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SMART COOKIES

Should kids be rewarded with money? Add to ...

When we were in high school, my brother and I received $20 for every A we got on our report cards. Money wasn’t our main motivator, as we both worked part-time and understood the importance of doing well in school, but it was a nice bonus for working hard.

The experts, and parents I know, are split on whether paying for performance is a good idea. In the right scenario, though, rewards can work wonders.

Sometimes it takes incentives to get kids to do something they don’t want to do but has a long-term benefit. Learning about personal finance falls into this category.

Last year, I told my 17-year-old brother I would pay him $25 if he read 10 blog posts from Ramit Sethi’s site IWillTeachYouToBeRich.com. A few weeks after making the deal, he called to tell me he had secured a sponsor for snowboarding. After 10 minutes of big-sister praise, he said: “Oh yeah, and I used the briefcase technique.”

The briefcase technique is a tool that Mr. Sethi talks about, which you can use to set yourself apart in an interview situation. Clearly my brother was reading and applying his learning. The monetary reward moved him to action, but the real reward was the confidence boost.

Some say kids shouldn’t be rewarded for doing what they should be doing anyway, like work around the house and getting good grades, but it depends on your family’s values. In our home, school was our job and we were rewarded for doing well. We didn’t get paid for chores, though. Those were just part of being a family.

Rewards don’t have to be monetary. But if there is something your children will benefit from that they just can’t see yet, a little financial reward may just get them pointed in the right direction.



Angela Self is one of the founders of the Smart Cookies money group. Read her weekly column on managing debt and saving money at the Globe's personal finance site.

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