A father’s lesson in allowance


I love hearing the perspectives of other parents and how they teach their children life lessons.

Take money as an example.

A couple of years ago we decided to start teaching our then 9-year-old daughter Celeste about money. She wanted a Nintendo DS, but we wanted her to work for it, so she could appreciate the cost. (You can read about it here.)

A father I spoke with the other day took a different path to teach his son and money. I’ll call him Rob because, well, that’s what his parents named him.

Rob figured the time had come to teach his 6-year-old son about money, so he started paying him $7 a week as long as he did his chores. It worked well.

Junior, which is not his real name, was faithfully doing his chores and earning $7 a week. The only problem was that he wanted to go to Target the minute the money touched his hands. He’d burn through his allowance faster than I eat a bag of Hershey’s Kisses. (That’s pretty fast. Ask Celeste.)

So Rob tweaked his plan. “I wanted to teach him about saving money, so I started paying him 10 percent interest,” he said.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: 10 percent is a great return on savings, so you want to park your cash in the Bank of Rob. At least, if you’re like me that’s what you’re thinking, but forget it. The charter for the Bank of Rob has some silly rule that depositors have to be his offspring. Go figure.

His plan worked at first. Junior wasn’t spending a dime, and after some time was amassing quite the savings for a young boy. Nearly $40.

“Don’t you want to buy something?” Rob asked his son one day.

“Not yet,” Junior replied. “I want to save $70.”

“$70?” Rob asked. “Why so much?”

“Because at 10 percent interest I’ll earn $7 a week without doing any chores,” Junior said.

Rob cut his interest rate to 3 percent, but you have to admire Junior. Perhaps I should pick his brains for ways to lighten my workload.

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