Saturday, October 06, 2007


She was 14 when her mother made her go to work.

"NO, mom, it's summer and I deserve to be with my friends!"

"NO, daughter, it's time you learned about work".

She found an assembly job at a local shoe factory with her best friend Annie. She cursed and complained all the way out the front door the first morning. She said she could not believe how anyone could be so mean.

She came bouncing home at 4:30. She was carrying a package.

"OH, mom, it was SO cool!".

"OH, honey, that is wonderful".

"They'll pay you in shoes instead of money, Mom."

"WHAT????? That is not what I had in mind".

Thus began my daughter Jessica's introduction to work. Although my plan backfired that summer, I have never regretted my insistence that she learn how to work and how to manage money.

I developed a Money-Management cirriculum in my head that summer, and over the years I would find opportunities to implement it throughout Jess' teenage and college years. "Pay yourself first", I would say when she began getting paychecks.

"You won't believe how fast money accumulates when you put aside even a small amount every week."

"The proceeds from that painted wooden spoon in your Christmas stocking goes to support the local shelter".

"If you learn how to save for something special, it will be all the more special to you."


Spend. Save. Give.

I first heard "spend save give" on a talk radio program. It was too late to make it a bonafide part of my secret financial cirriculum, but to this day I hope my daughter understands this principle.
"Take that hundred dollars from your birthday and spend a third, save a third, and donate a third. Most of the time that will work out pretty well". She often did not follow this advice, but I've always hoped it's seeped in.

For the record, I give far less than a third of my income to charity, so the formula could just as well be 40-40-20, or even 50-40-10. The numbers don't matter nearly as much as the catagories. Spend. Save. Give.

I think it's a nifty way to think, to teach, to live in the world. So I gladly pass it on to whom ever where ever why ever when ever.


  1. Kids are SOOOO expensive these days, but I agree with 'spend, save, give' :) Mine tended to give a lot when younger (I was mostly the charity and payment was in chocolate etc.), but as teens they tend to spend a lot even if trying to save! Hhahhaaaa. Am I a BAD mother for making them work from 9 years young? Heehee.

  2. Seems a sound approach to me, and sure beats the way they tried to teach me to save - which was to just never spend money at all for anything....hmmm, no wonder I didnt get the knack of it Tehehe!

  3. I am definitely going to apply this as the children grow up.

  4. Karen, It's all important advice. You did a great job teaching Jess. Those are all very important categories.
    I would add, If you can't pay for it, don't buy it. A house usually comes with a mortgage, and a car with payments, but furniture, applicances, clothes, etc. should not be financed. Credit card debt is financial quicksand.

  5. During one well publicized disaster, my daughter's school asked them to give not a new toy, but one of their favorite toys, to the children of the country. She first picked out a little used toy and I said "What about your pillow person, it's supposed to be something you care about or it won't mean anything to you."

    She thought for a moment and said "Easy for YOU to say it's not your Pillow Person".

    So now her Pillow Person AND my favorite Teddy Bear live in South America.

  6. Good advice, KJ! And I think it's never too late to live by these principles. I laughed out loud about the shoe payments!! If I could just find a bookstore with that payment policy ...

  7. I love it. What a great way to think about money.

  8. To be honest: I don't do the give part.

  9. great little post! it's so true and I find when kids don't have to earn things they have no regard for how much it costs, etc. You are a good mom and person!!!

  10. anon, from age 9? anon! you're worse than me, way worse!! haha

    lavender, don't you just hate thinking it's not ok to spend?! of course it is!

    thanks, mench. i'm glad.

    rm, but how will i go to italy if i don't use my credit card??????

    debra kay, this is an adorable story. i laughed outloud

    melissa, the hell with this post: see you soon!!!!

    hi michele, thank you for visiting. I'm glad to have reciprocated at your interesting blog.

    pieterbie, there's no time like the present! :)

    val, such a high compliment from such a fine and talented person. thank you.

  11. Good philosophy. And even giving a little helps if it's to the right place.

    My grandmother used to take us to the bank every Saturday when we were kids so that we could put half of our pocket money in our accounts. Then we'd go to Woolworths and buy ourselves a treat within our own little budget. And ... the best bit ... she'd then reward us by taking us to Lyons tea rooms for Knickerbocker Glory ... the good old days, lol.

  12. what a great memory, bibi--a total treasure.

  13. Mister Ryan is soooo gorgeous. Here's me - left a job with kids to take up one with birds - and now everytime I see a toddler / baby, all I want to do is grab them! He is special though your Ryan - I can see it in his expression. And believe me, I am an expert on such matters.
    Anyway - it's been nice catching up :)

  14. Definnitely opt for the shoes, especially if they are leather loafers, otherwise give me the money. Don't forget to check out those charities. Some charities are better than others and some are fronts to support the outrageous lifestyle of their CEOs. Here's a site for intelligent gift-giving: find a charity you can trust.

  15. chief, you are so sweet. thank you for your wonderful comments about mr. ryan. i may lack objectivity, but i think i know what you mean.

    ces, i admit shoes are hard to resist, but jess certainly did not come home with leather loafers--more like plastic flip flops! i'll be checking the charities site out for sure--thank you.

  16. My dad always made us put half of anything we earned into a money market account, even in my babysitting days. In later years it helped me buy my car, and sent my husband and I to Mexico for our honeymoon. :)