In accordance with his recent burst in maturity, 7-year old Baxter asked for an allowance last week. This was a topic Matt and I had discussed a bit in the past, but had come to no conclusion.
We knew that we wanted to use the “thirds” philosophy of children’s allowances, in which they are asked to save 1/3, give away 1/3, and spend 1/3 of what they are given. So in order to keep the weekly amount small but easily divisible by 3, we settled pretty quickly on $3 a week.
There goes my Pumpkin Spice Latte. Damn kids. That shouldn’t have too much of an impact on the budget.
Baxter was thrilled, and immediately asked for a notebook to write “notes about money”, which is shown in the photograph above. He plans to send his “give away” money to Obama for now, but thinks that most weeks he’ll put it in the children’s collection plate at church, and is saving those meager weekly funds for “invention supplies”, a Pokemon t-shirt, and a Webkinz (because God knows we need more stuffed animals). I’ve been trying to tell him that his first $1 could buy him an entire U.S. bank right now, but he’s surprisingly disinterested.
The part that was trickier for us to decide upon was whether to tie his allowance to “chores” around the house. This is what I grew up with, and I have a hard time imagining him getting out of bed to do what he’s supposed to do as a teenager without the carrot of an allowance dangling in front of his nose. However, we are going along with what we believe philosophically, and that is that children help out around the house because they are part of a family. We do our part, and so do they. The allowance is not related to this, but rather is about learning to manage money and giving them a sense of independence.
I think we’ll probably do well enough with this, given that I’ve already had plenty of conversations with the boys about the fact that in a family everyone does things to help each other out. I’ve pointed out that if they are going out of their way to help each other and their parents, then others in the family will be more likely to help them when they need it. I’ve acted out the correlate of this a couple of times, pretending to mull over a request quietly, “Hmm, I remember when I asked him to pick up his clothes and put them in the hamper earlier and he made a really big deal about it, stomping around and yelling. I’m not sure if I want to go out of my way to go get the play doh out of the closet right now when I’m busy making dinner…maybe we’re not the kind of family who helps each other out?” It seems to have worked, because the boys really do what we ask them to do pretty quickly the majority of the time, just as we do for them.
I guess what I’m not sure about is how it’ll go when we hit adolescence, but for now it ought to work pretty well.
How are you handling the allowance issue with your kids, now or in the future?