The Magic of Two Dollars

| December 21, 2009 | 2 Comments

Last Friday my daughter was handed a crisp $10 bill – her first allowance.

Yes, she’s six, but don’t worry, she’s not being spoiled.

My husband and I are both from working class immigrant families. His dad and my mom were born in Texas while his mom and my dad immigrated from Mexico. Our parents stressed the importance of education and working hard. We were told many times that they wanted us to “do better” than them. Three college degrees and our own child later, we are…if it was all about the paycheck. We can easily give our daughter the gymnastics class she wants (I sat at my desk at 8:59 am ready for the Park District website to open on Monday.), all the books she can read and cute shoes oozing out of her closet. But because she doesn’t see us come home tired like we saw our parents, I don’t think she quite gets how hard we work. And because of that, I think she takes money for granted…Yes, as any kid does.

The answer was setting an allowance. But with some strings attached.

  • First, we decided to set her allowance to her chores, school work and general respect of us. I know some experts say not to do that, but hey, Suzie Orman likes it;
  • At least $1 or 10% has to be set aside for giving to charities. She ended up upping that to $2 each week;
  • $4 goes towards savings. We still need to get her a savings account, but for now her piggy bank is getting fatter each week;
  • And that leaves her $4 a week to spend or save for something bigger. It might be a tad big for her, but as of this writing her to-spend-four-dollars are still sitting on her desk.

We spent a lot of time talking about where she could give her $2. At first she mentioned a change jar at her school for “kids sick in the hospital.” I’m betting it’s for Children’s Memorial. We also discussed the rescue network where we adopted our dog, Chicago Community Trust (where her dad works), Chicago Foundation for Women and many other places. She’s a bit overwhelmed at the moment, but I reminded her that we can choose a new organization to donate to each month if she wants to spread her money around.

She’s really excited. I honestly think that she is more excited about giving $8 a month to someone (or some doggie) who needs it than the $4 a week she’ll have to spend. That makes me one happy mama.

When people ask me how I define raising a childĀ  in a feminist manner, I do talk a lot about being as gender neutral as possible, allowing her to test boundaries, but also to care for others. For me that means giving what you can to others when you can.

As I stop to ponder what we just set up with our daughter, I can safely say that yes, we are “better off” than our parents were. We earn enough money to give her enough of an allowance (or salary, Suzie!) to not just teach her to value money for spending, but for saving and giving. And that’s the biggest luxury I can imagine using our money on.

How do you handle allowance in your family?

How do you teach charity and giving?


Category: Art & Leisure, Featured, Spotlight

About the Author ()

Veronica I. Arreola is a professional feminist, a mom and a writer. She blogs about the intersection of feminism and motherhood at Veronica lives on the north side of Chicago with her husband, their spunky daughter and doxie named Piper. You can connect with Veronica at Facebook or Twitter.

Comments (2)

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  1. Fatima says:

    Hello! I really like the idea that you are able to give her the money of $10 per week and teaching her what to do with it. I just wondered why you chose to start giving her money at age six?

  2. Veronica says:

    Hi Fatima,

    Thanks for the comment. She’s in first grade and was learning about money in math class, so it was natural. Also she was starting to ask for money to buy little things – candy, small toys, etc. It all just seemed to be the right time. I remember getting an allowance around 1st or 2nd grade too.

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