Today is pay day and it's time to dole out the allowances. Remember those youthful days of the weekly allowance? Whoever said you can't be young again? Today on allowance day I have two envelopes - one for me and one for my husband.
It started when we balanced the checkbook one month and noticed how many withdrawals were made with our debit cards. With the convenience of debit cards comes their nomenclature - debit. It's easy to produce the card when the mood strikes, and it's dangerous. Not only does it make balancing a checkbook more of a task, but it allows instant access to your cash - all of it. By doing the math my husband and I realized that each of us was spending nearly $200 a month on unessential items.
Self restraint is difficult. Instead of relying upon the debit card, we allotted a weekly allowance to ourselves. Each week I would make a trip to the bank and withdraw exactly how much we needed. Bills still came out of the checkbook, as did groceries and other necessary purchases such as gas. Like the allowances of our youth, our adult ones were to be used for non-essential items.
Initially, we kept the budget tight. We budgeted our weekly needs and allowed only a small portion of money for spending. Then, on top of that we added $10 to the total. That $10 was our weekly allowance. Anything that didn't qualify as a necessity was to be paid for using the $10, and neither one of us could comment on how the other spent his/her money.
The first week was rough. Since our allowances were so small, it forced us to save two weeks for something we really wanted. Although I tried to argue that the collectable for sale on eBay was a necessity because I may never see it again, my husband didn't cave nor did he "advance" me next week's funds. If it sold for $10, I could buy it; anything over that amount was off limits.
Although a few of our friends worried that we were in financial crisis, the allowances put a new value on items. Was I heartbroken that I hadn't purchased that collectible for sale? Not at all. In fact, I learned that if I saved part of my allowance each week I had a large amount of "fun money" by the end of the month. It got to the point where I could look in my wallet and actually see money in there.
In the end the allowance did its job. We realized how foolish we were with our money. Now, I'm not so strict with the allowance as I had been a few months ago because I don't see the kind of crazy spending I sawbefore we tried it. Our mothers and fathers knew this years ago: allowances teach responsibility.
About The Author: Kelly Ann Butterbaugh is a freelance writer who regularly contributes to a variety of magazines as well as online newsletters. She teaches writing in the public school as well as at the collegiate level. Contact her at Englishteach@rcn.com or visit her website at users.rcn.com/
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