Chores. Music practice. Scriptures and prayers. Homework and school projects.
Multiply all that by three or four children or more, and the task of keeping a busy family on task can be a bit overwhelming.
Gregg Murset of Phoenix, Ariz., says he and his wife, Kami, remember the feeling well.
In 2009, with six children, ranging in age from 3 to 13, the Mursets felt their household was “out of control.”
“We tried everything from sticky notes to checklists on the refrigerator to everything else in between,” Murset said. “Nothing seemed to help for more than a day or two.”
A certified financial planner, concerned dad and a counselor in the bishopric of the Hawes Ward, Queen Creek Arizona Stake, Murset recognized that his family was falling prey to what he sees as a common thread among young people today.
“It’s an epidemic. Kids are growing up these days without learning how to work,” he said.
He not only wanted his children to learn to be responsible and to complete their daily chores, he also wanted them to understand how money works, how to set financial goals and the basics of money management.
“These are concepts that we as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints espouse, but, in a world of instant gratification and video games, even the most diligent parents have trouble imparting those ideas to their children,” he said.
But, he wondered, what kind of tool or gimmick would do it all?
Brother Murset came up with an idea and put together an online chore tracking system.
The sitecalled MyJobChart.comwas an instant hit with his own children and, soon, others in the neighborhood and ward wanted to use it too.
Today, in less than three years, MyJobChart.com now has more than 275,000 members who frequent the free online site and who have logged a total of more than a 100 million reward points.
As the site has grown and he’s received feedback from many satisfied parents and kids, Brother Murset says he’s come to understand more about why the site has worked so well.
“First, it’s high tech. It’s what the kids are used to and what they respond to,” he says. Then, he says, “It also teaches some important and correct principles.”
He believes there are certain fundamentals that can help parents more adequately prepare for the real world of work and of finances and money management. These principles, Brother Murset explains, obviously don’t have to be taught through using MyJobChart, but, he says, the site has been a great tool to help his family and others hone in on some helpful practices.
Some of the things he has learned and suggests for every parent are:
- Get a conversation going
“First,” he says, “you have to talk about work with your children, and not in a bad or threatening way.”
He explains that parents seem to instinctively know how to teach the children the alphabet or about reading. “But when it comes to talking about work and a child’s responsibilities in a family, we have a tendency to shy away from that.” A recent survey by ING Direct Bank, revealed some staggering statistics: 95 percent of parents say that teaching their kids about finances is their responsibility, but only 26 percent of parents feel they are ready to do that teaching.
Murset says, for his family, using MyJobChart.com opened up the lines of communication and gave his kids a tool they could relate to.
The site also can help a child with a chronic illness, reminding them to take their medications. Or, children can be encouraged to work on a goalsuch as a Scouting merit badge or an exercise goalby breaking an achievement down into smaller milestones.
“A parent can literally create a list of chores that their child is to do in a day,” Murset said. “The child wakes up in the morning, logs in, checks off the jobs as they do them. Parents can leave notes of encouragement as well and lists can be adjusted at any time.”
This simple process of communicating and of making the work personal and achievable helps children feel good about the progress they are making.
Margaret Turberfield, who wrote on the My Job Chart Facebook page, said MyJobChart.com has made a marked difference for her 10-year-old son, who previously had trouble staying on task. With the site’s customizable features, she says, “We were able to break jobs down into small manageable tasks. My Job Chart has made it easier for everyone to be more cheerful about the chores: he knows exactly what’s expected of him and exactly what he’ll get out of it, and I don’t have to nag him to get the jobs done anymore.”
- Create a system of rewards
Brother Murset believes any chore-tracking tool needs a built-in reward system.
“As adults, we know the importance of rewards. None of us would be very interested in continuing to work day after day if we didn’t see some kind of return for our investment of time and resources. Yet, we sometimes expect our children to simply do their chores without any reward to work for nothing, so to speak.”
Jennifer Cross says, “Just seeing their chores checked off and completed is often reward enough for my kids, but the reward system and what they learn about organization and money management is what really sold me on My Job Chart,” Cross said.
According to one mother, Julie Newman Reimund: “Before we started using My Job Chart we were constantly fussing [with our son] about taking care of pets, brushing teeth, bathing, feeding chickens and gathering eggs but after we set up My Job Chart, he began doing his chores and was excited to see his points accumulate.”
As with the job lists, the rewards are customizable as well. As each job is finished, the child earns a certain number of points, which can then be “spend” to “purchase” a reward supplied by their parents: anything from extra TV time, a trip to a favorite restaurant or a bike ride.
“When a child earns a reward, the site sends you an e-mail or text message,” says Brother Murset. “It reminds you that you need to deliver on your promise.”
In addition to allowing young people to “purchase” rewards, MyJobChart.com also stresses the concepts of saving and sharing. By saving their reward points, children can begin to understand the concept of accumulation and of preparing for a “rainy day” or saving up for a larger item. MyJobChart.com also teaches children that they can choose to share their earnings by paying tithing or donating to an organization, such as the American Red Cross, Choice Humanitarian or another “MyJobChart charity” or an organization of their choice.
- Allow children to practice money management skills
“Money management is one of the most important life skills and, yet, our children don’t have ample opportunities to learn how to use money,” Brother Murset says.
In recent years, schools and educational organizations across the country have seen this need and yet, very few have adjusted their curriculum to include instruction in the basics of finances and money management.
With My Job Chart, Brother Murset says, “Kids really understand the interplay between work and money and how the two work with each other.”
Well-known author and financial guru, Suze Orman, agrees. She said, My Job Chart: “revolutionizes how you teach kids about money,” adding that the site can teach children “how to be responsible and learn the value a dollar!
“Our site is not some fantasy-land, video-game type experience. It’s hands-on learning, teaching kids that if you want to earn something you have to work for it,” Brother Murset explains. “MyJobChart is helping young people keep pace and have the experience they need for today’s evolving and changing financial environment.”
To accomplish this, Brother Murset says MyJobChart.com has developed money management relationships with several major banks. With ING Direct Bank, MyJobChart.com members can now open a Kids Savings Account, with no fees, and no minimum balances. In addition, children, ages 9 and up, can have added “real-world” experience if they sign up for an ING Direct Money Debit Card through MyJobChart.com. The card allows children to learn lessons in spending and tracking money, but it also has a safety valve as it can be set up so when the child uses it, the parent gets a text message telling where and how much was spent.
- Focus on character first
While the Murset’s have enjoyed watching their children learn to manage money and complete their chores, they appreciate other aspects even more.
Brother Murset says, “I’ve seen what My Job Chart has done for our kids over time as far as helping them accept responsibility and how these benefits accumulate.”
Bottom line, he says, “MyJobChart.com is a fun, easy way to instill work ethic and build character in your kids.
To access the free My Job Chart website, visit www.MyJobChart.com