Mum makes five year old pay rent

A life lesson.
A life lesson. Photo: Shutterstock

I'll be the first to admit my children don't understand the value of money.

When my five-year-old left hot pink texta marks all over the beige carpet of a holiday apartment recently, I explained – perhaps in a slightly shouty manner – that it could cost me hundreds of dollars to have it removed.

She just shrugged and said, "So pay it, then."

Grrrrr.

I'm totally up for any ideas of how to teach my kids how the world works, and how to manage money in a responsible way. And that's exactly what US mum Essence Evans is doing with her daughter.

Essence explained on her Facebook page that she gives her five year old an allowance every week, but then she expects her to pay rent.

"Every week she gets $7 in allowance," Essence wrote. "But I explained to her that in the real world most people spend most of their paycheck on bills with little to spend on themselves. So I make her give me $5 back. $1 for rent $1 for water $1 for electricity $1 for cable and $1 for food. The other $2 she gets to save or do what she wants with."

Although that sounds like a harsh life lesson to learn when you're five, it sure beats learning it when you're 25, broke, and wondering how you're going to pay rent this week.

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And just in case you think Essence is a total ogre, you should know she's putting away all those weekly $5 payments into a savings account for her daughter.

"Now, what she doesn't know is the $5 is actually going away in her savings account which I will give back to her when she turns 18," she wrote. "So if she decides to move out on her own she will have $3380 to start off. This strategy not only prepares your child for the real world. When they see how much real bills are they will appreciate you for giving them a huge discount."

Well, that's true. Paying $1 a week for rent is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

And really, this is the same concept as making your kids do chores for money, so they can afford to buy the things they want. And it's setting them up with a realistic view of how the world works – all in the safe environment of a loving home where they can't have their electricity switched off or be turfed out for late payments.

When it comes to teaching our kids how to manage in the real world, it's never too early to start.