Monday, May 11, 2009

Kids and Money

It has been many years since I had to be concerned with giving allowances to children. Or spending money for school supplies or class trips. Or for that matter, even scraping up college tuition - although my youngest managed, through scholarships, grants, and working a couple of jobs besides, to pay for most of her own college needs. But I digress - as usual.

When I was a girl --- oh no! Not another of those stories! Yes. Another of those.

When I was six or seven, we would be playing outside and one of the housewives in the neighborhood would come to her door, look around until she spotted one or two of us, and call us over. "How would you like to run up to Parkhill's for me? I'll pay you a nickel each." We were thrilled. A nickel! She'd give us a list and we would take it up to the local grocery store, where Mrs. Parkhill would put the items in a bag, and either accept the money we had been entrusted with or just add it to the housewife's account, and we would rush back to receive our nickels. We were rich! Would any child today be thrilled with a nickel?

Sometimes Mrs. Magee would call us to her door. As soon as we got there, we saw several Mason jars waiting, and we knew. This was going to be fun as well as profitable. Mrs Magee had a beautiful big rose garden. She would pay us a nickel a jar for as many Japanese beetles as we could harvest from the roses. It was a fun job. I loved the feeling of those stickery little beetle feet on my hands. And they were pretty too. If I had ever thought of the cruel fate awaiting those creatures, I might not have been so willing to accept the money.

Then there was my allowance. Not a lot of children received an allowance in those days. I think I did because my parents divorced. Daddy always presented me with a dime when he came on Sunday. A dime paid for a Saturday afternoon movie. I only had to save up for penny candy for the matinee. When I turned twelve, the price of the movie went up to twenty-five cents! By the time I got into high school, it had skyrocketed to fifty cents! What do movies cost today? I have no idea. I haven't been to one in years. But then, today we rent movies, don't we? Or watch them on TV - if we can find one worth watching among the 125 channels.

How much do children receive for an allowance today? I shudder to think.

When I graduated from high school, and started to earn my own living, the standard starting salary for office work was $37.50 a week. On that, I paid for my carfare to and from work, lunches, my clothes and shoes, paid the rent of $90. a month for a huge five room apartment, and still had some left over for entertainment and whatever took my fancy. Hard to believe today, even for me.

When did things get so far out of hand? When did we become such a materialistic society?

What started me thinking of all this? Well, yesterday was Mothers' Day. I can remember, when I had no money to spend, thinking of something nice I could do for my mother. One day while she was visiting next door, I ran the vacuum, then left a note on it saying, "I love you, so I cleaned the rug for you." We all did things like that, and they were appreciated. This year, all I really wanted was to have my son till the garden for me. It didn't get done, but he brought me a lovely gift. I just can't shake the feeling that I would have been so much happier with that garden ready for seed. Am I ungrateful? Or have we lost something?


Deborah Godin said...

This was fun, to remember the 'good old days'! I can recall the time I started having to pay as an adult to go to a movie. I think it was around 80 cents. And they still say time is money, but so many people don't seem to have enough of either these days!

Dianne said...

I can't imagine you being ungrateful. I think for some it's a matter of being so busy that it takes less time to buy a gift then to make or do something - so many people are working as many hours as they can

But yes, we have lost something - I'm feeling that right now. With my financial situation I can't afford to buy as much for grandbaby to be as I'd like but I plan to make photo books of the shower and things like that

But all I hear about is the running total of who spent what on the baby registry. Sad

Daryl said...

Movies today are $10 ... and that's not counting the popcorn and soda .. me, I dont go to the movies .. Husband belongs to NetFlix

Allowances .. no idea what kids get today, nor do I remember what I got as a kid .. but I do remember that being tall forced me to carry my birth certificate to the movies so I could get in at the childrens rate.

Sylvia K said...

Wonderful post, Bobbie, and did bring back lots of memories! We have become such a materialistic society and it's sad. My son gave me the best gift of all -- a morning at the zoo together, taking pictures and laughing and then a great lunch at my favorite restaurant. I don't need "things", just laughter and sharing.

kenju said...

Bobbie, I love your stories from when you were a girl!!

Amanda van der Gulik said...

great post! I agree the topic of allowances is very confussing. I would rather teach children how to earn their own money like you did when you helped your neighbour.

Cheers...Amanda van der Gulik...Excited Life Enthusiast!

Unknown said...

It would be just like you, Bobbie, to find the bugs pretty and interesting to touch and see.

Nice post, as always. :-)

Unknown said...

I think it's easier to buy something. One thing we all seem to have much less of, is time.

Dawn Fine said...

Bobbie..nice thought provoking post.

Yeah I often think we have lost something as well...
kids today get most things they want.
they do not help around the house.
at least that is what i see..

I used to deliver papers as a young girl...and helped my parents in the home..I had chores.
If I wanted something I used my paper money..My parents didn't have the xtra money with six of us kids.
I agree with you a plowed garden would be a better gift.
when I go home to visit my parents I always help in the garden.
We always plant flowers for my mother in law for mothers day.
I think these gifts are more grately appreciated..
and a better way to give more of ourselves.

KG said...

I LOVE reading these old stories.

When I was a kid, I received an allowance pretty much for doing nothing. I think it wasn't helpful as far as developing my sense of financial know-how. I intend to do it differently with my kid. I've heard to do $1 for every year old your kid is. I've also heard the method that there's a chart and for every task they complete on the chart, they earn money towards allowance. If they don't do the chores, they don't get the money. I think I like that last one best of all ...