From when our children could grasp the concept of money, my husband and I put together a chore chart to reward them for lending a hand around the house. In the beginning, they received 25 cents for putting their dish in the sink or hanging up their coat. Now that they are older and slightly more capable of handling bigger tasks, loading and emptying the dishwasher has made its way on the list and brings in a higher payout of 50 cents. (And for the record, overflowing sinks and broken dishes are not deducted from their accounts). As a result, the children have become “smart” savers. Their piggy banks are full and they tend to use their money wisely – almost too wisely. Let me explain.
At the beginning of Lent (the 40-day preparation for Easter), my daughter came home with two rice banks. These rice banks are essentially two card board piggy banks covered with photos of hungry children. I was so pleased that my daughter took it upon herself to bring home one for both herself and her brother. “We are going to make these kids healthy,” she explained to my skeptical five-year old son. To say I was overcome with emotion would be understatement. Seeing my daughter practice stewardship was ever so rewarding.
As the days passed, she would place money in not only her rice bank but in her brothers. In the meantime, I found myself misplacing dollars I thought I had in my wallet and change that seemed to be disappearing from coin cup in the car. I often allow the children to go into my wallet if they need $1 for snack door at school, but one morning in particular, I realized I lost $40. Frantic, I checked every pocket and purse I owned. I was so annoyed that I could be so careless and began questioning if whether I was taking on too much in life to have not realized that – A. I used $40 and could not recall where or B. I failed to notice it fall out from my wallet.
Upset with myself and minutes away from my daughter missing her bus, I dejectedly gathered my coffee and keys. When I called for my daughter to meet me outside, she responded, “Wait, Mommy. I have to fill my rice bank.” Not sure what, why or how, but suddenly I had the strange notion I knew where my money was disappearing to. Walking over to my daughter who looked ever-so pleased, I calmly asked her how much of her own money has gone into the rice banks. To which she simply responded,
“I save all my money and I am using your wallet money for these banks.”
“The sacrifice must come from you and not my wallet, ” I explained.
She remained quiet for a minute or two thinking about what I said. “Saving is hard when you have to give it to other people too,” she began. “Glad we have your money wallet or else we would be as hungry as these kids!”
So it seems the concept of sacrifice has not yet been fully achieved by seven-year old daughter. I left the money in the rice banks which will be due back at church in a few weeks and have made it a point to explain that a portion – even if tiny – must come from her own allowance. My five-year old observing these conversations turns to my daughter and says, “Give up candy next time. It’s not like Mommy gives us candy anyway.”
Ah yes….I suppose a semi-proud mommy moment is better than nothing.