Wednesday, September 29, 2010


You probably think that I'm going to be talking about kids here and if you have none at home that this will not apply.  Not today.

I remember almost thirty years ago my aunt sitting at the table working on the books.  My uncle came in the room and she handed him a $20 and said "Here's your allowance".  I was quite amazed as he already was fairly gray at the time.  When I asked her about it she said that was how much he got a week to cover his gas, snacks, and whatever else he might want or need.  At the time I didn't know that they were millionaires.

Most of the time since then I have made sure I had my own allowance.  When funds are tight it is easy to skip all spending thinking that the extra $20 would help with the bills.  (It rarely does because at that point a person is so close to the edge that the whole budget strategy needs review.) On the other hand the established amount causes me to have a boundary on myself so I am less susceptible to the splurge factor.  When the money is gone it's gone until next allowance day.

It is not often our kids who break the budget because they don't have control of it.  It is the adults.  Lack of planning, not knowing how to say "no" or "later", or treating the checkbook like it is a personal spending limit all can cause immature money management practices.  Hmmm... some are going to be offended by that.  Should I take it back?  No, I have been guilty myself at times and it is only one great deal away for almost all of us if the right internal button gets pushed.* 

My allowance is $100 a month right now.  From that I have to buy my clothes, make-up, haircuts, impulse purchases, coffee, books, etc.  You get the idea.  All personal items.  Some months I have a little money left over but just as often I'm waiting for the next time I get my allowance. I treating myself like a child?  Or, am I expecting myself to act like an adult?

*I posted this link to Beating Broke a few days ago but I liked it so much I'm putting it up again for those who missed it:
Are you a Peter Pan Spender?


Janette said...

We have been "doing allowances" for the past twenty years. It started when I was a stay at home mom. I needed to not feel guilty when buying myself something.
We still have allowances- $200 a month. I tend to save for trips to see the grandbaby. My husband saves for larger wood working tools. We both take money out for our extras- magazines, soda, lunches out with friends.
We, like your Aunt and Uncle, are not hurting for money since we have saved all of our adult lives. We never made over $100,000 in a year. It is all a matter of priority.
I can see how allowance could be looked at as a childish thing- but we see it as a reality and look forward to "payday"!

Carol said...

Thanks Janette. I too enjoy the aspect that I don't have to "budget" it and can spend it the way I want to. I do throw receipts in a drawer when I get them but that's primarily so if I want to return something I can. It's nice to have some cash in the pocket.

Practical Parsimony said...

It never occurred to me that an "allowance" seemed like a person was being treated like a child. Many a person has from their company a travel allowance, clothing allowance, housing allowance, per diem, etc. This practice has been around since at least the 60s in my personal experience.

I think it is very adult to put aside an amount to spend in order to curb mindless spending rather than just putting the hand in the kitty too many times. Most people I know take their allowance for the week or month and put the cash into their wallets. The bills left are a reminder, just like a schedule on a calendar. Spending willy-nilly is not very adult, so the allowance just sets boundaries or reminders.

Maybe your age had something to do with your initial shock.

Anonymous said...

Your acting like a mature adult because you aren't getting caught up in if it 'appears' childish it works!

Everyday Tips said...

I think it is a great idea if it help curb spending. It isn't being treated like a child, it is a tool to help you ultimately save money.

Carol said...

lol. Guess my shock was due to the fact that at the time this situation occurred I was 17, married, and thought I was totally all grown up and could do whatever I wanted.

sandy L said...

I am loosy goosy when it comes to categorizing spending. I have the ability to just shut off all non-essential spending without much effort, so I don't fuss over allowing myself something or not.
I do do a backwards look though and sometimes it's eye opening.

If I ever lost my job, it would be a different story.