I call my six-year-old son my little capitalist because he is always trying to volunteer the many different ways that he can make a buck. When he was four, his eyes lit up when I explained (in preschool language) the concept of interest and why that justified depositing his collection of coins in the savings account. He is more than happy to count our soda cans, and calculate the number of nickels he should receive, as long as he gets to keep the full amount. And he cheerfully does any number of tasks around the house for a small bribe.
Now he wants an allowance. I have three rules about a weekly arrangement: First, my kids must be fluent in identifying the different coins, etc. and in counting change. Second, they must have demonstrated, over an extended period of time, an ability to keep track of any dollars and cents they have in their possession, either by responsibly storing them in a wallet or in a piggy bank. Third, they must complete a set of chores each week.
Divvying up household responsibilities between my older son and daughter sometimes becomes a chore in and of itself. I want the tasks to advance with their age and abilities – and they want to see a relative rise in allowance amounts as their responsibilities increase.
So I found myself once again in search of a tool to help me organize this new family assignment. As I shopped for kid birthday gifts and the like at stores, I would look over the various charts and calendars I could hang on my kitchen bulletin board. As cute as they were, I didn’t see myself maintaining the system. Not to mention I had already promised myself to try to reduce paper.
So back to the online tools I went. And in doing a search, I came across the site DoughMain.com.
I’m still setting it up, but what I’m liking about it is that it’s not just a tool. It’s a system. And it can grow as my family grows.
There’s no cost to sign up. You can invite members of your family to join an account, and together you can share (and sync) a series of family functions. There’s a general online calendar that can be color-coded by person. An allowance scheduler helps me keep a log of the type, and amount, of allowance each child receives. I have the option to create an “Automatic” allowance or a “Custom” one based on certain criteria each week; automated reminders prompt me to act.
There’s also a Chores calendar that allows me to assign household duties to various family members, and track whether they’ve been completed. You can assign “Dough Points” to the tasks – these are points that a child can earn by completing a chore and are “deposited” into a virtual bank account once the task has been checked off. In this way, kids start to see the relationship between their work and related reward.
Kids can “redeem” their Dough Points for a Privilege. Parents can create a catalog of privileges, and associated point values, and the children can track themselves which ones they’ve earned.
As my kids get older, we can get more sophisticated with the tools. We can register bank accounts so that we can help them track deposits and savings. We can teach them smart credit card habits through a Visa Prepaid Card that we can monitor on the system. And we can list additional money requests that they might have in a tool that asks them to provide a reason, along with the amount.
So let the allowances begin …
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