This has been an exciting year so far in the world of financial education. In January, I crafted a home economics course for families to complete at home. New Dimensions’ Home Economics course simulates real-life situations that includes choosing an occupation, completing job applications, attending mock interviews, and more! Mock paychecks were given to users that were used to pay for monthly expenses that showed the user what to expect in real-life situations. Along with weekly paychecks, bonuses were extended for good grades and helping around the house. Additionally, fines were given for rudeness and missing homework assignments.
In February, my son, 15, and daughter, 14, piloted this home economics program. My primary goal was for them to learn how to how to fill out a job application, answer interview questions, write out checks, balance a register, and set up a budget. We chose our work week to go Sunday mornings thru Saturday mornings, with Saturday afternoons set aside for the finance portion of the program. They received their paychecks, filled out deposit slips, and added their deposits into their register. Together we would review their monthly expenses to ensure they were on track to satisfy these expenses or to see if the following week meant taking a little more initiative to earn extra money. They also had to fill out new job applications for their new job starting Sunday morning. I held another round of interviews and went over the job expectations for the following week. These job choices included Bathroom Attendant (picking up/cleaning the bathroom), Chef (menu planning, helping prepare meals, dishes, and keeping the kitchen picked up), Dry Cleaner (washing, drying, and folding laundry), and Custodian (sweeping, taking the trash out, and picking up around the house). They also had monthly expenses compared to what adults pay, rent (bedroom), food, utilities, transportation, personal items, and contributing to a savings account, insurance, and of course fun.
How did we do? Well, just like every busy family, some of their jobs did not get accomplished every day. I focused on the positives of what they accomplished, and less on what they did not. We had some great discussions on time management and how it relates to all aspects of our lives. However, they are still kids trying to adapt to the crazy, ever-changing world we are living in. At first, my son said having him pilot this program was just like being a lab rat, I laughed and have now nicknamed him Squeak. My daughter had the hardest time completing her jobs because of sports and poor time management when she was home. However, the bonuses for good grades helped them increase their income and their grades in school. I would call that a win! I also noticed after the first week they were a little nicer to each other. All those fines the first week for being rude, mostly to each other, quickly added up. Both the kids are getting to the age when filling out job applications and attending job interviews are in their near future. Learning how to budget will become increasingly important the older they get and as their income and expenses increase and change. When asked what they thought of the program, here is what they said:
“I liked working in the kitchen, cooking dinner, and meal planning was fun. It was a good learning experience to receive a paycheck and budget it for all the monthly expenses that I would have to do as an adult. Learning that there are different percentages for different expenses will help me stay within a budget as I get older.” ~ Hailey
“I liked filling out job applications and answering the interview questions the most. I feel it will give me an advantage when I go to apply for my first job this summer. I also liked that I got bonuses for good grades, which helped me increase my savings. The percentage list that you gave us for our monthly expenses was cool, and that regardless of the amount of money you make these percentages stay true to help you live within your means”. ~Dean
I feel that the program was a success even though some jobs did not get completed daily. However, learning basic budgeting skills, contributing to savings consistently, balancing a register, and writing checks are skills that will help them be successful in the future. Keep your eyes open for more information and the opportunity to try this with your children at home!