By Trace Embry
It is really easy for a teenager to take advantage of their parents and not realize that there is a direct correlation between hard earned money and spending.
In today’s post, I want to present you with an example of how Shepherds Hill Academy teaches teens the importance of a strong work ethic. My hope is that you could use this case study to create a similar experience in your home.
One summer break, the boy’s Residential Program at Shepherds Hill Academy participated in a project known as the “40 Hour Work Week.”
This project allowed the boys the opportunity to develop a strong work ethic, how to be good stewards of finances, and the importance of tithing and saving money.
The 40 Hour Work Week Project
The project began with each student earning $5.00 an hour for an 8 hour work day. This allowed each student to potentially earn $200.00 for the work week. Artificial money was used in this effort to demonstrate the supply and demand of money.
The work assignment was to reconstruct a cabin at a new wilderness campsite.
Each day would start with a daily devotional, making lunch for the day and eating breakfast. On weekdays the teens would begin work promptly at 9:00am and end the day at 5:00pm with proper break times provided. For the weekends there was no work and it was primarily used for a time of recreation, special activities and relaxation.
The students were paid each day at 5:00pm.
Once they were paid, the students learned basic budgeting principles. They were taught to give the first 10% of their earnings back to the Lord in the form of a tithe.
After allocating their tithes, they had to prioritize other essential everyday living expenses including: meals and snacks, tool rental fees for the job-site, water and electricity, laundry and shower facilities, taxi rides, and entertainment expenses. All of these items had a price tag on them. The students were taught to budget for each of item of necessity.
Students were also strongly encouraged, but not required, to put money into a savings account so they would have money for the weekend. Therefore, those who were wise put some money away each day so they could afford to purchase the activities on the weekend. This taught the students the value of saving money, and that there are still bills to pay regardless if you were paid wages that day.
The Correlation Between Work Ethic and Earnings
In an effort to teach a strong work ethic, on the job-site the struggling teens learned that “slacking off” on the job does not pay.
In fact, they learned that slacking off actually cost them money. If a student was caught “falling down” or “goofing off” on the job their pay would get docked .25 cents an hour. Or, if they misused a tool they would have to pay extra rental fees for another tool to continue the workday.
On the other hand, the students learned the value of doing a job worthy of recognition.
Not only were they rewarded for a “job well done” in the form of hourly raises, they were also allowed to receive a onetime bonus of $2.00 for their extra efforts. The students who ended up having a balance in their savings account at the end of the project were actually given a reward for adhering to the principles of “saving for a rainy day.”
All in all, there were many, many teachable moments throughout this “40 Hour Work Week” project, and valuable lessons learned on budgeting and how to spend and save hard earned money.
I know many parents will not be able to emulate the “40 Hour Work Week” that was designed for a group of troubled teens at Shepherds Hill Academy.
However, you can take the principles of a strong work ethic, being good stewards of finances, tithing and saving money and incorporate creative ideas involving real money in your home. I have written specifically on some ideas and practical examples for these type of household lessons, but things like a chore system is a great starting point.
What are some additional ideas that you can incorporate to teach your teen a strong work ethic and financial responsibility?