Money conversations

My Kid Is Not Motivated By Money

At the end of every school year, the teacher sends home a few summer learning packets. There is normally a packet for math and one for reading/language skills.

You’ve probably heard the statistics on summer learning loss — that kids lose at least one month of learning over the summer. I’m in favor of the idea of these packets, but in practice they’ve never worked for us.

We just don’t get around to it. Summer is busy and fun, we’re outdoors trying to soak up every last bit of warm weather and daylight that we can. We’re doing all of the things that we don’t get to do the rest of the year — swim, camp, picnic and hit the local amusement parks.

So this summer, I had a brilliant idea (or so I thought). I had the solution that would motivate J to want to do those worksheets.

I offered to pay him.

We sat down and talked about the plan — I’d give him $0.50 per page (per side!) and his goal was to do 5 sides per week. So not a lot, right? Just something to keep his skills fresh AND let him earn a few dollars in the process.

I think it worked one week. $2.50. (And that’s in addition to the interest I pay him monthly, which is up to $6.21 as of last month, and $9 allowance every two weeks. So he has the potential to earn some serious cash, for a 9-year-old.)

He just doesn’t appear to be motivated by money.

I’ve tried chore charts to get him motivated. There is a list on our fridge of unpaid chores (drying dishes, taking out the trash) and paid chores (cleaning the floors, dusting, shredding papers). The only thing he ever wants to do is shred papers. (Honestly I think it’s more because he likes the machine than wants the money.)

He doesn’t remember if I’ve paid him his allowance or not. When he receives cash as a gift, he’s not overly excited.

He would rather read, play with Legos, hang out or go somewhere fun. You know, do kid stuff.

As I write this, I think, maybe this isn’t a bad thing?

He doesn’t have to be motivated by the endless pursuit of money. Maybe my focus should be more on teaching him to manage the money he has and less on “here are 10,000 ways you can earn more money.”

Maybe it’s also time. At 9, he doesn’t have a lot of worries or wants even. But later, he might.

So while I don’t have any hope that we’ll ever conquer those summer learning packets, I’ll keep thinking of ideas to teach him about money in a way that engages him.

What about you? Were you motivated by money as a kid? Are you motivated by money now?

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