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Motivate Your Kid To Work With A Money-You-Could-Have-Earned Account

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
~Thomas Edison

Is your child passing up opportunities to earn a few extra bucks around the house?

You: “I’ve put together a list of odd jobs above and beyond your unpaid chores. The amount I’ll pay you is next to each one. See? Like $4 to wash my car. Whaddya say?”

Your kid: “Nah, I’ll pass. Doesn’t seem worth it.”

Sounds like it’s time to set up a Money-You-Could-Have-Earned account. It’s a way to teach your kid that a few dollars here and there add up to significant dollars over time — especially when you factor in forgone compound interest.

Here’s how the system works in FamZoo (but you could do the same thing manually with a spreadsheet or even a notebook):

  • Set up a separate tracking account. Create a separate IOU account to track the amounts your child could have earned for all those ignored opportunities.
  • Set up a savings interest rate. If you offer your kid an awesome parent-paid interest rate on savings (like you should!), apply the same settings on the tracking account. That way, the rolling balance will reflect the missed compounding opportunity in addition to just the forfeited job earnings.
  • Set up an odd job checklist. Create a checklist of odd job opportunities around the house. Set the due date to indicate how long the opportunity is available. If it’s something that can be done on a repetitive basis like weekly or monthly, set the repeat frequency accordingly. Add a reward amount for each opportunity that credits the appropriate account for your kid when the item is marked completed.
  • Set up expiration credits to track the missed opportunities. This is the key part. Fill in the Expires setting on each entry so the opportunities will lapse shortly after each due date. Then, add a reward to each item that only triggers when it expires. The expiration credit should match the amount that would have been earned if the job had been completed. Direct the automated deposit toward the Money-You-Could-Have-Earned tracking account.
  • Rub it in (optional). Your kid will now be seeing the growing Money-You-Could-Have-Earned account alongside other accounts. But if you want a little more proactive prodding, you can set up a checklist alert that will text your kid every time an opportunity expires. Ouch! Over the top? Your call...

Of course, I can’t guarantee that this will convince your kids to seize every odd job opportunity, but at least they’ll know exactly what they could have been worth — down to the last penny of interest.

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