Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Self Help

I like to learn things the self-help way. I like being able to read about a subject and then let that information roll around in my mind while I consider how it might (or might not) work for me.

I find 'diet' books a useful resource for basic nutrition information; the how and why of the human body's processing of products. They're also good for finding recipes with only a few ingredients, which usually make for quick meals.

As a member of a message board for parents of babies born during E2's birth month (Moms Online, how I miss thee!), a fellow poster (a first-time Mom, no less) once scoffed at the idea that one would need, or even want, to use a parenting book. I later mentally scoffed at her when she proudly informed us that they'd hired a baby proofer to come make their home safe for their child. Hired someone? Seriously?

Nonetheless, I enjoyed reading a few of those parenting books to find insight and information to explain what the heck my critters were doing at various points in their development. By no means do I read any self-help book and follow it to. the. letter. I just find them a useful way to find ideas, or remind myself of ideas, for setting my own course.

Which brings me to allowances. We've recently started giving E1 - age 9, a weekly allowance, and she's thrilled. It's a pretty straight-forward plan, based on the book Money Doesn't Grow On Trees by Neale S. Godfrey. I've had this book for about four years now, and have read various parts more than once, however it wasn't until several recent 'Dude, she's really stepping up' moments that it really felt like it was something that E1 would appreciate.

Things we like/agree with:
  • pay child same time each week, just like a paycheck
  • help child sort money into 'savings', 'spending', and 'charity'

Things we don't like/agree with:

  • $ amount of allowance recommended to equal child's age ($9 a week, are you kidding?)

We have certain household chores, like picking up sticks in the yard, that have a monetary value. We started that as a way for the girls to earn money, but it hasn't been a huge incentive; we still have to hassle them to get them picked up so the lawn can be mowed. These monetary chores are still in place for the younger two, however, E1 has recently shown more responsibility and has been taking initiative for certain chores (without complaint!) and that has led us to re-work our plan to an allowance for her. People, she has been mowing the lawn with the reel mower - without complaint. I know, I know..that probably won't last forever - but it's pretty impressive right now.

Her allowance is not attached to any chores, but she understands that we have expectations for her as a participating member of our household. She also understands that by showing us responsibility she's earned this allowance. We're still working out what things she'll be expected to pay for on her own; things like visits to concession stands, and another pair of flip flops. Meanwhile, Rob is working with her to show her how she can use the computer to set up savings goals (Kidz Bop 12, a digital camera...) for herself, and track her money.

This weekend E1 had a spending opportunity thrown in her lap: Rob would take her to see the Harry Potter movie if she wanted to buy her own ticket. She did, and although he offered to split the cost of popcorn, she decided to save money by skipping the concession stand and bringing a couple of pieces of Laffy Taffy from home. I can't help it - every time I think about it I hear a Lightning McQueen "KA-CHOW!"

Our wish is that this is something that, after working out the bugs, will be useful in guiding our kids to be comfortable managing their money. After all, at some point they might be managing our money... for us.


Beth said...

I agree with your philosophy on the allowance. Our oldest daughter is 10 and she too gets an allowance, but not $10/week! Gees!

Jenn said...

My husband and I have gone back and forth over allowance for the 15-year-old. Right now, she doesn't get an allowance. She can work for extra spending money if she wants it.

We decide whether the thing she is requesting money for is a need or a want and go from there. Needs get handouts, wants must be earned.

I never got an allowance as a kid, I had to do extra work for it. I think it made me spend a little more wisely, knowing I'd have to work my butt off to earn it.

Kirsten said...

I totally agree with your allowance ideas. There are certain things that one must do to be a family member that aren't tied to money. Rewards include: Roof over head and food to eat!

Rebecca said...

I didn't get an allowance as a kid and I don't have kids myself, so I can't really add too much to this conversation; except I can relay a story from Kelly Ripa whose oldest son sleeps on top of his already made bed with a towel as his blanket, so that he doesn't have to make the bed, but still gets his allowance for having a made bed.

I believe that's the longest sentence I've ever written.

Glenda said...

We do the "allowance equal to age" thing, but we only have one child so I imagine that makes somewhat of a diff. Allowance is not tied to chores; we don't have chores, none of us.

DS has been getting a regular allowance for about four years now, give or take, and for the past several years he's settled pretty well into "save" mode. When there's something he wants, he saves for it.

If he wants to speed things along, he will ask if there are things he can do around the house to earn extra money. I don't mind paying him to help me do things I would otherwise be doing on my own, and there are many times when he pitches in and helps without expecting to be paid. It balances out well for us.

I don't mind buying "wants"-type things for him, especially things that will be shared with other family members (video games and game guides, board games, DVDs, etc.), but he saves up for action figures and other toys.

Allowance was a trial and error thing for us, too, initially -- what we do now feels right for our family and we're all three happy with it. And it's been rewarding to watch DS learn thru his own trial and error how to manage his money.

You're right -- it's entirely likely at some point our children will be managing our money for us!

Daisy said...

You're so much like me -- I read, read, read, and process and think before I put something into practice. I think Hermione Granger might turn into me when she grows up.

Anonymous said...

I was very impressed with E1 this weekend. Her saying, without prompting, I guess I should go mow the grass.