October 17, 2007

The Great Allowance Debacle

Before I get to The Great Allowance Debacle I just wanted to thank everyone who has been commenting on my entries. Some of the best, most insightful stuff is found in those comments. I really appreciate you all taking time out of your day to share your thoughts and experiences.

Oh, and one other thing. Read this post if you're struggling to find the right degree of unschooling for you and your family. It's great.

There's been such great "talk" in the comments on this blog about trust lately that I feel I should be writing about trust, BUT I've just spent two hours reading Money Doesn't Grow on Trees while sitting on a bench at the mall waiting for Jerry to finish playing and painting War Hammer, so my mind is on allowance.

We have swung every possible way a pendulum can swing in regards to giving a child an allowance. We've given no allowance. We've given allowance for chores. We've given allowance for merely existing. We've given a combination allowance (a base rate for merely existing plus extra for completing chores). Our latest system uses the combination formula except that we've done away with the word chores--they're called "responsibilities" now. Jerry gets a base rate just because he lives and if he takes care of his chores (I mean responsibilities) without being told to (this has NEVER happened) he gets a bonus. As you can see, the last twelve years have truly been an allowance debacle.

But, today I was at the ISP store buying a few books, because buying books always makes me feel better, when I stumbled upon Money Doesn't Grow on Trees by Neale S. Godfrey. Now we have a new allowance plan. A New Deal, as it were. It's probably not very unschoolish but after reading Tammy's entry about Zen-Schooling (the link is up at the top where I wrote "Read this post") I've realized it doesn't matter if it's unschoolish or not. It sounds good and I'm going to give it a try.

Here's the basic idea. The allowance WILL be linked to chores (we're back to that word again). We'll require both savings and charitable giving. We'll give Jerry enough so that he can conceivably buy his own manga, video games, War Hammer (that stuff's outrageously expensive!), and whatever else he would usually be begging us to buy, as long as he manages it wisely and saves. He'll get his allowance on the same day every week. 10% will go into the charity jar and the other 90% will be divided up between long-term, middle-term and quick cash. If he doesn't do all of his chores he won't get the allowance. That's it.

The really good thing about this plan is that Jerry will be learning a lot about spending and saving and it will all come from direct experience (so maybe it's a little unschoolish). I've already figured out that even though he hates math I can slip in loads of mental math while we're driving, as long as it's related to buying something he wants. For example, I might say "If you want to order one song for $.99 and one game for $4.99 from iTunes, what will the sales tax be? And what's your total?"

So that's the plan. I hope it works. My battery is about to die so I'm signing off!

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