Speaking of Allowances

Some parenting experts say kids shouldn’t get an allowance. Perhaps they were never actual teenagers and went directly from watching Sesame Street to being wealthy child psychologists.

Or maybe they sold custom yo-yos near the jungle gym to their fellow preschoolers and hence had a steady source of income.

Whatever the case, today I offer you invaluable counsel on the subject of allowances.

First, the word “allowance,” I suppose, comes from the fact that you are being allowed to spend some of your parents’ money on something you actually want. Even then, there are certain restrictions. Telling Mom and Dad “I want an electric SmartKart so I don’t have to wait for the bus anymore” will cause a reaction, but not the kind you’re after. To begin with, go for something small—a paper clip is good. Your parents will infer from this that you’ve matured enough to realize the importance of keeping your homework organized. Unless they ask, you probably don’t need to tell them that you’re using it to form an airtight seal on your Twinkie bag.

Once Mom and Dad mistakenly perceive you as a halfway responsible human being, you might want to take the next step. There are several options, but a preloaded allowance card may be the best. You use it like you would a prepaid phone card, but instead of phone time you get spendable bucks. OK, so I have never actually seen one of these hanging on a spinner rack in Wal-Mart, but you can make one out of thin cardboard. NOTE: Be sure to leave at least four blank spaces on which your parents can write actual numerals. If you are lucky, they will become confused and forget to put the decimal point in the correct place, thereby preloading your allowance card with $1000 instead of ten bucks.

If all else fails, whining may get you some response, but last week when I tried it on my folks they didn’t seem too sympathetic. They said they might change their minds if I ever become a halfway responsible human being.

Now, I need to address those of you who, for whatever reason, don’t receive any allowance. You need not be handcuffed by your dire straits. (Of course, if you turn to a life of crime to stuff your wallet, you probably will end up in handcuffs.) Ask yourself this question: Will I die if I don’t get an allowance? You probably had breakfast this morning, and there’s a good chance you won’t go hungry tomorrow morning, either. Maybe getting an allowance isn’t the most important thing.

You think I’m kidding, but I’m not. You think I’m stupid, but­—look, what I’m saying is this: most of us have it pretty good compared to the rest of the world. So whether or not we get an allowance, maybe we should look at this whole thing a little differently. Jesus helps us get a grip on it: “Put God first in your life, and He will help you with whatever you need” (Matthew 6:33, Clear Word/Kids).*

Really, when you think about it, that’s better than an allowance.

So in conclusion, I leave this thought for those of you who receive an allowance and those of you who don’t: If you think taking money from your parents after they’ve practically killed themselves earning it while you sat around at home eating Cool Ranch Dor-eato’s and drinking Diet Choke, that’s your business.

Whatever you decide, don’t write and ask me for spending money. That’s not the way I do business, and no amount of pleading will cause me to make an allowance.


*Texts credited to Clear Word/Kids are from The Clear Word for Kids, copyright © 2005 by Review and Herald Publishing Association. All rights reserved.

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Speaking of Allowances

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