I was raised with a very deliberate and organized allowance system. My Mom, aka "YaYa", kept a paper ledger for each of us showing our weekly allowance and any spending. I can remember going to the little local grocery store, buying some Swedish Fish and then coming home and deducting the amount I spent from my allowance balance.
When I decided to start giving Stella and Hudson an allowance, I quickly realized that I needed an easy system. For a few months I tried giving them actual money because I believe that it is good for kids to learn about money by actual having and using real money. However, I never seemed to have the correct change--or any money at all, for that matter--and so pretty soon my allowance system broke down.
Enter the 2012 version of the paper ledger system:
One of the things I really like about this system is that every dollar that goes in is split into three jars - Save, Spend and Share. You can set the percentage of each allowance payment.
I have ours set like this:
50% - Save
40% - Spend
10% - Share
If the kids do a special job to earn extra money, you can either have the same split or it could all go in their Spend jar. When they are ready to use the money from one of their jars, you make a "withdrawal" and it keeps track of it for you. So far Hudson hasn't made any withdrawals, and Stella has pretty much spent her "Spend" jar down to nothing. Her three transactions:
$3.50 - a book at her school book fair
$2.50 - a new app for the iPad - Bartleby's Book of Buttons Part 2
$9.49 - a huge pack of dry erase markers from Costco
She is currently earmarking her "Save" jar for a horse. I haven't had the heart to tell her that at her current earnings rate, it will take her 34 years to buy a horse that costs $2,500. I just keep telling her that she better start doing some extra paid jobs to increase her savings.