Another milestone moment in raising a child: giving him his first allowance. Our 5 1/2 year old came home the other day asking for an allowance (thanks again, school bus) and we decided that it was time to start teaching him about mechanics of having your own money. Our desire to teach him about money is very closely correlated to our desire to teach him about feelings because both are wildly important, yet both can be very difficult to talk about. Luckily, last November I had the chance to interview and see NYT Best-selling author Ron Lieber speak about money. His wisdom guided our first allowance discussion with our child (read here for full transcript) .
- We decided to give our son $1.00 as his first allowance, divided up in dimes so he could really get a sense of the amount he was getting (a dollar bill is just a piece a paper with a pretty design on it to a kid with no cultural context).
- We gave him three clear jars: spend, save, give and explained what those words really mean for us in our lives. We had to decide what the parameters of those jars meant for him so when we get asked in a store to buy him something we already have an idea of how to respond.
- Interestingly, he really wanted to have his allowance tied to chores which we resisted. In our home, we decided that allowance is something you get weekly to teach you about how to use money. It is not a reward because whether or not he is deserving of a reward that week, we still want him to learn about money. We want to nurture his intrinsic motivation and not create a culture of ‘do this and you’ll get that’ in our home. (Read here on intrinsic motivation).
- If he wants to earn extra money in addition to his allowance, he is allowed to ask us for ways to do this and we will tell him what options he has.
None of this is particularly easy to do because, lets face it, money is personal. It is a tangible reflection of the values and culture that your parents, and their parents, were raised in and differing from those can feel disloyal. Conscious parenting is about raising children with awareness and authenticity so that you don’t fall into the pitfall of generational beliefs and patterns. Money is the perfect place to begin to confront those traps.
Good luck to you as consciously confront your relationship with money.
(c) 2017, Nurture: Family Education & Guidance