less tween begging and more tween thinking prior to asking parents to buy anything. Happy parenting and happy parents!