By: Diane Darling
An Evil Stepmother’s Guide for Teaching Your Child Personal Finance, PART 2
In Part 1 of this series, we talked about how best to guide your children in not only their own savings, but also how to be frank about your family’s financial circumstances. In the second part of the series, we will learn how to think like an Evil Stepmother to help your children learn about work and earning.
As an Evil Stepmother, I am not in the business of handing out unearned niceties – but I love rewarding a job well done. I remember my mother doing a lot for me that I now require my stepson to do for himself… laundry comes readily to mind! What this has meant for our family is that my stepson does a lot for himself and for our household, but also that he always knows exactly what to do if he wants to make extra money.
Here is my advice for thinking like an Evil Stepmother with your kids in regard to allowance, earning money, and chores:
- Families and experts alike have wildly different opinions on chores and allowances. Some believe that chores are a part of living in a household and should not be rewarded monetarily, for fear of making the children entitled. Some believe that money can incentivize doing chores well, and can lead to hardworking adults. Some believe children shouldn’t receive a set allowance at all! This is a lot to consider when simply wanting your child to have some spending money with which to learn some financial literacy skills. What is a well-meaning Evil Stepparent to do??
After lots of back and forth about the pros and cons of an allowance, we finally landed on a system that works for all three of us. My stepson is expected to do certain things around the house no matter what. He does his own laundry, he cleans the kitchen with me after dinner (my husband is the house chef!), and he cleans his room, bathroom, and the floors of the entire house on Sundays. He does these things because he is a member of the household. Not tied to his work, he receives $10 every other week. Should he like to earn more than this, he has ample ability – if he is looking to make an extra bit of income, he is entirely in charge of coming up with the chore and the starting dollar amount for us to negotiate. This encourages him to think of what needs to be done around a functioning household, and does not leave us trying to think of chores for him to do. This method also encourages him to know his worth – what will people pay for the work he can provide?
- Encourage your children to find work outside of your home – with kindness as the priority. We live in a neighborhood of mostly retirees, so we encourage our child to ask neighbors if they have any jobs they need done – knowing that he may or may not be paid. This usually ends in his favor, with our neighbors giving him far more than he would have made for the same chore at home. Occasionally, however, there will be an elderly neighbor who simply needs help, and they are aware that my stepson will help them out without an expectation of money. The New York Times also has a great article expanding on children working for neighbors without the expectation of money – or with it! This can help with your decision about whether this is a good idea for your child in your neighborhood.