On allowances and charitable giving

I don’t pass parenting tips along all that often. It’s rare that I come across an idea that’s so unambiguously phenomenal that I want to share it. I picked something up from some friends recently, however, that I feel compelled to mention… They give their daughter an allowance, with the understanding that some percentage of it is to be given to charity. (I believe it’s 30%, but I’m not positive.)

It’s an unbelievably simple idea, but, for some reason, it’s not something that had ever occurred to me. And, I thought that I’d pass it along, in case there were others out there like me, who are looking for ways to both help instill a good work ethic, and encourage their kids to be a little more compassionate.

Anyway, here’s what we’ve decided to do with Clementine… If she does her chores – which we’ve yet to settle on – she will earn $3 a week. $1 will go to a charity of her choice. $1 will go toward savings. And the remaining $1 will be for her to spend.

So, tonight, at bedtime, we talked about different non-profits operating in the community, and what they might likely use the money for. We even made tentative plans to visit a few and ask questions.

And the thought of doing this with her, if I haven’t made it clear, makes me incredibly happy.

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  1. Dan
    Posted November 12, 2009 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    My daughter, who is 4, gets the same allowance. $1 for spending, $1 for savings and $1 for charity. It has been a lot of fun for her and it has prompted some good discussions.

    The hardest thing for me was to remember to have $3 to give to her. I finally went to the bank on a Friday and withdrew $100 in ones. The guy behind me in line gave me a look like “You’re going to have fun tonight!” It was odd to have my brain whiplash from child’s allowance to strip club so quickly.

  2. Posted November 12, 2009 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the warning. I’ll be sure to mention that the 1’s are for my daughter… who is not a stripper.

  3. Peri
    Posted November 12, 2009 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    One thing we’re just starting to try is to have our 3-year-old pick out 1 thing every week at the grocery store to donate. Then, our hope is to donate the food to the SOS Crisis Center every month (ideally, he’ll come with).

  4. Posted November 12, 2009 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    I like that idea. You should definitely take her to the Robot Store on Liberty as soon as she saves up a few “Spend” dollars. She can buy herself a fun little robot toy AND the proceeds from that will go to the organization (826Michigan) that runs the store. That’ll really blow her tiny little mind.

    On second thought, maybe you should save that lesson until she’s a bit older. That might be an advanced charity maneuver.

  5. Dan
    Posted November 12, 2009 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    Could the robot store warrant a pooling of spend and charity dollars?

    Two whole dollars per week!

  6. anonymous
    Posted November 12, 2009 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    My parents did that when I was a kid: 25 cents a week, 5 cents of which went to charity. I plan on using the same system with my kids.

    Somewhat off-topic, I’m hoping to call a Christmas-present truce with my siblings and siblings-in-law. Kids still get presents from adults, but adults will donate to charities in each others’ honor. That’s my plan, anyway. Saves time picking out gifts we don’t really need, and shipping costs, and CO2 due to manufacturing and shipping, etc.

  7. Posted November 12, 2009 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    I love this idea – I’d never heard of anyone doing it before. I’ll have to read this post to Erica :) I think she would love the idea.

  8. Posted November 13, 2009 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    I have mixed feelings about this.

    If you REQUIRE her to “give” $1 a week, that’s not a gift, that’s a tax. At least, that’s what I call it when it happens to my paycheck.

    Some taxes might be necessary, but at least call it what it is.

  9. Dan
    Posted November 13, 2009 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    You could also look at it as follows. My daughter gets $2/week in allowance and is managing a charity fund with a $1/week payout.

  10. Ed
    Posted November 13, 2009 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    It’s not a tax if she gets to choose the charity.

    Are there any restrictions? Could she, for instance, give the money to the Bachmann for President fund? The Church of Satan? Or, maybe start her own charity?

  11. Chelsea
    Posted November 17, 2009 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    I love it! FWIW, my aunt and uncle send two cash gifts for my birthday and Chanukah each year, and earmark the smaller of the two for the charity of my choice. Makes me happy bc I can afford to give so little on my own.

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