Family, Personal Finance 

How to Cure the “Gimmes” in Your Children

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This is the first post of our new staff writer Melissa, who regularly blogs at Moms Plans. Please welcome her!

If you are a parent of a child that can talk, you have probably heard, “Can I have this?” or “Will you buy this?” or, if your child is older, “But, all the other kids’ parents buy it for them!” If you are lucky, you have probably only heard this a few hundred times; however, most parents hear their kids whine for something daily. If you are tired of suffering, there is a simple way to cure the “gimmes”—put your child in charge of his own finances (relatively speaking).

My son is nearly eight, and though we don’t give in to most of his wants, he still begs endlessly for things. However, we recently put an end to this behavior by putting him in charge of his own money and allowing him the opportunity to make money.

In our home, he is responsible for doing some basic chores such as clearing the table when he is done eating, putting his dirty clothes in the dirty clothes basket and helping his sisters pick up toys. He does not get paid for these and is expected to do them as a contributing member of the family. He gets paid to take out recycling, put away his clean clothes, tidy up his room in the morning, and vacuum his bedroom twice a week. He can earn up to $5.75 per week if he does all of his chores. He has to set aside some of that money to give and save.

We noticed he begged endlessly for items until we suggested he use his own money. Suddenly, he was much more careful about what he bought. (Isn’t it funny how he exercised caution when he was using his own money, not ours?)

He enjoys reading, and wanted to save up money for the book fair at his school. We agreed to give him $10 to buy whatever books he wanted, but if he wanted anymore, he had to save for it. In the weeks before the book fair, he counted his money every Friday. As the book fair got closer, he started asking how he might earn money. We agreed to let him do more chores around the house for more money. You have never seen a kid so eager to mop the bathroom floor and clean the dust off the ceiling fans. When book fair day came, he had $25 to spend.

After the book fair, he showed us his books, and explained the process he used to decide what books to buy such as buying paperback books instead of hardcover because his money would go further. He even made sure to not spend all of his money because he wanted some leftover.

Now, instead of begging us for money, he frequently asks for more chores to do. By giving him the power to both earn more money through hard work and to choose how he spends it (within reason), we seem to have cured him of the “gimmes” as well as put him on the path of financial responsibility.

What steps have you taken to tame the “gimmes” in your kids?

{ 9 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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9 Responses to “How to Cure the “Gimmes” in Your Children”

  1. JamesV says:

    Enjoyed this article as our kids are 8 and 9.

  2. Frugal says:

    I am not sure about this as the child continues with “gimme”s.

    Instead of asking for toys/money, he asking for chores. He also believes that he is entitled to money for everything extra he does. My son has done this and thinks that we do not give him enough chores to earn more and he cannot work for others as he is only 12. Also, whatever work he does, is “best I can” or “perfect” and does not want to accept that better is possible. While it is good that he is ambitious and gets what we wants (almost all the time), the behavior and expectations do not match all the time.

    • Jon says:

      Hello Frugal.
      That is an interesting point, that they can feel they deserve to be paid for everything. Melissa did point out that there are tasks done because they are part of the family, and not everything is paid. This distinction has helped in our family using this method. As far as asking for chores instead of toys/money, may we all be so fortunate as to have our kids acting in the same way! There are tasks that can be done for neighbors, family, etc. if you are willing to ask. Most neighbors and friends are willing to provide a list of tasks and support this kind of initiative if they know about it. It does require more setup and supervision, which is some work for the parents, but what a powerful teaching opportunity that you have!

      In addition to doing the work, it is possible to set quality standards, and if they aren’t met, then there is no “commission” (D Ramsey uses this word instead of allowance). You may consider a verbal or written checklist for quality standards, and review it when the work is done. If quality isn’t met, then it must be redone until it is right. As motivated as this young man is, he will likely rise to the occasion.

      Thank you for sharing your experiences, and congrats on taking steps to ensure that he will be a productive member of society in the not too distant future!

  3. Kris says:

    Teaching your kids how to earn money, and how to manage the money they earn, is one of the most powerful lessons you could ever teach them. As my kids got older I actually offered them small projects around the house, not just typical “chores”, things like painting fences and windows. Now all three of them actually like to work, because they know that more work means getting more of the extras they want.

  4. John Vine says:

    Well done Melissa
    What a wonderful example, to teach about money and work ethic! This also ties in well with recent comments about the dangers of not teaching young people about finance.

  5. Shirley says:

    Thank you, Melissa!
    I have often seen two young men in close age and of very similar backgrounds, one with financial teachings like you mention and one without. The difference is astounding. One is on his way to a productive and satisfying life; the other is falling apart.

    These tips for parenting skills are so very important.

  6. Christina says:

    My two boy are always asking for a “gimme” whenever we go to a store. I try to keep from taking them to stores. They watched an episode of the Berenstain Bears about the gimmes but still don’t understand that they shouldn’t get something whenever they want. I want to get them to start earning an allowance to help them understand money a little more. I think they should be required to save some of the allowance so they get the idea of saving as well as spending.

  7. Sarah says:

    Well said. My parents had something similar for my siblings and me when we grew up. We had lived on a farm and had to help with the animal chores. We owned some animals and earned money if we sold them or the goat milk. We had to work in the garden every summer and when we got a little older we did more of the farmer’s market selling so we earned part of the profit. We also picked up the aluminum cans during hay season so they would not damage the equipment and we got a little money for the metal.We always had chores to do, but didn’t get paid for them.

    Mom also gave us choices so we would not grumble so much. I hated the cold MN winters so I would always make supper rather the animal chores. I kind of got back at my dad since he is not a huge pasta fan, so of course I would always make pasta with lots of garlic powder. He never complained to me since I was still contributing.

    We had bank accounts I think at about age 5 or 6 and we put most of the money in the bank for a rainy day. We learned about compound interest and how to manage money. I will open bank accounts for any children I have in the future.

  8. Andrea says:

    From a child development perspective, 8 year olds are extremely money focused. You may find that this strategy will need adjusting as your child grows older. I have also been to a couple of lectures from child development specialists that argue (effectively) that money and chores should be kept separate for younger kids. My advice is for parents to read and think deeply about this topic as well as child development stages and link the two together when teaching work and money concepts. What works for a 6 year old may not work for an 8 year

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