You can feel the excitement in the air: mothers can almost taste the freedom that arrives when the kids go back to school. Gone are the long days of summer when moms are responsible for entertaining kids. Soon, routine will set in and families will happily return to the safety of the calendar.
Not so fast: let’s fast forward to that Thursday night in October when you’ve got three kids who need to get to four different activities, and the youngest has just announced he needs to assemble a diorama to present – tomorrow.
For most parents, the calendar gets down right crazy when school picks up. Smart parents know it’s crucial to make effective use of the calendar. But, knowing this and making it work are two very different things.
That said, nobody wants to be the bad guy – it’s tough to say “no” when the kids are asking to participate in activities. We want them to try different things: to figure out what their passions are in life, to make friends, get exercise and learn new skills. The trick is not to go broke, or insane, in the process.
Guess what? You can simplify your calendar AND teach kids about money by using an activities allowance. It will make a huge difference in your calendar this school year:
- Take a look at the activities each of your kids participated in last year. Tally up (or estimate) the total expenses from those activities. Use that as the starting point for their activities budget for this year. Decide if that amount is what you really can afford and want to spend, or if you would like to decrease the amount this year. (Hint: decreasing the amount you spend will also decrease the time you spend shuttling kids to the activities)
- Sit down with your kids and let them know that their activities this year are going to be managed by them. They will get to choose their activities, but their decisions have to fit within their activities budget and the family’s schedule. This will automatically free up a bunch of time on the calendar, provided you’re not giving them an unlimited budget.
This is going to do a few cool things.
First, you’re going to eliminate endless requests to add yet another activity to the schedule. The answer will always be the same: “Sure, if you can afford it.” It’s also going to automatically generate consistency in how you communicate with your kids about their schedule and budget.
Every month, you’ll sit down with your kids to go over updates to the calendar and their remaining monthly activities budget. As a bonus, if you’re using our recommended process of handing out an allowance and using a monthly allowance meeting, the kids will be doing all of the work! They’ll be meeting with you every month to give you a status update.
Finally, asking the kids to pick and choose what they want to be involved in gives you insight to what is truly important to them.
If you’d like to know more about how to use an allowance to establish this kind of consistency in your family, or for more ideas on how to raise financially-savvy kids, check out our brand new free training! Click here for more info and to register.