Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My kids and pocket money

When I was a kid, I got 20 cents a week for doing chores around the house, it was great way to earn the money I wanted for the things I desired. As I got older I got increases until I realised that getting a job was going to be a much faster way of getting much needed funds. So a paper boy I became. And life was good.

So what about my two little guys. Well I figured what worked for me would work for them. As a fan of Freakonomics and exploring the hidden side of everything and incentives , we settled on $1 for each year of their age and there is a set of chores that needs to be done to earn the full amounts. I also had set a cut off of 15 as, by then just like I did they will be able to get a job ( I actually was working earlier but that's not the point ). At the start it worked really well.
Freakonomics recently had this short discussion piece on chores and income for them, and it made me think about how I paid pocket money to my two blokes.And more importantly ,

why aren't all the chores getting done ? 

For a start we decided that unless all the chores on the list were completed that the money wasn't paid. This didn't work and as I started to look at other ways to motivate them to do the actual work I find out that it's flawed to try to do so.
Here and Here are just a sample of the evidence on why rewards for effort can be flawed.

So then I thought "what I need is a way to calculate what chores have a real monetary value towards the running of the house and pay the little dudes for those"  Meh, I'm going in circles here.
Then quite by accident I discovered that introducing fun/technology into the task paid dividends.

Example  : Sweeping the leaves up. Very difficult to get interested in this as a broom and leaves are not fun or interesting, until that is until I introduced the leave blower/vac. Now its funny to chase the leaves around and vacuum them up. (Its also funny to take the catcher off and spread mulched leaves all over the back yard !

So now I'm off to try and find fun or unusual ways to get the rest of the chores done. And what do we pay them  as pocket money ? Well I figure it's nice to have some spending money when on holidays and frankly thats the only time they really need it. So that's what we do; give them some spending money at the start of each holiday and encourage them to learn manage their money.

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