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?