Photo by D Sharon Pruitt

I have often walked into a library or bookstore looking for a specific book and instead encountered a book that answers a question or need that I didn’t fully realize that I had. It can’t be explained. It’s destiny. Ever since I was in art school, I loved to peruse library isles for these chance encounters and serendipitous surprises. Little that I knew, I was in for a book awakening this past weekend. I had to travel 6 hours to a place I had never been, but a book was waiting for me when I arrived.

We left to visit our relatives in northern Connecticut Friday morning. Arriving in the mid-afternoon heat to a decadently modern, double-lofted house with acreage, barns, woods and a beautiful natural stone pool. The kids headed straight to the water while I investigated the abode. The decorator had grouped books of like color throughout the house. There were a lot of books. In the “honeymoon suite” reserved for my husband and me the books were all in shades of blue. It really was a peaceful room. Though the titles were hard to distinguish within this monotone color scheme, one book found me. The book 3 Steps To A Strong Family was waiting patiently to be discovered.

The book has three parts and I will post on each. Today I am skipping to the second step—Paying Your Dues: A Family Economy

My husband and I have been trying to figure out an allowance system for years and have broached the topic a few times without coming to any conclusions. This gem of a book by Linda and Richard Eyre had some very useful ideas.

Each child is given a pegboard with four pegs. Each peg represents various tasks. Peg one combines morning routines (getting dressed, making beds, brushing hair and teeth). Peg two represents homework and musical instrument practice. Peg three represents household chores (a designated room or zone that the child is responsible for keeping tidy, keeping bedrooms neat and a chosen dinner related job such as washing dishes, setting table, sweeping the floor).  These zones or kitchen jobs are held for a few months in order to develop competency and skills. The last peg is for bedtime routines and getting to bed on time.

What is nice about the peg system is that it eliminates nagging. A parent reminding a child to make sure pegs one, two and three are taken care of before watching tv is less annoying than a parent listing all of the tasks that the child must remember to accomplish. It puts most of the responsibility onto the child.

Adding to the responsibility, the child must write his name on a piece of paper with the number of pegs he pegged at the end of the day and have a parent sign it in order to get credit for the work done. The parent keeps these records and on the designated “pay-day” tallies up the pegs. Each peg pays 25 cents. $1 a day. If the child has all 5 days worth of pegs pegged and noted, the parent doubles the pay to $10.

This is only the beginning of the system.

On payday, the child can ask for cash or he can save his money in the “family bank”. Parents keep track of the money being earned and saved in a book. To add incentive to saving, parents provide a 10% interest on money saved every month. The saved money may be removed to make purchases. The Eyers had their children buy their own clothing with the money earned. I like the idea of having the money go toward something that the child needs. I was thinking of having my children pay for school lunches and certain items of clothes that are trendy versus practical. I am not a big fan of cafeteria lunches and hope to discourage them by having the kids use their own money. Pretty sneaky… I know!

In addition to the money saved, the child can also put some of his money in an investment book which cannot be touched. That money also would receive interest.

I really liked the way this system taught children about money and uses incentives to help teach the value of saving.

Have you found an allowance system that works for your family? Do you make your kids pay for things themselves?

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