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Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Moment with a Stranger

Yesterday I stopped off at our credit union to set up three savings accounts for the kids. A young man helped me do that. While we were going through that process we had a little conversation.

I don't remember what started me explaining to him, but I told him how we have our kids on budgets where they can spend 50% of what they earn, 40% they must save and 10% they must give.

I was not prepared for the guy's enthusiastic reaction! He was so excited and that really got me excited; so I went on to tell how we've never given our kids allowances but have always paid them for work around the house. Since they were young I'd broken up common household chores into '50 cent chores.' 50 cent chores are chores that are small enough to not be intimidating, are useful to daily living and I'm willing to pay 50 cents to have done.

I told the guy that I hadn't sorted my laundry for 10 years! He and I just about flipped. (His excitement really was catching!) When Elijah was 3 or 4ish I'd made a basketballish sort of game out of sorting the laundry. It started out where I had him in the buckets and I'd throw the clothes on him one at a time. I'd yell out 'darks!', 'warms!', 'hots!'. Of course, this entertained the little four year-old no end; but soon he was outside the baskets throwing the appropriate colors into the appropriate baskets. Besides teaching Eli to sort laudry; it made me able to do my laudry with the little mobile, get-into-everything boy.

Each of our kids has a 'daily chore' that I pay 50 cents to have done that is required and they must do. When they've bucked me on it; I remind them that we all live together as a community and it takes each of us to make it nice to live together. They might still grumble, but they have pretty much respected that reasoning.

When they haven't respected it or done the chore; being broke on payday has finished convincing them. Especially when their siblings are flush and they're not.

They are each expected to clean their rooms for free because there are many jobs that we need to do to live well together; but I do pay for jobs that help free me up so that I might do more and better work for the family.

We also pay them when Craig gets his paycheck. We set that up so that they would know what it is like to wait for a pay cycle before getting more money. I have to admit, though, that Craig and I are often not very reliable at this and we often forget to pay them! They have been gracious about it, though, and we do sometimes give them a little 'interest' money because we're late.

When they were young, there was a time they really fought us on this; but I have to say, the bad economy has really helped us here. They see that people's undisciplined habits with money have had a profound effect on many other people; and they don't like it.

Well, this guy at the credit union started telling me about how he didn't have a dad that was around and how his mom wasn't good with him and that he'd been in and out of foster care homes as a kid. It broke my heart to hear the yearning in his voice as he told me he wanted to be a parent like I was. He told me I should be preaching about what we do.

Well, I don't have a pulpit, but I do have a little blog-soapbox; so to honor that guy's heart, I've told you.

I hope I meet him again.


At 1:11 PM, Blogger Ann said...

Love it! Good job Jaime!


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