how-why

As a kid, my mom gave me money to spend at the canteen for overnight camp. My 4th, 5th, and 6th grade self would return home with most of ‘s. While my friends would buy overpriced t-shirts and load up on super-sized pixie sticks, I would buy one small snack each day and promptly return the money to my mother at week’s end.

I’ve always hated spending money. Even now I’m an under spender – even when we can afford something and it would make our lives easier, I struggle to part with money. Whether my parents or my own, spending money has never been something I’ve found enjoyable. The idea of shopping therapy is completely lost on me.

My daughter, on the other hand, very much enjoys watching money leave her hands as a small trinket is placed in its stead. You can imagine that her under spender mom struggles with this. But, of course, this is completely normal. Since she has little understanding of money and what it can and can’t do, of course she’d want to give it away in exchange for, well, practically anything.

And because I don’t want my daughter to feel guilty every time she makes a purchase. And I don’t want to scoff at what she thinks is important. And I don’t want her to think money is as available as blades of grass. And I want her to learn to save, spend, and give wisely…we started giving her an allowance. Previous to this, we’ve discussed budgets, generosity, and work. We want to make sure we’re fostering open communication around the oftentimes secretive subject of finances.

Her allowance is weekly and minimal. She doesn’t have to buy anything essential with it. It’s not tied to household responsibilities. Contributing to the household is expected of every member of the family; allowance is purely an exercise in learning how to handle money.

And while we discuss saving and giving, we aren’t (for now) putting any requirements on that. We want to see what she does on her own. And I have to say, my daughter is a spender. Saving does not come naturally. But what does come naturally is a generous heart. She wants to buy school supplies for kids who don’t have any. She wants to get something for her little brother and our newly adopted senior dog. She may not be a saver, but she is generous. And as someone who struggles to spend money on anything, I know this is a gift I never want to stifle.

And hey, one time she took some of her money with her to the store and left some of it at home so she wouldn’t spend it all. Which means there may just be hope of her figuring out to save some money too!

Most importantly, and by far the most difficult thing for me, is I do not comment negatively on her spending. I encourage her generosity, but I do not nag, whine, scold, or remind her to spend responsibly. Even when she spent three weeks’ worth of allowance on a golden dolphin figurine that is now buried and forgotten in her room. Having or not having money when she wants something is a more powerful lesson without me intervening.

How do you handle allowance with your kiddos?