Book Review: The MoneySmart Family System

I almost wrote a post entitled "Why I think tying allowance to chores is stupid" (or perhaps a nicer version of that sentiment).  We had been giving our kids a couple of dollars a week as allowance.  This was happening no matter what chores they did or did not do.  My justification of this situation went something like this:  1) The kids are part of this household so they will do chores... I don't want to manage a chore "system," that sounds like a lot of work for me and 2) I want my kids to learn about money & make some mistakes with money, so therefore I will give them a small sum with which to do this.

This was going okay!  (I won't mention the fact that while my kids skipped merrily onto the bus each morning, I came home to see the disaster that it took to make that possible.  Also, I'm stubborn.) 

So I read a book called The MoneySmart Family System by Steve and Annette Economides... you know... for research... for the blog... so I can add an affiliate link and make a little cash to fund my outrageous salsa eating and coffee drinking habits (at home of course).  

I started this book thinking I would skim through it, looking for the ways it validates my desire to teach my kids about money and adult-ing.  Surely my laissez faire approach to chores would remain firmly intact even if the author's take on allowance distribution differed from my own.

(Spoiler alert: This book was written by a homeschooling family with 6 kids.  They have systems.  Big families... homeschoolers... they ALL have systems.)

Now I Have a System

Expecting it to be research (just research!) for this blog, I totally overlooked the fact that this book has the word "system" right there in the title!   How did I not notice that until right now... after I've read the whole book!  I swore that I wouldn't make a system.  And now I have a system.

And it's awesome.

My mind was changed the moment I read this: 

"If our kids wanted to earn a morning point, they had to eat breakfast and get ready for the day without complaining or procrastinating"
Point Log.png

My mind was blown! I wanted that for my mornings.  Who knew that I could deny points or money if my kids acted like little shits, even if they did eventually do what I asked?!  I stopped skimming and read every word.  (For the record, they never once referred to their kids as "little shits"... that's just me.)

Before I even finished the book I started talking to Mr. Sense about the daily point system that they use and made my own spreadsheet (of course) to support it. We copied the Economides system of daily requirements very closely and now we're humming along, working together as a family, keeping the house clean(er), and continuing to teach/learn about money.

Oh... and also... I haven't yelled about a mess in a week!!  (Maybe...I think.)

How We Use the Point System

The kids have the chance to earn 4 points per day Monday - Friday.  

Morning Point - The morning point is earned by making their beds, preparing for the day, cleaning up after breakfast, and having a good attitude.

Our Chore System

Chore Point - Every day I pencil-in a quick chore for them to do... nothing too time consuming or challenging.  To earn the chore point they must complete the chore at some point in the day with a good attitude.

School Point - I expect my kids to do their best at school and be kind, caring classmates.  This point also incorporates homework and any extra reading they may need to do.  Homework has to be done before play.  Attitude during homework time can be a big problem for us.  I understand that it's a tough time of the day to maintain a perfect disposition all while taking on challenging new academic feats.  There's some leeway here, but in general I ask for homework to be done with a good attitude.

Round-Up Point - This is probably the most important point of the day. After dinner, the whole family participates in rounding up the clutter that was left behind over the course of the day... with a good attitude!

On the weekends, the only required points are round-up points.  In total, there is a maximum of 22 regular points to be earned during a week.

Extra Points - They also have the opportunity to earn additional extra points, but it's up to them to look at the list of extra chores and take the initiative to complete them.  There are no reminders to complete the extra chores but Mr. Sense and I will gladly help them figure out how to complete those chores when they are ready!

How We Pay the Kids

After the weekend is complete, we add up the points the kids earned.  They get paid 10¢ per point.  If they earn all 22 of their regular weekly points (hard to do), plus 3 extra chore points, they get paid double!!

Apparently I've completely underestimated the power of a physical checklist to keep kids gradually and steadily working to help the family.  We're only a week and a half into the "system" but the kids are really happy with the changes.  They love being able to check off all their achievements! 

Other Takeaways

There's definitely more to this book than the point system for chores and allowance. But as you can tell that really resonated with me in this season of life.  Steve and Annette write a lot on how important it is to educate kids about how to handle money starting at a very young age.  They say that the later in life you start to teach your kids to be wise with money, the greater the potential becomes for bigger and bigger money mistakes... who can disagree with this?!  

As their kids grew older, the Economides required them to take on more and more financial responsibility.  Allowances would grow with the kids, but so too did their expectations.  Each of the kids eventually became responsible for funding things such as clothing, activities, car insurance, and cars!

And of course Steve and Annette didn't send their kids out into the world without the ability to do things for themselves!  All of the kids learned not only to be giving and good with numbers, but also to cook, clean, maintain a home, and to plan and research their way through life.

What Was I Thinking

My previous logic had led me to believe that a "system" of chores and allowance would mean more work for me.  If you could have seen the "before" state of my home, and my mental health, you might have realized long before I did that not having a system meant more work for me!   I've been enlightened!

What do you think?  System or no system?  Do you tie allowance to chores?