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Family, Life

Allowance

10.17.11 | 1 Comment

Zoe began receiving an allowance a few weeks ago. We decided a dollar per year of age weekly would be a good start. Joel the economist programmer has been tracking her income.

The hardest part has been allowing Zoe to make her own spending decisions. The idea, of course, is to teach her about money, saving, and value. The first two weeks, she received the money, was rather nonplussed, and saved it more out of boredom or confusion. We were pleased. Then we went to The Great State Fair of Texas where she saw a Hello Kitty sewing machine, and once we suggested that she start saving her allowance toward it (perhaps to split it with us), she suddenly became very interested in money.

She’s a four-year-old girl, and as such, has many wants. Most of these are capricious, and we are able to talk her out of them fairly easily. She found herself at the mall with her Dad one night while I was on call with the purpose of using her allowance to buy a special bed for her Build-a-Bear Hello Kitty with the Aurora outfit. Apparently they also stopped at the Disney store. She wasn’t set on anything in particular as they left, yet the dollars were burning a hole in her Hello Kitty purse. “Hmm. I guess I’ll just get this princess camera.” Joel convinced her at the time that if she didn’t REALLY want anything right then, she should save her money for later. The rest of the week, she asked to go to the mall so she could get her princess camera from the Disney store. She couldn’t tell me how much it cost or what it DID exactly, only that she desperately, desperately wanted it.

Saturday morning we were again at the Disney store to buy her friend a birthday gift. I’d like to thank the associate who brought us a reusable shopping bag (price tag: $3.50) to carry the armload of stuff Zoe had acquired, despite my reminders that we were there for a present, not to add to our giant pile of useless items at home. The princess nightgowns were two-for-one, and since nightgowns are useful and Zoe is about to outgrow hers, we could justify this choice as good for a present AND a take-home. Then we set about the task of sorting through Zoe’s selections to choose the ONE item she could afford with her allowance, putting in our two cents that none of this was worth whatever it cost, that experiences are better than stuff, and it would be a good idea to save her money toward something really cool.

Anyway she bought a dumb fake cell phone that she loves. She thinks she has a direct line to Ariel. It was not the princess camera, by the way.

As we walked back through the mall, we explained that we’re really happy she’s happy with her phone, and she gets to choose what she does with her allowance. Joel said something to the effect that next time she wants to buy something, she might not have enough money, and she’ll have to save up her allowance from a lower balance. Then she counted her remaining money, and she seemed disappointed. Baby’s first buyer’s remorse. It was so cute and sad.

Then she looked up with giant blue eyes and asked, “Um, do you guys have any money?”

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