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Parenting, Subscriptions, And Chore-Allowance Automation


Part of working at ReCharge is exploring subscriptions to get to know how our product works and get in some real life user experience. A form of eating your own dog food as they say,  Dog food you say, that gives me a great idea how to proceed. 

I have an 11-year-old daughter who is going on 19; she’s rocking the tween years with every ounce of her being, challenging boundaries and trying to keep us on our toes. My biggest concern now is the latest “advice” she gets from tiktok, like putting secret codes into your microwave to silence it, or videos suggesting she deserves a Starbucks drink because she hasn’t been arrested or burned the house down yet.

Like most parents, I want to instill a sense of responsibility in my daughter. One way my wife and I choose to do that is through chores that have the potential to bring in some allowance when done properly. Now don’t get me started on the arduous task of determining how much each chore should be worth or which ones should be delegated, there are many variables to consider but we eventually decided on dog maintenance.

We have a French Bulldog named Petunia Gracie and an English Bulldog, Begonia Macie. My daughter loves them both to death, so I decided to exploit that emotion to teach a parental lesson. (From my point of view, this particular chore also holds her accountable to her promise to “do anything” when she convinced us to adopt dogs.) 

It’s important that I teach her that sometimes a job is more than just one action– its owning the whole process. For example, it’s not just about playing tug-of-war with the dogs, it’s the cleaning, the walking, and the feeding too.  And by feeding I also mean watering and refilling both bowls before they’re empty (can you tell I’ve said this a few times?). Refilling is the bare minimum, she must clean and rinse each bowl before refilling them, and clean the area around the bowls. I’m convinced the dogs make messes on purpose since they tend to watch while you clean them up, but I digress. 

In return for keeping our pets alive another week, my daughter receives a weekly allowance on Saturdays.

Turns out there’s an app for that. I have full control to manage funds, both how much goes in and where she spends it. The app is actually pretty impressive, thorough and well thought out. I can give her allowance or a “spot bonus” at any time for other chores outside our agreed upon list. I can set a limit for specific stores or general spending. If there is something that comes up that was not previously discussed, like her recent trip with friends to the ice cream parlor, she can make a request for something not planned and I can approve or deny, easy peasy.

One part I find very valuable for her is simply the experience of learning to manage her own money. She sees us “whip out the card” to pay for stuff at the store, but has no concept of where the money comes from or that funds are not unlimited. Having to decide what to spend her money on, and where, helps her learn about balancing income vs. spending and making choices between wants and needs.

Her allowance app lets me add tasks to a checklist, and assign a monetary value to each task. There is an automatic payment schedule I set up and the app checks with me before each payday to make sure I still want to send the money, which is super helpful for those times when her effort wasn’t 100%. (Look at me, I am automating chores like a boss! Now I just need a kickback for all the work I’m doing. Maybe I should submit a feature suggestion about how parents should get a percentage of each payment sent.)

Anyway, so I had an “AHA” moment:I need an easy way  for my 11-year-old pre-teen to get refills of 40 pound bags of dog food. Subscription to the rescue.

Now I have a dog food subscription, and I can automate chow refills and keep everything running smoothly, frictionless some may say. (I don’t want to make it sound like I had it all figured out on the first try. I did hit a couple of speed bumps along the way, like if we are running low on the food before we expect our next shipment to come. We discussed how I am going to need more notice than, say, Tuesday at 8:28am just as my team meeting is about to start with a voice down the hall calling, “Hey Dad, there is no dog food this morning”.)

I am feeling successful now, but the long term effects remain to be seen. Today I give myself a thumbs up and a nod to subscriptions for being a large part of making life and parenting easier. 

I am automated AF, at least in this sense, and as long as my daughter is on top of the dog food stash, we are winning and she is learning. I call this a four-way win; 

  • Dogs fed, watered and still alive, check.
  • Daughter satisfied with a job well done and a payday, check.
  • Wife happy about a lighter store load, check. 

All of this equates to a happy Dad, just living the dream one automated task at a time.

Special thanks to our friends at ReCharge Payments for their insights on this topic.
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