by Susan Mayclin Stephenson ©2006


The system outlined in the article “Earning Money— Handling Money” worked very well over the years. Here are some details we recorded over the years, especially when the 7-year-old in the article was ten and seventeen.


When M wanted to buy something, he figured out how he could earn the money instead of expecting someone else to give it to him. Ten percent of whatever he earned went first to tithe to give back, in some way. We did not consider shared family work around the house as money-earning work. It was considered being part of the community, the family. So he found other projects, usually at our business, for earning money. He sold books at the used book store to raise money. We, as parents, have often had to halt our instincts to buy for him, because he is so proud of deciding, earning and buying for himself. A book that he has chosen, saved for and bought for himself means so much more. And the self-esteem is so obvious.

We tried to keep quiet when he wants to spend his earnings on “plastic junk”, only asking that he donate the same amount of
plastic to the Salvation Army in some form so the house doesn't fill up with it. We followed our own advice and gave him more of ourselves, our time, our attention, instead of our money.

M was very generous with his money in getting gifts for others or in helping out with groceries or other expenses. We make an effort to keep in mind the categories of his budget and to need his help with food and clothing and so forth. One year while visiting family, his aunt and grandmother offered to buy him a T-shirt. He studied the shirt, checked the price, and announced to everyone's surprise, "I don't need another T-shirt, thank you."

At age ten he received $20 a month, and this allowance was never tied to behavior or used as a reward or punishment. There were ten budget categories now, Music having been added. He had a notebook-checkbook (a full size ring binder) with ten ledger pages and ten 5" x 7" manila cash envelopes, holes punched to fit in the notebook. With every deposit or withdrawal he kept a record on the appropriate page. (This notebook-checkbook was his favorite Christmas present that year!) We opened savings and checking accounts at our bank for him, and when money in one category piled up it went into savings, M keeping track of the interest. We signed the signature card at the bank, and the checks he filled out, since he was underage. Checks were only used to
pay for music lessons.

Sometimes M naturally wanted to spend the money he earned without going through the step of recording, so we worked with him to make the process fun and interesting. It was approached as real, practical, important work, not just a math exercise to prepare for the future. This made all the difference.
He enjoyed getting out his checkbook in stores, recording the expenditure and doing the math, right at the counter.

Reading this you may get the idea that we spent a lot of time dealing with money. Nothing could be further from the truth. This system seems to put earning and spending in a proper perspective as a means of making responsible decisions, of contributing, of learning values and not as a main activity of life.


He and his father, over a year and a half, built a music studio in our yard, M_ paying for half of it with his own money. He was earning between $300 and $400
dollars a month as a music teacher, and performer, and received $150 from us (his share of our family money). This is an example of his budget: 10% tithe, $10 clothing, $80 food (he bought his own meals at school, at noon and often in the evenings), $15 gifts, $10 gas or bus transportation, $35 music,
$30 investing (which he sent to his brother-in-law to invest for him), $100+ for the music studio, and some for miscellaneous. He learned how to balance his bank checkbook, and gradually learned to keep the budget in his mind instead of in a notebook.

I would say that the best thing about these years of budgeting, is that M_ automatically sets aside the first 10% of his earnings to help others. When he earns $400 in a month and budgets $40 of it for tithe he does not try to get out of giving so much money away, but instead thinks of how much good it will
do. Tithing was one of his favorite expenses and he has used it to help the local high school students raise money for a trip, to feed
the homeless, and to give to individuals in need. As he spent more and more time away from home and wanted to buy something on the spur of the moment M_ would sometimes borrow the money from a friend. We had discussions about friendship and borrowing and he began to carry cash for
these instances. Now he is away at college and being just as careful. He earns a percentage of his tuition at holidays and summer, and is not tempted to waste money, but to be responsible. It is a joy to see this young adult focusing on learning, friendship, music, giving, instead of on buying things.


The “My Day” chart was developed over a period of time, because we decided that it was important to know how many people spent their time as examples. We asked friends, adults and children, to fill out a chart. It was very interesting to see the variety! This introduced “Time Management” in a very
interesting way.

Sometimes in a Montessori Elementary class a chart like this is used to help a student discover why he or she is not accomplishing work goals. We consider it a fun and remedial measure and not something to be done except for short periods of time. Once a person discovers where time is being wasted he
should not be interrupted in the “flow” of the day by stopping to record how time is spend.

Directions for Using the My Day Chart:

(1) Make photocopies to share.

(2) Record name and date. Start at midnight and fill in the way time was spent, at the time, or at anytime during the day

(3) Color code the activity with reference to the “color key,” changing the categories if you see fit (most people consider time spent filling in this chart as yellow - study)

(4) At the end of each period fill in the 24-hour squares at the lower right corner.

(5) Compare your graph with others, adjust your day and enjoy!