Tag: money

Dealing with Chores: Everyone gets Paid

I have been leery of writing about this since we have only really had a one week trial, well, a little over a week. But so far it is working. It is interesting to see what aspects are and what aspects aren’t. Also, Rachel is still out of town so that will change the dynamic when she returns but here goes.

You may remember, if you have read this site for anytime at all, that roughly 2 years ago we quit chores. No more chores. We were done. After that there were some whiny posts as I dealt with my own baggage regarding chores.

A lot has changed since then. I now work full time. The family is here all day without me, making messes without me here to clean up as I go. When Shamus isn’t working a lot he will do dishes or clean the bathroom and the kids pitch in occasionally but they are all busy with their own stuff and a clean house isn’t a huge priority to them. We still do Saturday Sabbath which is wonderful, and the house stays relatively clean because we don’t have a lot of “stuff” and we do have a pretty good system in place for that. The problem is that I work Sundays. Twelve hour Sundays. And Monday I like to rest and get caught up on computer stuff I missed out on at work. So coming home to a mess- dishes in the living room, dishes in the sink, random stuff on the table. Not huge messes but not neat, not calm, not clean, was getting frustrating. Working 36 hrs a week and then taking Grandma shopping each week and doing our own family shopping…well, I was getting cranky and exhausted. I was burning out. It isn’t that the family wasn’t getting anything done. They were but I was picking up the slack anytime it didn’t get done (I have higher standards of cleanliness than everyone else, except Issac- but he keeps his room and desk clean and doesn’t notice the rest), and most days it came down to me.

We needed a solution.  There were certain things we knew from past experience it had to be:

  1. It had to be elegant. Simple. Easy to implement. None of us have the energy or time to fuss with details. I hate lists and schedules. So does the rest of the family. So no lists, no schedules. No “standards”.
  2. It had to be something we could all do- no “kids get paid for jobs that parents do for free” (leading to cranky parents when kids choose not to help).
  3. It had to benefit everyone and everyone had to agree it was fair.
  4. It had to allow for various quality of work and reward accordingly.
  5. It had to be easy to figure out and make sure people got paid and work with when we couldn’t pay due to no money.

It was tricky to come up with something that would work for that list, but suddenly it all fell into place. We would pay per hour. That was it. For any work done to benefit the family that member would get paid. Each member has their own rate based on experience, quality of work, time taken to do work. After a lot of talking it out we came up with the kids starting at $5 per hour and myself and Shamus getting $10 per hour- I am faster and more experienced but not as meticulous, he is slower but super high quality work when he does it. Issac is like Shamus. Takes forever to do a load of dishes but every dish is perfectly clean, dry, and put away neatly. Es is more like me, hurried but doesn’t take long. We used “doing a load of dishes” as our measurement with the goal of “each family member earning roughly $2.50 for a whole  load of dishes. That is the job that needs done most often. That is the job that is most easily measured because we know how each person does the job. Each kid can up the quality/speed of their work and get paid more per hour. That is the only time they need to show us their work. They need to prove they have consistently upped the quality of their work in order to get a raise. Otherwise we have a sheet of notepaper on the wall and everyone just notes an estimate of time spent.  5 minutes sweeping the floor? Mark 5 min. on the sheet. An hour cleaning a room, or doing laundry, or shopping for groceries? Mark an hour. Whatever.

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This picture is from back when Issac was about 8. He is 12 now. I want to pat his head, the tiny thing. (He is now my height and about to pass me up.)

Yes, it takes trust, and we trust the kids and they trust us. It is up to them if they write something down or not. If they want to do something out of love then awesome. If they want to put down the time spent helping me take Grandma shopping then great. If they can’t remember exactly what time they started something and estimate, it is fine. No stress.

So how has the first week gone?

