Saturday, January 12, 2008

My Teenage Son Paid Me 16 Cents To Clean His Room

For the last few weeks, my oldest son --age 15-- has promised to clean his room. Finally, the room was cleaned and I made a tidy sum in the process. I earned 16 cents from cleaning; but my son earned more: $2.41 in found money and $40 from a pants pocket.

Here's what happened: I offered to clean up his room, but with two conditions:

  1. He had to work with me.
  2. I would keep whatever pennies I found in his room; my son could keep the other change.

Looking for pennies while cleaning my home is my latest Treasure Hunt, which I've written about in other posts. The process yields several dividends. Here's what I gained while cleaning with my son:

  • Family bonding time: My son and I really had fun cleaning. Of course, he thought I was a little goofy as I celebrated with each found coin. But we laughed a lot and we found the floor of his bedroom.

  • Lessons in finance: We really learned how every little bit adds up. My penny tally amused my son and at first he was slightly impressed with his stash of quarters, dimes and nickles. But as the change started adding up, he really started noticing. “That’s a lot,” he said after counting the spare change that was scattered around the room. It's enough for a Powerade or an after-school snack at school, he said.

  • Cleaning Lesson Exchange: From a lofty soapbox, I demonstrated my cleaning style: Isolate and Purge. I targeted one specific area (near the bookcase, for example) and worked until the area was totally tidy. My son, however, has another style: The Big-Ticket Approach. He purges the room of large items first. That cleaning style makes a big impact and encourages him to continue. We listened politely to the other's philosophy. But I stayed with my niche style and he continued with his Big Purge. Bottom Line: We made progress.

  • The Giveaway Pile: As we cleaned, we identified items that we can pass onto our favorite charity/thrift store. It was a great exercise in space-clearing and charitable giving.

  • Additional Found Money: From a jeans pocket, my son pulled out a wad of bills (about $40.) He knew it was there all along, he told me. My son counted the bills and stashed the funds in a small bank in his room. He's saving up for a ski trip.


1 comment:

partialexponent said...

Interesting post... glad it was a good bonding experience for you and your son. My mom and my sister fight constantly about the state of her room; maybe I'll suggest something like this to my mom. :)

I'm curious though... how did your son end up with $2.41 in change if you kept all the pennies? :P