I've been very open about not paying my children for chores, although we do use a "job board" for projects that are above and beyond the daily tasks of "clean your room" and "unload the dishwasher". When my kids need cAreash, they bid, apply, and if chosen, complete the job for a modest income.
It's working. Most recently, my son organized my entire spice rack alphabetically. He took time to remove all the contents, wipe down the area, and return the jars in a user-friendly order. Frankly, I didn't want to do it. So I pawned it out.
I've learned, however, that my children really don't understand money due to the fact that they don't have enough with which to practice responsible use:
They are not adept at handling/carrying money.
They do not know how to budget money.
They are not used to saving money.
They don’t experience the importance of tithing money.
They really don’t know how money works.
And while I realize they are not reconciling checking accounts, paying bills, or managing investments, they do need to learn that $10.00 is not something I can just give them at random because they are jonesin’ for a visit to Grandpa Joe’s.
At ages 14 and 10, my children are old enough to learn that money doesn’t (say it with me) grow on trees. I can’t stand cliches. But, it’s true, cash doesn’t just (snap) appear. They truly don’t understand this. Sounds crazy, I know. To them, cash flow is unlimited.
Gift cards don't help to teach the valuable skills of giving, saving, and spending.
They need to learn how to actually assess whether they have enough money for what they want, pay for it, get the change, and discern whether they can still purchase that latte they may want later.
This important process is not visible or tactile with merely handing over a plastic gift card.
For a child, a gift card mimics the action of paying via a credit or debit card.
And we all know what happens with those. American households hold an average of $15,000 in debt on their credit cards. Credit is so easy to use because we aren’t staring at an empty wallet telling us we can NOT purchase what we want. Nothing is stopping us from spending freely. Trust me, I know. I used to be the one with $15,000 in credit card debt. Gift cards teaching spending. I need to be teaching them how to save and give as well. (They need cash for that.)
When my kids receive cash, they have to plan how to use it.
They tithe, save, and allot money for spending. They give thought to how that money will be used best. When using their own funds, they put that second package of candy back on the shelf. They decide not to add so many gummy worms to the froyo. They give at church. They cover dinner for a basketball teammate who forgot cash on the night of an away game. When the money runs out, they see it run out. The bank is dry.
Gift cards have the potential to teach mindless spending – thus mimicking or training credit card use. Why can't we just gift them cash, so they can actually see the process of it being spent and decrease as they make purchases? If they only have gift cards, they can never learn overall money management.
What are your thoughts? Aside from whether or not one thinks gift cards make a good gift, what are the teaching implications for our children. In this electronic age, are our children properly earning how handle actual cash?
Joline Pinto Atkins, an actress who also uses the web as her world-wide stage, can also be found writing at The Cuppa Jo, and Beaver County Times online as the Health and Wellness blogger. She is wife to one (phew - that's good to know) and mother of two amazing children, aged 14 and 10, who are both named after authors. Passionate about fitness, she is an Independent Team Beachbody Coach and sweats out any daily angst by exercising at home, longs for good books, is a redeemed coffee addict, will never get enough of the Gilmore Girls, and won't share popcorn with anyone. Even her own family. Follow Joline on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest!