We have a pretty elaborate incentive system set up for the kids that we have been using for a few years. We sit down with them every other week or so and go through a bunch of items that we have designated as goals for them and we have tied a dollar value to each. We call this whole process/incentive system “The Dollar Drop” (Formerly known as “The Dime Drop”). The name came about because the children actually sit down around the kitchen table with me with a large plastic containers with their names on them – and I would literally drop the money into their container as they achieved their goals. Now I know some people are going to take some serious issue with how we do some of this – but it works for us, and it encourages a lot of conversations regarding money, the goals themselves, and what we are trying to accomplish with each goal.
There is a wide variety of goals on the list and they are subject to change as we deem necessary. Some goals are shorter in term, and others longer. Some are for all the children, others tailored to an individual. It is a true mish-mash that pushes and pulls them in many different directions! Our intent is that they find these goals challenging and that they spur some growth in various dimensions. What are some of these goals? Here are several examples. There is a goal to memorize the first 50 elements of the periodic table, juggling 3 bean bags for 33 cycles, producing & editing a YouTube video, scoring in soccer, reading chapter books, etc, etc. Sometimes we take their input in creating goals – other times they just come from us. We also do game-like vocabulary, math or science quizzes! I really try to keep it fresh, fun, interesting and challenging for them.
I will admit that the dime thing didn’t work too well – largely because the incentive was a little too small. On the flip side, the current system is probably (read that as definitely) too lucrative for them!! But there is a back-end to the system as well.
When we set out our family vacation destination for the up-coming year, they are all expected to contribute to the vacation fund as well as use their own money for souvenirs. Sometimes I ask them to contribute to a charitable cause, or to buy their own art supplies. We feel the system helps encourage them to be responsible, understand the role that money plays in life and empowers them to get some of the things they really want.
Earlier this year Gracie actually bought a pretty amazing and sophisticated drone with some of her own money! With regards to our vacations, we want the children to take some ownership in our savings goal and have some sense of accomplishment when we are able to achieve that goal and have our adventure fully funded. We want them to feel the trip is something they EARNED – and not something that mom & dad DID for them. (We also want them focusing more on experiences – see my Experiences More Important Than Things post)
But the single aspect of this whole crazy incentive system we have set up for them that I absolutely love the most is simply interacting with them, engaging them with a challenge, and getting to mentor and guide them in life as their father. We truly try to enjoy every minute of this oh – so- brief time in which they are entrusted to us and sitting around our family’s kitchen table.
To see the current incentives we have laid out for the children and their progress achieving them – please see the page Kids’ Accomplishments.
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