Shortly after school started this fall, we instituted a chore chart at our house. We listed out all the household chores and assigned each one a monetary value based on the level of difficulty. Each child had their own chart and they started working around the house to earn tally marks for their sheet. Last week we totaled up their tally marks, went to the bank, and cashed out their earnings, but didn't distribute it until this morning. Over pancakes and bacon, we talked about how everything we have is and gift from God and that the Bible instructs us to give back to God a minimum of the first 10% (a tithe) of what we earn. It's a way for us to say thank you and recognize God's faithful provision to us. We also talked about the practical and Biblical principle of saving money and told the kids we expected them to save a minimum of 10% of everything they earned, which leaves them with 80% to spend as they pleased. After the little lesson we broke out their piles of dollar bills, practiced some math, and calculated out how much they needed to set aside to bring to church, how much they needed to put in their banks and how much they could spend. There was a slight undertone of grumbling about not having access to spend their entire amount, but overall they handled it maturely and we laughed as they all scoured their rooms for three banks or containing devices in which to store their wealth.
After breakfast, I took each kid on a separate date to the Dollar Tree (I know - big spenders) to do their Christmas shopping. They used the money they'd earned to buy presents for each member of our family, even our dog Dusty. By the time I was done with four individual dates to the same store, the staff at the store was ready to invite me to their Christmas party.
I got such a kick out of watching them shop. Katie went first and her method was deliberate and thoughtful. She previewed the store first, taking mental notes of what she might want to purchase and I thought we might be there all day. But once she scoped everything out and made her decisions mentally, she loaded her basket in no time and was heading for the checkout lane before I could say boo. She proudly counted out all the money and handed it to the cashier. When we got home, she locked herself in our bedroom and wrapped each gift by herself.
Paigey went next. She was fast and decisive. She'd see something she liked and with no hesitation, choose a family member to give it to and put it in her basket. Once an item found it's way into her basket, it didn't come out again until it was time to pay. She proudly held up the trinket she was choosing to give to me and said, "Wook Mommy. Dis one is for you. But don't look in my bag. It's a surprise." And when we got home, she ran up to Alli and said, "Alli, I buyed you a dog. But it's a surprise."
Alli was next in line. In her excitement to have her turn, she grabbed her savings bank with $1.25 in it, and neither of us noticed until we were unloading at the Dollar Tree. So we had to give up our prime parking spot and head home to swap banks before we could shop. She shops like I do, putting almost anything she likes in her basket and then abandoning it when she finds something she likes better. Like Kaitlin, she had to puruse the ENTIRE store before settling on her final purchases and she was very intent on me not sneaking peaks in her basket to see my present that apparently I am going to "LOOOOOOOVVVVVVVVEEEEEEE!"
I dropped Alli off and picked up Grant. I thought he'd take the longest at the store and by that time, I was getting a little tired of the Dollar Tree. But he surprised me and finished quickly, choosing gifts carefully, but selecting ones that surprised me. He was pleased with his purchases and excited to wrap them as soon as possible.
None of the kids asked to buy gifts for themselves or grumbled about spending the money they'd worked so hard to earn on someone else. They put such careful thought and attention into each gift they chose and all were excited to wrap their gifts themselves when they got home. Watching them give to each other has been one of the highlights of my Christmas season so far and I can't wait to see the eagerness on their faces when it comes time for them to pass out their gifts on Christmas Day. Giving is oh so fun!