Payday is more than just a paycheck. It is a big deal, and once again, we learned this the hard way.
We are always trying new ways to try to implement the Moneypants concept as efficiently as possible while still getting the results we want. So, last year we tried going all digital. Instead of handing out cash on payday, we tried using a virtual currency. With this “virtual currency” we no longer needed to go to the bank and divvy up the money to each person, so we thought, “Hey, maybe we do not need to spend so much time doing payday! This is GREAT!!!”
Instead, when the end of the week came, we simply hit the “pay” button on the app and the virtual money was automatically distributed to their piggy banks. Done. Simple and fast! In fact, payday literally took less than a second! Thrilling. However, we quickly discovered that this marvelous time saver was at the expense of effectiveness. In short, our speedy payday left out some of the key psychological benefits our good old-fashioned payday used to provide.
Why? It turns out, payday is not just about getting a reward. It is also about reporting, accountability, and recognition. The aim of Moneypants is to help each member of the family achieve their goals rapidly and consistently. If a faster way cannot still accomplish THAT goal, we refuse to adopt it.
In our previous blog, “How to Achieve Your Goals Faster Than Ever”, we talked about the power of having an accountability partner or someone to report your progress to each week. “When performance is measured, it improves. When performance is measured AND reported, it improves faster!” Payday is the time for each individual to report their progress on their goals to someone else.
Believe it or not, even if the person was not being paid or rewarded in any way, just the act of reporting their progress to someone else would be enough to motivate serious progress. By taking the time to review with your spouse or child what they accomplished and how they did that week, you are going to help them achieve their goals much faster. Do not make the mistake we did of trading in this incredible motivator, for a speedier payday.
Next, by reviewing progress and then physically handing over cash—a reward they can touch and hold—there is a much stronger connection in the brain between their work and the reward they received. Digital numbers changing on an app do not register with the brain the same as a tangible reward. This physical reward powerfully reinforces the positive behaviors.
The influence of rewards is nothing to sniff at. For example, my kids and I watched the lecture on Great Courses about various drug addictions and what treatments have the highest success rates. For most addictions, the best results came from a combination of therapy and weekly having a drug screening. Each week the person kept clean they received some sort of reward. The accountability combined with a reward was surprisingly successful at helping people overcome powerful drug addictions. That same combination can help you and your children overcome bad habits and develop talents and skills. Why not use what has been proven to work!
The overall best practices for payday are as follows:
- Hold payday as a group
- Use cash
- Hold payday weekly
- Make it fun
We thought payday might be more efficient and have better results if we simply met with each person individually and reviewed their progress. We were wrong! Our kids missed doing it as a group. They liked seeing how much money their siblings made because they said it helped motivate them to do better themselves.
This preference was actually counterintuitive to us. Think about it, what if at your place of business, everyone else saw what the other employees were making? Yikes! Without a doubt this would stir up serious jealousy and discontent.
However, we realized that Moneypants is different. Moneypants is not designed as a competition against other members of the family, it is a competition against yourself. You created your own goals. You have your own responsibilities. Most importantly, when one person achieves, it does not take away another person’s ability to achieve their best as well. Everyone can “win” if they choose.
This creates a friendly competition against yourself. Seeing other people achieving their goals helps motivate other family members to think, “I can do that too!” There might be exceptions to this rule, but our experiment showed that overall the kids strongly preferred the group payday and found that it motivated them to try harder.
We tried direct deposit. We tried virtual currency. Cash was without questions much more effective for everyone from toddlers to adults. If you want Moneypants to work its best for everyone, you will want to use cash. (See our Blog “The Power of Hard, Cold Cash” for more details on what we discovered about the benefits of using cash.)
Hold Payday Weekly
To try and save time, our family has tried holding payday monthly or every other week. However, we found that participants lose steam if you wait longer than a week to hold payday. Trying to accomplish all your goals every single day and get all your responsibilities done for an entire week, actually feels akin to running a marathon.
Honestly, I did not fully comprehend how challenging it is, until I, the parent, put myself onto the Moneypants program to help me accomplish my own goals. I then realized that payday feels very much like reaching the finish line. You keep pushing yourself until you reach that finish line. If the finish line is not within that week, it is discouraging and seems too far away to achieve. When you reach that finish line there is a huge sense of accomplishment and relief.
The other benefit was that if you had a lousy week, payday prevents you from getting discouraged. It lets you know, “Okay, that lousy week is over, you have a brand-new chance starting now. You can do this!” Payday is the “refresh” button for Moneypants. Holding payday weekly works the best if you want to help everyone stay motivated.
Make Payday Fun
Payday is a time to celebrate and recognize what the family members accomplished. The focus should be on the rewards they earned. Although not necessary, we recommend possibly having a treat to add to the party atmosphere. Ice cream cones, lollipops, pizza. Make it a party. Think of it as the get together after a big game where the coach reviews game film. Reviewing game film is more fun if there is pizza.
