In 2012 my wife and I took the next obvious step in acreage living and purchased baby chicks for our property. Once they started laying eggs we gave our kids the opportunity to make a little cash. They would sell eggs by the dozen and split the money earned evenly at the end of the month. If they wanted their pay, they had to be part of the care and maintenance of the chickens. This part of the deal was easier for some than for others. Turns out, not all of my kids find chickens very… charming. For a while they all pushed through. Collecting and washing eggs, refilling the food and water, cleaning out the coop, selling and delivering the eggs, etc. They did a decent job, with reminders of quality and punctuality here and there, overall, they did well.
This monthly cash allowed for financial conversations to come naturally. Like we talked about in previous Money Talks Jr. blogs, my kids were using the Envelope System to ensure they didn’t overspend and that they were tithing. (Giving to charity.)
Reality Ain’t What It’s Cracked Up To Be
Through this country style source of income, my kids got to experience months of higher income and months with little to no income. Side-note: Did you know chickens love sunlight and are not big fans of our dark and freezing winters? Sometimes our chickens would go on egg laying “strikes” due to a lack of real and warm sunlight. The heat lamps just wouldn’t cut it.
Anyways, this variable exposed my kids to fluctuations in their income. Lucky for them, this allowed for conversations and questions like: “Do you need to save more of this month’s income if you want spending money next month?” “What do you need to not buy so that you can stick with your savings goals?” These lessons, which were often just simple questions, taught self control and looking into the future.
The great part of the chicken egg income is its unpredictability. Compared to being paid a fixed amount every month for their hard work, they had to learn to go with the flow, which is what many adults must master in their finances. It is better that kids understand the reality that money isn’t always constant or even equal to the amount of hard work they might have put in. This lesson allows kids to grow habits of moderation with their financial needs and goals in mind, a much harder lesson to learn as an adult. The conversations you purse with your children through the process of making, saving and spending money is key for their learning.
What was the interesting job you did as a kid to make some money? I would love to hear your stories! Message me on social media or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.