Saturday, September 18, 2010

Free $ or Child Labour?

How do you administer the dole?

There seem to be 3 schools of thought:

1) Make them work for it

2) Make them divide it up responsibly

3) Just give it to them and let 'em do whatever they want with it - sheesh.

I, being a near professional fence walker, have decided to apply a combination of all of the above.

When it seemed like time to give our girl an allowance, a few very debatable questions arose. First one - should she have to work for it? My initial instinct was, heck ya. How else will she know the value? It was then pointed out that WE don’t get paid to clear the table or to make our beds. Perhaps these tasks could be framed as “Household Responsibilities”, things that are expected of us and don’t hold monetary value. So in order to avoid committing to any one school of thought, we've kept her allowance meager in order to allow for ‘work opportunities’. So if she wants to save enough to buy a WII, she can scrub spots off the walls. For a long time. (OK, I’ll admit it. We’re cheap. And we’ve found a way to feel good about it.) Bonus dough is there to be made with little extra jobs around the house. Cleaning her room and clearing the table remain mandatory.

In my search for kiddie finance wisdom I came across the 3 Jar Method. I need these jars! (May seem elementary to some of you, but I’m financially challenged and am one step away from storing my savings under the mattress.) This brilliant system just seemed too responsible not to explore, although enforcing it feels a tad controlling… But really, I have so many other enticing areas of her life to micro manage! With fingers crossed, I presented my daughter with the 3 Jar Method and thankfully she was game. But in retrospect, what 6 year old wouldn’t like the idea of decorating jars and playing banker?

As it stands, our daughter puts $1 in each jar every weekend and is responsible for cleaning her room and clearing her spot at the dinner table not because her allowance depends on it, but because…well, it’s a hard knock life. Has she bit the carrot and made herself rich with endless odd jobs while her dad and I lounge in our spotless palace? Far from it. Turns out, this girl doesn’t have a capitalist bone in her body. If a clean bedroom wasn’t an absolute requirement, her Dad and I would be navigating boas and Barbie combs to kiss her good night while she lay in her pigsty bed, gleefully broke.

Of course, our system is very much customized to our daughter’s personality (and my half-assedness). So when it comes to the dole, what’s your deal?


  1. We are not so organized. I read a financial advisor's comment that children should receive a dollar for every year of their age....and that if that sounded weird we should remember how much a chocolate bar or small toy would cost when we were kids (eek!!!). I started giving it out when he turned 6 and there are expectations....basic responsibilities and help when we need it. As for saving any of it, I find it effective to forget to give it to him! I'm kidding. But he doesn't spend it if he lets it accrue.
    Then he blows it on a big nerf gun.

  2. Haha, Camille the last paragraph or two had me laughing out loud, I can relate to every single word!

    I think professional fence walking is very admirable by the way, how else is anyone to see the full picture if they don't spend time up there looking around at both sides? :)

  3. Hi Camille ,I am forwarding your blog to my brother whose kids are , 9 months , 5 years , 7 years old .

    Cheers ,
    Geoff Harrington .

  4. Thanks for sharing it around, Geoff! Hopefully we're not alone and that he can relate to our madness.

    PS We want Halloween shots of those little monkeys!


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