Do you ever get sick of hearing your children repeat the words “I gotta have that” or “I wanna get that” over and over and over?
Yeah…thought so. We all do.
I think we all tire of having to fight the “I want that” battle every time we enter a store, watch television with commercials, or browse on Tarjay’s website. It’s a fight that really isn’t worth having, but happens all the time anyway.
I get why they want everything. Things are cool. Things are new. Things represent happiness to them. Things are the equivalent of love to some of them.
It’s developmental. The more things they have, the better life is. Why do you think the Crazies collect the pellets from neighborhood kids’ pellet guns and hoard them calling them magic beans? It’s because these useless pellets are things and the more they have, the closer they are to being the winner.
Winner of what? I have no idea.
There is no logic. We were all like this once upon a time. It’s just how they are.
So, we decided to start giving them allowance. I saw this thing on Pin.terest where there were three jars (save, spend, give away). I thought that was a great idea…we’d start with $3 and they could put a dollar into each jar.
Unfortunately, Husband pointed out that we have pretty savvy kids and if they followed that logic (at this point), chores would go right out the window. They wouldn’t buy into it because there would never be a way for them to purchase anything that they really wanted.
He had a point. I’m not saying the Crazies are completely spoiled or anything, but they have expensive taste. They’re way into Legos (Ninjago) and those things aren’t cheap!
So, I rethought this. His idea was $5 per week for making beds, getting dressed independently (i.e. without me having to hawk over them and scream like a crazy person), cleaning up their rooms, cleaning up the playrooms (when asked), and anything else I could think of. For instance, they cleaned up the bottom of my closet the other day as a chore. My shoes have never been more organized.
Yes, I’m brilliant (sometimes)!
Okay, so we agreed on $5 per week to be given on Fridays. We decided that we’d wait a little longer to get to the “save” part of this allowance thing. We were also going to wait a bit to get into the “give away” part of it as they are only four and we really need to focus on the basics at first. Doing chores, receiving allowance, and spending it wisely.
They were way into it. They needed a little help with their beds at first (they’re only 4 after all). They got dressed without being asked. Things went very smoothly for the first week. They got their allowance on Friday, put it into their envelopes, and felt very accomplished. Their envelopes already had some cash in them from Valentine’s Day. I’ll admit it…I exchanged candy with Red #40 dye for money. Boy Crazy is a nut job with too much Red #40.
So, they each had $9 in their envelopes.
Since Monday was President’s Day, we decided to head off to Tarjay. I can only go there once a month because I’d spend copious amounts of money on “nothing.” So, now we’re all limited…and for good reason…it’s exhausting!!
We headed straight to the toy department…the Lego aisle to be specific. Girl Crazy decided she didn’t want to spend her hard earned money on boy Legos, so she waited patiently while I told Boy Crazy what he could and could not afford. They both listened with disbelief as I explained the number of weeks they’d have to save in order to receive certain items. Dumbfounded.
Boy Crazy found what he wanted and we went off to Bar.bie and My Litt.le Pony. Girl Crazy decided on a “Friends” Lego set after all was said and done. It was $5, so she’d still have some money left over. She was satisfied.
We went to look for my things and Boy Crazy had changed his mind. He didn’t want to spend his money after all…he was going to save it. So, back to the toy department we went.
When we got there, you could see the pain on his face as he put back the thing he didn’t really want in the first place. I could feel the agony when I told him that he couldn’t afford what he really wanted. The tension was palpable when I explained that if he just waited until Friday for his next allowance, he could afford it then…all he had to do was wait and save his money.
I explained that walking out of a store empty-handed is not a bad thing.
I explained that Daddy would be so proud of him for waiting for what he really wanted.
I urged him to consider just saving his money.
He had a serious internal struggle going on. I could tell he really wanted this other thing, but he couldn’t afford it. I could tell he wanted to wait, but he also wanted something new. He wanted a new thing. It didn’t matter what it was…he wanted it.
Then his bottom lip started quivering when I told him we’d have to leave soon. I saw the tears welling up as he looked from affordable toy to unaffordable toy. He kept saying, “I just don’t know what to do.” I fought the urge to make a deal with him. I knew this was a lesson that had to be learned.
It was a rough lesson to be learned.
In the end, after many tears, he bought what he had chosen online before we even left the house. He was going to walk out with no money, but he’d have something. Husband called and mentioned the price matching program Tar.jay had now, so I did skim a bit off the price which was nice. It would have killed him to walk out with a completely empty envelope.
As he counted out those eight dollar bills, I could see the struggle continuing. I could see that he still wasn’t sure. Even as we drove home, he said that he didn’t really want that and thought he should return it and keep his money. It was really hard to just stand by and let him figure this out!
In the end, as he sat at our kitchen table, putting his thing together, he was happy. He carried it around all day and he was happy. He calmly accepted his much lighter envelope back at the end of our trip. He didn’t seem to be struggling any more.
In the end, I think it’s a good thing that I’m doing this at an early age. First, it shows them how much things really cost and that it’s hard to afford everything they want. Second, I think that we’re definitely teaching them the value of money and how it can be wisely spent (and unwisely, I’m sure). Third, I think that by introducing the saving and giving away aspects a little later, we’ll also be instilling in them more fiscal responsibility, but when they’re ready. They’re just not quite there yet.
It was also incredibly interesting (as usual) to see how they reacted with this newfound responsibility. Girl Crazy knew what she didn’t want and found something that worked for her. What she bought didn’t use up all of her money, but still gave her that thing. Boy Crazy tortured himself…which is completely typical for him. Poor kid…I think he’ll always be like this!
So, what are your thoughts on allowance? Do you do it? How did you introduce it? Is it tied to chores? Do you oversee how it’s spent, saved, or given away?
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