Susan Dennis (susandennis) wrote,
Susan Dennis

Answering my own questions... money and little me

Did you have an allowance? Was it strict or did you also get extra money for stuff you wanted? How aware of your family's finances were you? Did your friends' families have more or less money than yours or did you not even care enough to notice? Did you get a job when first you could?

My parents used allowances to teach us about money. When we were 6, we got our first allowance and the day we graduated from collage we got our last. They had very strict rules about allowances and nothing could break those rules.

The allowance was not payment for chores done. Chores were part of living in a family. We were free to spend it on whatever we wanted no questions asked, but 10% was to go to the church.There was no such thing as an 'advance'. If you spent your allowance before the next payday, you were just totally SOL. You got exactly $0.0 no matter how desperate you were or how much you begged.

I think my first allowance was a dime. That would have been in 1955. There were cost of living raises as the years went on but until about age 14, the amount stayed at candy/trinket level.

Mid teen years, things changed. Daddy sat us (me and my sister) down and asked if we would be interested in a new scheme. We would get a massive raise. BUT with that raise, we would now be responsible for paying for our clothes, our schools supplies, our school lunches, our movies, records and whatever else we wanted. We'd be paid once a month. Again, if we ran out of money before month's end, tough toenails. He had it all figured out and showed us how he arrived at the number. I think, originally, it was something like $50 or $60 a month which, at the time, was like a freaking fortune. We both jumped at the opportunity and signed on and that's the way it was from then til college graduation.

It was a great lesson. Having to meter the funds out and seeing how far or not they went. My sister bought record albums. I bought books. I honed up my sewing skills to save money on clothes.

We both started making our lunches at home and packing them to school. HOWEVER, my Mom put the kibosh on that real fast. She posted new rules on the fridge. She was going to charge us for anything we used out of the fridge for school lunches. As I recall, her prices mirrored those of the school cafeteria so we quit packing lunches.

There were months when we ran out of money and rules were rules. We learned. Again as our expenses got greater, we got raises. When I was 16, I agreed to run Mom's errands so I got a additional $$ for gas, etc.

The allowances lasted until we were out of school. It was a family joke that we were only on the 'payroll' as long as we were 'enrolled'. On the day of my college graduation, my parents handed me wrapped Congratulations present. In the box were keys to a 'new' used car and a bonus payment of one, final allowance. Golden parachute.

Most of my friends had no allowance. The few who did get one, it was very loosey goosey - sometimes they'd get some and sometimes not and if they wanted to go to a movie, they'd just ask for the money and get it.

Most of the people I grew up around and knew growing up were in the same socio-econimic bracket as us. We were shielded from money stuff so I had no details but it felt pretty equal. I could feel, as the years went on, that we were wealthier. Looking back, I'd have to describe us as upper middle class. We did not go to the beach every year on vacation but we did to 2 months in Europe one summer and spent one Christmas skiing in Zermatt. And when I was a teenager, we had a weekend house in the mountains that was not a shack.

I did get a job when I was first legally able to do so - I worked in the shop of a family friend one summer. It was an outlet dress shop. I hated it with a red hot passion. It taught me the greatest lesson. I learned that could, with little effort, get a job to support myself. I was no longer dependent on my parents and could easily leave any time and live on my own. And there was NO FUCKING WAY I was going to do that until I got enough education to never have to work in a shop again!

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