By CAROLINE SPOSTO
I happened to see your column while I was vacationing in Cabo. Hoping you can help me, though my problem is taking place at home in Chicago. I’m the single mother of a 12-year-old daughter. I give her a small spending allowance each week for snacks and small purchases. Lately, she has been complaining that her allowance is too small. Granted, this is a time of inflation, but I don’t want to spoil her. She attends an academically rigorous prep school, is on the honor roll and is involved in a lot of school activities, so she honestly doesn’t have the time to babysit or do chores for extra money. The size of her allowance has become the source of several arguments. What do you suggest I do?
Dear Penny Pinch,
This problem makes for an ideal teaching and learning opportunity. Since you seem to be on the fence about the adequacy of your daughter’s current allowance, you also have some learning to do.
Instead of arguing with your daughter, tell her that you want to better understand how much money she really needs. In order to do that, you’ll need a full accounting of her spending practices. Require her to keep receipts and write up a spending diary for a week. That diary can be either a handwritten list or a computer spreadsheet showing the expenditures, dates and amounts.
At the end of the week, review her spending diary with her. If you think her allowance is reasonable, discuss her spending and engage her in some brainstorming for better ways to make her money go further. If you decide she needs a larger allowance, set a small raise and tell her you’ll add a set amount to that raise each week she provides you with receipts and a spending diary.
The added incentive is designed to help your daughter get into the habit of knowing where every dollar is going. Becoming financially self-aware early on will serve her for the rest of her life.
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