Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Last Allowance

As we all know, we come into marriage with baggage from our family of origin. And as a couple we decide how to raise our kids, and specifically, how to do "the allowance" each week. When our firstborn was old enough to understand about money, and buying stuff, my dear husband tried to teach the concept of saving. Each week, Bob would give the boys an allowance. It was free spending money to do with whatever they pleased, but he used to pay them interest at the end of the quarter for whatever they still had on hand.

I asked Bob early on for this transaction to be his deal with the boys, because when I was growing up, allowances were spotty, and for chores. Bob was able to be much more objective about these things, and so I tried to stay out of it. It became a lesson of grace. I used to call it paying them for breathing, because, in essence, all they had to do to earn or deserve their allowance was to breathe. And on Saturdays, my question was, "has Dad paid you for breathing yet," or to Bob, "have you paid the boys for breathing?? "

A guy needs spending money. Discretionary funds. I'll never forget the time when Andy was probably five years old, and I think the weekly allowance was a quarter. Bob was short of actual cold, hard change that week, and tried giving Andy a paper dollar. But, in this exchange, Andy had to give back three quarters, and to a five year old, the exchange did not seem right somehow. Bob thought the transaction was done, but I could see Andy tearing up, and asked, "did Daddy cheat you?" "Uh, huh" he said, because to Andy at that tender age, more coins meant more money. Bob traded back, and kept it simple until Andy could count and do math. I wonder if Andy remembers the actual event, or the re-telling? It became an oft-told family story.

As the boys grew older, Bob would increase their allowance by percentages that made may head swim. And having the correct, exact change for everyone on Saturday was a challenge. I did not mind helping, and when Andy went to college, we would send his allowance by check. One month, the check never made it, so we drove to Oklahoma to an "away" football game where Andy was marching in the band to give him his allowance. That was our excuse, anyway.

The boys were pretty good about saving. Andy bought his own bike one time, and James had kept himself in CDs and DVDs.

Today marked the last allowance. Allowance and lunch money. I wrote a check, as James was already flush with cash, and that was the way he wanted it. The end of an era. Another last thing. For twenty years now we have doled out the cash. And as we can afford it, we will try to help each of our sons out with expenses. And its fun to buy them what they need. But, theirs' is a too practical mom. They have heard me say it a hundred times, that I'd rather buy them what they need, or what they pick out to wear, so that I know they will wear it.

We did not pay the boys for grades, nor chores, except maybe for mowing. Mowing in the south can be a hot, dangerous job. And they have all worked for the neighborhood landscaper mowing in the summer earning extra money.

Did Daddy cheat you?


Bob said...

We'll get through this together, dear. (Besides, keeping the allowance money ourselves won't be all that bad.)

joyce said...

Let's see, we could put that $40 a week toward savings to go VISIT them??!! But, the plumber done ate it all fixing the tub diverter that has been broken for a while, and the drain plug that I broke on Friday.

jennifer said...

Ah Mrs. Joyce, this was a nice post. I love the question "Has Dad paid you for breathing?" Funny lady you are.

I am just not ready for my kiddos to grow up! I see the woman that my twelve year old is going to be one day and while it pleases me, it breaks my heart too.

Be blessed.


*I am adding you to my Christian Blog blogroll. Hope you don't mind.

joyce said...

Thank you, Jennifer ! I am honored to be added to your Christian blog roll. I'd love to add a blog roll thingy to my blog...maybe when Bob is done with his Sunday School lesson..

Please pray for Bob. He is having to endure my boo-hooing. Kids grow up too fast. As moms we go from sleep deprived when they are babies, to sleep deprived when they are out late to now what !

ShalomSeeker said...

There was no paying for breathing in my part of the fam. Nor for chores, either, 'cause "that's just part of being in a family." Thus, we all got jobs the moment we could! Because, as you said, "a [girl] needs spending money"! Though I will say that I didn't really learn to save, and later (in grad school) got myself into a heap 'o trouble with stupid debt (aka, credit cards), trouble so deep that a decade later I am still digging out. But I suppose some of us have to learn the hard way... :-) (And by God's grace, I AM digging out! It looked like bankruptcy for awhile there... Scary stuff!)

joyce said...

Thanks J for your comments. As women, I think its easy for me, anyway, to get emotional about money. When in debt, it feels like a weight. And I have to pray and pray. God has blessed us so much recently, that now we have a prosperity test. Now Uncle Bob will say that God sent the hail, too, but with the insurance money on the car, we can get the roof on the house fixed, and then when we get the insurance money on the house (have to show a receipt for roofing work done) then we will get the money for fixing the car. Ha.