Esther worked 4.5 hours. She helped with several projects she would never have helped with in the past.  She worked harder in hopes of working her way up to $6 an hour. She also spent quite a bit of time figuring out the math behind how much she needed to save up for a game she wanted and helped her brother do the same. She worked till she had enough to buy the new game she wanted and stopped unless I asked for help for something, but it was still wonderful having a sparkling clean kitchen when I got home from work. She also learned a lot about how her sister and I, and pretty much every other person who has cleaned something only to have to do it again the next day,  feel about  cleaning the kitchen- “It is really frustrating, I worked so hard to get it really clean yesterday and already it is messy again and we have to do it all over again.”

Issac worked 2.5 hours and 10 minutes or something like that. Enough to buy a game he wanted and get his Roblox Builder’s Club for the month. He is talking about working a little each day so he can save up for a new computer but hasn’t gotten to the point of doing just yet.

Shamus worked 1.5 hours but  spent a lot of the time I was home and awake writing.

I worked 9.5 hours. That included some projects I had been putting off so isn’t really my norm. It was so much easier to do that knowing I was going to get some reimbursement for my time, that my time was important. I love serving my family, I have been doing it for 17 years now but it was nice to feel valuable, and also to feel like I wasn’t just spending money that needed to go to other things. The money I spend is “mine”. I can use it to buy people things but there is no guilt and no stress. (I recognize that I am working for my money “twice”. So is Shamus. It is more a system for divvying up money that lets everyone help out and feel valued. I am thinking in general I will end up closer to 4 hours a week, maybe 5, which is much more reasonable financially.

In general the house is staying cleaner- everyone knows how it feels to clean and have it messed up again and forming habits of cleaning up after themselves. The kids now have a real means of earning money towards bigger things, it is no longer in our hands, it is in theirs. Everyone is happy because we all have an easy way to get spending money. If we don’t have the money at the time then it will be “saved” until we do. I plan to finance my traveling out of that, as well as games clothes, treats, etc for all. This means we will likely, in the long run, spend less as a family than we normally do when money isn’t tight.

It will be interesting to see if this is something we can continue or if we find it is just too expensive or if it just falls to the way side. For now it is really working and we all are pretty happy with the results.

Addendum:

I neglected to add that I post jobs that need done to the door frame using mini post-it notes, which get tossed when a job is done (or for recurring jobs they get put in a pile). And for Sabbath prep I move the notes to the table so all can see what needs done an grab what they want to do.

It occurred to me that it is likely that, in the future, we could hire people for a set time for more regular job and have everyone sign up. For instance, “I would like to hire someone to do this job  each day and whoever wants it can do it each day or once a week or whatever. ” Or we can do a scheduled time each day more like a regular job. The possibilities are endless.   We could also offer an extra $1 an hour for certain jobs. For now we are keeping it simple and we will add to it as it is needed or as we figure out what works.

This has all already lead to a conversation about how  Issac would like to save us money by not charging. I pointed out that even better he could do more jobs and even if we are paying him, by not paying me he will be saving our family $5 an hour. He thought that was pretty cool.

A Few Cents

We are literally having a miracle of one sort or another a day and are totally living on faith so I figure I should keep sharing and giving God glory for what He is doing, even in the small things.  I know it helps for me to remember how faithful He is being as we go the route He has obviously planned for us (every time we try to do things differently it all falls through so we are being very careful to stay in His will–and right now that seems to mean Shamus writing and me painting and doing some web design work with a little extra work on the side) and hopefully it will encourage others who have found themselves in tight situations.  Yesterday’s awesomeness kind of trumped a smaller but just as meaningful little miracle the day before that I had intended to share.

On Wednesday Rachel had planned a daddy date that fell through due to Shamus’ migraine.  She had wanted him to take her to JC Penney’s to use the gift card she had gotten for her birthday.  Needless to say she was very disappointed when he couldn’t take her.  I offered to take her instead since I had library books to return and a Michael s gift card to use.  After stopping at the library where she ran into a friend she hadn’t seen in a while we went to JC Penney’s.  At first she was not too enthusiastic, but we quickly found several things she loved (including the ninja shirt she was wearing in the pictures yesterday).  We then headed to Michael’s where what I wanted was seriously on sale.  I didn’t need the whole gift card and Rach found a sketch pad she had really wanted on sale and asked me to use the rest of my gift card to get it.  It worked out so that I was only over by  26 cents which was perfect since I only had  about $1 in change on me.  As we left I realized that I had a shirt Rachel had gotten for Christmas in my bag that needed to be returned to Walmart.  I had lost the receipt so we weren’t sure how it would work out but thought it worth a go.  Rach decided that since I had gotten her the sketch pad she would give me the equivalent from what she got back on the shirt so we could pick up some eggs.

