A guest post from Australian mother Natalie Chisolm.
By way of introduction, my name is Natalie and I am Mum to two great kids – a daughter aged 11 and a son aged 8. I am a single Mum, who works part time and juggles life around work/school, soccer training/matches, dance and acting classes. I am the epitome of a soccer Mum!!
My kids, like many others, WANT things desperately, NEED things…. “but Mum, everyone has one”.
Whilst I would like to be able to give them what they want, as much as possible, clearly this cannot always be the case. I have to live by a strict budget and try to factor in lots of life experiences and where I can, saving!!! I do not have a credit card. I figure that if I can’t afford it, I either have to save for it, go without it or find some way to raise the money. I can’t afford to get into financial difficulty, I have two little people relying on me.
Working hard and wisely at home
In the last few years, when the kids have desperately wanted something and I couldn’t afford it, I’ve taught them to channel their passion into making it possible and earning the money themselves.
For example: my daughter wanted to go and visit her cousin for her birthday in Queensland. We thought about how she could raise the money.
We decided to make plum jam with fruit from our tree. She cooked with me, bottled the jam, made labels of her ‘brand’, created flyers which she put in the letterboxes down our street and gave to all our friends, made signs and on the day set up her stall at our back gate. Her brother made scones to sell and give ‘taste tests’ of the jam.
It was a roaring success. And even when her friends came and wanted to play, she couldn’t because she ‘was working’. She jetted off to Queensland and her brother, despite eating some of the profits, got some pocket money too.
Then, they decided they needed new toys. We cleared out their old toys that they no longer played with, books that were ‘babyish’, old dresses etc and had a last fun day of revisiting old memories.
We had a fantastic garage sale and the result was a great shopping excursion for new ‘cool’ toys. Happy days!!
Our next adventure: earning additional money
Our next venture came about when I was fortunate to change jobs and have some leftover holiday pay. If we wanted to go on a holiday though, we needed spending money. This time we came up with the idea of a bake sale.
My very creative daughter made up the fliers and we spent a week baking (and recruiting Nanna and our very kind next door neighbour, to help make a few baked goods). We borrowed another neighbours trestle tables and chairs, borrowed a coffee machine, got some coffee donated!! and opened our cafe!
We were FLAT OUT for 3 hours and sold everything. My daughter sat at the till taking orders, I plated (or in some cases packed containers full of) baked goods and my son cleared tables and made sure our customers were happy.
Grandad (my Dad) volunteered to be Barista and took turns with the next door neighbour, whose whole family turned up and ate slices and drank coffees for hours. It was such a great turnout of family and friends and neighbours! Thanks to them the kids holiday was a memorable one with spending money that they felt happy to spend because they earned it!! (and bought presents for those that helped with our bake sale – bless them).
I think it’s important that kids realise that you have to put the effort in if you want to achieve. For my kids, it is not just handed to them, they know the value of time and money. I want them to know that if they WANT or NEED something then they can make it happen but it may take time, effort and saving.
Coming up… we are saving for a holiday with friends. There are a few activities that are costly but would be amazing and what they really want to do. What I have taught them seems to be sinking in – the kids are planning weekend carwashes until the holiday so they can save to do what they want when there.
We bank any savings and watch it grow, but we also have a ‘saving for something’ jar that collects silver coins and they can see how quickly this can add up to something.
How I see the future
I am looking for solutions to help my kids see their savings grow. I am hopefully that the technology pennybox.com is developing will help. Plus, it will help me continue to teach them that they can save for something that they don’t even know they want yet! When they do, they will have prepared themselves.
It will also mean that instead of me spending money on (sorry, I have to say it – useless toys that they’ll soon forget about), they can earn the money to buy their own/or not, depending on their effort.
I think they might become a bit less whimsical and a bit tighter when the money is coming from their own wallet. I can’t wait to see it.
It’s the next step in teaching them to be financially responsible when they grow up. Who knows, maybe one day they’ll take me on a holiday and I’ll just have to save some spending money…