Every few weeks I’ll be writing a column called “Dear Centsible,” answering your burning money questions. But don’t burn your money, that would be very bad. Just shoot me an email, tweet me, or Facebook me with your questions and I will answer them to the best of my abilities.*
Jen commented on my kids and allowance post:
Kelly, since your kids are so close in age, have you had any trouble that one gets more each week than their younger sibling? We started out doing the “pay your age” thing but it seemed really unfair that the 5 year old was able to buy stuff more quickly than the 3 year old so now we pay them equally.
So far I have let them spend it however they want without enforcing any charity or savings but it really irks me how my older one is eager to buy anything he sees, just because he wants to buy SOMETHING. I wonder if we are really teaching any good lessons here or just feeding into his consumerism.
I haven’t had that issue, but at 3 and 5 it might make sense to keep it even at $4/biweekly or every week. For us it’s an issue of responsibility, and we’ve told them as much. The 4 year old keeps saying he can’t wait to be 12 like his big brother, cause he’ll get “all that money!” Plus we’ve told them they will continue to get allowance until they are 17, so they get that it will be fair.
One trick we learned was not to take them to the store or remind them to bring their money. This kept them from spending as much. We also keep track of their allowance virtually instead of handing them cash since we all seem to spend cash faster.
While I understand the concern about feeding his consumerism, I don’t see that as a bad thing. If you were to buy him things, I’m guessing it usually would add up to more than $4-5/week. I know for me it cut out all the asking. If we had to do an errand, they would look at things, and even write them down for later when they did have money to spend.
If you are interested in enforcing charity and savings you can get a piggy bank (or make one) that has slots for various things like this Money Savvy Pig.
There really is no “right” way to do things, this is just what works for us. If you figure out that whole sibling rivalry thing, let me know.
On twitter, @Mrs_Buck asked:
“@centsiblelife what’s the best free/secure tool for keeping track of our money across all of our accounts? Excel spreadsheet, mint.com?”
How to make a budget is really a matter of personal preference. If you’re plugged in, like I am, then you will like Mint.com a lot. It’s pretty to look at, mostly easy to use, and has a kick ass iPhone app. Seriously, I love that app. I also really love that it lets you budget, set goals, and perform a financial fitness test (which reminds me of foursquare, in that it’s kind of competitive).
If you are the kind of person that needs to use a pen and paper, to really feel the budget, I would recommend a notebook.
Excel, is another simple tool, but even better you can find great budget templates (links to Budgets Are Sexy’s list of free templates) all over the web, including googledocs templates.
Since you said our money it’s likely you need something you can both see wherever you are, so in that case a googledoc, or Mint.com will likely work the best.
Good luck Mrs Buck, and happy budgeting.
*=Please note that all answers are solely based on my personal experience and I am in no way a trained personal finance expert. If you need an expert on not sleeping for more than 2 hour chunks for 8 years in a row, wrangling multiple children, or need someone experienced with stretch marks feel free to contact me. I’m certified in all those areas.