A smart coach emphasizes progress and what went right and who made progress and draws attention to that. If he draws attention to progress and what went right, the team players are motivated to give him more of that next time.
In contrast, payday is not a time to dwell on what someone failed at. You can touch on what can be done better the next time, but really the focus should be on what went right. You want to feed the good behaviors with attention.
Here is an example of a coach who made the mistake of focusing on the negative. My dad is 6’9” and was the center for his basketball team in college. Sadly, his coach did not understand how to motivate his team when watching game film. After one game in particular, my dad was feeling pleased because he had performed particularly well. He was the top scorer on the team that night and they had won a great victory as a result.
However, to his disappointment when they went to review film, instead of congratulating my father his effort and performance, the coach found one silly mistake my father had made and played that one clip over and over again, laughing at my dad in front of everyone and telling him how stupid he looked. Soon the entire team was laughing at my dad and making fun of him. My dad left feeling angry and embarrassed. He left feeling like it did not matter whether he tried or not, he would never please his coach.
Do not be like that coach. Instead, focus on what your team did right and encourage them. For the most part, they are going to see their own mistakes themselves when they review their own progress with you. A coach can offer correction of course when necessary, but criticism is not necessary. Humiliating members of your team is not necessary.
Keep in mind every mark on the app represents progress, something your family member probably was not doing before. It takes time figure out how to accomplish all your new goals and habits. Also, keep in mind the list of goals was created by that individual. It is something they WANT to accomplish. They are self-motivated to figure out how to make it happen. In short, make payday fun. Make it about recognizing what each individual accomplished, and then be sure to offer help if they need it.
The 6 Steps to Conducting Payday
Step #1: Review the Week
If you are using the Moneypants App, go to the home page. Click on the “Payday” icon at the bottom of the screen. Click on the photo of the person who you want to review. Start reviewing their progress by clicking on the icon for “Daily Jobs”. When you touch each job, it will show a graphic of how the person did on that specific job and which days it was accomplished. It will also tell whether or not they received their bonus. If they did not receive their bonus, let them know how close they were and what they will need to do get the bonus next week.
The bonuses are a big deal because they actually double the person’s money for jobs and habits. Make sure everyone understands how the bonuses work and what they need to do to achieve them. Read all these stats out loud. Then do the same for “Weekly Jobs”, “Other Jobs”, “Habits”, and “Fees”. This should be quick and matter of fact. And of course, as you go, you can congratulate them on what they did accomplish.
Step #2: Ask Questions
If a job or habit is not getting done, ask questions.
Asking simple questions will help resolve any problems and help the person troubleshoot. For example, one time while my husband was conducting payday, he noticed our daughter Ruby had completely stopped writing in her journal. All he said was, “Ruby, I noticed you stopped writing in your journal. Why?” It turned out, Ruby had simply lost her pen and could not find a new pen. My husband helped her get a new pen, and the next week little Ruby had no problem accomplishing her goal to write in her journal.
Another example: my husband noticed that one daughter was having trouble finishing the dishes before the timer. As a result, she kept missing her job bonus. When he asked her about it, she explained that the person in charge of clearing the table was not bringing dirty dishes to her in a timely manner. We were then able to resolve this frustration, and our daughter began to earn her job bonus. She was genuinely grateful.
The purpose of asking questions is not to put the person on the spot. Rather, it is simply to find out what the roadblock is and see if it can be remedied.
Step #3: Update and Fine Tune Habits
If some of the habits are not getting done consistently, it may be because the goal is not quite right. Use payday to update and refine goals.
For example, my daughter once made the goal to be in bed by 8:00pm every night. However, she was never able to achieve a mastery point for that goal because two nights of the week she was not even home by 8:00. So instead under the goal description, we clarified that on the nights when there was youth group and evening soccer practice, her bedtime was a bit later. Having an achievable goal is important for keeping a person motivated.
Other times when you are doing payday, you will find that a habit needs to be updated because a person’s pursuits and schedule have changed. For example, if your son has a goal to turn in his math homework daily, but he is no longer in math class, it is time to update that goal to what is achievable and applicable right now. Use payday to fine tune and update habits, so each individual is excited about the goals they have listed.
Step #4: Make Sure the Cash Matches
On payday, you should always hand a person their money bag that has ALL their money. They should count their money and that amount should match what the app says they have.
If it does not match, they need to figure out why. Maybe they forgot to enter in outside income such as babysitting money. Maybe they spent money and forgot to record their spending in the app. Maybe their money got stolen. Have them figure out the discrepancy and then reconcile the account.
