Thursday, April 5, 2012


Today I was reading Grass Stains, as I do every day and she posted on how her and her husband do allowance.

Let me just be honest with you right here, right now. I have been starting to think about babies every so often and..... poor Bryan.

Imagine my surprise when I'm like oh yeah, once I have a baby, I'll have a toddler, and a young kid, and a tween, and a teenager and then an adult. I should think of the stages PAST the baby phase.

Whenever I hear someone say allowance, I have to remind myself that exactly that is. It's a foreign concept to me. My full-blooded Portuguese parents did not do an allowance for us. I think part of that was there were no extra funds. My parents owned a mom-and-pop hardware/maintenance store. My Dad would fix TVs and sell vacuums and all sorts of tools, my Mom would do the books. They had a man named Andy working in the back and he'd do house-calls and I'd watch him soldering for hours with goggles that made him look funny.

Do you know many alcoholics that can maintain a business that is solely based on them being there?

Yeah. That, coupled with the fact that Americans stopped fixing their electronics and would instead just throw them away and get a new one, well, times were tough. My Mom went into insurance and my Dad followed soon after.

Back to allowance, there wasn't any. But it's not like I felt like I was missing anything. I had no idea that parents would pay their children! I like to think that, if we were out and about and I was behaving and I asked for a quarter to get some of that delicious-for-two-seconds gum out of the machine, my Mom would say okay. If I wasn't or she didn't have a quarter, she'd tell me so. I'm sure I was pouty and ridiculous sometimes, but I don't remember it. What my mom said was law. If she told me to stay right by her I usually would. If she told me at the grocery store that I couldn't have gum, I wouldn't. If she said yes, then yay!

While I was in elementary school, my mom and I would pack my lunch. She'd make the sandwich, I'd get the bag, chips, Capri-Sun and she'd usually stick an apple or banana or something in there. She'd give me a dime to buy milk if I wanted. REGULAR MILK. I only cheated on Fridays and bought chocolate! Middle school, I'd pack my lunch and she'd give me two dollars on Friday to eat at the lunch cart that had burgers, curly fries, pizza pockets.

If I was going to a school dance or to a movie or dinner with friends, they'd let me go if I was good and they'd give me money to pay for myself.

In high school, they gave us $15 a week until we were able to have a job. However, $3 may have cut it when my sisters Alison and Kari were in school, but I was barely eating my freshman year. Kari, who was a senior at the time, vouched for me and told my Mom that $3 just wasn't enough for me to get a drink and a meal at lunch and a small snack at break. So, my mom upped it to $20 a week for me. The extra dollar helped tremendously! (And I'm not being sarcastic!) Then, my friends and I got wise and we started sharing meals, snacks and sodas so we could save some of our lunch money for weekend activities. But this would usually HELP my parents rather than hurt because my mom would say, "How much do you want?" and I'd say, "Just like....$5?" and she thought she was getting a bargain, while I thought I was working the system. I probably could have pushed for $10.

Once we got hired, no more money from them, at least for the little things. Since I was young, I didn't turn fifteen and a half until the end of my sophomore year, but I would babysit to pay my own way. I didn't like asking for money. I still don't. I literally got a job right at my fifteenth half birthday. My Mom and I were shopping at Mervyn's, (RIP, Mervyn's. You are still one of my favorite stores ever.) and I saw the kiosk to apply, so I asked my mom if I should. We figured that even though was I was younger than the legal age, I was just shy a few weeks, maybe they'd start me then! So, I sat right down and applied.

Oh, how I shmoozed that interview. I am GOOD at that stuff, let me tell you! I was excited and responsible and they loved me. I got the job and they put me on the schedule as soon as I was legal. I no longer accepted money from my parents, only rides to work. And most of the time a friend would take me. I'd get out of school and I'd work a 3:15 to 7:15 shift three times a week. I loved it.As I got older, I worked more to get paid more. I paid for all my clothes, make up, and activities. My parent's still kicked in for yearbooks and important things.

I was never paid for chores around the house, grades, or anything else. I was expected to be a part of the family and that means cleaning the house and going to school and studying. My reward was a clean house, good grades and the trust I built with my parents so I could escape with friends.

