First Allowance: Learning how to handle money

Allowance, money

A and his allowance

When my daughter was born, I asked my parents how to teach children how to deal with money matters.  How did they teach my brother and I to save and live within our means.  They both always said the same thing from the beginning — they entrusted us with cash, through an allowance, since we were small children.  They allowed us to make mistakes with the money we held.  They also gave us a bank account early on where we can place the money we saved.  My parents said they watched us learn and mature in how we handle our money and we instinctively began saving, first for things we wanted, then just for the joy of watching our savings grow.

Due to this, I resolved to entrust my children with an allowance when they hit Grade 1.  It was the same time my parents started trusting us with an allowance and I wanted to give my children the same experience as I had.  People can attest that I’m more of a saver than a spender and I wanted my kids to learn the same value in saving for a rainy day.  I want them to begin learning the concept of living within their means.

My son, A turned Grade 1 this year so he now has an allowance of P100.00 per week that I give to him on Monday.  Watching him handle his allowance is like deja vu of my experience with C when she turned Grade 1.

C blew her entire allowance on the first day by treating her friends with snacks on the first day.  A turned his entire allowance over to a friend to buy snacks to share.  They both went to school with their full week’s allowance and came home without it.

Like C, I had a chat with A because they both had to go without money after blowing their allowance on the first day.  There was no way I was giving them more just because they spent it all.  They weren’t going to starve anyway since we provided them lunch from home.  They would just have to make do without small treats from the canteen for the rest of the week.

If my experience with C is to be any benchmark for A, I will expect him to do the following:

  • lose his wallet.
  • neglect to get change from the canteen after he purchases his snack.
  • let his friends borrow money and not ask them to repay it.
  • get shortchanged.
  • buy weird toys and knickknacks he doesn’t need and will forget about within an hour of buying them.

How do I know if they happen?  I track and ask where the money went when they come home.

C went through all of that, struggling for a year or so, but now, she is so careful with her money.  She still spends on herself but she saves most of it.  Her bank account is now growing very fast.

I’ll call it growing pains but for me it’s a lesson that is worth investing in.

A will still need to sit through a lot of sermons with me before he’s done.   C did.

Am I doing the right thing or am I expecting too much from my 6-year-old?

Who knows.

All I know is I want them to learn how to deal with money and this is the ONLY way I know how to teach it.  Trial and error.

Wish me luck.


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