25 Barbies

Money—well, the lack of it, actually—is a constant topic of conversation at our house.

I read this post and decided to join this blog tour at The Parent Bloggers Network, which got me to thinking about our own kids and their materialistic notions.

Sadly, they are more materialistic than I would like. We talk about our desire for instilling in our kids frugality, simplicity, and gratitude.

But… I’m not so sure how well we’re succeeding in that department.

Out of curiosity, I wandered into my daughter’s room tonight and counted her Barbie dolls.

She has 25.


When I was a little girl, I had one: Malibu Barbie.

As we shopped for back-to-school supplies and clothes this year, I was overwhelmed. I had to repeatedly say, “No. We came for glue. Only glue.” Or, “You need one white shirt. One. White. Shirt.”

So, as our routines get more established with the new school year, Chris and I are hoping, praying to implement a new system for teaching our kids how money and work are connected.

Here’s my idea:

Each child has a poster board with five of those index card pockets glued to the top and five glued to the bottom. The first two pockets are Monday (morning and evening); the next are Tuesday, and so on. Morning cards have morning chores; evening cards have after-school/evening chores. These are extremely basic and age-appropriate but things that help the house run smoothly, teach responsibility and teamwork. Saturday’s chores involve a little bit more, and Sunday’s cards both say, DAY OF REST.

When the chore is finished, the child turns the card to the end with the smiley face. On Saturdays, if the child has all smiley faces, he or she gets a fuzzy ball in their jar (more about that below). Each smiley face is worth a nickel, and the child is paid accordingly.

From this point, we will instruct the children on what it means to save, spend, and give their money. We will have the kids put about 10% of their earnings in the church collection plate and encourage them to consider other ways to give their money.

I think it’s never too early to have the kids begin saving for their first car. My boys will absolutely start putting some money back for a “ring fund.” I heard this idea from a friend this summer, and I was so impressed. More than anything, I want my boys to grow into responsible men. Don’t these lessons begin here and now?

Fuzzy Ball Jars

The kids, too, each have a “fuzzy ball” jar (as I mentioned above). These are just small, clear glass jars with no lids. I get the “fuzzy balls” at the dollar store or craft store. They are the little multi-colored pom-pom balls for crafts. I figured they were safe and couldn’t break the glass or go rolling all over the floor if spilled. Plus, the colors make a great visual in the clear jars.

So, for each “perfect” week, the kids get to put a fuzzy ball in their jar. The fuzzy ball jar, also, can be used as a reward jar (“you played so nicely today with your brother”) or a punishment jar (“you’re losing three fuzzy balls tonight because you had a horrible attitude at the park”).

When the fuzzy ball jar is full, the child gets a $10 gift of their choice from the store of their choice.

So, I’m hoping and praying to accomplish many things with our new system:

  • Responsibility, sense of ownership
  • Stewardship, gratitude
  • Charity, other-centeredness
  • Frugality, self-denial
  • Accountability, teamwork
  • Long-term viewpoint, commitment
  • Discipline and work ethic
  • Ultimately, a desire to work and behave simply for the benefit of pleasing parents and God (OK? a smidge too Pollyanna?)

and, oh…

  • whittling down the Barbies to a number that’s not quite so indulgent.

I’ll keep you posted with our progress.

I have written this post as a part of a Parent Bloggers Network Blog Blast. The Parent Bloggers Network and Capital One are working together to help educate kids on money management and budgeting as the new school year gets underway.