We decided last year that the entire family would go on a Dave Ramsey type plan. We really want to instill good money habits in our kids early on so that they (hopefully) will never run into major financial difficulties. I mentioned last year that we're trying to instill the quality of generosity in them, too, and the Dave Ramsey plan for kids addresses that quite well.
The boys are little young for it, but at age seven, Sydney is the perfect age. She earns three dollars a week as her allowance by doing her chores. She has to make her bed every day, put her clothes away after laundry day and clean her room once a week. She also has to set the table for dinner. We like that she has to earn the money and there were a few weeks in which she didn't want to clean her room, so she didn't get her allowance.
Her three dollars are divided into three locations: the charity jar in the kitchen (where our loose change goes, too), her piggy bank for her savings and her coin purse for her spending money.
She's allowed to spend her spending money any way she chooses. This past year, she used it to buy some doll accessories, a book and a little wooden shelf with pegs that we will eventually paint so that she has somewhere to hang her many purses (yes, she is a girly girl). She still has quite a bit left from last year and is currently thinking about how she wants to spend it. We love that she doesn't just go out and spend money because she has it, but that she carefully considers her options.
At the end of the year, we let her choose how to spend the charity jar money. We gave her several options including local animal shelters, homeless shelters, the March of Dimes and Heifer International. She chose to donate it to Heifer International and specified that she be able to "buy" a share of a llama and three sets of rabbits for families in need. Of course, she thought the rabbits were going to be pets and was a little sad when we said that they would probably be used for their fur and meat, but she's at an age where she can understand where meat comes from and how important livestock can be for a poor family.
Her piggy bank savings not only included what she earned through her allowance money this year, but what she's been saving since she was very little in birthday and holiday money. Ryan took her to the bank where she opened up her very first bank account. She was a little apprehensive about handing over all of her money (quite a bit for a seven year old, I might add) to the clerk, but was happier when Ryan and I matched it. We will do this every year and we've told her that this is the money that will be used to buy her a car when she's older. With three kids, there's no way we can afford to buy them each a car, but we have no issues helping them buy cars if they've saved quite a bit of the money themselves.
We also adopted a deployed soldier this year and donated to the March of Dimes through her school's reading program (at a $1 book, she about broke us!). She's had lots of fun helping me shop for the soldier and drawing pictures for him and it's also led her to be more interested in world events. She watches the nightly news with interest and gets excited and curious when Afghanistan is mentioned (where our soldier is stationed).
This year, we're hoping to get her more involved in some local charities. Through her Girl Scout troop, she's been involved in several community volunteer events. There's a local foster care facility that is renovating a building with the aid of some churches (including ours) and we're hoping Ryan can take her on one of the workdays to help out. I'm also looking into joining the local epilepsy foundation since that is now a cause that is near and dear to our hearts and I think it would be good for her to join one of us in their annual charity walk.
Raising a generous and money-wise child is really tough! In the end, we know it will pay off when she (hopefully) turns out to be a giving and responsible adult, but it's definitely a lot of work!
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