Teaching Rooney About the Relationship Between Work & Money

I know she's only two, but I just couldn't wait any longer. I've wanted to try giving Rooney a commission for helping around the house for awhile, but wasn't quite sure how to approach it. But, after reading Smart Money Smart Kids (affiliate link) by Dave Ramsey and Rachael Cruze, I had a few tactics in my tool belt. I may have jumped the gun with a 26 month old (I'm really trying to just call her a 2 year old, but it's hard! She's developed so much in the past two months!). But a few weeks ago we were sitting in her room playing and waiting for Kelsey to finish getting ready before heading out the door. Rooney's room looked much like this photo...

child commission


The Work

I'd had enough of stepping around, over, and on her toys and decided it was time we taught her how to pick up. That and I know that she's a great helper at daycare when it's time to pick up, so it's certainly time for those good habits to be reinforced at home. I didn't tell her I was going to pay her, because I wanted the money to be a reward itself.

So, I just told her I was going to start picking up her room and asked her to help me do it. She continued to play for a few minutes and then started to get really excited about helping me. This is a trend I've noticed lately. She is hard-wired like me in this way and loves to help and work together.

We quickly put things back in order (her kitchen play area is the worst!) and in about five minutes we had the room picked up, and all her toys were where they needed to be. And I could feel the excitement welling up in her, simply from helping out.

I tried explaining how when she's done playing with her toys, that she should put them back before playing with others. I got a blank stare with that comment, but just thought I'd mention it. (Another lesson for another day)

The Payment

Immediately after we were done, I told Rooney how proud I was of her for helping me and I was going to give her some money to put in her piggy bank (pitty bant, as she calls it). Off to my dresser we went, where I keep some loose change. I Just grabbed a handful of mixed coins and handed them to her.

The excitement on her face! She was so thrilled. She hadn't expected a reward, but certainly was grateful. She ran back to her room and we sat on the floor as she put the coins in her piggy bank one-by-one. The point of this was to help her associate work with money. The definition of work will certainly morph the older she gets, but at this age, anything she has to do that isn't her idea is work.

One thing I really liked about the book Smart Money Smart Kids was that it gave a lot of tangible examples of age-appropriate teaching moments that I can share with Rooney. And at the age of two, it's not important that I helped her a little bit, and still paid her. It's not even that she was paid about $12/hr for five minutes of work. And I don't think she'll get a commission for cleaning her room when she is older. But, for now, it was a fun teaching moment I had with her. She's helped me with countless other things since and hasn't been paid.

What are Child Commissions?

Commissions for children, are simply money earned from doing an activity. If they do it, they get paid, if not, they don't. Similar to sales commissions in the adult world. It's NOT an allowance that they would get no matter what. In a few years we'll have to come up with a formal commission program to teach her how money comes from working.

For now, we're just introducing her to the concept. If you've been looking for a way to teach your kids about money, I recommend picking up the Smart Money Smart Kids Book.

How do you plan to teach your kids about money? Any tips? Please share in the comments.