Full question: What were your kids required to pay for when they were in middle school and high school? How did they earn/receive money before getting traditional jobs?
One really interesting thing is how often people mentioned paper routes (about 75% of the parents who answered), along with the usuals such as babysitting and mowing lawns. Allowances were rare but many had a system worked out for various expenses such as determining how much money or how many clothes they would buy per year, and then the kids had to come up with anything above that. A couple of them mentioned having a "teenager" car that the teenages had to pay gas for. Some had their kids work during the school year and some didn't - it would be interesting to cross-reference that with those whose kids got through college via work or via scholarships.
Anna (and Gerry)
All of our children held jobs of one type or another during their middle and high school years. In middle school, they all did some babysitting, both the girls and the boys. The girls did the most babysitting, while the boys all mowed lawns in the summer, or did other yard work. During the school year, two of the boys worked as custodians at the elementary school, after school every day.
In high school, they had various jobs. The two girls continued to babysit when they could, one worked as a cashier at a store nearby, one worked at a doctor’s office, and later a law firm while in high school. A couple of the boys worked construction, or at the local garden store during the summer. One tried a fast food place, but after working a few Sundays, he quit and found something better for him. They were all blessed to never have a job where they worked on Sunday, with the exception of the above mentioned.
We gave each of the kids a predetermined amount of money each year for school clothes. It was interesting to see how they used that money differently. Some bought pricey jeans, and could only get a few items, others stretched it further and bought many more articles of clothing of a less expensive variety. If they felt like they needed more than their allotted amount allowed, they had to use their own money. We believed that they learned some valuable lessons about wants -vs.- needs during that time. We provided a car for the teenagers (it had to be shared), and we paid the insurance as long as their grades stayed high enough for the better rates. However, they had to provide their own gas for their comings and goings. (That worked well, because some of them learned how beneficial it was NOT to drive to school every day—or to take turns with a friend etc.)
We gave them enough money for school lunches, or I’d make them a lunch from home if they wanted. If they chose to eat out somewhere else for lunch, they had to pay the difference. They paid for dates, for the most part. If they were a little short, we’d help them out from time to time, but they had to plan their dates and activities to be within their budgets. School trips (choir etc.) were an expense that we shared with them. If it was important to them, they could come up with part of the money.
We paid for school expenses such as fees and for AP tests etc. Basically, we paid the NEEDS, and they had to pay for their WANTS. It worked well for us, as they all pretty well put themselves through college because they had learned how to budget not only their money, but their time as well. We think that they learned a lot about responsibility early in life by not having everything just handed to them.
If I had it to do all over again, and had all the money in the world at my disposal, I’d still have my children pay their own way to the extent possible.
Marsha (and Richard)
Our children were looking for ways to earn money. This included doing lawns, babysitting, cleaning bathrooms at my husband’s business, newspaper routes, working for neighbors, etc. Occasionally we paid them for an extra job they did for the family, like painting, or extra work that needed to be done, however, they tried to find work that took the burden off of us by going to outside sources of work.
By the time a child reached 12 years of age, he was sharing in his own support. They paid for all their own recreational activities unless it was a family activity. We covered fees for lessons, sports, camps, lunch money, etc. for the most part until they were older and could hold regular jobs. We supplied coats, shoes, and 3 outfits each school year and they paid half on any other clothing that they needed or wanted. If they wanted an especially expensive item that we traditionally bought, they also paid half for that. Christmas and birthday gifts added to their wardrobe and possessions and were especially appreciated. They covered their own gifts to others, which sometimes required some real creativity when money was not available. They were good to also pay their church donations, etc. and were blessed for doing so, realizing the value of being honest with the Lord.
Once we tried to give our high school daughters a checking account and deposit the money they would need for lessons, lunch, etc. and let them handle it to help prepare them for college. That worked with one daughter but was a disaster with another. We gave up on that idea, but by college she did fine. Occasionally but rarely, in college we had to rescue a child and work out a budget or pay a fee as they learned. Most were humbled by our willingness to help them and did not see it as our duty. One child said years later that her understanding and testimony of the atonement was strengthened by one such incident. By college our children felt the financial responsibility was on their shoulders and we were helping them voluntarily.
No rules were hard and fast. They were guidelines and the children felt responsible as they strove to do their part. It created some good self-esteem. Taking responsibility for themselves in most cases strengthened their relationship with the Lord. They looked to Him for help before they came to us. That’s an important pattern to develop. It has paid off in later years.
