There’s something to be said for a good, old fashioned chore chart—bonus points if there’s a wheel involved. But for an up-and-coming generation of techies postured to live their lives at the touch of a button, construction paper isn’t likely to cut it for long.
Instead, we’re naming My Job Chart—a free online chore chart and digital rewards system developed as a means to teach kids financial literacy—a website to watch. At MyJobChart.com, parents assign custom point values to tasks, which translate to real money in real bank accounts, offering kids and teens a true-to-life taste of online banking.
Here, Gregg Murset, CEO of MyJobChart.com, speaks on the importance of teaching kids the value of earning, saving and spending wisely—and why the piggy bank is yesterday’s news.
Smarty Cents: Does the platform aim towards a specific age range?
Gregg Murset: We really target parents that have kids between the ages of 5 and 15, and I know all about this, because I’ve got six kids, and they fall within 16 to 6…I live and breathe this stuff every day.
SC: Wow. And they all use the digital job chart?
GM: Yeah, they do. It’s a wonderful thing, and if you think about it, that’s how kids learn these days. A paper on the refrigerator just doesn’t work. They need to be technologically engaged, and that’s why My Job Chart has been so successful, I think. Because it kind of matches old school responsibility, work ethic and smart decision making with technology and engages the kid. It’s an easy way for them to learn, because that’s how they learn.
SC: What was your inspiration for the site? Your experiences with your own children?
GM: My inspiration was, yes, these six kids. I’m a Certified Financial Planner by trade, and I’ve been working with successful people for 20 years. There are always two things that boil to the top that make them successful, and without fail—they work hard, and they’re smart with their money. And I thought good grief, if I want to instill something in my kids, I want those two things…and I’ve got to figure out a way to do that.
My wife and I tried everything…we did it all. And we thought, “There has to be a better way, and it needs to involve technology.” And My Job Chart was born. Necessity is the mother of invention, and it was in our case.
SC: It seems like an ideal platform for teaching kids about the value of a dollar and what it means to earn, but—especially because all of your own kids use the platform—do you have any advice for parents when it comes to using it in moderation without giving the impression that every task deserves a reward?
GM: That’s a frequent question. It’s like well geez, you pay them to blow their nose? Of course not. That’s a good word, moderation, because there are things that you just expect your kids to do because they live under the roof, right? But they need a place to be able to earn money so that they can understand how to use their money…Everyone has their own philosophy and determination on what you’ve got to do and what’s more up and beyond the call of duty.
SC: How does the rewards system work?
GM: Parents assign jobs to their kids. The kids do those jobs and they earn points, and those points are worth a penny a point. It makes it really easy for a kid to understand a penny to a point, because kids are earning points all the time—it might be a video game or it might be at school…Once they earn those points (or those dollars), they can do three things with them. They can save, they can share, and they can spend. And if you think about it, those are the financial fundamentals that all of us practice.
Our system facilitates saving into a real savings account, so that the kids can work towards a goal—maybe it’s college education, maybe it’s a car. Our system also facilitates donations to charities, teaching philanthropy at an early age. And then the last one is that kids can spend, which they like to do the best, right? So we have an integrated Amazon store.
SC: Is membership completely free?
GM: Yes, it’s a free site, so a lot of people ask how we make money. When parents open savings accounts, the banks compensate us for that. They’re free accounts with no fees, no minimums—a real savings account, not just some plastic pig on your dresser that you plop coins in. Piggy banks are a really bad way to teach kids about money these days.
SC: Can you elaborate on why you don’t think piggy banks are valuable today?
GM: How many times have you taken the kids to McDonald’s to get an ice cream cone or something, and you haul out from your purse a piggy bank and start shaking it out for change and bills to pay for the ice cream cone? Nobody does that anymore! They use a card.
Using something that’s more technologically engaging and more relevant like online banking and cards just makes a whole lot more sense than a plastic piggy bank on your dresser. Gone are the days.
SC: Are there common mistakes that you see parents making—or even just general misconceptions—when it comes to educating kids about money?
GM: Yeah, I think the biggest one is overindulging our kids, and it’s so easy to do. There are so many pressures out there for parents to give, give, give. It’s hard, but maybe the best way that parents can teach their kids is by not overindulging them, making them kind of pull their weight. When you’re not always handing out the money, kids value it more.
I’m not telling you anything that’s earth shattering here…how many jobs have you had that you don’t have to show up, but you still get your paycheck? Um, none? And if we just keep handing out money to kids, it’s like telling them you don’t have to do anything, but the paycheck still comes. They will never experience that in their adult life, so why teach that to them? That’s just setting them up for disappointment, frustration and failure.
To learn more about Gregg Murset and My Job Chart, visit www.MyJobChart.com.