Saturday, October 10, 2015


When I started kindergarten, my mother tied a 10 cents coin in a corner of a handkerchief (back then, we still used cloth handkerchiefs on a daily basis!) and pinned it to my crisply starched, white school uniform.  It was meant for a lollipop from the school "tuck shop" (canteen), during "interval" (recess). 

When class was let out for recess, I went down the corridor to where the canteen was.  Others were already queuing up in long lines to buy their treats (quite often, recess was over before everyone in line could buy her treat!).  As I stood off to the side, not knowing quite what I should do, an older girl, in a higher grade, approached me and said, "Little girl, what do you want?  A lollipop?  Give me your money and I will stand in line and buy your treat for you."  I was a trusting little girl, used to having older family members doing things for me.  I happily handed my money to her and stood waiting, patiently, expecting her to bring me my lollipop.  Of course, she didn't bring me anything!  The bell indicating that recess was over rang and I finally went back to class.

Later that evening, my mother asked me if I had bought my lollipop, and I told her the whole sorry story.  My mother was not pleased.  The next day, she came to school with me and spoke to the class teacher, and it was agreed that the kindergarteners would be allowed to go on recess 10 minutes prior to the rest of the school, so that we could go to the tuck shop before the older kids and get our treats without problems.

Obviously, the incident left its imprint on me.  Almost 55 years later, I can still recall it, as clearly as it happened yesterday!

Other than money to buy treats at school or from the local snack shop, my mother didn't give me an allowance, as such.  However, my step-father gave me an allowance, or, "pocket money" as it was called.

My daughter started receiving an allowance (from her grandmother, my mother), when she started kindergarten - $1.25 per week (25 cents per school day).  Five whole dollars a month!  That was a lot of money to a 5 year old child.  There wasn't a canteen where she could buy treats, at her school, so she never took her money to school with her; but, nevertheless, I shared the story of my stolen 10 cents and lollipop and warned her about older children wanting to take her money from her!

Daughter's allowance was not tied to doing household chores, but rather, her "job" which was her school work (studies, homework, assignments completed on time, etc.), and it increased as she went up each grade.  I believe it doubled to $2.50 per week  when she was promoted to 1st grade after only 1 month in kindergarten (she was already going to grade 1 for math and grade 2 for reading, after 1st week in kindergarten), and by $10 per month with each additional grade.  When my mother died, I took over paying out the allowance; it had reached the amount of $12.50 per week.

I think having an allowance taught basic budgeting and money management.  Daughter learned that she had to save up her allowance to buy items she fancied (I paid for all necessities such as clothes, school items, etc.).  She could buy more or less what she wanted, but I had final say; if I considered it inappropriate, then, I had veto rights as her parent.  We've always talked things over, so there were no problems.  We never had any of the "typical rebellious teen" issues.

As she got older, we went from a weekly allowance to a monthly one.  It worked out well for both of us; it was easier for me to give her $50 at the beginning of the month rather than dole out $12.50 every week, and the lump sum payment made it easier for her to save up for bigger purchases.  However, it stayed at $50 per month from then on, until I stopped paying her an allowance once she started college and started working.

On one or two occasions, when daughter needed an advance on her allowance, I paid for the item and then, withheld payment of her allowance until her "debt" was paid up.   For example, in high school, when  her laptop computer got knocked down by accident, she offered to pay half of the cost of her new computer (it wasn't her fault that it was knocked down; otherwise, I would have had her pay the full cost);  I paid the $600 for a new laptop, up front, and withheld payment of her allowance until her "debt" was paid up.  Yes, she went without an allowance for 6 months.  I'm sure some members of my extended family thought I was being unnecessarily mean, but I was anxious to teach financial responsibility to daughter and she thought it was a fair deal.    

Once she was in high school, in addition to her allowance, I also gave her control of her portion of my budget (what I budgeted for her clothes, school supplies, etc.)  I gave her spending guidelines, but left the final decisions to her.  It was my way of preparing her for adulthood and financial management.  Later, once she started university and did a part-time job, she herself put an end to receiving an allowance from me and started paying for her own clothes, school supplies other than text books, etc.

Did you receive an allowance as a child?  If so, what are your first memories of your allowance?  If you are a parent, do you give your child/children an allowance?  If so, is it tied to doing household chores or something else?


  1. I received an allowance when I was older. I don't remember what age exactly, but I was an older kid. We were dirt poor growing up, there was no free money to go around for many years. My parents got pregnant with my oldest brother at 16 and dropped out of school to go to work. They worked themselves up over time, but no money for an allowance for a long time.

    Most of my allowance (that I could hide good enough my brother couldn't find and steal it) I spent on books. And once me and my other brother pulled our allowance to buy an old Super Nintendo at a yard sale. That's about my only memories.

    1. I think it's perfectly fine to give an allowance when a child is older. In fact, I wasn't planning to give my daughter an allowance when she was a small child, but it was my mother's idea and, as a grandmother, she had that privilege. Looking back, however, I think it was a good idea and it worked out well. If I live long enough to be a grandmother, myself, I shall insist on being allowed to give an allowance to my grandchild.

      Thank you for sharing your memories of an allowance. Do you think you might give Little Wolf his own allowance when he's older?

    2. I definitely want to give him an allowance. I think it's good for kids when done properly. It does teach them financial responsibility when you make them save their money to purchase something they want or if they don't receive something because they already spent the money on other things.

      I asked the husband earlier today what age would we start giving Little Wolf an allowance. He said "I don't know, I never got an allowance when I was a kid." I responded that maybe that is why he is so horrible with money. Maybe he never had a good foundation and that is why, I have no idea.

      But, yes, Little Wolf will get an allowance when he is older. I'm not quite sure at what age to start though.

    3. Perhaps when he starts kindergarten? Or, a certain age such as 7?

  2. Bless,
    How are you? Have been thinking about you.. I had to go to the doctor yesterday, and just not feeling well today.. So, haven't been on the computer.
    We did give allowances to our children. It was for working around the house. Both of them, were paid semi/monthly depending on the job they did. I think it taught them responsibility and that you have to work for your education and living.
    You did a great job with daughter.. Know you are so proud of her.

    1. Judy, sorry to hear you haven't been feeling well. Hope you'll feel better, soon.

      I'm feeling OK, thank you. Recovering still, but doing OK. I saw the surgeon yesterday and he's OK'd me to drive and return to work, tomorrow.

      Yes, I am proud of my daughter. :) I feel very blessed where she's concerned.

      Hope you'll feel better soon.

  3. We didn't have regular pocket money as children. Parents paid for things like piano lessons etc., and we had books and other things bought which were needed for school, but generally if we wanted something extra, we had to earn it by e.g. doing well in exams or doing chores. Other times the answer would be "Let's see what Father Christmas brings." Of course we had treats now and then, but it was rare to ask for something and instantly get it. I never understood how other kids got large weekly allowances with no responsibility attached, and took it for granted. Even now, when I see my friends' kids being given everything they ask for, it makes me cringe. I remember getting new shoes for Christmas and when I wore them to school my friend said, "You got SCHOOL shoes for Christmas?!" It never occurred to me that school shoes were boring/not a good gift; I was really pleased with them!

    1. It's interesting how each family treats pocket money/allowances, isn't it?


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