Danielle (and Jake)
My children were required to pay for all school related expenses, clothing, and fun money. One of my children actually made our requested $25 per month car insurance payment to us. My three sons and 1 daughter did a local Tribune/deseret news route. Our family did a total of 12 years routes. It was hard but they always had money. For the most part they did the route on bikes in the AM. When it conflicted with before H.S. swim practice, they passed it on to the younger sibling. At 15 they all became lifeguards and worked every summer and 1 or 2 shifts a week lifeguarding.
We had 1 vehicle that was designated as the High School 'runner' for getting kids to swim and school. We owned the car, it was not the kids. They used it with permission and they put gas in it. We were in charge of it.
Barbara and Daniel
When our kids were in Middle and High School we provided a home (place to unwind, be loved, and study), food, use of a car when needed, and help when needed with home work. They were expected to study and complete all assignments. No one owned a car until college, and then only if they really needed it and could afford it. Getting an education was first priority.
We had a paper route in our family for 20 years. Each took their turn. When the next one took over they got another job. If they came up short on what they really need, we would help if we could. We taught our children self sufficiency early because it helped them grow and appreciate the value of money. Each child had a job to do for the family and took care of their own rooms. We did not give them money on a regular basis.
Rachel (and Bennett)
All of our children worked at a part-time job during high school. Before that we encouraged them to earn money doing extra work for us in the yard and around the house. We wanted them to pay for their clothes, and pay for their food and activities with their friends. I had one child who saved money for a car. When she had saved $500, we helped her with the rest-- a pretty inexpensive car, but she was happy with it. With other children, we tried to get them to pay for the use of a car, but that didn't work very well. Some parents tell their children, that their work is to get good grades, and then they provide for the wants and needs of their children. I never felt totally comfortable with that approach. I wanted them to learn what it's like to earn a paycheck, to budget for their wants, to pay tithing, and save. When they wanted clothes or other things I didn't really want to buy for them, it was easy to say, "Save your money for it!" I didn't do as well in teaching them to work, and the value of money as I would have liked, but today they thank me for teaching them to work. I'm still not sure what is the best way to approach the subject. However a parent decides to do it, I feel it is important to teach our children the value of work, and the value of money that can be earned doing work. I feel it is important to teach our children to budget, to pay their tithing, and to save.
Marianne and John
We had a deep belief in the work ethic and that "a tired kid is a good kid". Our children all earned most of their spending money from an early age. They had all the traditional paper routes, babysitting, cleaning, mowing lawns, etc. during middle school years. In high school they all had part-time jobs. Some were just one or two nights a week or a Sat. job because of school involvement in sports, musicals, etc. That was fine with us because we considered those activities "work". Special purchases from us were reserved for Christmas or birthday gifts. Because we always wanted our children to be able to feel like they could have what they really really wanted (and was worthwhile) we would always go half with them. For instance if they wanted a new bike (and we felt like the one they had was fine) we were still willing to match their funds. After earning a lot of money for something, quite often, they either decided they didn't want to part with their hard-earned cash or they really took care of their purchase. They always had to put away 10% for tithing and 10% for savings.
Mary (and Robert)
The kids had allowances when they were young though we weren't very consistent until the older ones were young teens. We gave them money on the theory that they were part of the household and everyone who contributed was entitled to share the wealth. We winged it in other words. When they had the opportunity they did paper routes, babysitting, lawnmowing, etc.
When they had allowances they also had budget boxes. They paid tithing, put 50% in a mission fund, and then had spending money. They weren't "required" to pay anything in particular but if we couldn't afford something they had to come up with the money on their own. We shared our own struggle with money pretty openly and taught them by our poor example. I think they learned their style of budgeting from the determination to do better than their parents.
Melissa and Henry
When our children were growing up they participated in taking care of our home, inside and out, which they did as part of being a family member. There were a few jobs that they did that they could earn money by doing them. Unfortunately, we weren't too consistent with allowances for each of them. During the school year they knew that they were expected to be students. Our two girls did some babysitting, and a few hours a week at their Dad's office. During the vacations the four boys also had some opportunities for working a variety of jobs. Family participation in caring for our home paid for girls' camp, scout camp, and church sponsored outings, and music equipment and piano lessons. They usually had money for small incidentals. Most of their social activities didn't cost money. The advantage of being older and looking back at what you did, tells us that we must have done something right as they all care for their homes inside and out, and are careful spenders.
Next week's question: How (when, where, who, what) did you teach your kids about sex and how old were they?