On her last birthday, Maya received a beautiful piggy bank from her savvy auntie, Monica. It’s so cute, and even has her name hand-painted on it. Immediately the money she got in her birthday cards went in there, as did the loose change from her daddy’s pockets.
I thought about it for a few days, did a little research on allowances both online and by talking to some friends with older kids, and decided it was the right time to start our own system. She was already showing interest in dealing with money, so I knew that was a good sign. My dilemma was whether to tie the allowance to chores or not. Ultimately I chose the former, because I didn’t want her to think that we were giving her money “just because”. I explained to her the concept of having a job and responsibilities, and how sometimes you get paid for that. Her “job” would be to keep her room tidy, clean up her toys after playing, and put her dishes next to the sink after each meal. I figured 3 responsibilities for a three-year old sounded fair. At the end of each day she would get 50 cents to put in her piggy bank if all her chores were done. She made her first purchase with a combination of gift cards and allowance money a few weeks later – a V-Tech Kidizoom digital camera.
Dealing with the steady stream of “I want that!” and “Can I buy this?” is easy. If she sees something she wants, I tell her that she has to save up for it. We still buy her Christmas and birthday gifts obviously, but anything extra is up to her. Her most recent purchase was a light-up hula hoop and a 3 gallon container of bubble solution. I didn’t think the hula hoop would have a long life (considering she doesn’t know how to use it) but she loves it. She still uses her camera on a regular basis also, and other than a few scuffs, it’s in pristine condition. Maybe the fact that she bought it herself makes all the difference.
It’s been almost a year since she received that piggy bank, and although I still have to remind her about her chores once in a while, she carries them out without complaint. Her fourth birthday is less than a week away, so it would make sense to add one more task to her daily chores, but I’m not going to. She is great about helping me when she sees me doing household work (transferring clothes from washer to dryer, sorting socks, unloading the dishwasher, watering plants, etc) so I think she really understands the concept. I’m still not sure if I’m going to raise her allowance, though… but I still have a few more days to ponder that question.
I wrote this post to participate in this week’s Parent Bloggers Network Blog Blast. It’s sponsored by Capitol One, which just launched an interactive Moneywi$e eLearning tool to help you learn about money management, as well as how to talk to your kids about it.