Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Allowance Punch Cards (Free Download)

For a few years now, my husband and I have made a point to teach our daughter about money management and fiscal responsibility. There are several components to this, including allowance, spend/save/give money, paying for things we break, etc. Today I want to focus on allowance and a solution that is currently working well for us.

For the past few years, we have given our daughter a weekly (more or less - more on that in a bit) allowance of $5. $2 goes in the "SAVE" jar, $2 goes in the "SPEND" jar, and $1 goes in the "GIVE" jar. She can spend her SPEND money on anything she wants (within reason), and there are certain things (like Christmas gifts) that she needs to budget and save her spend money for. Her GIVE money is for giving to others in need. We've been pretty flexible on what this looks like, but are generally trying to cultivate in her an attitude of "because I have been blessed with so much, I have plenty to share with others." If she wants to put money in the offering plate at church, it comes from her give money. If she wants to buy items to fill an Operation Christmas Child shoebox, it comes from her give money. If she wants to put money in the Salvation Army bucket, it comes from her give money. Her SAVE money is for unforeseen expenses, and saving up for big items. She currently says she's saving up for college and honestly, she's got a decent amount put away. It'll at least get her a semester's worth of books at this point, though we're certainly not holding her to waiting until college to spend it on books. She has broken a few things and needed to replace them, and that replacement has come out of her save money. Mostly, we want her to get into the habit of setting money aside to give to others and to save in case of emergencies. We also want her to have the freedom and experience of learning about discretionary spending.

Here's where we get into trouble... my husband and I often forget to give her the weekly $5. Sometimes we remember. More often than not, we find ourselves trying to calculate how many weeks it has been since the last time we remembered to do allowance. And often, we remember after she's gone to bed, so we are the ones dividing the funds between the jars instead of having her do it. Also, we have expressed that the $5 isn't automatic every week, but is dependent on her following through in doing the things we ask her to do throughout the week. Unfortunately, we didn't have a good way to track that, we just hoped she routinely complied with a good attitude so we never had to deal with the consequences of crossing that invisible line and revoking allowance for the week. We didn't have a plan... until recently, that is.

Enter: The Daily 5 punchcard.

Here's what I love about it:

1) Every week our daughter gets a punch card. It is HER RESPONSIBILITY to complete each of the 5 tasks each day, and bring the punchcard to me to punch when she has finished the tasks for the day. It doesn't require extra work on my part to remember. If she wants her allowance, she has to remember.

2) If she gets all 5 tasks done for the day, she gets a punch. If she gets 5 punches, she gets $5 at the end of the week. The parameters for earning her weekly allowance are very clear.

3) At the end of the week, it's HER RESPONSIBILITY to bring me the card with 5 punches and trade it in for $5, which she divides between the jars. Again, if she wants her allowance, she has to remember. She also gets a new punchcard when she turns in the old one.

The tasks can be switched up as needed, but she generally does the same tasks during the school year. These cards don't include the tasks she does over the weekend to get ready for the next week. On the weekends, she does laundry, picks out her clothes for the week and hangs them together in the closet, picks up her room (if she has time and/or I have the energy to keep her on task. We're still working on that one), and fills out her planner for school.

Because your tasks are bound to be different than our tasks, I've made a blank version for you to write in your own daily 5. Just right click and save to your computer, then print whatever size you need. I personally print 9 to a page and trim them to business card size. That seems to be the perfect size for us! If you want a PDF of 9, click the link below the picture. Enjoy!

Click HERE for a pdf

Saturday, January 2, 2016

I'm not OCD, I'm a teacher.

I am in the middle of my favorite chaos storm of the year, otherwise known as putting away the Christmas decorations. Last night Leif had a friend come over to play games, and as he looked around at the way I had things organized, he said, "This is a whole new level of OCD." I laughed, because all I saw were piles that had not yet made it to their final stage of organization. Then I realized he was actually looking at the labels I had on my bins. The labels that said 2017 Feliz Navidad and 2019 Red Green Gold. And he was taking pictures to show his wife. He asked why the future bins were even out, and I had an answer for him right away. That's when I began to wonder if he was on to something with his OCD comment. But he's not.

I'm not OCD. I'm a teacher.

You see, putting away decorations is almost as fun to me as putting them out each year. I decorate the Christmas tree and house on the day after Thanksgiving every year. It was the tradition in my home growing up, and it just feels right. When I returned to teaching a few years ago, I realized why we always decorated the day after Thanksgiving. You see, my mom was a teacher, too. And in the teaching world, you get two breaks for the holidays - one at Thanksgiving and the other at Christmas. If the tree, et al., doesn't go up right after Thanksgiving, it doesn't go up until Christmas break, which doesn't leave much time before the holiday. But the day after Thanksgiving is often also full of dishes and achy, tired feet that spent all day entertaining. So... I want the decorating process to be as smooth and joyful as possible, and that means planning ahead.

You know when I plan ahead for next year's joyful decorating? When I'm putting things away this year. The process isn't about putting away this year's decorations so much as it is about getting ready for next year. And the year after, and the year after... which is what our guest was commenting on.

Now, I will admit that I like to have different color schemes for decorating each year and those are planned out well in advance. I know the color schemes through 2019, which helps me when planning. And that's why those bins were out. Let me demonstrate:

2015 - Silver and Gold
2016 - Red and White and Silver
2017 - Blue and Red and Green (Feliz Navidad)
2018 - Black and Silver and Gold
2019 - Red and Green and Gold

So... this year I have a bunch of silver and gold items out that I am putting away. I won't need gold items again until 2018, so I can put them into that bin and I won't have to pull them out next year when I decorate. When I put things away, I will pull out all the bins so I can put the silver items in the 2018 bin, and the red items in the 2017 bin. I can also assess what items I will need (wrapping paper, etc.) for the following year and get those items on sale now, instead of paying full price later.

I also pick up some gift items now on sale, and wrap them up so they're ready to go and I can have gifts under the tree as soon as the tree goes up. Some might consider it OCD, but it's not compulsory, it's the set up for a smoother holiday next year, when I'm trying to do holiday stuff AND be a mom AND be a teacher. The holidays are busy. I don't want to have to try to think through all this then, so I do it now. As a result, I love putting away decorations, because it means I get to plan new, fun ideas for next year. And that is so much better than just putting things in boxes and moving on.