Emily has talked about getting a bike for a long time. Christmas was too early and with her birthday not until October, we felt we had to come up with another option besides gift or freebie. When Amazon had a gold box deal last week for a balance bike, we jumped on it and quickly developed a plan for Emily to earn and buy her own bike. Here are the parameters that we considered:
Appropriate Jobs. This one has been on my mind for a long time. We expect our kids to pull their own weight around here. Everybody works, everybody plays. Paying them for the work we expect to be done felt significantly counter-productive. We decided to choose four jobs that really needed to get done that Emily could easily participate in. We wrote them down on a list with pictures, in a sort of contract form. We chose cleaning the piano keys, vacuuming out window sills, weeding our backyard, and scrubbing toilets.
Time Frame. We wanted our 2.5 year old to understand that it takes patience and work to earn enough money over a period of time. We also wanted her to remember that she was earning money for a bike and remain enthusiastic. We decided five days of money earning, plus a weekend, would be a good amount of working and saving for her age.
Payment. Coins are coins when you are two. We got Emily a little jar and gave her two pennies, one for each hand, after each job. She knew she had to earn 10 pennies to buy her bike and we’d count them every day and see how many more she needed. She enjoyed playing with the pennies as she earned them, and we also talked about how she would need to give us the pennies back to actually buy the bike. On the first day I was trying to give her a sticker to put in the square after she completed her work but she decided to put it on her penny jar instead. Then she took the sheet of stickers and very seriously decorated her jar, telling me, “Don’t talk to me mom” when I tried to ask her a question about lunch.
Tithing. The big reason we chose ten pennies over five days was so that we could easily do a lesson on tithing. After she had earned all her money, we sat down with her and let her chose one penny to give back to God, via the bishop. She helped fill out the tithing slip (convenient 0.01 is circles and lines that she is a pro at drawing) and seal her penny in the envelope. We made sure she knew we pay tithing first and then buy a bike second.
The entire experience was so fun. I was super motivated to help Emily do her jobs because I really wanted her to have her bike. We enjoyed working together on the random activities that gave us purpose during the day and were different from our regular routine (don’t worry, toilets are not out of the ordinary for me, just Emily). Emily carefully marked off the boxes for each days job. When she officially bought the bike (which came a few days early and was hanging out in our front closet) Nathan was the most excited of us all. He was in heaven exploring the tools and every inch of the bike.
Emily is rapidly building confidence and has braved a few falls. We are getting the helmet thing figured out. It looks like she will be cruising in no time.
We aren’t making earning money a regular thing around here yet, but it was a good introduction to the world of work, saving up, and spending.