Sunday, February 18, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Allowances allow for teachable moments

When I was a child I was the self-professed board game king.

In fact, board games were so much a part of my childhood that I recall the very game that taught me about the real world of my parents and money: Pay Day.

The makers set up the board like a month and each day you would get mail that consisted mostly of bills until you got to the end of the month and hence Pay Day.

My parents and I played the game one night when my father grumbled after receiving a bill during the game that he had real bills to pay and thus it was no fun to play. I immediately began to think of my own meager funds, although the game still proved exciting to me.

Financially, I actually never received an allowance. My allowance consisted of asking Mom for money. She would rumble through her purse and toss a few dollars my way. Dad never seemed to have money on him, but he always managed to buy what I needed.

Popular culture did not help my effort to obtain an allowance, especially when The Brady Brunch aired an episode where the kids talked about getting allowances for chores.

I asked my father why he didn't pay me for doing chores and he responded that he was not going to pay me for what I was expected to do as a member of the household.

An allowance that my father had to pay me on a scheduled basis seemed like a bill to him just like the Pay Day game, and he did not intend to create another bill.

However, my wife, a former banker who holds a master's in business administration from the University of South Florida, uses allowances as a teaching moment that helps our kids learn money management and citizenship.

I am my father's child, and much like my father, we do not pay our children for chores they must complete as members of our household. However, by third grade, we did pay our oldest child a modest allowance of $10 a month.

Of that allowance, 10 percent had to be put into a savings account that we opened for him, while another 10 percent had to be set aside for donations. He can contribute to his school for fundraisers, our church or even purchase a canned good at the local grocery store to donate.

The rest of the money can be spent with our blessing, as he wishes.

It is interesting to see how much more cautious my son is when it comes to spending his own money. I am proud of the fact that my kids are learning how to save and support their community at the same time because an allowance with a purpose makes pay day even more special.

Keith Berry is a married father of two who lives in Westchase.

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