Sunday, November 11, 2007

Allowance system

I thought that, since I'd posted comments on a couple of other blogs, and people might actually come and look at my blog, that I'd probably better start making posts. :-P

[Sidenote: this is a perfectionistic tendency, putting off an overwhelming task, because it can't be done perfectly all at once. Now, you know even more about my perfectionist self.]

Of course, I get here to post and discover it's too late. Trish beat me to my blog. :-) Oh, well, here goes.

I decided to start with my most recent project that I undertook and decided I might want to share, our recently re-vamped and so-far-working allowance system. I stumbled upon a blog one night that had a listing of blog entries by about 30 moms relating how they handled chores and allowance in their home. I had recently come up with a new "family responsibility"/chore system that was working for me (to be expounded on in upcoming posts), but I read with interest about the various allowance set-ups. [I had full intention of linking to this informative blog listing, but I cannot figure out where it was. If I find it, I'll come back and add that.]

We have tried a variety of allowance systems over the years since MS turned 5 and started receiving one. They've included sporadically giving the money when we remember, dropping the whole thing for periods of time, printing charts to record amounts and forgetting to record them, etc. Obviously, we had yet to find a system that worked.

A little background first, though: in our house, chores are chores and allowance is allowance. Chores are done because of membership in our family and service to one another (and if not done...well, that's another post, too). Allowance is for the purpose of learning financial responsibility and to be able to purchase "wants" above the "needs" and gifts Mommy and Daddy purchase.

To this end, we want to provide an amount of allowance that allows for a decent accumulation. We want our kids to see that saving actually allows them to purchase the items they want, not get discouraged and just squander it on candy and trinkets, because that's all they can afford (not to say they won't do that at one time or another, just that we don't want that to be their only viable option).

We operate in a different currency, but our kids get roughly $0.28/year of age each week, starting at age five. That means, MS is currently getting $2.26/week and JW is getting $1.69 (thank goodness for the currency converter on my Mac dashboard!).

Okay, so none of that is new. We decided on that amount a couple of years ago. What I gleaned from the blog round robin was using allowance checkbooks.

Basically, you create a checkbook, with register, for each child. They record their allowance and any other deposits, like birthday money or payment for extra jobs, in the register and write a check for each purchase they make. This means, that when they go (physically) shopping, they must have their checkbooks with them. When they shop for something on the internet to have someone bring over or to download (and MS has quickly learned that this is the cheapest way to go over buying expensive imports in-country), they just write me a check when I make the purchase that they've chosen.

No money to lose, and they are responsible for recording their weekly allowance deposits (it's on their weekly chore list on Fridays to remind them, and I am still helping JW record his). I've taught/am teaching them how to use the calculator on their computer dashboard and MS is learning the currency converter, as well.

So far, two months into the experiment, it has worked *very* well, and I think we've *finally* found a solution to the allowance system dilemma.

To make the checkbooks, I looked high and low on the web for a template or existing option. I didn't find anything that really fit what I wanted, so I just looked at what I had found and made my own mock-up. I did this in Word and customized it to each child. I used made-up addresses, because we don't have street addresses here, but if we'd lived in the States, I would have used a home and a business (ML's) address for the checkbook holder and the bank respectively. This familiarizes the child with their address, which they may not know that well in this electronic day and age. For the router number at the bottom of the check, I some other numbers that I'd like the kids to be familiar with, but I won't share what numbers, in case some stalker is reading my blog and happens to be in the Middle East where he/she can go through my trash. :-/

I printed out pages of the checks, cut them apart with my paper cutter, and had them comb-bound with a cover sheet on top and two folded check registers in the back. The comb-binding includes a clear plastic cover and a cardstock backing.

Oh, and I also searched for some images to use in the corner of the checks that I thought the boys would find fun. MS has Link from the Legend of Zelda game (please wait before judging me on that one; I'll explain later), and JW has Sonic the Hedgehog. For the bank insignia, I used our family crest. Pretty nifty, I thought.

I've posted the checks on Google Docs, minus any personal information. And I've put up the register I made up, too. You should be able download and modify the documents for your own use, if you'd like. The checks are in Word. The register is an Excel file.

- MS's checks
- JW's checks
- check register

Please, feel free to post any questions you have about the system (once anyone reads this blog :-), and I'll either add the answer to the post or answer with a comment.

1 comment:

hab said...

Hi Cara

I like what you're doing, especially the extra realism to the checks!

I invite you to check out Active Allowance. We do something along the same lines as you. You may find it not only saves you time, but it can also further enhance the lessons you can teach your children.

Please let me know how you find it.