We returned the shirt and wandered around the store as Rach looked for things she might be interested in buying.  After picking several different things then putting them down we finally found a scarf she liked enough to buy and headed over to get the eggs.  It was there in the dairy aisle that Rach spotted the organic pancake batter spray bottle she and her siblings loved and always begged me for (which I nearly always refuse being that it is $4.15 for 13 pancakes!!!)  She decided to spend her $4 of Christmas money from the shirt on that (partly because it is her favorite but also because her siblings adore it and always spend their Christmas money on each other and on her so she wanted to do something special for them) and gave me the other $1 (plus the $2 for the eggs) to get something else to fill in the gaps in our pantry.

We wandered around the grocery section for a while, picking up and putting down, trying to decide the best way to use that $1.  At this point I know I had some change in my purse but hadn’t bothered to count it exactly (but as you know I had 70 cents.)  After realizing that nearly all the fresh produce in our price range had mold or was past its best we headed to the canned goods to get Shamus some of his beloved green beans.  I got 2 cans and a can of tuna (figuring that I might have enough change for all three if I searched hard enough and could always put one back if I didn’t.)

I was attempting to figure out how much exactly we needed as we approached the register so Rach could run and put something back and we wouldn’t inconvenience the cashier.  As we got in line (and I was still figuring) a cashier came over from another lane to say she was open so so much for that.  I realized just as we got there that we were over by a quarter, and after much searching I realized I didn’t have it and would have to put back a can of green beans.  (Now this is just a matter of cents and if you are not in a place where cents matter then it is not a big deal but in this case it was and a can of green beans would be a big help and make Shamus very happy.)  So, I was a bit disappointed and let the cashier know before hand that I would probably have to take off a can when we were done.  However, as she checked each item out the can of pancake batter came up  cheaper and when it was all said and done I still had a nickel left.

Like I said, it probably doesn’t seem like a big deal but these are the moments tend to amaze me most since it reminds me how much God cares about the details.  Sure it is only a few cents but He cared enough about those few cents and provided.  He cares about those small things.  He cares that my husband can focus because he can grab some green beans or tuna when he is hungry and I haven’t had a chance to make a meal.  He cares that my kids love that pancake batter and  that Rachel was trying to do something nice for her siblings.  He cares about our wants as much as about our needs and wants to give us good gifts, even if it is just some eggs and a couple cans.  He cares about Rachel’s love of all things ninja, that she needed long sleeved shirts and a scarf with cloves attached (which is adorable and keeps her from forgetting gloves).  He cares that we have what we need to be free to create.  He cares that we have our daily bread whether it is food, clothes, or whatever we need to be the best people we can be.

And yesterday Rachel came to me and said, “I am glad we are poor.”   When I asked why she explained that we are so much more appreciative of things both big and small when we have little and that when we had the ability to just get what we needed and buy small treats that we didn’t appreciate them nearly as much.  That alone is the perfect reminder that God is at work, that He would open the eyes of my 13 year old to this truth, a truth that often grown ups don’t see.

I think she is right, though I would really like to be able to pay our bills on time.  I know what it is like not to get paid for work done and really want to make things right but even there God is working and will do as He has planned.

