Over Christmas and New Years, our kids got to play a Nintendo Wii at the homes of family and friends, and they had been talking about how great it would be to have one. So, in the beginning on January, I promptly informed our kids that if they came up with half of the cost of a Wii, we would cover the other half. (Joanna was just as surprised as the kids.) They went right to work counting up what they had, and had over $40 (mostly money from recent birthdays and Christmas), plus a $15 gift card to Target. It was well short of the $106 they would need (they, of course, had to pay for half of the sales tax), but not a bad start. At our bank, I started a separate savings account that we called the “Wii Fund.” By early March, they had enough, and we purchased our system at Target one Sunday afternoon.
How did they earn the rest of the money? Here were their main avenues:
- Set up a lemonade stand on a surprisingly-warm February day
- Making and selling very creative Valentine’s Day cards
- A little bit of money as gifts for Valentine's Day (from grandparents)
- One tooth for the “Tooth Fairy"
In this process, we were really excited to see their character and attitudes, particularly with Hannah and Elijah. Probably the greatest part of this “project” was seeing them display honorable and Christ-like character. For example, they . . .
- Didn’t whine or bug us with questions about when they would be able to buy it.
- Worked together as a team. Not once did any of them consider any portion of money more critical than another one’s contribution. It was always our Wii Fund.
- Earned money by working (lemonade stand, homemade cards)
- Turned down additional money from grandparents. Hannah said, “My Daddy probably won’t let me take that.” Maybe that was true and maybe not, but I loved how she thought to honor me.
- Continued to tithe and save in long-term savings when they received money (versus just putting all the money towards the Wii Fund)
- Reacted with pure joy and gratitude when we took them to Target to buy it (they had no idea why we were there)
They have shown to be faithful with the little money that they have. Even with birthdays and Christmas in 2009, they expected to and had no problem with spending money out of their own piggy banks to buy gifts for others, and to give and tithe. We are now considering giving them more to be faithful with, and more responsibility (Matthew 25:21; Luke 16:10). Specifically, we’re thinking of giving them a small amount of a monthly allowance, and see if they continue to be faithful to give and save, along with having an allotment to spend. But we know if they prove unfaithful, we will remove even the little that they have.
Do you give an allowance to your children? What age were your children when they started? Are there any strings attached?