Perceptions of money and how to earn it begins with parents
A few years back, I wrote a post about encouraging your child’s sense of personal commerce — mostly because my own daughter was a semi-hustler growing up and ended up starting an eCommerce business at a young age. When kids get used to the idea of creating their own income, whether that’s by pursuing outside forms of it or earning it from parents, it’s a great exercise for learning what life will eventually expect of them when their parents aren’t around to pay their way.
As a kid, the merits of calling most of your own (parents should have some say about it) shots while earning is a completely different feeling from a mom browbeating you to clean your room, do dishes, and take out the trash. It’s about resourcefulness and taking pride in a job well done while stashing away the cash or trading it for something special.
While the use of technology was burgeoning as my daughter grew up in the ‘80s and ‘90s, there were no mobile apps for keeping track of things. But times change. And while the debate rages on about whether or not screen time is the best way to let your child spend their youth, there is no denying that if we do permit a degree of it, a good middle ground approach might be to offer them apps that can teach them a thing or two they can use later in life.
Recently I became fascinated by a product (no, I’m not representing it or hawking it in any way). BusyKid is a mobile app and website that allows children to earn allowance and use it to spend, donate, invest or save, teaching them about modern money management. The app was created by Gregg Murset, a father of six. Once you buy the application, participation includes issuing your kids a prepaid debit card loaded with allowance payments placed there by you. Like us, kids can make purchases in stores or online with the card. But parents can also require that they save some of their money, donate a portion of it to charity or even invest it in the stock market — apart from the cash they might have fun with. In an increasingly cash-free society, it’s something they’re going to have to learn how to do anyway.
Within the app, parents use their own portal to list household tasks — from folding laundry to unloading the dishwasher to bonus allowance payments for getting good grades. And for jobs no one really wants to do, like picking up dog poop? Perhaps assign a juicier carrot to it. Parents list the amount of allowance each chore is worth and kids now have options of deciding how much they want to earn, perhaps within a certain dollar amount per week with some kind of minimum attached. Parents get to set up paydays, approve chores that kids have done (there WILL be do-overs, forcing kids to realize doing it right the first time has its benefits) and seeing when and where kids are using their money.
But here is the kicker. All this aside, the most interesting news about the BusyKid app was a study the company did to see how their brainchild was being used. Their research on an (informed) group of users found that girls were not being treated financially equally to boys by the parents who use it. In a world where researchers are reporting that women earn 82% of what men earn and would have to work an additional 47 days to make up the difference, how is it that pay discrimination starts this young and starts with us?
BusyKid discovered that on average, boys earned twice as much per week for doing chores than girls and were awarded larger bonuses by parents. Were these stereotypes perpetuated by their own parents, just as teachers traditionally tend to make a bigger deal out of boys’ accomplishments at school than often dutiful, studious girls?
Technology is great. To a point. But parents, their practices, and their attitudes are the drivers here. So how can parents discuss personal finance topics with their children and take steps to ensure they are providing fair financial opportunities for each one, regardless of gender?
I contacted BusyKid creator (father of six) and CEO Gregg Murset for his take on the study. “Ensuring fair compensation for your daughters and sons while they are at home should be easy, however it’s becoming evident that some parents didn’t get the memo. We don’t believe there is an overwhelming conspiracy against girls, but we think parents let the size of the job or the age of the child have too much influence on how much allowance a child gets for a chore. Whether your kids are making a bed, doing the dishes, taking out trash or mowing the grass, if you pay based on the chore and not based on the child, it will be fair. If the child does an exceptional job, give a bonus or a tip just like you would in the real world.”
He adds, “There has never been a more critical time for parents to talk with their children about personal finance. You don’t need to be an expert. You just need to be engaged to address the key topics of managing invisible money, building savings, student loans and equal pay in the workplace. Use current news headlines or family examples to help start the conversations, and parents shouldn’t be afraid to use their personal successes or failures to drive home the message.”
Original version first published in Psychology Today.
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Dena tackles issues surrounding parenting challenging kids, emphasizing the need for parents to raise empowered young women and enlightened young men as she writes The Unedited Offspring blog for Psychology Today.