Country Living Series

Monday, June 30, 2014

Learning the basics of economics

The girls are working.

They have jobs as housekeepers for some friends who own a motel. Four or five days a week, they drive into town (Older Daughter now has her driver's license! She passed her driver's test with flying colors!), work, and then come home. Both are pleased to be earning money and are intelligently divvying their income between savings and spending. Older Daughter is the primary housekeeper, and when there are too many rooms for her to handle on her own, she "hires" Younger Daughter to assist. Younger Daughter also works as a groundskeeper for some neighbors when they're away traveling.


On the days they use the car, we charge Older Daughter $4 for gas (about how much it costs for each round trip into town). We are also requiring her to pay $50/month for her car insurance, which is tacked onto ours (insurance costs are low in Idaho). Such is Real Life.

Nonetheless the girls are earning money, and are having a lot of fun deciding what to do with it. Older Daughter is saving up for a car. Younger Daughter is socking away a lot of her earnings, also with the notion of a car in the distant future.

We opened up checking accounts for both kids so they can start learning the intricacies of handling their income -- the mechanics of deposits, withdrawals, debit card use, online banking, balancing a checkbook, etc.

With the (cough) "power" of a debit card to make online purchases, both kids spent a bit of money at first, primarily ordering books they've wanted. They're learning to set aside a certain amount of "play" money and not go beyond that amount without considering whether the purchase is really worth it.

I found it interesting that after a couple of fun days in town when the girls went to the grocery store and bought their lunches, they quickly realized how easy it is to fritter away their paycheck on unnecessary and temporary pleasures (such as deli food). Now every morning they diligently pack a lunch to bring with them.


I'm proud that our girls are developing a reputation for being hard workers. I'm also pleased that they're discovering, through their own efforts, the basics of Real Life economics.

11 comments:

  1. That is good training for life. Discovering and internalizing the cost of eating out is important - I know adults who haven't made that realization yet (or if they have, they haven't acted on it, which is the same thing).
    All of the little things add up - Never forget that are always plenty of people around who want to separate you from your money!

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  2. Yay for the girls! I have an off the wall question...whenever I log onto your blog, I immediately get transferred to another page of "from our advertisers", I can "X" out, and log back onto yours, and then its fine...is this supposed to happen?

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    1. The same thing keeps happening to me. What in the world?

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  3. I wish I had had this education. When it came, I had a lot of other things on my plate and learning how to budget fell to the last priority. I quickly realized how wrong that was and recovered, but it was a long work in progress. You guys are really doing this right and it's so great that the girls are learning the value of saving so early!

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  4. Like many others their age-gotta have that car. The most expensive item they will ever purchase. A continuous expense whether driving or not.
    Pete

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    1. Patrice's children are the least materialistic I have ever met (and I'm throwing my own teens in there for comparison!) Four working/thriving adults don't realistically rely on a single vehicle. Trust that a car is a necessary tool if they plan to work outside the family business. Our neck of the woods Idaho is not known for its public transit and the farm is well off the beaten path. Kudos to them for pulling their own weight and entering adulthood in a responsible manner. A gem of a family and absolutely lovely girls (inside and out!)

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  5. I have always been amused at how cheap my children became when they were spending their own money!! It is a good thing to learn these lessons before you get out in the real world!

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    1. That reminds me of a story a friend of mine used to tell.

      She said it wasn't until her son had to go to the market to buy his own food, for himself and his new bride, that he came to his mother and said, "Now I know why we had hot dogs for supper so often when I was growing up!"

      Just Me

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  6. Good for them!

    Just Me

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  7. We always gave our daughter a very small allowance to spend as she chose. At 10 she wanted a tape recorder (this was 35 years ago) and diligently saved for it until she could buy it. From the beginning we required that she tithe also. During the focused savings periods she had very little to spend, but she planned everything. At 15 she began receiving small clothing allowance in the form of a checking account. She quickly learned to spend the money on things that she could wear for years. At least one item she was still wearing 6 years later. She also baby sat from the age of 12 and carefully put at least half of that in her savings account. We had the rule that if half didn't get saved then the allowance would cease. When she was in her last year of high school, she had a half day job in an office. She probably saved 90% of her take-home pay. When she began her career after college, she had over $5000 in savings and added to it in order to have a down payment for her first house. She packed her lunch except on days when she had business lunches to attend. When she began dating her future husband, he was awe struck by her ability to save and quickly followed her example. After 18 years of marriage they have 4 years to pay on a $200,000 house, have 401Ks for retirement, and live very comfortably with their two kids who attend a Christian school and are picking up their parents spending habits. Starting early is the best way to develop good financial habits. I'm glad your daughters learn quickly.

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  8. Good mamma! As far as "gotta have that car" goes...

    ...the sad fact is that, for personal mobility anywhere outside of a well-planned major metropolitan area, we're dependent on them. For now. Good luck finding a job (or being able to take care of your kids in a way that keeps others off your back) in America if you're driving a bicycle (or yet more shocking, a horse). We can hate, condemn, and bewail the car culture to our hearts' content (and I do all three; having to put my van on the road more than two days a week makes me want to screeeeaaaaammm); the fact is that it's something that, here and now, we have to work within.

    But I digress. Good mamma. I wish I had had ALL THAT growing up. I'm thankful for the lessons, and the "hardships," I did have (and likewise for the REAL hardships that I didn't, and in some ways for the luxuries). I had lessons in thrift, chances to earn money (I WORKED for my allowance, at least), and plenty of encouragement to save, save, save and live below my means. What I didn't get, at least not explicitly (I did get enough implicit lessons to eventually work it out, with help from my husband) was how to spend intelligently and how to allow for extras. Those were a rocky few years, going from "Extras ist verboten" to "Oh Hell let's LIVE" and finally landing at, "OK, we can do this and it's OK, this much is OK, don't go any farther and don't flip out about it later."

    Cracks me up-- I had a lot of help with finances, was TBH pretty much spoiled as an only child, might-as-well-have-been only grandchild, and I want to give my kids less so they have the opportunity to learn.

    My hubby, on the other hand, had to get jobs from the time he was 14 and work out (most) of his own college financing, et cetera et cetera. He wants to plan to give our kids the kind of help I got, and then some.

    I'm not judging, exactly, though having "benefitted" from that help I do think that a harder start is better than a real hard landing, and that struggling to get started is better than walking out into the world terrified because of everything you just don't know. I think his hard start made him surer of himself, and of his goals, and is a lot of the reason that he, unlike most of the kids who went to college at 18, saw it through when the going got tough and has made an (economic anyway) appreciable success in his field.

    There I go rambling again. Oh, suffice it all to say, Good girls! Good mamma! Good daddy, too!

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