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Category: Money Matters

Is It Time For An Allowance?

Zachary is becoming much more interested in money here lately.  He has had a couple of opportunities to make his own purchases at the store and really enjoyed it.  We talked through the process first, told him how much money he had to spend, helped him choose which toys that were less than that amount, and then let him pay for them himself at the cash register.  Ever since then, he keeps asking when he can buy more toys.  I explain to him that he’ll have to save more money up before he can buy more toys.  The problem is, he probably won’t be getting much money until his birthday rolls around again.

Is it time to start giving him an allowance?

My first response to that question is yes.  I do think it is time.  He’s interested and ready to start learning about money management.  But, how do I go about it?  Do I just give him a set amount every week, no matter what?  Do I make him do chores in exchange for his allowance?  At first I thought chores were the way to go, but the more I think about it I’m not so sure.

A while back I read an article about family responsibility (I would link but can’t remember where I read it).  The basic premise was that things like cleaning and taking care of the house should be the shared responsibility of all members of the family (to the best of each member’s ability) and should not be done for any kind of expected reward, but for the good of the family.  The only reward would be the natural consequence of the action (the child can easily find the toy they want because it is put away where it belongs) rather than receiving an allowance or other treats for doing something that should be expected of them as a member of the family unit.

Along with this argument, comes the fact that the true purpose of an allowance is to teach the child money management, not teach them to do chores.  When giving an allowance, you should also be teaching your child to budget, save, and spend wisely (none of which I’m very good at myself).

On the flip side of that is the argument that as an adult he will be expected to work for his money.  Zach knows that Mommy and Daddy go to work in order to have money for food, clothes, toys, etc.  He understands that work is required to earn money.  So, should I just hand him money with no expectations?  Doesn’t that negate the idea that you have to put forth effort in order to meet your financial needs?  I don’t know.

I’m still leaning toward an allowance in exchange for chores because it is what he has been asking for, but I’m thinking some things should just be expected of him without earning money for doing them as well.  Maybe a base amount with a “bonus” if he keeps up with his chores would work?  I don’t know.

I’m pretty sure I’m over thinking this whole thing, but I’m really curious to hear how other families handle it.  Do your kids get an allowance? How old were they when they started receiving it?  Do they do chores in exchange for earning allowance or are they just given a certain amount each week?

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So Worth It

Tonight I sat down to do one of my least favorite tasks – paying bills. It didn’t used to be so bad. I sat down, sorted through the bills, paid what was due, and that was that. These days I have to juggle numbers and figure out what I can pay and what I have to push back until payday. The money just never stretches far enough. By the time we pay day care and buy groceries there just isn’t enough left over to pay everything else. The whole thing just depresses me.


Then I look at the beautiful faces of my kids and the depression all washes away. No matter what, the struggle is worth it. Everything I do is for them and they pay me back with smiles, laughs, hugs, kisses, and unconditional love. That’s worth more than all the money in the world.


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I Thought Bad Things Happened In 3's

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the direction my life is headed.  I’ve been feeling very out of control and in need of a bit of structure.  Part of that structure includes getting control of our family budget.  This was supposed to be the month that I tightened things up and started paying a bit more attention to exactly where that money is going.  I’ve been trying really hard to cut down on my spending (no laughing mom!) because I’m the one that does the shopping and always ends up picking up way more than what is on the list.  Yes, I admit to having a problem with that.  Shopping is my escape when everything else in life gets me down.

Just after I made the conscious decision to do this, all kinds of unexpected expenses popped up.  First, there was the cracked windshield.  I didn’t see that as a huge deal, but something that will have to be dealt with eventually.  Then, there was the A/C going out in my car.  We paid $100 for a fix that only worked for two days before it gave out again.  It can wait until Spring/early Summer before it has to be fixed, but it still makes me angry.  Next, my radar detector was stolen and I got a ticket the next day.  The radar detector is a must-have item for me.  Buying a new one is most likely less expensive than the tickets I will rack up without it.

