Quarantine Economics

It all started with a Facebook post. Doesn’t it always happen like that these days? It seems like most people are homeschooling right now because of the nationwide quarantine. Everyone is sharing free educational websites and lessons. It has become a smorgasbord of ideas in my facebook news feed. I came across a post a woman made, who was working from home, and she had made a list of chores for her child to do in order to earn monopoly money and then there was a store for the child to buy snacks and video game and screen time. “This is genius!” I thought to myself. However, she has one child and I have five. I considered that it might also be insanity to change my whole chore chart system. I shared the post on my facebook feed and it would have been left at that if my mom and my husband hadn’t asked me about it. I would have to develop an economic system that would work for the kids to get chores done in a timely fashion and not overprice the market or undervalue their work. My husband decided to help me tackle it and we embarked on Day 1.

Below: Our list and general store hours.

The results of implementing this economic system was surprising and, well, hilarious. We have five children ages 11, 10, 8, 3, and 1. I never could have expected the reactions I received to Day 1’s economic implementation. Two of the older children ages 11 and 10, had meltdowns. I am talking tears and screams of “This is illegal” and “let’s riot”. I couldn’t help but chuckle because the economy my husband and I put into place is literally the way life works. You start out with nothing or a little and work until you can accumulate wealth. You work to earn money to spend on an open market. They started out with zero dollars but were guaranteed the essentials. Three meals, a bed, and clothes which in the real world is more than some people have. They get documentaries for free and can play with their sisters and even get paid to play outside.

Within 30 minutes of implementing the system, several things were at play

-They were trying to organize like a union

-They were trying to negotiate the length of the system, their wages, and the price of the market

-They were trying to find loopholes in their workload to double dip (at the very least this was creative)

-They are learning about negotiation

-They are learning budgeting and math concepts like saving and math as they add and divide to buy things collectively. They have to plan and problem solve.

-They badgered me with questions and suggestions and about an hour after implementing the new system I sent all comments, questions and suggestions to the Q and A jar – (wink) so now they are writing as well as problem solving and strategizing their workload.

I have had many ideas about introducing borrowing against their future pay and introducing interest. We can explore capitalism and eventually maybe other types of government and see how their practice affects the house and rewards system. Currently, I am seeing some socialism come into play. We will see. They don’t even realize how much that they are learning and I can’t wait for tomorrow and our family meetings to see how things evolve.

I especially appreciated the accountability that was required by this new system. In our home, video games and treats are generally a thing that happens after chores anyway, but there was never a way to guarantee that the work was done or done right. In our new system they don’t get paid unless the work is done correctly which requires me to evaluate and critique the  jobs they are doing which actually helps them learn to do the chore the right way. I don’t sign off on poorly done work.

At 4 pm. We have a pay out- whatever is done after 4 is tacked onto the next days paycheck.

During dinner, my husband and I reviewed the comments and suggestions and yes, even the complaints from the Q and A jar. Since we are a democracy- we heard their arguments and made some adjustments.  WE adjusted the wages for certain jobs and did so effective immediately instead of waiting until the following Monday.

We also introduced some penalties into our day as respectful behavior in society is expected and so any name calling or hitting resulted in a $10 deduction from their wages.

Come check out our video on how things went on DAY 1 of our Quarantine Economy.

For a link to resources we are currently using visit Quarantine Economics- Resources.