corrvin: "this space intentionally not left blank" (Default)
So, our darling [livejournal.com profile] ravenlet is sneaking up on 11 years old.

She's never, so far, had an allowance; we have had a short time of paying her bits of money to do things around the house, which resulted in her making $2-3 a week.

When I was a kid, it was thought reasonable to give your child some amount of money per week, scaled by age. There are two huge problems with this, which I hope I can explain reasonably well:

First, the younger the child, the harder they play with their toys, and thus the better made their toys need to be. So a good toy for a 5 year old might well be MORE expensive than one for a 10 year old.

Second, toys have a lifespan on the shelf-- is it fair or reasonable or just to give your child an allowance such that they have to spend three or four months saving for what they want, only to discover that it's gone by the time they can afford it?

And about that saving thing-- sure, it's good to teach kids to save, but if there is ANYONE out there who has never stopped to buy a soda on the way home, you go right ahead and teach your children to save every dime they ever get. The rest of us will be pondering how long it's reasonable to expect a child to work toward a goal. Keep in mind that your child has their birthday and Christmas, for a guaranteed two gift-giving occasions a year (non-Christians and Jehovah's Witnesses excepted) and thus if you don't make it reasonably easy for them to save and get something, they'll fall back on "whine and get something."

If you pay your child weekly, at a very low rate, then don't they want to go out and spend it? How do you keep your child from spending their money on things you don't approve of? I don't want my child buying $2 worth of candy, that's way too much. I don't want her buying cheap plastic crap either, because it's a health hazard and it just makes her room messy. But where's the line between "it's your money and you need to be responsible so you get to learn to make choices" and "you can't buy that"? Would I let her buy books that I thought were stupid? How about ones that I have reason to believe are extremely biased against people of various groups? How about immodest clothing? How about makeup?

I think most people don't really understand the purchasing power of money-- just because you're short and can't drive doesn't mean that you don't pay the exact same price for an ice cream cone as everyone else. Instead of deciding what magical amount your kid needs based on their age, why not figure out how long you think your child should have to save to buy something they really want, and divide it out? By that rationale, I should be giving the kid $7 or so a week, and expect her to wait a month between big purchases. Any longer than a month, and it's just encouraging her to ask for things for her birthday or Christmas instead.

But how does it really TEACH my kid anything about money when she gets money regardless of what she does, when my "play money" comes out of what I have left over after grocery shopping? What I'd really prefer is to put her in charge of buying something for her own needs, and explain that "here's the money, you are in charge of buying this thing you need and the rest is yours to spend as you want."

What do y'all think? What would you give your hypothetical child for an allowance?

ETA: Some awesome reading here.
corrvin: "this space intentionally not left blank" (Default)
I'm in a group about simplifying one's life and that includes getting rid of unneeded possessions. One thread, though, really annoyed me, as it was about people who had just-grown children and were asking the children to get ALL their possessions out of the parents' houses.

Here is my response to the whole thread:

I love my parents very much, and even though I’m an adult, I still learn a lot from them. I watched them move my widower grandfather into a little house next to theirs that they built so that they could care for him. They made room in that little house for his things that he wanted to keep, and room in their big house to store some more, and helped him decide what not to keep (and sold it or disposed of it for him). They never told him that they couldn’t keep his stuff or that he had to pay to store it somewhere.

I really don’t mean to be argumentative, and I’m sure that circumstances are different for everyone, and I know that a widower grandfather isn’t the same as an employed young adult who may be married or about to be. In my opinion, though, there might be circumstances when the thing to do that is loving and respectful to your child (and their feelings about their possessions) is to offer to keep a few of their most treasured things for a few years, especially if your house is bigger and safer than where they are living.

And think about it, if you teach your kids that they are allowed to “set the value” on their own things and ask for your help, then in 30-40 years when (if) they are moving you into assisted living or into somewhere close by them, they may volunteer to keep some of your stuff at their house and help rotate it through your smaller living space, instead of telling you that it’s “not their job” to hold onto your possessions for you :)

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Corrvin

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