That’s three pretty major unexpected expenses in a short period of time, but that’s not all!  Anyone want to know what happened this weekend?  Our basement drain backed up and our washer broke all in one day.  The drain isn’t a huge issue because we don’t own the house.  My boss (and landlord) will foot the bill for that one but the washer?  That’s one heck of an unexpected expense and one that can’t really wait.  With a baby in the house I do laundry nearly every day and I don’t have time to go to a laundromat.  We haven’t decided whether to try to get the washer fixed (only about 6 yrs old) or to just buy a new one.  I’m guessing a repair bill would be at least half of what a new one would cost anyway and maybe more depending on parts/labor.

We do have a little bit of money back in savings but I was planning to use a little of that for a weekend trip we have coming up (where I’ll finally get to meet my almost 1-year-old niece!) and the rest was being saved up for taxes.  I’m just tired of never having enough money to go around.  I’m tired of living on credit cards and being in debt.  Every time I have the slightest hope of being able to crawl out from this mess we’re in something else happens.

I’m just hoping and praying that nothing else major happens for a while so we can try (once again) to get caught up.


One of Those Days

I got up this morning knowing it was going to be a long day. There was a lot of packing and furniture moving to be done at the office, plus we had plans to make a run up to my sister’s house after work to pick up some things and have dinner.

Zach was in a pretty good mood this morning and we actually made it out the door on time (our new morning schedule is working out nicely). On the way to day care I thought I heard the car making a strange sound, so I turned the radio down a bit so I could hear it better. There was a bit of a squeal when I hit the brakes. I’ve been wanting to get them checked for a while now, but it is one of those things that just gets pushed to the back of my mind easily. After I dropped Zach off, I turned the radio off and listened to my car. The sounds I heard were not pleasant. It was getting worse. I called Hubby and told him that I needed to get the car in right away to have the brakes checked.

I got to the office, made a few more phone calls, and then met my mom down at the auto shop. With a sick feeling in my stomach because I just knew this was going to cost way more than we have, I rode back to work with my mom.

I kept myself busy packing up my office. Everything is now packed with the exception of my laptop and phone. I have an empty desk and chair for one more day, and then I’ll be crammed into my mom’s office or wherever I can manage to find the space to work. I did at least manage to keep a small rolling table that I’ll be able to set my laptop on to work. The next few weeks should be interesting to say the least.

A little while later, the shop guy called me back to tell me the fabulous news. All four brakes needed done. The front brakes needed new pads and the rotors smoothed. The rear breaks needed pads and completely new rotors. And the best part? All of that was going to cost me a grand total of $659. Um, that would be $659 that I absolutely do not have. Great.

There really was no other option than to have the work done. I certainly wasn’t driving the car in that condition considering the precious cargo that I tote around every day. While I was dying inside a little, I told the guy to go ahead and do the work.

After an exhausting afternoon of packing, packing, and more packing, I went to pick up my car. With taxes and the addition of a very needed oil change, the final bill came up to more than $700. It is now sitting on a credit card and I have no idea how I’m going to pay for it. I seriously think it is time to start buying lottery tickets. But hey, at least I don’t have to worry about my brakes going out for a while!

After that I picked Zach up and we headed up to my sister’s house. We had a nice dinner with her and the kids, then loaded up the truck and headed home. We drove the Suburban up there because we needed to bring some folding tables back with us. Since the ghettoburban has no air conditioning, we were riding with the windows down. I had a couple of pictures that my sister asked me to scan sitting on the console. The air blowing in the windows was moving them around a bit, so I grabbed them and decided to hold onto them. All of a sudden, a big gust of wind blew through the ghettoburban and ripped one of the pictures out of my hand and straight out the window. I. LOST. ONE. OF. THE. PICTURES. These weren’t just any pictures. They were portraits. The one that blew out the window was of my sister’s three boys all together. I am the world’s worst sister and aunt.

