Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Should Sasha & Malia Get a Raise? Kiplinger's Lobbies for Higher White House Allowances

As the parent of three children, I am very interested in this piece from Kiplinger's about allowance rates for the Obama girls:

"Sasha and Malia, can we talk about your allowance of $1 each a week? It seems a little low.

In an article just posted on, Janet Bodnar, Editor of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, asserts that — with all due respect — the Obama kids could use a fiscal stimulus.

What are appropriate allowance guidelines for the girls—and for other kids? Janet Bodnar offers these tips:

Allowance Amount. Sasha and Malia should receive weekly allowances equal to half their age—that's $3.50 for Sasha and $5 for Malia.

Extra Responsibilities. For this additional cash in their pocket, the kids would be expected to take on extra responsibilities with the money. For example, Sasha and Malia, your parents might ask you to pay for your own tickets or popcorn when you go to the movies with your new friends from school. Or you could buy treats and toys for the new puppy your parents promised you. Or bring your own money for souvenirs when you go on trips with Mom and Dad.

· Helping Out Around the House. Sasha and Malia are expected to make their beds, but Mom is satisfied if they "just throw a sheet over them." Getting paid for doing such chores isn’t a good idea. Kids should pitch in because their parents need help around the house—even when it's the White House.
· Simple Reminders. One problem for Sasha and Malia is that Dad sometimes forgets to give them their allowance. No surprise. All parents are forgetful at one time or another. What you need is a simple system for reminding him. Maybe he can program it into his BlackBerry. Or maybe you can set aside a certain time and place—say, every Sunday night in the Lincoln bedroom. Another family has worked out a simple system by making a booklet of construction-paper coupons that the kids could tear off and exchange for their allowance each week.
· Non-Financial Benefits. With an allowance, kids learn how to be patient and save money for something they really want. They use their own money—not someone else’s—to buy their things. In short, they take on more personal responsibility."

Check out the article in its entirety .

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Kate said...

When I was a child I received a very small allowance every week and had to work for any little extras I wanted.

I do think that I was brought up to not to expect things all the time. I never remember being denied but then again I never remember wanting lots. i think my parents made sure i understood all about money from an early age. perhaps thats why I am so frugal these days.

Kara said...

I wanna know in whose world you can buy a movie ticket or popcorn for $3.50. :) Truthfully I didn't like this article. I think Sasha and Malia should be off limits for this kind of stuff. Let's not put the girls on the spot and make them be "role models" for the rest of the US. Just let them be kids and let their parents parent the way they want to. Given the poise of these two girls, it seems that whatever Michelle and Barack are doing, they seem to be doing it right. Who are we to dictate to them otherwise.

GothamTomato said...

When I was a kid, I got an allowance from my grandparents (not my parents). They gave me & my brother a choice: We could either get $1 a week in cash; or it would be $2 a week if we did not take it in cash, but instead let them put it in the bank for us.

My brother chose the $1 a week in cash. I chose the $2 a week in the bank (which they later moved to a money market account).

Years later, after turning 21, I got a nice check from them, that was largely my allowance, componded with all the interest.

Diane said...

While flipping through my recent Kiplinger's, I had the displeasure of coming across this column. Not only was it condescending, but highly inappropriate. The writer--Janet Bodnar--should've had sense enough to know that Sasha and Malia are off-limits. Attempting to heap expectations on them that they didn't sign up for is grossly unfair. Bodnar surely could've found other, more responsible ways to illustrate her point.