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Family Finances: Giving Your Kids a Salary

George Grombacher April 5, 2022

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Family Finances: Giving Your Kids a Salary

Teaching your kids about money is way more than teaching your kids about money. Why is it on your mind?


Perhaps you want to help them become investors so they can change the world. Maybe you want to help them avoid some of the mistakes you made. Or maybe you’re trying to break a cycle of generational poverty.


Whatever your reason, I’m glad you’re here. A big part of successfully helping kids learn about money and personal finance is intention.


As a father, I want to help my kids learn about money so they can become financially independent. I was raised in N. Minnesota by a single mother who was a school teacher. While I had a great childhood, we were always broke and living paycheck-to-paycheck. Money was a cause of stress.


As a young adult, I made a lot of terrible money decisions and lived paycheck-to-paycheck. Fortunately, I overcame my negative thinking and behaviors.


I share that to let you know that wherever you are, I can get you where you want to go.


Teaching your kids about money is about helping them make better choices. It’s about giving them freedom and autonomy to make decisions. It’s all about learning and getting better.


And finally, that you’re here suggests to me you’re willing to accept responsibility for this. I hope one day personal finance will be part of every kid’s formal education. But even when it does find its way into the curriculum, that won’t be enough. Money is an ever-present part of our lives. It impacts our career choices, relationships, and frankly, just about everything else. It plays a part in happy vacation memories, and can tear relationships and families apart.


All that being said, there’s not a right or wrong way to do it. The first step to success is trying.


Here’s what we’ll cover:


  • Salary overview


  • Salary requirements


  • The spend jar


  • The save jar


  • The give jar


  • Earning extra money


Let’s get started.


Salary overview


Money doesn’t grow on trees. You know it, and I know it. It’s also important that your kids know it.


I advocate you pay your kids a weekly salary. It’s not an allowance. This is money they earn by completing their jobs and responsibilities.


My suggestion is that you begin with a $5 weekly salary.  I break it out into three categories, Spend, Save and Give. $2 for Spend, $2 for Save, and $1 for Give.


While there are a lot of great apps and technologies for doing this, I think it’s important to give them cash, and to put the money in three clear jars.


You’re more than welcome to give your kids more than $5. What’s important is the breakdown of 40% of the salary to Spend, 40% to Save, and 20% to Give. Even if you start with $5, you’ll eventually increase it over time.


I suggest you designate one day and time every week for paying the salary. That way, you won’t forget to do it. We do it Sunday morning.


Salary requirements


It’s really important to teach your kids the value of work. For most of us, it’s where money comes from.


Therefore, your kid doesn’t get their salary simply because they live with you. They get paid because they do their jobs. Here are some examples of jobs you can assign:


  • Make their bed

  • Put their dirty clothes away

  • Clean their rooms

  • Set the table

  • Help with pets

  • Get dressed on time

  • Listen on the first try

  • Yard work

  • House work


The jobs you assign for your child will be dependent on their age and abilities.


What happens if they don’t do their jobs? They don’t get paid. Another really important lesson.


The spend jar


Remember running out of money? I do.


There was a time, before credit cards, when you ran out of money and could no longer buy things. Despite credit being ubiquitous, I’d rather have my kids learn how to pay cash for things and not fall victim to credit card debt.


If you can’t pay cash, you can’t afford it. Do you agree with this?


For the most part, I do.


Now, I live in the real world, so I have a car loan as well as a home mortgage. And my family does take advantage of interest-free financing, and we use credit cards and pay them off every month.


And instilling in your kids that you can’t simply, “Pay with your card,” is a good thing.


Enter the Spend jar.


All the money that goes into this jar is your child’s money to spend on whatever they want (within reason). It’s their money.


When you go out and about, I encourage you to bring the cash with you in an envelope. These are incredible opportunities to talk about how much things cost, whether or not they can afford to buy something, the value of price shopping and sales, and many other great teachable moments.


Also, don’t underestimate the impact and value of your child handing their money to a cashier. It can be painful to give your money to someone and get less (or nothing) back.


The save jar


Delayed gratification is the golden rule of personal finance for a child (and probably should be for adults as well). The famous Stanford marshmallow experiment showed us the value of this.


We live in a time when almost two thirds of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, and are saddled with credit card debt. The sooner you can teach a child about being patient and saving money for something, the better.


The money that goes into the Save jar should be earmarked for larger purchases.


The first time we did this with our first kid, we were at the park. We saw another kid playing with a glider and my son really wanted one. We got home, researched where to get one and the cost, and we put together a plan for buying one.

We figured out it would take him three weeks to save up his salary to be able to buy it. I printed a picture of the glider and wrote down how much he needed and how long it would take until he could afford it. It was a wonderful experience and we had a lot of fun with the glider.


The give jar


One of the most mortifying things as a parent is watching one of my kids not share. It drives me crazy.


We all want to raise kind, caring, and generous children. All the money in the Give jar is to be used for exactly that; to be given away to someone or something in need. As a family, this is an incredible opportunity to talk about values people in need.


You can access our Goals and Values courses at no-cost.


It’s also a wonderful opportunity to talk about the difference between wants versus needs. This is an essential concept that many adults fail to grasp. A need is something you can’t live without. A want is something that accentuates life.


When giving money to those in need, you can talk about how many people in the world struggle with needs. And how you’re fortunate to be in a position to help others.


Earning extra money


It’s music to my ears when I hear someone say, “How can I earn more money?”


Teaching your kids about entrepreneurship by setting up a lemonade stand (or some other endeavor) is an awesome experience that I recommend you do.


You can also create a Job Board. In my house, this is simply a cork board with dollar bills and sticky notes explaining the job pinned to it. For example, you’ll find a note with $2 for cleaning windows and sweeping the garage.


You can create as many extra jobs as your kids are interested in doing.


Here’s a video I made you can show your kids to explain the jars and job board.


Closing and resources mentioned


I know how difficult parenting can be. I also know how difficult personal finance is. Great job learning more about how to combine these two challenging things.


Here’s a video I made you can show your kids to explain the jars and job board.


You’re someone who can raise financially literate, responsible and successful kids!

If you’d like to help your kids get good with money, check out our Teaching Kids about Money course. 

If you’re ready to take control of your financial life, check out our DIY Financial Plan course. 

We’ve got three free courses as well: Our Goals Course, Values Course, and our Get Out of Debt course. 

Connect with one of our Certified Partners to get any question answered. 

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Check out the LifeBlood podcast.


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