Summertime is a great time to teach your kids about money because they aren’t in school and may have some extra time on their hands. So, let’s kill two birds with one stone! Cleaning the house can teach your kids about money and can help save your sanity too.
Are your kids ever messy? Or is that just ours?
At our house, we are pretty much past the mess-on-the-floor-after-lunchtime phase, but it is amazing how much stuff they can spread throughout the house, yard, and garage.
Do you ever have a hard time with your kids not picking up after themselves?
I can’t say we have the magic answer for all messes, but how happy would you be if you could teach your kids to clean up after themselves while they learn about money at the same time? Here’s how cleaning house can teach your kids about money:
Let’s start with reminding our children of the bigger reason it is important to pick up after yourself. It’s not just about not tripping over things. When your kids learn to pick up after themselves they learn far more than just how to bend over and put it away. They learn to show respect for their things and others and they even learn a lesson they can apply to their financial future.
A “house of order” leads to a “financial house of order”.
(If either one of us had any desire or skill to sew, we might just stitch that thought on a pillow.) If we can teach our children what a house of order looks and feels like, it has a direct spill over into their financial “house of order” in future years. How do we expect a child to understand how to organize their finances if they don’t first learn to help organize their home.
Knowing you’re helping them see the value of organization for your home AND their financial future almost makes the eye-rolling and feet-dragging tolerable for you. Almost.
Start by making a “house of order” list for your home. Everybody’s order for their home is different. We all have different expectations; are at different stages of life, and have differing amounts of time at home. Creating a list will help spell out for your kids what you expect when you say, “clean up and organize”.
Just the other day, I was teaching our son how to clean. I told him to take the rag, put it in the bucket, ring it out, and bring it over to me. He put the rag in the bucket, lifted it, and wrung it out with one hand. I was amazed. He didn’t know how to ring out a rag! But, to his defense, I don’t know if he’s ever noticed me doing it and I know we’ve never shown him how, so how was he to know there is a better way? If we don’t teach our kids what we expect and then they don’t know how. So it is important to make a list.
Here is an excerpt from our list…
- Everything off the floor
- Bed made
- Desk and tables neat
- Clothes in the right bins
- Lights off if you’re not there
- Closet door closed
- Curtains opened
It’s not obvious to them…until you make it obvious to them. Describing the steps clearly helps them know what to expect.
Make a sample list for your expectations for their money this summer (adjust for age):
- Work at a job where you get paid (i.e. pull weeds, babysit, fast food, lifeguard, etc.)
- Deposit your paycheck or have it deposited directly
- Set a budget for summer spending (i.e. 30% spend, 10% donate, 60% save)
- Track your savings (“The best ‘scholarship’ your kid can get is a good summer job. Start those savings now!)
- Determine a charity to share a portion of your earnings
- Discuss purchases over $40 with us
Young brains are a scramble of thoughts, emotions, learning, and … well, we’re not sure what else is going on up there, so help them organize their life by organizing their room, the house, and their money.
If we stop picking up after our kids in the house, we won’t be picking up for our kids, financially, 20 years down the road.
Taylor and Megan
The Money Couple