Doing this teaches good money hygiene. It is a skill your children will need for the rest of their lives. For example, my husband always reconciles our family spending on a monthly basis. Meaning that what the bank says we spent, matches our records and receipts. One time there was a $3,000 expenditure neither of us recognized and we had no receipt for. It turned out our credit card had been compromised. If he had not been practicing good money hygiene we never would have noticed and would have lost that money and probably much more. Use payday to teach your kids to reconcile their accounts weekly.
If the accounts are not reconciled weekly, their finances will become a mess. The piggy banks will not be accurate in telling them how much money they have available and how much they can spend. The money tallied on the app needs to match the total cash they have.
Step #5: Pay Back Any Money Owed
Usually, we recommend that your children have their own cash on hand for making purchases. However, sometimes that is not possible. For example, you may see a good deal at the store for something they need or want. They have money saved up for it and you can see that on the app. However, they do not have their cash with them, and it would not be possible or convenient to come back later.
In that case, you the parent can buy the item with the family card. When you enter the spending in the app, it will ask “did the family purchase this for you?” If you mark “yes”, the app will deduct the money from that person’s piggy banks, then it will remind you on payday to collect the cash owed. On payday, any cash owed should be collected.
Step #6: Pay Any Bills That Are Due
During payday, take care of any bills that are due. For example, if soccer registration is due and your child needs you to write a check or make the payment online, payday is the time for this. Have your child hand over the cash they have been saving up and then make the payment on their behalf. Enter their spending onto the app. Try to consolidate this sort of business on payday to keep things simple.
How Does the App Distribute the Money into Piggy Banks?
Once you hand over the cash reward and hit the button on the app that says, “Pay Now”, the app will automatically distribute the money into separate piggy banks. The piggy banks are super helpful. They allow a person to know how much of their total money can be spent on what. If for example, they are shopping for clothing, one glance at the app will tell them that out of the $200 they have saved up, $35 can be spent on clothing now without affecting their other money goals. Without this piggy bank feature, a person might feel anxious about spending their money because they are unsure how much they can safely spend at any given time. The piggy banks in Moneypants completely relieves that anxiety.
The Moneypants app follows the 10-10-10 rule. 10% of the cash earned will always go to their tithing piggy bank. 10% will go to savings. 10% will go to “fun money”. The remaining money will be distributed between the remaining piggy banks such as clothing, sports and dance, and so on. Piggy banks that have bills due with deadlines receive priority treatment. The app calculates which piggy banks need money the most and how much. As long as piggy banks remain on track, a person can be confident they will have the money they need WHEN they need it.
If an individual does not make enough money to fill their piggy banks, money will automatically be transferred from the “fun money” piggy bank and the “savings” piggy bank in order to fill the gap. If there is still not enough money to fill the piggy banks, those banks will be flagged. If you click on the flagged piggy banks you will see you how much money is needed to get them back on track.
A person can get a piggy bank back on track by earning extra money on job jar or from earning money outside the home. After tithing is paid, that extra money will automatically go to the piggy banks that are deficient.
If a person earns more money in a week than expected and all the piggy banks are on track, that extra money will all go to the fun money piggy bank.
Using the Moneypants app to manage money relieves stress, however, if you are not using the app, you can find other systems to teach your children how to manage their money.
No one lives in a perfect world with perfect lives. Sometimes we get sick, overly busy, distracted, or some other family crisis hits. It happens to EVERYONE. You may find that you have not done payday in a long time and no one has bothered to mark their points for weeks now.
However, you want to get things calmed down and back on track at home. The natural thing to do is to say, “Okay we are going to start doing our jobs again this week and we are going to start marking points again.” This approach can work, but it will take a lot of effort and “reminding” (aka nagging) on your part. It just will. An easier way to get everyone back on track and engaged is this: HOLD PAYDAY!!!! Start there. Indeed, if you start by holding payday, everyone realizes you mean business. Payday is what builds the trust. Let the payday do the talking for you. “Yes, Mom and Dad are really going to do this. If I mark my points and work hard, they are going to follow through on their end.” By holding a long-overdue payday, you will jump start your efforts to get things back on track by restoring trust and accountability.
And there you have it. This is everything you need to know about payday. Payday is more than just a money reward. It is a time for everyone to report their personal progress. An enjoyable, well-executed payday will help every individual in the family achieve their goals quickly and with a high level of satisfaction. It will keep money matters clean and straightforward and effectively teach your children how to manage money correctly, a skill they will use for the rest of their lives.
Keeping good money hygiene will make the piggy banks on the app a useful tool and will give each individual a level of control over their money that they have probably never had before. Finally, payday is the thing that will keep your family on track and motivated. If events out of your control take your off track from payday, reinstating payday is the thing that will restore trust in the system the quickest. Altogether, payday plays an essential role in a successful experience with Moneypants.
Payday really is the glue that holds everything together.
What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Leave a comment below.