On a recent weekday night, the majority of the 12 Judd siblings jump into action. Falcon, 8, climbs a step stool to begin washing dishes, while Sassy, 7, takes her position, ready to dry. Ruby, 11, begins the laundry. Trixie, 13, puts on her shoes to go milk the cows. Moose, 14, empties the garbage, while Blackstone, 5, grabs a broom.
If you’re wondering how parents Hannah and Phontaine get that kind of cooperation, they may have just the plan for you.
The Orangevale couple, whose 12th child was born in June, officially launched “the Moneypants Solution” on Labor Day. The $35 program gives parents access to training videos, tracking and accountability tools, expense calculators, job lists and behavior vouchers. Fifty parents were signed up for a beta test of the program. The website offers several testimonials from parents.
The program applies point values for specific “daily chores,” “daily habits” and “weekly chores/habits.” The daily habits include things like personal prayer, exercise and good manners.
The strategy aims to leverage the money that families already allocate to their kids to motivate them to share in household work, develop healthy habits and to use money wisely. The Judds started experimenting with their system with baby No. 1 and have been refining it ever since.
“I was pulling my hair out, because I could not clean the house. It finally occurred to me that was not my job. I’m not the family maid,” said Hannah Judd, who grew up in a Mormon family of 12 in Florida. “In order to have three children or more, the kids have to contribute.”
“As we added more children to our family, we’ve just been perfecting a system of motivating kids to work and contribute,” she said.
Hannah Judd, 37, said she met her husband while attending Brigham Young University. The couple lived in Los Angeles for a decade, where Phontaine worked as an editor. In 2013, the couple moved to the Sacramento suburbs for health reasons. They’re now living in Orangevale, where Phontaine, 41, then Brian Judd, attended Casa Roble High School.
Paying kids through the system doesn’t cost parents any more money than parents already spend, the couple said. So rather than parents shelling out the money for soccer registration and gear, the kids elect to use the money they earned weeks earlier on soccer. Hannah Judd said the system creates conservative budgets since families pencil in the maximum payout, assuming all the kids do all their chores.
Nearly 70 percent of parents believe children should receive an allowance for completing chores, according to a recent survey conducted by Country Financial. Some 60 percent of parents surveyed said they gave children gifts to reward good behavior.
“Parents are totally getting mixed messages right now. They are being told that a ‘good’ parent gives their child the best of everything and doesn’t require them to work for any of it, yet at the same time parents are being criticized for raising selfish, entitled children who are incapable of leaving home as adults,” Hannah Judd said. “These two messages totally conflict.”
Families of 12 children are extremely rare. One half of 1 percent of births nationwide in 2014 were to mothers who already had seven children, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The size of the family isn’t the Judds’ only quirk. They also enjoy giving their kids unique names. After fielding suggestions from family and friends, the new addition, a boy born on June 28, was named Lachoneus Q the Silverback Judd. The kids get a traditional Mormon name, a family name (or some derivative) and often some nod to their appearance.
Tia Rachelle Judd – at 15, the oldest child – said she likes having chores and is anxious when they are not done, in part because she knows she can’t go out with friends until she finishes them.
Tia Rachelle said she’s more likely to skip out on a fancy $5 coffee with friends because she’d rather spend the money on new clothes. Caleb said he’s saving up to buy a cellphone. The two elder Judd siblings agree that kids who are just given an $800 smartphone are less likely to take care of it.
That’s part of the point, Phontaine Judd said. Kids who earn things are by definition not entitled.
“You don’t have to remind them to put the soccer ball away. They bought it,” he said.