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Forget the allowance: Let your kid be a banker

Mom teaches her daughter about money by giving her 'jobs' with a weekly paycheck.

By Teresa Mears Jan 18, 2011 3:52PM

Parents often debate whether it's better to give children an allowance or pay them for doing household chores.


Alisa T. Weinstein believes you should give your child a job as a paleontologist or an entomologist or a market researcher and pay her for that.


Weinstein has just published "Earn It, Learn It: Teach Your Child the Value of Money, Work, and Time Well Spent," after using the program from two years on her daughter Mia, now 6. She didn't want to give Mia an allowance because she wanted her daughter to work for the money, just as adults do. But she didn't want to pay her for household chores because she believes that chores should be shared by everyone in the household.


She hit upon the idea of letting her daughter try a career every week and then paying her for her work, an attempt to duplicate the real world in microcosm. Each week, she and her daughter choose a career, choose a task from that career, and her daughter does the task. When her mother is satisfied, Mia gets her paycheck.


She told Jennifer Saranow Schultz of The New York Times Bucks blog:

The beauty of paying children for emulating careers is that besides being fun, educational and engaging, without even realizing it, the children are getting valuable real world lessons. … You are teaching your child about how the world really works.

Her daughter has been a nurse practitioner, helping her injured dad; a banker, counting out change; and a lawyer, who presented a case that her favorite stuffed animal was the Best Toy Ever. You can read about Mia's career experiences in her mother's blog.


Weinstein's book has instructions for 50 career lessons, for kids 4 to 13, and an accompanying website, where you can print out materials for some of the lessons.


Karen at 3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires decided to try it with her two kids, whose ages she didn't mention. The first career she chose for her children was "mom."

I had both my kids help with all the things I do daily and weekly including making meals, doing laundry, taking care of the day care kids (with supervision, of course), doing paperwork, and even writing their own reviews of products. I think these two weeks of "being mom" have really raised their appreciation of me and what I do. There have been several times that they've said things like, "Man, you do A LOT!" They are very excited about pursuing the other careers in the book, and I'm looking forward to watching them learn as we go.

We've got to admit this sounds like an interesting approach, especially providing the children a chance to learn about careers they might never consider. But we can see it could be a lot of work for Mom and Dad.


How do you teach your kids about money? Do you think having them try "careers" would be a good lesson?


More from MSN Money:

Jan 18, 2011 7:24PM
Having younger kids try mock "careers" definitely seems positive and educational, and I like the fact that "Mom" is included as one of the careers (probably have to add 'Stay-At-Home-Dad" as well!)

Love the approach of learn-by-doing. Some other practical personal finance skills that I think are good to let your kids practice before you unleash them on the real world:

* making a budget and spending within it,
* saving for a purchase over a long period of time,
* identifying a charitable cause and giving some of their own time/money to it
* making a long term investment and learning about risk/reward, diversification, etc
* paying back a loan
* handling a credit card responsibly

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