Allowances. I cannot remember for the life of me if we got an allowance. Somehow what I remember most is that my dad sometimes paid us in candy bars. Not your normal candy bar, the kind you sell for school fundraisers. He would buy a case (or maybe we had some left over). I distinctly remember the ones that had caramel in the inside. If we ever did get paid (even with candy bars) it was for chores we did around the house. Did doing chores and my parents never following through with an allowance teach me good ideals about working, money management, or spending money? Not really.
I started working when I was nine years old. I babysat, cleaned a neighbor’s house, polished their silver, and had a paper route. Yes, crazy to think I did that at the age of nine. I guess I worked just as hard then as I do now. My parents would have me put my earnings in a savings account, so I guess you could assume that they taught me about saving. The problem? My dad usually “borrowed” from my savings account never paying me back. I did not have the best money role models. Kids should be taught about money early on, and not be graced with everything with no knowledge or conversation that money does not grow on trees. Which is why I especially love this article from Slate.com titled: “You’re Doing Allowance Wrong.”
“Spending is about modesty, thrift, and the prudence to shell out (and even splurge) for things that bring kids the most joy while avoiding mindless outlays for plastic junk they will quickly break or forget. Saving instills patience in a world that increasingly conspires against waiting, delivering television without commercials and movies without Blockbuster. And giving is about generosity as well as gratitude for how lucky you are to be able to help others.”
The article goes into depth about giving an allowance, a budget, and a list of things they want or need and let them make the decisions on what to purchase. It means letting them fail. As the article states: “Better now then at age 24…” It teaches critical thinking skills, how to rationalize why one purchase makes more sense than another one. Many adults today do not have these skills. What if we started early on learning these life skills? We have gone away from being a saving culture, instead we spend, and rarely give. If you have kids what are your thoughts on this article + topic?
Giver. She gave, and gave, and gave. I suppose that is why it is in my nature to help others, to problem solve, be a listening ear, and support to those around me. I saw my mom give her time to her children, her mother, her husband, the kids she took care of, the children she taught in school, her church, and when there was time left over the few friends she had.
I often look back and wonder why my mom did not spend much time socializing with friends or neighbors and I realize now that she did not have the time. Often she worked two jobs, helped us with our homework, made dinner for the family, at times packed our lunches, planned the grocery list and meals for the week, cleaned the house (separate from the jobs that were our chores), and took care of all those people in the above list. I often wonder how she did it all, and yet I am in some ways living her life, minus the kids and two jobs. Yet, how many of us work the hours of two jobs? Life will definitely change for me when little bambinos enter our home. Focus will change, priorities will change, life will change. Yet, will I do less?
Whatever happened in the world that made us (women especially) think that we had to do it all? Is there a time when the cord that keeps us going begins to fade — sort of like your laptop battery that eventually no longer holds the charge? Or are women of the “rechargeable” battery variety that after enough recharge we can continue like the Energizer bunny? Is there ever a breaking point? I love it and I hate it. I love the energy, the problems to solve, and that no day is ever the same, but is there ever a reset button? If you walk away for a day or a week, it becomes almost impossible to catch up on emails, voicemails, and pieces of projects that need to be adjusted. Do we do too much? Do we give too much?
My mom was a giver and she died at the age of 50. Was it her lifestyle, or just the journey of her role in the universe? I will never know if she loved or hated the roller coaster she was on. She did it all for everyone else, I can only imagine and hope that she was invigorated by those she helped, all she did, and that her life never had a dull moment — there was not time for that!