As we contemplated Brother-Bug turning six and the Privilege & Responsibilities he could receive, we decided it was time for an allowance. He's wanting to buy things, he's really enthusiastic about Math, and it feels like it is time.
Learning money management is tricky, and seems like a skill that just doesn't stick very well for many people. It is certainly something that we struggle with, and I know other adults around me also find very challenging. Papa-Bug and I talked seriously about how to help Brother-Bug enjoy the freedom of spending money, while also learning some of the things money is for.
|Papa-Bug explains the concept of allowance.|
Years ago I read Living Simply With Children. There were some excellent ideas in there about helping with money management and I'm sure I drew on some of them as we crafted our allowance plan.
We want our kids to learn about saving, spending, and sharing. And we want to start out small. So...
Brother-Bug gets $6 each week, but there are some rules. $1 goes in his savings account (college, travel, or ???), $1 he saves in a jar for something special he wants to buy or do, and $1 he donates to something important to him, to make the world a better place. The last $3 are his to spend or save at his discretion.
|Savings jars. So proud of this boy.|
We decided not to link his allowance to his chores, because we feel like our family works together to have a comfortable home and none of us get "paid" for that. But, at the same time, we wanted some personal responsibility to come with the acquisition of wealth (at six, having your own $3 is wealth!). We talked about how in the real world we can get fined for breaking the rules/laws and decided to try our some simple fines for behavioral issues. There is a ten-cent fine against the coming week's allowance (from the $3 spending money only) for shrieking, rudeness, or responding with defiance.
We got him a wallet (he chose the pinkest, most glittery one in the store of course) and yesterday he had the infinite satisfaction of a visit to Smith Family Books. He had saved $8.50 and was able to find his book for only $6.00. Having $2.50 left over makes him feel like a millionaire; paying for his own book made him feel like a grown-up. He proudly pulled his crumpled dollars from his glittery wallet, creating a chaotic pile of ones, while the store clerk looked on in delight.
|First purchase. He saved up not only his saving, but also his spending money. He hugged his new book in the car, and read it in bed until he couldn't keep his eyes open any more.|
We have no idea if this is going to flow the way we imagine, but we are hopeful that Brother-Bug learns a little something about money and how it touches so many aspects of our lives. I'm sure our plan will shift and change as we explore and learn together, but for now it feels like a good place to start.