On God, Provision, and Money

My husband and I have felt God leading us to pay off our debt for some time. But He has clearly indicated that we are to do it His way and not the world’s way. We have no budget but instead keep a balance of cash in the bank, a cushion against bouncing checks. Yes, we have tried a budget but as I have mentioned before neither of us is good at focusing on it, it makes us both very stressed and cranky, and it holds us back in the area of giving (give freely so that one hand doesn’t know what the other hand is doing is a constant cry from my heart.) I realize that every single money ministry out there explains how to do this with a budget but it doesn’t work for us and God has made that VERY clear to us.  So, that is where we are, paying extra on one big debt at a time (we have already paid off Rachel’s hospital bills both from her birth and from her hospital stay and ambulance trip a few years ago, as well as my husbands doctors bills and the car and hope to pay off the new windows and continue to pay down my college loan in the next six months), and keeping a small cushion in the bank with a home equity line to back us up in an emergency.

God has taught us a lot about ourselves and how He wants us to manage our money in the meantime, blessing us when we are keeping our eyes on Him and trusting, and withholding funds and sending us multiple emergencies when we start relying on ourselves and our “plan” (not all the emergencies are warnings, but some of them clearly have been).  Because we have a base salary that is stable (my husband’s work) that pays ONLY for the basics and minimum payments and rely on extra incomes from both of us for  paying down debt and treats it is very clear when we are moving in the right direction. 🙂

Having said all that, this weekend was an interesting experience money wise.  One of the reasons my husband said to go is that we had paid the entire months bills and knew how much money was in the bank.  (This is one of our trouble areas–putting off paying bills.)  We knew how much we had left and that in the coming month my husband would be starting a third paying gig, which would allow us to pay down one of our debts completely in a few months, but which also meant he had to spend some money up front (for those who don’t know my husband is a work-at-home programmer, plus runs a well-read blog, and makes web-comics–which starting next month he will get PAID for.  Woohoo!!!!  Since he uses screen shots for his images it means purchasing games to make fun of. :))  This is where things always get financially crazy for us.  We have a habit of counting our chickens before they hatch and jumping in with both feet.  This time was better than others and the Lord checked us at the perfect time.  Literally.

As I mentioned before He kept me from leaving Monday as I had planned. Instead I picked up groceries at Trader Joes (money I knew we had and had planned to spend on groceries already), we had a big storm, and I had a dead battery.  I decided to hang out on Tuesday and spent some time online at CJ’s work, checking my email, feed, and blog.  At one point I had nothing that needed done and I felt prompted to check our bank balance.  Praise the Lord!!!!  There was our bank account, with several items pending, which in one hour would have taken our account into the red and would start the snowball of bank fees.  I was able to immediately transfer funds from two other accounts–one to pay off all that needed paid, the second to give us a cushion until I could get home (I knew that two checks were on their way which would more than replace the cushion).

God is SO GOOD!    Not only did He bless the trip and make sure that I had enough cash for all I needed, including gas and groceries, but He protected us from a huge crash that would have ruined much of the work we had put into saving and paying off debt. We didn’t accrue a single bank fee, everything went through, and nothing bounced.  Had I ignored the prompting to check our balance for even one hour, we would be in a very different financial place right now.

The interesting thing about this is knowing that we are doing things the way God has led us to do them–which is very different from the world’s way or even other Christians’ way.

Yesterday this was brought  home to me clearly as we sat listening to two sales men try to convince us to “buy it now” and “lock in this awesome price, $2,000 off our normal price”.  As you might know by now our house has issues.  Big issues.  Lots of them.  We are not very good at dealing with these issues except in a piece meal do-it-yourself sort of way and my husband wanted to see what this company (who did our windows) would offer us for the job.  My husband’s idea was to find out how much it would cost to get the work done after we paid off the next big debt.  They wanted to lock us in now and he would have none of it. (I am so proud of him–it was very tempting).

A lot of what they said made sense from a worldly point of view. However, the factor they were missing was God. We are trusting God, our Jehovah Jireh, to protect us and to help us pay for each job in His timing. This was not His timing, this was THEIR timing (they kept calling asking if they could come out.)  The two salesmen were flabbergasted that we didn’t jump at their offer.  In fact, one of them said that in all his years of doing this he had NEVER seen anyone turn such an offer down.  We know that God will protect us and He will provide the funds when the time is right.