Making Their Own Money

Friday is payday in the Alphonso household. That’s when Ryan, 10, and Brianne, 8, collect payment from their parents, Stacey and Richard, for having completed their chores. The children are given coupons worth $1, $2, or $5, which can then be redeemed for cash. Stacey, 37, and Richard, 38, implemented the coupon system to keep track of payments. “Ryan is like Alex Keaton [of the sitcom Family Ties] and he was always claiming that we owed him money,” Stacey says. “With the coupons, it’s easier to monitor things.”

The coupon system also allows Stacey and Richard to teach their children how to exercise virtually the same responsibility they would with cash. Ryan and Brianne have to keep their coupons safe, and once they redeem them, they determine how much to tithe to church and how much to save. Their mother offers guidance, but ultimately she lets the children make the decision for themselves. “It’s better [they] learn this way so that money management becomes second nature; that way they don’t have to figure these things out later on in life.”

Brianne says the first thing she does is put away 10% for tithes. She buys small things like candy, but explains, “My mom has talked to us about saving, and so I put my money away so that I can buy bigger things once I have enough [to pay for them].”

Stacey uses the coupon system to teach Ryan and Brianne a number of life skills. Ryan initially sat down with his parents to negotiate a pay rate. He gets $2 a week for collecting and taking out the trash, and another $1 if he has to walk the dog. The beauty of it all is that reality hits home. Ryan gripes: “I think I should get $4 a week for the trash because it smells so bad.”

Some lessons the children learn are tough to swallow. Ryan recently took $6 worth of coupons to the mall and lost them. He then expected his mother to replace them, but she refused. “I told him that if I lost $20, I couldn’t go to my boss and expect him to pay me again. It’s hard, but I want him to learn the value of money.” The lesson has obviously stuck with him. When Ryan is asked what he’s learned by using coupons, his immediate response is: “I’ve learned not to lose them because my mom won’t refund them.”

The Alphonsos’ successful efforts to teach their children about money management are a creative example of DOFE Principle No. 7: to provide access to programs that will educate my children about business and finance.

Stacey also uses her home-based advertising and marketing business, Mecca Marketing Media L.L.C., to teach Ryan and Brianne about business and entrepreneurship. The children help their mother with mass mailings, filing, and other small tasks, and they’re paid for their work. They also critique her presentations and advertisements, and she discusses business strategy with them. “I’ve taught them about [business] finances,” says Stacey. “They