Learning How to Budget at a Young Age...Sort Of
When I was young, my parents devised an allowance system that was much different than most my friends’. Until I talked with my friends about my allowance, I had always thought everyone used the same system. Unlike most kids, I did not just get the full allowance for spending money. My parents divided it up into categories to help teach me about budgeting early on in life.
The categories were:
- Spending Money
What's with the Tax, Mom?
Sounds strange that my allowance would be taxed, right? When I was little, I always got a little sad when they would give me the money, divide it up into the different accounts, and then ask me for my tax money back. I would hold out my hand reluctantly and watch as my change went back into their jar. I got used to it after awhile though. And once I got older, I understood more about why they would tax my allowance. Once I began working, every paycheck I would receive would have tax taken out. I look at it as them preparing me for the real world.
The Joy of Donating
I did not understand the idea of donations much at first. I would ask why I couldn't use it as spending money. My mom would answer "This money is used to give to someone in need." I would think "But mom, it's my money, I earned it. Why do I have to give it to someone else?" Most of the time, I did donate this money to the collection at church. Somehow I was motivated to do so by the fact that I could walk up with the offering plate and put the money from our row into the big bin at the center of the church. My brother soon realized the excitement of this and we would fight over who got to take up the basket.
Much later was when I truly understood the joy of donating. For some reason, I had saved up $20 in my donation fund(That happened because I kept forgetting to bring the money to church). Well, a terrible thing occured in our town. A family’s house burned down and they lost all their belongings. One of their boys went to my school and our school had a fundraiser for him. I ended up being able to give my money to him. It felt really good to do that.
The Hard Lesson: Saving
Savings was always something I had a hard time with. Why save money, when you could spend it? What good does it really do just sitting there? As a kid and teenager, I would receive my spending and savings money separately. Then, secretly while my parents were not looking, I would lump them both together as one. I wanted to spend it. And it had to be NOW. This spending habit carried on when I started my first job in high school. Any money I earned, I spent. I spent it on clothes, going out to eat, you name it…I spent it!
When I went to college, the spending habit did not cease there. It took me until my 4th year of college to understand that I needed to save money, not spend it all.
And it has taken me until 7 weeks ago to implement my first ever budget plan(made on my own). It can be hard to stick to it sometimes. But, it’s good for me to learn control when it comes to spending. On the other hand, I also am a big believer in not sticking to your budget meticulously unless you have to. One week it’s okay to spend more if you spend less the next. Sometimes you go over your budget…and guess what life goes on! Plus, life can also throw you curve balls, such as a car breaking down (which has happened to me so many times!) and that’s when your budget fluctuates too.
I have been pretty good about sticking to the budget so far. There were a few weeks where I definitely went over. But I did make up for it the next week by spending less. Or I earned extra money and that supplemented for it. Or…I didn’t make up for it and we were just fine for that week.
Do you or did your parents do something like mine did with allowances? Or something else? Any tips on sticking to a budget?