Son's budgeting strategy is to save a lot, then splurge
I used to give my son a small allowance, but instead of spending it, he'd wait until he had a wad of bills, then ask me to put it in his savings account.
Eventually we decided to just forget about allowance and set some savings goals and conditions for withdrawal, which suits him just fine. It was my idea to revisit the allowance issue recently, figuring that a kid who's old enough to be earning more autonomy might want to earn a little spending money, too.
How much, though? My friends' answers went from zero to $100. According to the American Express Savings and Spending Tracker, more than half of parents still give their kids money or offer it as a reward, at an average of $12 a week. It seems to follow, then, that 71 percent of kids ages 6 to 16 are aware that we're in a recession because $12 forces kids to make decisions. They can see a movie for $12, but not in 3-D. They could buy a paperback book, but not the latest hardcover undead teen romance novel. It's much easier to budget a month's worth of entertainment for $48.
It seems like a practical way to teach kids how to spend money, but my son isn't interested — yet. Right now he's just saving for one massive splurge.
Treena Shapiro tweets as @tshapiro — spring break tips, anyone? — and writes about parents and kids on her blog, Family Tree, at www.HonoluluAdvertiser.com/Blogs.