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I've written about the importance of respecting money in our family. And it's something we try to instill in our kids as early as possible. Johannah and Jackson (5 and 6) really enjoy earning money and learning how to keep a record of their little accounts.
At Bible time in the evening, when Jim Bob is reading and we're all sitting around together, the little ones will offer to rub daddy's feet or mommy's feet and we give them coins in exchange. It's so cute, and they get to earn a little bit of money.
It started a long time ago -- when I'm pregnant my favorite thing is to have my feet rubbed, and I just remember all those years during Bible time I'd prop my feet up and Jim Bob would say, "Okay, who wants to rub Mommy's feet?" And boy, there'd be all these little ones running toward me.
Initially Jim Bob would give the little ones quarters or a dollar, just so that they could see something tangible. Sometimes we still do that, but what we've learned is they lose it. Even though they may have a place like a piggybank or something to put the money in, inevitably they're so excited, they want to look at it and get it out, touch it, count it and feel it and then it gets scattered or lost, or they try to carry it in their pocket and we find it in the washing machine later.
And so now we let them get the joy of touching the money and seeing it and understanding it, but then we always encourage them by saying, "Now, if you really want it to be safe and know that you're not going to lose it, you can keep it in the bank." And what we have is a little ledger book; and we'll write whatever they put in the bank; we write it on the column where they've entered a certain amount. Anytime they take anything out of their account we write that down.
So if they go to the store and they want to spend $3 of their money on something like a big giant jar of pickles, then when we get home we take out the receipt and they get to write it on their little column, and then we help them subtract it from the last amount.
I used to carry a little small ledger book in my purse to help keep track of the kids' spending. But now I've let our daughter Jill (age 20) take over that responsibility. Back when I was in Little Rock with Josie in the NICU I just was out of the loop, so we passed that task on to Jill. So Jill's the banker for the family; she keeps the ledger and can help the other kids with their money while we're out on the road or wherever.
It's really cute -- usually at any given point you can ask the kids, "So how much do you have in your account?" And they'll answer right way, "I have $37.58." They know exactly what they have.
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