Needless to say, we all want to shield our kids from the bad and the ugly in life. But on the other hand, we want them to also see and experience failures while they are under our care so we can act as the safety net. With that being said, the age range of my kids (8-15 years) and the experiences of my childhood (worrying about not having enough money to eat,) have prompted me to be very cautious in talking about our current debt situation. I do not want them to take on this burden, that’s my job.
With that being said, I do want them to grow up to be financial responsible adults and recognize that sacrifices must sometimes be made and that there is always a choice….so here is how my kids have become involved in our debt pay off journey.
1. If you will recall from my budget, a good portion of my monthly bills revolve around kids. Because of my desperate desire to be rid of debt, we have made some immediate changes: a) all music lessons one month early this year; b) all allowance was suspended as of this coming month; c) Busch Gardens passes were cancelled.
2. Because I cancelled allowances, I have agreed to provide paid jobs around the house, especially for the younger two. I hope in doing that I can cut down on some of my landscaping bill, but only time will tell if that pans out. But in the meantime, they will all be more motivated to work around the house in addition to “family chores” which we all do because we all enjoy living here and our home is a responsibility we all share.
3. All entertainment monies have been suspended which would typically come out of groceries and/or kids activities. This includes most eating out, definitely movies, etc. Whenever someone asks for a movie, etc, my response is “do you have the money? are you going to pay?” That quickly shuts them down.
4. Groceries – each child rotates weeks doing the grocery shopping. This has been going on for about 2 months now. They get $150 for 21 meals for a family of 5 + 1 extra 5 meals a week (the neighbor I homeschool,) so essentially 26 meals per week for $150. I did the math for you, that’s $5.55 cents to spend per meal for all of us. That is not a lot. I first wrote about one of the twin’s shopping experiences on my personal blog if you want to see my reasoning for this new method of handling our groceries.
5. As I mentioned this weekend in Doggie Dilemma, the kids will each be attending a couple of camps this summer (if you read the comments for Doggie Dilemma you can see some details on this and I will address it in a later post as well.) Because the cost of camps is covered in a variety of ways, they are each responsible for their own spending money during any travel or camps. My younger two have jars in their rooms that they are working to fill. Tonight they asked for jobs that would let them earn $100…
Even before the debt payoff became my focus, and before I lost a good portion of my income, the twins were responsible for all their own personal hygiene and clothing purchases, so that is not new to them, but it does help me out all the same. I do assist at times with gifts. In fact, for Christmas the eldest, who joined the Navy Sea Cadets said that instead of any Christmas presents, he would like all the required uniform apparel. I think he made a great choice.
The older two know that I am catching up on bills. The younger two know that we have to make good choices with our money and sometimes sacrifice things so we can do all that we want too (the Busch Garden pass cancellation was taken a little bit harder by them.)
Where we are at financially rests solely on my shoulders, I own that. I am working very hard to increase my earnings (more on that soon.) Making good financial choices is a team effort for this family now. And I can’t tell you how much being accountable and advised by you all has already increased my drive and desire to be completely and totally debt free! So thank you!