In an effort to begin teaching our kids how to handle small amounts of money, and to curtail the "I Wants," we've decided to start allowances on a trial basis. I will admit that this decision has been uncharacteristically discussed to death, mostly by me.
Believe it or not, Rob and I are usually pretty quick to decide on a course of action and then follow it. If it turns out to be the wrong decision, we'll have a discussion and make a course correction, but we don't usually talk about it incessantly.
The allowance is different. Since I didn't receive an allowance, I didn't know where to start with my kids. What should they do to earn an allowance? How much do I give them? What chores should be considered a natural part of living in a family and therefore not eligible for payment?
I would have been content to ignore the whole thing, but Francie has been asking me money questions lately: what is the best way to earn it? how should she decide what to save and what to spend? She has worked hard to earn all of the money for her horse camp supplies this summer, and I had to admit that it might be wise to start teaching her the basics of finance management. I don't want the kids to have no idea how credit works, or how to avoid living on it.
Even though I worked at different jobs, I didn't really learn to manage money well until I married Rob. Which is funny, because we were po' when we got married. We were sitting on cheap lawn chairs in our living room and storing our clothes in suitcases. We had nothing to manage.
Rob didn't know much more about money than I. He also worked through high school and college, but when he got a loan in med school for his living expenses, he stored that money under his mattress. Under his mattress, my friends! Like some kind of crazy old coot living way back up in the mountains or something. (He let me share this with you all as long as I promised to tell you that he has come a long way since then. He now is a great supporter of banks and other financial institutions. And he has gotten rid of that moonshine still, too.)
I did a little informal research on the internet and I polled some friends, and then Rob and I cobbled together a little plan:
- Anyone over the age of five is eligible for a wage.
- There will be a posted list of chores that must be done CHEERFULLY each week or there will be no allowance.
- Rob and I are the final arbiters of the degree of cheerfulness in each child's attitude. If we catch even a whiff of bad attitude, we have the right to reduce or revoke the allowance.
- Each child has the opportunity to earn a dollar amount equal to one half of his/her age per week.
- Each week, the child must divide allowance into three groups: Spend, Save, and Share.
- Allowance will cease when the child is old enough to get a real job.
When I told Francie and Fiver about the plan, you could practically hear the cha-ching! in their heads. Fiver immediately made plans to "buy all the trains and digital pets they have at Target." I guess it's good to have goals.
Since this is only the first week, I am interested to see how the Summer of the Allowance will pan out. Hopefully it will motivate them to work hard and not to just expect that money will be falling into their laps at the end of each week.
What about you, my friends? Does anyone else do allowance? Any thoughts on the pros and cons? I'm interested to know how other people handle this.