Motivation is a wonderful feeling. Being motivated is one of those things that gets you going when times are tough. It gives you courage to start something new.
But what happens when that feeling wanes? Motivation comes and goes, just like happiness, anger, frustration, and excitement. So when motivation disappears, do you just stop what you’re doing?
Jim Rohn said, “Motivation gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”
If you’ve ever begun a new nutrition and fitness routine, you surely understand the importance of habit. If you’ve ever picked up a new sport or hobby, habits are what make you good. If you’ve ever gotten better at anything in your life, a habit is likely what got you to that point.
So what do motivation and habits have to do with teaching my kids money? I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, especially publicly like this, but I’ve been motivated to teach my kids about money for a while. I’ve started and stopped several times. Buy a book and start a new chore system, only for it to fall apart after a few weeks. Is it laziness, is it complexity, is it frustration? Yes to all of them. But the biggest thing is that in the moment where we should be moving forward with the new plan, the motivation just wanes to the point that it’s easier to choose something else instead of what we once were motivated about.
That’s why I need habits.
Maybe you need a habit, too? Just like working out, learning new skills for work, and being a good spouse, making the intentional everyday choice to teach my kids about money requires implementing habits, rituals, to succeed. I need a system in place where when the motivation disappears, the habit takes over.
So that’s what we’ve started recently. I’ll get into the more tactical details of how we’re making this work in future posts, but today I want to share the high level habit with you.
Throughout the week, my boys handle chores around the house. Recently, we’ve added emptying the inside recycle bins into the main recycle bin in the garage to our six year old’s chore list. He’s excited because it’s an opportunity to earn more money because he’s taking more responsibility around the house.
On Fridays, when I pick the boys up from school, I’m taking them directly to the neighborhood bank. At the bank, I withdraw $11 in one dollar bills. Six dollars for the six year old and five dollars for the five year old. And then we walk across the parking lot to the grocery store to buy some SweetTARTS.
Why the SweetTARTS? Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. And they look forward to that part as much as they do getting paid. I felt compelled to tie payday to another reward. We could probably do without the candy…but I have a sweet tooth too. We’ll look at whether that’s adding or subtracting from the overall experience over time. I’m the first to admit that I don’t know everything. But I’m willing to try and fail in order to learn.
For me, having this habit has been a game changer. Having the boys know that this is what we do every Friday afternoon after school, no matter what, has been a built in accountability partner. There’s no way they’re going to allow me to forget. And, it prepares them for how real “jobs” work once they’re a bit older. It’s refreshing to have this habit in place. It’s something we enjoy doing together that teaches them so many lessons. And the best part is, it’s going to continue happening for a long time.