Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Money, Honey.

Recently we started to give the kids an allowance.

I used to be completely opposed to giving kids allowance. I thought it would give them the wrong idea of self-discipline. If they only behave because they will get money, they will never internalize that one behaves just because it’s the right thing to do.

We have a couple of trusted friends who started giving their child allowance. These are intelligent, educated people who share a lot of the same ideals as us. That made me pause and think.

Then I came across a really good chapter in a parenting book about allowance, and I changed my tune.

Each of my boys now gets $5 a week. The stipulations are as follows:

A minimum of 10% must go into long term savings
A minimum of 10% must go into short term savings
A minimum of 10% must go into charity
A minimum of 10% must go into spending money

After they have done that, they can choose where they want to put the remaining money. They can decide to put more in spending money, short term savings, or wherever. Mostly they choose to put it into short term savings.

Short term savings is for thing they want, like new books, YuGiOh cards, game cube games, etc. Long term savings are for retirement or buying a house one day. Spending money is for when they want a pack of gum, or some other treat at the store. Usually these are the things they whine at me to get them on a daily basis.

Now, when we drive past 7-11 and one of them pipes up, ‘ Can you buy me a slurpee??’ I can tell them they can buy it with their own money if they want it. Most of the time they don’t want it that badly. I end up sending far less money on them this way.

Recently, the Scholastic book flyer came home from school. As usual, the boys had long lists of books they actually wanted. I asked them if they wanted to spend their money on them – and to my delight, they did! They both dug deeply into their short term savings (which they had been saying was going to game cube games) and bough themselves a big whack of book! I was all warm and fuzzy inside, that they would make such a choice. And, I didn’t have to spend lots of money or argue with them about which books I was and wasn’t willing to pay for.

Soon, we will be deciding what charity we will donate their saved charity money to. Since they each get $5, they each set aside 50 cents a week for charity, and they decided to wait until it ads up to a decent sum before we donate it. I have started to collect flyer and information – I think they might like to donate to the SPCA since they both love dogs, but I also think they might like the idea of sponsoring a child. I can’t wait to see how they light up at the thought of helping the helpless.