Thursday, March 01, 2007


Money. Love it or hate it, it's a necessity of life. And as a kid it can be hard to get your hands on some. Shoot, as an adult it can be hard to get your hands on some - who am I kidding?!? But I digress.... I know I had some sort of allowance as a kid but for the life of me I can't remember how much I earned until I was in my young teens. Then I remember vividly earning $20/month and how much that seemed like at the time when my parents forked over a crisp $20 bill. They had the right spin, too, paying us by the month and quoting the total in monthly terms, because if I had spent more time dwelling on it and realizing it broke down to a measly $5/week I might have felt jilted.

This $20 monthly allowance was not raised or adjusted for inflation for several years. I was still bringing home that amount into my high school years. And by then, I knew that my $20 didn't go far. I had to cover all my various incidentals out of my allowance: movies, food bought at school, pizza after football games, clothes, etc. Each summer my mother would take my sisters and I to the Nordstroms Half Yearly sale and hand us each $200 in cash. I never felt so rich in my whole life and looked forward to back-to-school shopping every year. That was all I was getting towards school clothes for the year, so I had to budget wisely (good lesson, actually). Including shoes. That $200 was IT, except for my monthly $20 (and those were the days when you just HAD to have the skinny zipper ankle Guess jeans that cost an ungodly $48. It took me more than 3 MONTHS of saving my allowance to buy those frickin' jeans, but I loved them and wore them OUT - even taking them to college, ripped knees and all. I learned the value of a dollar, it seems). Oh, you should have SEEN the bargaining and negotiating that took place between my sister and I in the dressing rooms. Inevitably we'd pick out a few of the same things and then agree to buy just one and share it, making our money stretch further. Good idea on paper, but then when we had to actually put the sharing into place all sorts of fights and threats erupted. But again, I digress...

So now, Nicholas is learning more about money in school. And he's had a vending machine fixation for quite some time now. And he's been asking with more frequency how he can earn some money. I usually put him to work dust mopping, or tidying up the toys in the playroom or something, but the time feels right to start formalizing things. Mr. Chick and I talked about it and decided we could give Nicholas an allowance for doing regular age-appropriate jobs around the house. Yesterday, I broke the news to Nicholas and he about peed his pants he was so excited. He ran to his room and grabbed his writing tablet so we could make his Job List, which is now prominently taped to his bedroom door like some Golden Ticket (I just know that the days of being HAPPY about a personalized job list are short and soon that paper will be replaced with some version of a menacing STAY OUT OR DIE sign instead. So for now I'm getting a big fat kick out of seeing a job list posted proudly on his door.)

Nicholas' Job List:
1) Make bed everyday
2) Feed dog and fish everyday
3) Get mail everyday
4) Do homework everyday
5) Clean up bedroom and playroom weekly

And if he completes his tasks he'll earn 3 WHOLE DOLLARS EVERY WEEK to spend how he pleases. On vending machines for snacks at the YMCA! For an ice cream treat! Or he could save it towards a new toy! The possibilities are limitless and his head is spinning with ideas. I think it might just explode and/or pop right off his wee shoulders. My bright son, always calculating, asked me immediately how much that would be every month. (I told him there were 4 weeks in a month, and if he was getting 3 dollars every week, then 3+3+3+3 = ??? and we solved the problem: 12!! 12 DOLLARS A MONTH!) "That's a LOT of money, Mama", he acknowledged sagely. He's drinking the same Kool-Aid I did as a kid and focusing on the monthly sum rather than the paltry weekly amount, but I'm not going to burst his bubble just yet. That's what high school is for. He went and got his very masculine Winnie-the-Pooh wallet so it would be at the ready for his riches. He keeps his very own library card in there, and soon, REAL MONEY. It's just too much!

We agreed on pay-day (Saturday after cartoons and after he picks up his room and playroom) and then Nicholas immediately set to work on doing the jobs on the list. He made his bed first (because it's #1 on the list - duh!) and then wanted to feed the dog but I had to tell him to wait until dinnertime, when we normally feed her, and then he scrambled to put on his shoes and run out to the mailbox and get the mail, and then he sat right down and did his homework without any whining. I AM A GENIUS!! Why didn't I implement this allowance notion sooner?? Granted, it was the first day, but still - ! homework willingly and without whining?? Amazing. And this morning, he made his bed without asking again. Off to another good start.

I think we may have found a new motivator for Nicholas: money. I suspect he's going to break my bank.

Dave Ramsey has a website called Junior's Clubhouse that's awesome for kids and money.
I too had a similar allowance schedule growing up. Faith really isn't "into" money yet, but she does have to do chores. One that you might add to the list - putting her folded clothes in the proper drawers. I do the folding put she has to put them away. That and making the bed are good lessons in tidiness.
I can see Nick now, quarters in hand debating on the M & M's, gum, a soda. Oh, the possibilities are ENDLESS.
I love Lauren's hat. I'm assuming you crocheted it?? Too cute. Also I finally started a blog. check it out when you have a chance:

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