Allowances

As a child, I never had an allowance. I’m Chinese, and chinese people typically don’t give children allowances, so in the beginning it was a cultural thing (I also don’t get grounded, another plus). I used to be jealous of other kids at school, who would get $10 for every A they had on their report card, or $5 a week. But, now an almost grown teenager, I realize that I had it much better.

If I wanted something, I would ask my parents if I could have it. But, since we weren’t very wealthy, they would always look at me, and ask if I was sure that I wanted it. Most of the time, I would stare at the item a little longer, think for a bit, shake my head, and move on. This was how I developed my mentality of being frugal. I knew that if I really wanted something, my parents would buy it for me. But at the same time, I would feel guilty, because I wasn’t exactly buying something that enhanced my education or anything, and chances were the toy would be abandoned within a month or two.

Now, to me, allowances don’t seem that effective at teaching children how to manage money. If kids spend all their money, they know that they’ll be getting more soon. This basically cancels out using allowances to teach kids how to handle money. As a kid, I learned that I should learn to buy things carefully. I’m not sure if an allowances gives you that same mentality.

Of course, I rather biased. I obviously like the method that my parents used to teach me. But recently, I was reading an article on Obama’s kids’ allowances. And I thought that Janet Bodner had a legitimate point – allowances should be half your age – the older you grow, the more responsibility you get. So I changed my mindset just a tad. Maybe this form of an allowance is effective – better than a set $5 at any rate, in my opinion.

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