Make the kids pay

Posted by Angelique Ruzicka on Monday, October 11, 2010

I think the kids today are a bunch of woosies. They get a scrape, a cut, they fall from a tree, and when they hurt themselves they (or their parents) want to sue. They play in areas they aren't supposed to, get into trouble or hurt, but they don't get reprimanded and their ears pulled like in the good ol' days. No, they (or their parents) sue the company because the property THEY trespassed was not 'kid friendly' or did not meet 'health and safety standards' or the company did not do enough to ensure that the kid could not scale the six foot wall or get past the electric fence.

Don't get me wrong, I don't believe that kids should get smacked, but I don't think they should be brought up believing that if they do something wrong they can blame someone else, sue them and get loads of money.

Kids today have got it all wrong, and so do their parents. That's what I've been thinking until I came across some ingenious parents a couple of weeks ago at my friend's farewell. These parents have got it right.

They have a son, and he's six years old. They charge him rent. Yes, you read right: they charge him rent! A six year old kid! They charge him R20 a month rent. How he gets the money together is his own problem. Obviously, he can't do anything illegal. But he can do as many chores around the house as he likes and he gets paid a fixed fee for doing them. For example, his parents pay him R2.50 for doing the dishes, R5 for picking up the dog poop, a rand a minute for massaging his mom's back, and so on.

I think it's ingenious. Of course, what the little sucker doesn't know is that his parents are taking his 'rent money' and stashing it away in a savings kitty. So when he gets older (18 years old) he will have access to the money to pay for that round the world trip, his first home, or his tertiary education. I think it's a brilliant idea.

All the while the kid learns the value of money. He learns how to earn a living, and he appreciates what his parents do for him. I watched him play on the jumping castle outside, and he was very well behaved. A cute, well rounded kid.

Next year, his parents say they will teach him about loans. They will say that he can 'borrow' money from them at interest (they will only add R1-2 a week to the loan for example). So, every year they up the ante. Genius!

I think I will do the same when I have children. Year six, they pay rent. Year seven, they learn about loans, year 8 they learn about mortgages and once they become teenagers I will teach them about credit default swaps, options and futures so that they become hedge fund managers and look after mommy and daddy when we become pensioners.

I have it all figured out, and I hope that you will do the same when you have kids. That way, we won't all be in debt. We will know the value of money and the banks will be begging us to take out loans rather than the other way around. They may not teach personal finance lessons at school (and they should), but that doesn't mean that you, as a parent, can't.

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