Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch: Let's Allow an Allowance

July 20, 2018


EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is George Bailey's weekly report on he and his wife's efforts to teach their kids financial freedom.


So far, we here on the Choose the Nickel podcast have managed to pump out a total of 13 interviews with 13 incredible people. We're grateful for their willingness to tell their stories and share their views on a topic that is near and dear to our hearts—how to teach kids financial freedom, particularly if we don't yet feel like we're in a financially free spot.


The advice we've received is quality. Jay Hughes has gotten us to be alert to our children's dreams. Andria Tupola has prompted us to be more careful about the limiting beliefs we might instill in our children. Kevin Harrman has reminded us that we need to be much better listeners as parents ("What good is any of this when you still haven't taught your younglings to feed me your neighbor's cats?" — Asclepius, the pet snake). All good stuff and more.


With all these pearls of wisdom in mind, I get a little giddy at the thought of some of the interviews that we at Choose the Nickel have coming down the pipeline, some of which have already been recorded. I don't like to give spoilers in terms of what advice people have been telling us, but I can't resist doing at least a little bit of spoiling when it comes to my friend and fellow financial services professional Amy Wollenberg.


Amy convinced me—okay, she convinced Christina, who convinced me in turn—that I need to give the allowance a shot. I'm not going to tell you all the details of her case for the allowance, but it's pretty good and I think you're going to enjoy her interview once it comes out in a few weeks. For now, just trust me that there are good reasons to at least consider an allowance, though there are right ways and wrong ways to institute one.


None of this is to say that I'm fully committed to the idea for the rest of my life. I'm prepared for things to go south. If my children, for reasons somehow related to the allowance, start lighting their hair on fire or building a nuclear reactor in the shoe closet, game over. My kids know that mom and dad are the bosses and that nothing in life is guaranteed ("You are all of you my puppets! — Asclepius, the pet snake).


Even trying the allowance is a radical shift in my thinking. I've been against the concept on principle. Why should kids expect something for nothing? Doesn't an allowance undermine their work ethic?


Possibly the greatest resistance I have to an allowance is that I didn't receive one as a child. Without thinking, I fall back into the "I walked to school in the snow uphill both ways" mentality that many parents use to justify raising their children in the same manner in which they were raised. I think to myself, "Well, I turned out alright." Case closed.


But I need to question some assumptions. Without going too deep—again, I want Amy to make the case before I wage a full-scale defense—I'm going to speculate that an allowance is going to provide my children with practice in money management. It'll be meager and include a lot of pocket change, but I think that's all I need to start with ("That, and another pint of Ben & Jerry's." — my growing gut).


In the meantime, we're testing out a new idea and hope that you enjoy it. I've noticed that although I'm targeting financial capability specialists and successful professionals for my podcast interviews, there are many of you out there who have short but sweet stories of your childhood experiences with money or your efforts to teach your children finance. I'd like to share those stories via Facebook Live. When you see me chatting it up with some wonderful person in a live video setting, please join in and hear a good story.

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