Summer was almost over by the time I started catching on to conversations like this:
Carter: "How much money is there?"
Madeleine: "I don't know, let me check the vault."
Carter: "Okay, just make sure you put it in the shared account."
Shared account? Vault? What's going on here?
They finally confessed they had decided to pool resources for some time (hence the "shared" account) in hopes of crossing some items off their Christmas list. Santa? Who needs Santa when we can cat sit and dog sit and bird sit our way to kid toy/game heaven a month before the elves leave the station?
A few more months of saving and scheming and working and taking every stray penny that fell on the floor, they were able to make their goal and take their ziploc bag full of dollars and bills to the store of their choosing to make a very hefty purchase.
I won't go into the details here, but the bottom line? My kids shocked the socks off me by making a grownup size acquisition on a kid size budget--and neither one of them gets an allowance. I really think the only way it was able to happen was because they kept parental involvement to an absolute minimum and did it in a way that made sense to them.
Here are a few ingredients of their success. Feel free to run these by your school-age kids to see which ideas match their own style of sibling-powered saving and spending.
Divvy up responsibilities. Madeleine did the bulk of the work, but was sometimes tempted to bail on the plan and go to the movies instead. Carter had the discipline of a drill sergeant and kept that wild-spirited Madeleine on track. Not one dollar slipped through his hands.
Spread the word. Carter asked me fifteen times a day if I had any ideas about how he could make money while Madeleine offered to dog sit anyone's dog in the neighborhood at our summer block party. Our neighbors knew if there were any little jobs appropriate for kids, ours would be into it.
Remember the mantra: Sharing now means sharing later. I asked Madeleine why she decided to go in with Carter when she clearly had more earning power. "Well," she answered. "I don't think I could have done it without Carter. Having Carter made it easier. And now we both have the same right to play on that thing. It wouldn't be as much fun if it was only mine and then Carter was bugging me to use it and I had to decide to share or not. This way it belongs to both of us." Fair enough.
Do you remember doing similar projects when you were a kid? Do you think your kids could do what you did then, now? What's your take on kids buying things for themselves?