In many ways I guess I’m just like any other father. If you’re the father of a little girl she’s probably the apple of your eye. Good thing for me I’ve got two eyes. I’ve got two little girls who clearly are my little apples. Watching both of our girls grow up has been an interesting experience for my wife and me. One child looks like me and the other looks like my wife. My wife and I still laugh to this day at a comment someone made years ago. “That girl looks just like you, with a paint job from her momma!” We’ve watched their physical characteristics develop and differentiate. Their personalities have done the same thing, particularly their money personalities.
We started giving each of our children an allowance at the age of two. Quite a few people thought we were nuts, but we decided that if they could ask for things when they went to the store then they were old enough to start learning that things cost money. They get dollar less than their age per week. So our ten year old gets nine bucks a week and the six year old gets five. They also get performance bonuses for maintaining good grades in school. They are required to tithe from their allowances and pay for non essentials. Want that cute, cuddly new animal from Build a Bear? Save your money. Want to go the movies with your bff? Save your money.
The girls have really enjoyed summer camp this year at Kids R Travelin. The field trips have been both abundant and fun for the girls. Some of the trips are a little more fun when you’ve got some extra cash in your pocket. The final week of camp had a few of those trips. The big kids went to the Discover Mills on Monday, laser tag on Wednesday and Six Flags over Georgia on Friday. Monday morning I overheard my wife reviewing the trips for the week with Janae. She included and admonition to monitor her spending at the mall. Well let’s just say Daddy’s little girl went to the mall and “got caught up.” She spent every plug nickel she had. Well when Wednesday rolled around she got up the nerves to ask for an advance on her allowance and got a big fat “No.” Now I’ll have to admit that this was one of those “It’s going to hurt me more than it’s going to hurt you” moments. I’m actually pretty proud of myself because in spite of her looking at me with those puppy dog eyes, I stood my ground and didn’t cave. On Thursday, she took another run at getting her allowance in advance and got another no. On Friday, it dawned on her that perhaps she could get a loan from her little sister (who gets significantly less allowance because of the age difference) who had taken all of the trips and still had a substantial amount of cash on hand. I agreed to let her borrow the money from her little sister.
When we got home, my wife sat down with her and asked how her day went. She explained that she had a great time. She had already repaid her little sister, won a stuffed animal playing a game at the amusement park and enjoyed ice cream and soda with a friend. As it turns out she got a little lucky. Throughout the summer they earned merit money for learning bible verses and good behavior. She cashed her merit money in for cash. Knowing that our daughter had a good time, my wife proceeded to ask her if she had learned any lessons. Here are the three things she said.
- You should always have a budget before you go shopping.
- If there is something in particular that you want to buy, go there first.
- Always set aside money for later.
My wife added another one. “You can’t count on winning the lottery to bail you out.” We can only hope the lesson sticks.
Lee Baker, CFP®
Apex Financial Services