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How to Cure the “Gimmes” in Your Children

This is the first post of our new staff writer Melissa, who regularly blogs at Moms Plans [3]. 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?