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Chore Chart Adds Up

Purchased from "More Thank a Memory"

Purchased from “More Thank a Memory”

Is housecleaning getting you down? Do you wish your kids pitched in more? Have you tried and failed at implementing a traditional allowance system with your kids?

My answer would be yes to all three questions.

So a couple of weeks ago I scoured Etsy for a new plan. More Than a Memory caught my interest. You choose the chores, set the prices, and get one board for each child.

Probably you could make this yourself at home, but I was feeling very low on time and inspiration at the moment.  Luckily, I had some money in my Pay Pal account, so I was all set to let More Than a Memory be creative for me.

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Our new chore chart came on Friday and we’ve had fun with it all weekend.

(In real life, the two side boards have Bruce and Jenna’s real names on them, but I flipped the boards over for the purpose of privacy. )

When they each reach the $5 mark, they get paid.  That keeps me from dolling out a quarter here, a quarter there.

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The hard part was figuring out how much to pay for each job.  I might have made some key  mistakes, I’m not sure yet.  I posted this on my personal Facebook wall, and my friends kept joking “Send your kids over to me.  I’ll pay them $5.50 to clean my whole house!”

For more ideas on kids and money, please check out my Pinterest board.

 

Pocket Your Dollars

I received a copy of Carrie Rocha’s book Pocket Your Dollars, 5 attitude changes that will help you pay down debt, avoid financial stress, & keep more of what you make, in exchange for my honest opinion and review.  This book is published by Bethany House, but it is for the most part secular.

I was especially interested in Rocha’s book after recently reviewing Pound Foolish, exposing the dark side of the personal finance industry by Helaine Olen.  Olen’s thesis is that if you actually look at the research, most Americans don’t get over their heads in debt because they are leaking money on cappuccinos, but because something really bad happened to them, like they were out of work for several years, their cancer came back, or they suddenly had to raise their grandchildren.  Olen is critical of the traditional fiance “experts” for being sanctimonious and patronizing.

Pocket Your Dollars takes a much kinder approach than the talking heads you see on TV.  Rocha doesn’t yell at readers but instead helps them analyze the emotions behind their spending.

Still, the primary point of Pocket Your Dollars is in line with the rest of the personal finance industry.  “Americans have a spending problem.  If we just stop leaking money things would be different.”

I’m not sure I buy that anymore.

If your adult child becomes paralyzed what should you do?  If you were part of an industry (like home construction) that had three or four horrible years in a row, then what?  What happens if your adult parent (who didn’t have long-term care insurance) develops Alzheimer’s and you need to take care of your mom or dad? There are a myriad of financial disasters out there waiting for you that are entirely out of your control.

On page 38 Rocha writes out a message for readers to internalize:  “Others may have had a negative influence on me and my finances, but I chose to associate with them.”  Try telling that to a parent camped out in Children’s hospital caring for a sick child.

I would have liked Pocket Your Dollars a lot more if there had been more understanding about crummy bad luck.  But still, I like Carrie Rocha’s message a lot better than a lot of the other books out there.

A lot of books I read once and then donate to our local library.  This one I’m going to keep.

The truth about money advice

A while back I read Michelle Singletary’s review of the book Pound Foolish, Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry by Helaine Olen.   Intrigued, I checked it out from the library.  It was so good I stayed up late to finish it all in one day.

Olen’s point is that most of the so-called financial experts Americans listen to are saying a variation of the same thing: “When a middle class family gets into debt it’s because they made stupid financial decisions on big ticket items or little things like buying fancy coffee.  Rich people don’t make these bad decisions and that’s why they are rich.  If Americans listen to the experts and stop wasting money, everyone could be rich.”

Sound familiar?  We (the average American Joe) believe what the money gurus say because everyone knows at least one person who got into debt by making dumb decisions.

But Olen says that when you really look at the numbers and research why Americans fall into debt, it’s not because they were going to Starbucks or buying an RV.  It’s because instead of losing their job for three months, they were unemployed for two years.  Or maybe they were diagnosed with cancer and their health insurance was lousy.  Or maybe they didn’t have any insurance at all.  Or maybe their adult child became paralyzed and they had to provide care.  Or maybe they ended up having to raise their grandchildren. Or maybe their salary is actually lower than what it was ten years ago, but the cost of food gas and everything else is higher.  Or maybe they bought a house, the market tanked, they lost their job, but then they got a new job in another state, but now they have to be out-of-state landlords on a house that is losing money.  Or maybe…( you get the idea.)

All of that is a whole lot more complicated than the fanciful idea of Americans frittering money away on a daily cappuccino habit.

It’s also really sobering.

If the average uninsured American is just one medical diagnosis away from total economic disaster, that means that our entire economy is unstable.  If my neighbor gets sick I want them to receive medical attention because #1 it’s the right thing to do, and #2 if they lose their house due to medical bills, that will effect the worth of my house too.

This book really made me understand why universal health care is important to our economy.

Another thing I loved about Pound Foolish was the shout-out to one of my favorite blogs Bad Money Advice.  I’m so sad that former hedge fund manager Frank Curmudgeon has stopped blogging, but I am happy to think that he must now be employed again.

Finally, Helaine Olen’s book introduced me to the website Playspent.org.  It’s a free game that lets you figure out how you would survive as a single mother earning $9.  Like Olen, I’ve played this game over and over again and I still can’t make ends meet.  It is very heartbreaking.

I’m ending this post with a picture of the grocery sack my family is going to fill up for our local food bank this week, and a quote from John Wesley.

“Earn all you can, give all you can, save all you can.”  John Wesley

That’s the financial advice that I try to follow.