So I was fortunate enough to have received a promotion at work recently; upon communicating this with my family, my middle daughter Vanessa doesn’t skip a beat, she says….a promotion means more money right dad? does that mean we get a raise in our allowance dad? Leave it to the quiet one to pick up on that, she certainly does not miss much. This is where I am supposed to say money doesn’t grow on trees….which ironically my wife has latched on to that saying and has branded her bookkeeping business very creatively with a money tree.
The statement from my daughter got me thinking about allowances and teaching the value of money to the girls, money is a fairly open subject in our house; my wife owns a financial business and I manage construction finances as part of my job, but it’s important that we communicate to our children the value of personal finances and how money can be used wisely.
For quite some time now we have been giving the girls an allowance, we decided on $5 every two weeks, which isn’t a lot perhaps but it allows them to learn how saving up for something takes time. The girls have found that saving up for something can be quite rewarding; or spending it as soon as it’s received can be rewarding too, but the joy of spending it quickly usually only lasts for a short time. For us though the allowance isn’t automatic, the girls are expected to do chores, like keeping their rooms clean, dusting, dishes and shovelling snow off the roof in the winter time….well maybe not that last one, just yet!
It is interesting to watch them save up the allowances, until they have decided on something; once they have enough saved up we plan a trip to the mall and they get to spend their savings. Sometimes they come home with exactly what they wanted, other times they decide while at the store that maybe $40 worth of gummy bears isn’t the best way to spend their money and they return the money back into their wallet until the next exciting thing catches their eye. As an adult I find myself learning from the children about restraint and splurge purchases, in the era we are in where money is primarily exchanged on plastic, you sometimes loose the sense of letting it go on things that may not necessarily be essential.
The retail business does not make this easy, any store you go to have bins and shelves of non-essential items lined up at the check-out in hopes of attracting that impulse buy. But if you watch children, of course they are tempted by the splurge purchases, after all who wouldn’t want a OneDirection Pez Dispenser, but when mom and dad’s response is….you will have to use your own money, it’s funny how fast their desire for the purchase goes away.
But managing money is stressful and its stress a child does not need, so for us we are trying to teach our girls the value of a dollar, without letting them worry too much about buying the things they want; they can still learn the value of dollar and that they can’t always get something, just because they want it. Recently this Christmas my oldest daughter felt the need to buy everyone in the family something so that she had a gift for each of us under the tree, she was stressing about having enough money to get us something we would like and having the time to go and pick it out. My wife and I talked about this and we didn’t want her to feel obligated to spend her money on her sisters and us, so we decided to have a secret santa between the three girls and my wife and I.
So what we did was put all of our names in a hat and took turns drawing names; everyone picked out a name and kept it to themselves, yes even the youngest; we then set a $10 budget and decided to take them to
Value Village. We got there and picked out some items, keeping in mind the modest budget and then all snuck our finds to the front to pay and headed home to wrap them. Of course we still provided the girls with the usual gifts under the tree but what we found with this experiment was the girls were very proud of their frugalness and not to mention, everyone really liked what their secret santa got them
So it’s not always about how much money is spent, it is more about the thought and with the girls it seems that they are learning to appreciate the value of a dollar.