Sunday, November 26, 2006

Checking, Savings, Trade School, Taxes

This post was originally posted on Blog Mamas on September 28th, 2006.

Although Jeep is only 15 months old, he receives an allowance. He has been getting a weekly allowance since I saw two pink stripes on a certain plastic stick. It isn’t a trust fund or inheritance nor do we have buckets of money – I just wanted to start a healthy money habit early.

Jeeper gets one dollar a week. In quarters. I put one quarter in each of the antique Bell jars that I bought when I was pregnant. The quarters aren’t for decoration although they do sparkle in their glass banks. I use quarters because it makes the math easier. You see, I distribute his allowance into four accounts: Checking, Savings, Trade School and Taxes. The money is for Jeep – and it is his to spend – within the boundaries of each account.

Checking is the NOW money. The “gum in the checkout line” or “poorly-made, over-priced toy in the gift shop” money. As soon as Jeeper’s brain can handle the logic of demand and supply, he can spend the money in his checking account as quickly or slowly as he likes. But he will also learn that Mama and Daddy won’t buy the gum or the toy for him (I can’t guarantee that Grandma/Grandpa or Nana/Papa will follow suit) so he will have to make his own choices and live with them.

Savings is the PRETTY SOON money. I don’t know yet if little Jeep will have a “burning a hole in my pocket” or a “miserly moneybags” mindset. Either way, to spend the money from the savings account he will need to check in with an advisor to get the purchase approved. The advisor’s role isn’t to talk him into or out of a purchase, but to be a touch point that reminds him of what he truly wants and values. Hopefully the savings account will produce many coveted toys and treasures while also teaching the sweet, sweet satisfaction of delayed gratification.

The Trade School account’s purpose is to make a dent in a future EDUCATIONAL endeavor. 25 cents a week won’t pay for books so we plan to supplement this account as we are able. Most likely and somewhat hopefully the future beneficiary of these funds will be the undergraduate tuition bill from a college or university. But the money is Jeeper’s to use for culinary school or a welding certification program or art school or an ESL certificate program in Spain or six years of community college courses or a PhD or whatever he chooses to pursue.

Earlier I wrote that Jeep’s allowance is for him and that he gets to spend it but that isn’t the whole truth because he has a jar for TAXES. We aren’t handing the fourth quarter over to Uncle Sam. The money in the final jar will be spent by our family (with Jeeper’s equal input) to benefit our home and our community. Family activities can be funded from this account (it is likely trips to Disneyland will be excluded) as are charitable contributions. One small way to remind him that with money comes a responsibility beyond yourself.

As Jeep gets older, I plan to increase his allowance to match his age. One dollar a week for each year lived, with ¼ still deposited into each account. The idea isn’t to fund Harvard tuition or pay for his first car, but to help him develop reasonable spending and saving habits while fostering independence and freedom. One shiny quarter at a time.

No comments: