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Amanda Lamb: Paying your way

Posted March 4, 2012

When my older daughter started having a more active social life, I realized that the cash in my wallet was constantly being depleted.

From money for the movies, to money for roller-skating or money for snacks at some venue she was going to with friends, my weekends were starting to get very expensive.

I had an epiphany. I told my daughter that if she wanted to spend money in her social life, I would supply half of those funds, and she would supply the other half. I knew she had saved money from babysitting and doing chores, but I also told her that if she didn’t have her 50 percent for a particular outing, I would lend it to her in return for a chore or babysitting at a later date.

This plan was surprisingly easy to implement.

“OK, that sounds fair,” she said with that adolescent shrug that can mean so many things.

So far, so good. She tells me her plan, and estimates how much money she will need. I put in half. Amazingly, she has even brought me change on several occasions. My goal is not to penalize her for having an active social life, but to promote some responsibility when it comes to money — how to spend and how to budget. It’s a lesson I wish I had learned earlier in life. She’s actually become so good at it that I, on occasion when I am short on cash, borrow some from her.

“But you have to pay me back with interest, Mom,” she says in all sincerity.

Oh, the price we pay for imparting a little knowledge to our children.

Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including two on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.


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  • smalltownrockstar Mar 7, 2012

    my fiance and i have been working with my 4 year old son with this. he loves change! so he has his small list of chorse that really are nothing big, like feed and water the dogs, which he loves because our border collie loves him. for that he gets 25 cents. some days i think he makes more than i do! LOL but he is slowly seeing how saving all his "change" and working for it is adding up. i think as of right now he has almost $20! i havent told him that because i know he will want to go get hot wheels. lol

  • Squirreling Dervish Mar 5, 2012

    I did something similar, except my parents would pay me to do X chore, and they would demand I take the money, split it in 1/2, and put that half in a small savings account. I did that from 1976 onwards and when the time came, I had a EXCELLENT down payment for my first place. I still do this. When I have loose change I throw it in a huge jar. Last year I cleaned out the jar and I bought a chair at IKEA..

    Yes, it is a HUGE jar...LOL

  • littleteacher Mar 5, 2012

    We did a similar thing......we paid for ALL if it involved anything church related or family related. They had to pay for their social life with friends with babysitting money or money they earned for cutting the grass or washing the cars. They had chores around the house they did for "free". We paid for their gas and everything else they "needed". Worked for us.......especially after the one "rebellion" where they revolted on their chores. But after that, the next visit to the gas station was with their money. Never heard a peep after that on their chores. :) Kids need to learn the value of work, money and fun!

  • lec0257 Mar 5, 2012

    You are doing very good. My daughter always would borrow money from her mother and I. The only problem was she would always pay her mother back the exact amount and on time, but somehow I always came up short. I felt good if I got back ten cent on the dollar. Oh well, I guess that is what dads are for. If I could go back to the day she was born and do it all over again, I would not change a thing. I love her so much.

  • albegadeep Mar 5, 2012

    My folks set up the "Bank of Mom", where I could deposit my allowance, at interest. It worked - I generally kept a fair amount there (for a kid, anyway) rather than spend it. Good life lesson.

  • LAXMom12 Mar 5, 2012

    I did something similar, but my son realized something quickly and we stopped that part. If he wanted something and didn't have enough money, I would loan it to him and he would use his allowance to pay it back. It was taking so long to pay back, that he looked at us one day and said he didn't want to be in debt anymore. I realized (and so did he) that we were teaching him that he could have things when he didn't have the money. So from that point on, he didn't get things until he had all of what he needed to buy it. We both learned a lesson that day.

  • BrindAmourFan Mar 5, 2012

    Great teaching tool for kids is Mary Hunt's Debt-Proof Your Kids. Love her approach!

  • katizs Mar 4, 2012

    I do something similar - instead of giving my kids money for doing chores at the house - they in turn get funds for their activities. They have a list of chores they are each responsible for, I in turn help fund their activities - this way works for us! Teaches them the value of working and earning things and understanding that life isn't a free ride