Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Teaching Your Kids Life's Not A Free Ride

My daughter Amy was talking to one of our three-year-old grandsons about doing some easy jobs for his age to earn part of the money he needed to get a bike he liked. However he responded, "But I'm not a grown up. I'm just a kid. How about you earn it and I just ride it?"

Sounds like a lot of older kids these days. "Mom and dad, you pay for it and I'll just enjoy it."  That's said or at least expected about many things kids have these days from cell phones to video games to clothes and much more. Now of course, we parents are to provide for our children and we can't expect them to earn or even save huge amounts of money for everyday expenses.

But we're missing golden opportunities to teach our children about the value of both hard work and saving up for something if we don't give them a chance to actually try those things. Is it any wonder that so many adults, young and old, are burdened with huge amounts of debt? Many, at least, were never taught that things in life don't just show up and that we're not simply entitled to things because someone else, including the government, will pay for it.

I heard of some parents once who took a week's paycheck and got it in one dollar bills.  They placed it in piles on the kitchen table dividing it up into the parts it would take for that week's expenses or budget. Their kids got an eyeful when they realized that there wasn't this huge pile of money that could just be spent on them!

It's that kind of illustration and giving our kids a chance to earn some of their own way that teach them vital lessons about life and money in general.

And if they don't have any actual financial earning power outside the home, let them earn something within the home like our daughter is doing. Of course, you have to be reasonable. You can't expect a three-year-old to be washing the car. We limited our three-year-olds to just doing all the laundry. OK, I'm kidding, but there are things they can do. Keep a chart so they can see how they're doing.  The chart may have to be different depending upon their age so that they can really tell if they're making progress.

Sometimes you can go halfway with them as they get older. "I'll pay the second half of that game once you earn enough for the first half."  That can be great motivation if the goal is realistic. If they get an allowance teach them to save a portion, give a portion to God and to put aside another part for something special.  If they're old enough it becomes a very practical lesson about fractions, too.

So, if you haven't started your kids on learning what it's like to be in the workplace this week would be a good time to begin. Remember, your kids are going to be the parents someday in a home. It would be nice if we helped them out with the finances now.

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.


  1. That is very wise. Thanks for reminder, Gary! Need to resume that with our oldest taking out the trash))