The Financial Chronicles: A Money Guide for Kids
- Illustrations by Adrian Bittner
What kids are really thinking about money.
I didn’t know how expensive it was to be an adult until I paid for my first oil change and tire rotation for my shining silver Nissan. When the mechanic rang up my $40 oil change and the $30 tire rotation fee, my soul died as I meekly asked if he could put the tires back to where they were (a joke that he did not find amusing, I might add). That was an awakening for me — now every time I pay a bill, my bank account sheds a tear, and I yearn for the days that I could put my lost tooth under my pillow and wake up with a wrinkled, green dollar replacing it.
On one occasion, the Tooth Fairy forgot to leave a dollar under my pillow, and I woke up feeling betrayed. To make up for the slacking fairy, my mom handed me a worn-out Ziploc bag of nickels and pennies. I was rich. Well, at least I thought I was.
My experience with money as a child, and even now as an adult, is vastly different from others. After sending out a questionnaire to parents around Columbia to learn more about what kids are thinking about money, I must say, my Tooth Fairy did not appreciate my pearly whites nearly enough.
How much allowance do you pay your kids?
- We deposit $20 per paycheck cycle per kid to a savings account. Then they can earn spending money on chores.
- They receive room and board.
- Nothing, but we do talk about earning toys.
- It depends on the age — 8 to 11 gets $20 to $25 a week; older than 11 gets $25 to $40 a week.
How old should kids be when they start earning an allowance?
- Any age after 6.
- Nine or 10 — depending on the chores they do.
- Ten years old.
- Fourteen years old.
How old should kids be before they are allowed to have a debit card?
- Twelve for girls and 18 for boys.
- Dad says 13, but mom says 14.
- High school, at least.
Ask your kids this: If you had $100, what would you spend it on?
- Legos and LOL Dolls.
- A Nintendo Switch for my 8-year-old. (It’s written on our fridge, and she is patiently waiting for me to match her $100 that she already has). The older boys say candy and spending cash when they’re with friends.
- Gaming equipment or in-game currency.
If your kids save money, what mechanism do they use?
- A bank account with both parents’ names on it, plus a big jar for pocket change.
- A piggy bank.
- What’s savings?
- A bank account.
Do you expect your kids to work while they’re in school?
- No, they have enough on their plate with school.
- Yes, go get your own money and leave mine alone!
- Yes, but only when they’re not in sports.
What is the going rate for a babysitter?
- If it’s more than $30 an hour, we will never be leaving the house.
- It depends on the age. Our 28-year-old babysitter with an early childhood degree who works as a teacher makes $20 an hour, but $15 is more of an average rate.
- Fifteen dollars an hour for each kid.
- Ten dollars an hour.
Have your kids accidentally purchased things from Amazon or an app?
- Yes, $400 on apps from iTunes.
- Never. They know way better than that.
- Yes, $300 for toys in my cart.
Ask your kids this: Who’s in charge of money in your house?
- Dad makes it and mom spends it.
- Mom — she’s in charge of everything.
- Mom and dad, but mom mostly pays the actual bills.
Ask your kids this: How much is a candy bar?
- A dollar.
- Probably just $3.
- Ten dollars.
Ask your kids this: How much money do you need to have to be rich?
- A thousand dollars.
- Infinity and beyond.
- I don’t know — I’m not rich!
Ask your kids this: What are you saving your money for?
- My college and other needs. And my house. And a phone.
- To buy toys.
- To buy a movie production company.
- I’m saving money just to save so I know I have money if I need something.
Ask your kids this: How much do you think a house costs?
- The price varies depending on the house. Some cost $1,000, but I’d say on average $100,000 to $150,000.
- Around $25,000.
How much does the Tooth Fairy pay in your house?
- It can range from $1 to $10. Whatever is handy when I wake up and panic because I forgot, or whatever the older siblings have handy to loan me.
- Nothing. Usually because they forget to come, but sometimes a dollar.
- Twenty dollars.
- Negotiations are still ongoing, but I’m willing to go as high as $1.