So the other day, I was trying to come up with a way to teach the boys the value of doing your work first and then enjoying some free time or a reward. It came to me that this concept is very similar to the difference between getting a paycheck or using a credit card. Think about it –
You go to work, put in your time, punch the timecard and 2 weeks or a month later you receive a paycheck. You can then put that money in your bank account to spend it. You don’t get to spend until you get your paycheck.
You go buy a couch or a TV or whatever other item has caught your eye, use your credit card and then have to go earn the money to pay back the bank (plus interest) for what you have already started to enjoy.
The raging debate in our house at this time is household chores. The boys all want to spend their screen time first and then do their chores. After talking with them about this concept of paycheck vs. credit card, they started to understand how important it is to work first, then use their “paycheck.” It stinks to have to pay off a credit card with no reward waiting for you. Just a few hours after this discussion, Simon realized that he had to finish paying off his “credit card” before he could start earning his “paycheck” of extra screen time.
Word to all parents of tweens/teens:
The discussion we had included what a paycheck is and how to get one, what a debit card is and its purpose, and what a credit card is and how they work. I was surprised at how confused my boys were (even the 15 yo) by the difference between a debit card and a credit card. I strongly suggest you ask your kids what they think the difference is. I’m glad I discovered their misconceptions now while I still have time to correct them. They need to know that not all cards are equal – and that sometimes a debit card and a credit card will be on the same card, but will function two different ways.