How young is too young to teach our kids about money? About bills and rent and grownup responsibilities they’ll face someday? According to Essence Evans, a mom to a 5-year-old little girl, kids as young as kindergarten are old enough to get it, and she’s got a unique tactic for driving those lessons home: by charging her kid rent.
The Internet, however, is split — some applauding her resourcefulness in preparing her child for real life, others criticizing her and saying “let kids be kids.”
In a viral Facebook post that’s been shared over 300,000 times since January 14, Evans writes:
“I MAKE MY 5-YEAR-OLD PAY RENT. Every week she gets $7 dollars in allowance. But I explained to her that in the real world most people spend most of their paycheck on bills with little to spend on themselves. So I make her give me $5 dollars back. $1 for rent $1 for water $1 for electricity $1 for cable and $1 for food. The other $2 she gets to save or do what she wants with.”
Sound a bit extreme? When you stop and think about it, maybe it’s not. After all, that’s actually how the world works. Giant chunks of our paychecks are taken out for taxes and bills and often what we are left with is a little depressing. But it’s real life. And a common criticism of the millennial generation is that they grew up spoiled, without much self-awareness or sense of personal responsibility. Pretty sure this mom’s daughter won’t have that problem.
In her post, Evans also explains that there’s more to the story — information that her child doesn’t know about just yet.
“Now, what she doesn’t know is the $5 is actually going away in her savings account which I will give back to her when she turns 18,” the mom writes. “So if she decides to move out on her own she will have $3,380 to start off.”
Imagine having a nest egg to get you started on your life when you are 18? Over three grand to pay college tuition, buy a car, or furnish an apartment. All because your mom started preparing for this day back when you were 5. Kind of awesome, no?
As long as other aspects of her daughter’s life allow her to enjoy the innocence of childhood, I think this idea is fantastic. If she can still color pictures, ride her bike, and play with her toys on Saturday mornings, I am pretty sure her childhood isn’t being robbed from her because her mom is already teaching her life lessons.
At least one commenter agrees, writing:
“She never said that they don’t get to be kids, she didn’t even break down what they do for that $7 so enough with the kids have to be kids. This is a brilliant way to teach kids the value of a dollar and she is also saving for their future. Raising a child has more to do with preparing them for the world then it does with giving them an easy life. Play is great, but life lessons are priceless.”
But not everyone backs the method.
“Kids need to be kids while they can,” wrote one commenter. “Teaching savings is one thing … But … They have the rest of their lives to pay bills. Kids are growing up too fast now. I don’t think I ever got an allowance. I had to do things because I was told to. Everyone had to do their part because we all lived there.”
Personally, I like the idea. Evans’s story has motivated me to get my butt in gear a bit with my own kids. As they turn another year older, I am reminded of how much other kids their age are doing — cooking, doing their own laundry, making their own lunches, mowing the lawn, and saving for college. I tend to let a lot slide around here because, well, for one, I am often a disorganized hot mess with lofty ambitions that never come to fruition. And also, let’s be honest. It’s easier to just do it all myself. I know they are going to mess up the laundry, so I just do it. Which is wrong. I am not doing them or myself any favors with my current method.
So to Essence, I say thanks for the reminder that kids can handle stuff. They are smarter than we think sometimes, and if we put off life lessons like this, we might realize in a few years that it’s too late and how they are 18 and haven’t saved a penny for their future. It’s up to us to get them started now. Because — newsflash — college tuition and rent and life expenses aren’t exactly decreasing in price any time soon.
And after all, as Evans says in her post, she IS giving her child a good deal: “This strategy not only prepares your child for the real world,” she writes. “But when they see how much real bills are they will appreciate you for giving them a huge discount.”
Lesson taught. Money saved. Boom. Parenting win.