I immediately called my sister to tell her what had happened. I honestly didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at that point. I felt so terrible about losing the picture. There was really no point in trying to backtrack and find it. We were going down the highway at probably 70 mph when it flew out the window. It was just gone. She didn’t seem nearly as upset about it as I was. I even offered to try to see if the photographer could do a reprint, but she said not to worry about it. I don’t think I would have taken it as well if I had been on the other end.

Now I’m just ready to go to bed and get this day over with. I hope that tomorrow is a much better day because I’m not ready for another one like this.

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Retail Therapy

It is amazing what a sunny afternoon (seriously, 80 degrees in Missouri in November?!?), one hour of my time and about $100 can do for my mood.  Okay, so it was more like $135, but about $50 of that was spent on the boys, so I rounded to $100.

Just before lunch time yesterday my boss walked in and said, “It’s 81 degrees outside.  Unless you just have too much to do, go ahead and take off after lunch.”  I did have a lot to do, but I certainly wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to get outside and enjoy an afternoon off.  I was just about to leave for my lunch break where I had planned on making a quick trip to Old Navy to check out the clearance racks.  Plus, since it is Stuff ‘n’ Save (20% off) time again, I figured I could splurge on a new shirt or two for myself.  Instead of a rushed trip through the store, I got to spend extra time combing through the clearance racks that were marked an additional 50% off.

I ended up walking out of the store with two big bags full of clothes with a grand total of 11 shirts, 6 pairs of pants, 2 pairs of shorts and a hat/glove set for Zach.  4 of the shirts were for Zach and Hubby got a pair of jeans.  All of the rest was for me.  My wardrobe just got a nice little makeover.  I say all of that for only $135 is a pretty damn good deal.

Instead of getting up and dreading trying to find something to wear to work this morning,  I was anxious to put on a brand new outfit.  I got dressed and felt so good actually putting on clothes that fit and that were not 10 years old.  My whole attitude is better today.  I’m happy.  I’m productive.  Even the piles of work sitting on my desk aren’t stressing me out today because I feel good and I think I look pretty darn good too (except for my hair that is driving me totally insane).

It could be that the sunny weather and the afternoon off contributed, but my bets are all on the new clothes.  I’m starting to re-think all of those clothes that I have stored away thinking I might wear them again.  The truth is I hate pulling out old clothes and trying to get extra mileage out of them.  New clothes feel so much better!


There's Something In The Air

For some reason I have just had this feeling all week that something was going to happen.  Something bad.  It hasn’t been a very good week in general, but nothing really bad has happened.  I just keep waiting for it to happen.

I think it happened lastnight.  It wasn’t really bad, just irritating more than anything.  I left work, looking forward to a relaxing night at home.  I stopped and picked Zach up who was thrilled to see me.  When we went back out to the car to head home it wouldn’t start.  I called hubby, who fortunately was home, and he came over and jump started it. 

Hubby took the car up to Auto Zone and had the battery tested and they said that it was fine.  Nothing was wrong with the car.  Ha!

This morning it started up just fine.  I took Zach to day care and dropped him off and when I got back in my car to go to work it wouldn’t start again.  It is a good thing the windows were rolled up because I wouldn’t have wanted the kids to hear the words that came out of my mouth at that moment.

So, I made some calls and my mom came to rescue me.  She let me use her car to jump start again and followed me to the dealership that will probably charge me out the ass to fix whatever is wrong.  I’m really hoping it is just the battery and nothing major.  I’m still waiting for a phone call and hoping that I get my car back for the weekend. 

My boss did offer to let me borrow his Jeep if I need a car for a few days which I thought was very nice.  I’m almost tempted to borrow it just so I can drive the Jeep around cause I love it! He’s trying to sell it and I would love to buy it from him if we had any extra funds, but we don’t.

I’m pretty sure my Red Sox tickets are out of the question now.  I think I might go cry now. 

The final conclusion from the guy at the insanely expensive dealership is that the ONLY thing wrong with my car is that the battery is dead.  If the idiots at Auto Zone would have figured that out lastnight, I could have saved myself a lot or trouble and probably $100 too.  The good news is that I should have my car back within an hour with a fresh new battery that includes a 5-yr parts and labor warranty.

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