Time to Talk Allowances

Advice on Introducing Allowances

Time to Talk Allowances

My daughter is turning six soon. We’ve been paying her an allowance and she’s been saving it in little jars, but I’m pretty sure she’s been just shuffling the money around whenever the mood arises. She really hasn’t understood the concept until the past few months, when she switched from watching Treehouse to Family, and now sees a lot more commercials. Now she has a little list of items she wants to buy, and has figured out that the one or two items she gets for her birthday and Christmas won’t cover her wants. So she is trying to understand how her allowance will get her those items.

My husband and I have been debating allowances. We know we’re not supposed to tie regular chores (part of being a member of the household) to her receiving an allowance, but then what is it for, exactly?

Then I stumbled across this video about raising your kids to be entrepreneurs. While much of what he recommends is specifically for kids in whom you’ve identified entrepreneurial traits, the concept of not giving allowances at all really resonated with me.

We’ve decided to implement this idea in our house. Except instead of everything being random, we’ll do what this family does, creating a spreadsheet of chores (above and beyond basics like hanging up their jackets and school bags, making their bed, clearing the table) that pay set amounts. Here’s a great blog with a spreadsheet you can download http://www.toiletpaperentrepreneur.com/skill-toolbox/when-raising-an-ent....

Then, I’ll encourage my daughter to look for other chores or tasks she can do to earn additional money, and we can negotiate the pay for those tasks.

I’m not sure if this is the perfect solution for our family, but I really like the message it sends that money is tied to work and creativity, not an entitlement issue.


Birthday Party Dilemma

Mommy Guilt: Spend on a Birthday Party or Not?

Birthday Party Dilemma

My middle daughter turns three on Thursday. I was planning on having a small party for her with a few select friends, but had to postpone it for work. Then I started thinking, do I really need to have it at all?

Last year, I invited her three little buddies over for a cupcake party. I splurged on kid-sized chef’s hats and cupcake aprons for $80. I raided my local dollar store for cupcake-themed dishes. I baked cupcakes using a mix and added a variety of food colourings to canned white frosting to give the kids some colour options. Then I filled ramekins with a selection of inexpensive candies (mini marshmallows, sprinkles) to give them even more decorating choices.

I taped large pieces of kraft paper to the wall behind the cupcake-decorating station, so the girls could colour on the wall between bites. The moms drank tea and ate cupcakes while their daughters donned aprons and decorated cupcakes. At the end of the party, each guest got to take home an apron, chef hat and a box of cupcakes.

Total cost including food and drink? $150.

Fast forward to this year. On Sunday, we had a family dinner at my mom’s house with cake and balloons and presents. At her preschool I’ll take in cupcakes and they’ll sing Happy Birthday to her. She just happens to be going to her occasional dayhome this week, where another cake and little party is planned.

And yet, I’m still feeling like she’s sort of getting the shaft. Because I haven’t planned her own party with her own friends in a play place or at home. I haven’t made my own invitations and won’t be decorating the house or attempting to create a stay-up-all-night Cake Boss-esque cake.

Argh! My husband thinks I’m crazy for even struggling with this. He says save the money because she doesn’t care or know the difference either. And she’s already participating in many celebrations. What to do?


100 Things Challenge

Could You Live With Just 100 Things?

100 Things Challenge

There’s this project called the 100 Thing Challenge that has everyone abuzz, which I first read about in this Time magazine article called How to live with just 100 things.

In 2008, Dave Bruno set out to blog about his challenge to himself – to pare his possessions down to 100 things and live with just those 100 things for a year. You can read about his challenge here. His quest has inspired others and it’s been the topic of much discussion, especially amongst those trying to trim their consumerism.

I think the idea behind the 100 Thing Challenge is interesting. Bruno writes that “living without an abundance of personal possessions for an extended period of time is the first step we ought to take in order to realize that we don’t need ever-more stuff.” In my book, Money Smart Mom: Financially Fit Parenting I talk about how decluttering can help you realize how wasteful you’ve been with your spending (unused appliances, never-played-with-toys, etc.).

However, I just can’t get on board with this. First, how to count those 100 things? Some people count shoes as one item, even if they have 50 pairs, while others count each pair individually. A browse through my closet finds the following for shoes alone:

Flat dressy shoes
Black high heels
Brown high heels
Black knee high boots
Winter boots, functional
Winter boots, fashionable
Traditional cowboy boots
Funky cowboy boots
Rubber boots
Everyday sneakers
Running sneakers
Water/hiking sandals
Everyday sandals
Dress sandals

I honestly don’t think I have too many shoes. So would I count them as one item? What about Christmas decorations? Furniture? Hobby tools? I’m a scrapbooker, but all of my supplies fit in one single rolling tote. Would that count as one item? My canner and canning jars?

In our house we lean towards minimalism. Partly that’s because we try not to spend on unnecessary things, and partly because it makes cleaning and tidying to much easier where there are empty drawers and room in the closets! It doesn’t take as much time to tidy the toys after a playdate if there aren’t hundreds of them for the kids to toss around.

At the same time, I don’t like getting rid of something we might use in the foreseeable future. I save egg cartons and plastic lids and all manner of wrap and strings for crafts. Empty ice cream buckets for gardening. Old towels for future rags, even if we have enough rags at this very minute.

The 100 day challenge seems at odds with the old fashioned “waste nothing” mentality of our grandparents. What do you think?