With her most recent birthday, J received a cash box and a monthly allowance of $8. At our house, the kids do chores, but the allowance isn’t “pay for chores.” We give them an allowance out of the kindness of our hearts, in much the same way that we provide them with tasty food and cute clothing. Occasionally, for egregious behavior offenses, cash fines are imposed.
But they do have to be able to count and add up their money so that they can keep track of it. They get a little notebook to keep in the box, too. J can’t do it alone yet, but we help her. She was so excited that she created little labels:
We don’t do that whole divide-into-thirds to save/spend/donate. For donating, that tends to be clothes and toys that they’ve outgrown or that they receive new but think someone else might like better. In fact, in the last year or so they’ve become much better about letting things go, which is great, because it didn’t always go so smoothly in the past. Savings-wise, they prefer to save quite a bit for a long time and then spend on something fabulous. M is a savings fanatic and J, who has less impulse control, tries to catch up with her.
Currently, in fact, I think M has well over $200 (this is from allowance, birthday money, etc.). She’s saving up, she says, for an iPod touch. She’s declared that it’s the #1 item that she wants for Christmas, but she’s saving her money because she fears that we won’t come through for her. She’s pining for a particular North Face jacket which costs $99, too. I just happily purchased her a new winter coat, but since she has plenty of jacket-like items that will provide the same amount of warmth as the North Face, I’ve told her that she needs to buy it herself or put it on the Christmas list. She also wants a new sleeping bag, saying that she’s outgrown her kid’s sleeping bag, but since Cute W and I never go on sleepovers, we just loan her ours. And the whole thing is ridiculous, because she currently has enough cash to buy any (although not all) of these items herself today. But this happens often: one of the girls will desperately need an item, and we’ll say that we’re not buying it but they’re welcome to use their own money, and then it turns out that they only Desperately Needed it when they thought that maybe we’d buy it. They’re much more willing to spend our money than their own.
So instead of sucking up and plunking down her own cash, M will spend the next month and a half sighing over the things that she Desperately Needs. To no avail, sister. Santa’s not arriving until December 24th.