However, one thing that I wish my parents had done and that I fully intend on doing, is saving my birthday money. More times than not, I'd get checks in the mail and in a card for my birthday. They'd cash it and give me those funds. OH, how I wish they would've put it in an account for me. I wish they taught me to save and tithe with my money. Luckily, I'm really good at that and have never had any issues with money, but I just think about how if it was all saved, it could have helped me get a car or a new bike or whatever. It would have made me wait for the big stuff instead of spending on crap that I honestly can't remember.

Now, back to what I think I would do with my kids... I'd like to think that I would give them a monthly allowance. Probably starting from Kindergarten. I'm thinking that each child would have a jar system. One jar for saving, one jar for giving, and one jar for spending. I don't think I would give a certain percentage for them to do, I would just say that from every allowance there has to be something given to the giving and saving jars.

With the giving, I would have them split it between our church and a charity. With the saving, I would put that and all their birthday money in their own special account, which Bryan and I would be adding to for college and other expenses. Their spending money could be used for whatever they desire. The ice cream truck or to hang with friends.

Also, I never knew what my parents made. I still don't know what kind of living they made. I know Christmases were for coats and shoes, not toys. We had lots of hand-me-downs, supplemented by a few new things here and there. Our basic needs were met at all times. However, when my kids are of age, I'd like to be really transparent about our finances and they way our house runs. I want them to know how much we spend on each child every month, from medical expenses to savings to their allowance. What we tithe and how we give to those less fortunate. I want them to understand how a house runs on as basic of a level as I can make it, so they never take for granted how hard their parents work and how you live within your means, always.

I haven't talked to Bryan about allowances and I don't know how he feels about them. I know I'll have a chore chart and that'll be taken into consideration when they ask to hang with friends, watch tv or any other type of free time. But I don't want them being paid for being a part of their family. Now, if they come to me or Bryan or their siblings and say, I'll do YOUR chores for a dollar, I'd be down with that.

It teaches work ethic, yo. :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Get Real: The Best of Intentions

This is the second post in an on-going series, Get Real. You can read the first one here. Stay tuned while I go through this journey of self-discovery. 

My house is a disaster zone. 

Every surface has something on it. Mail, magazines, books, tech stuff. 


Everything is just messy. 

During the work day, I'll get all motivated. I'll say to myself, 'When I get home, I'm going to prep dinner, and then I'm gonna start a load of laundry and clean up the living room. Put dinner on the table, then maybe give the dog a bath. Yeah... I'll even organize my linen cabinet!'

I get all excited about the things I'm going to do. How its going to be so clean and refreshing! Maybe I'll even buy PLANTS!!

Guess what? 

I get home, I look at the state of things and I lay down and shut my eyes.

I can't be the only one that does this... right? 

Probably not. Please don't think my house is like some episode of hoarders. It totally not. But it's definitely lived in. Bryan's socks are on the floor in the living room, there is a water bottle or cup here and there, there are boxes of pictures that I need to sort though and scan. 

Honestly, if we just took 10-15 minutes every day it wouldn't get like that. But we don't. Who has 10-15 minutes to spare? Not us! On any given week Bryan and I will have two nights at home. TWO. That's it. Mondays and Wednesdays. And sometimes, he practices music on those days. But on average, we'll say two. 

By the time that dinner is prepped, cooked, eaten and cleaned up its 8. By that time, we're done. I don't want to move, Bryan wants to watch a movie, and the house goes uncleaned.  No laundry gets done. 

I just don't know how to get and/or stay motivated once I'm off work. 

So I thought about it. 

And thought!

And thought!

I came up with nothing. I mean, honestly. What type of person can just get motivated to clean? Stupid people. That's who! 

Eventually, I decided that I need a plan. Nothing too crazy, but I basically needed to SHOW myself that I do, indeed, have time to clean up the house AND have lounge-around free time. I may not get as much of it as I want, but it's still there. And that works. 

Here is a limited snap shot of my Google Calendar for tonight and tomorrow. Obviously, most nights I'll only need ten to fifteen minutes to quickly put away junk, but to start out, I'm putting extra time because:

1. I have a lot to do.
2. I'll need time to develop systems and change things around to be more efficient.
3. I have a lot to do. 

But, as you can see, I've made sure to put free time on the calendar, so that I have something to look forward to. I need to know that mindless sitting and wonderful snuggling with Bryan is going to happen soon. It's motivation. 

I'm hoping that having a clean, organized house will help get my zest for life back. I won't dread coming home, I'll be excited to tackle new projects, and I won't be as overwhelmed. It's an easy thing to fix and control. 

I always tell Bryan that our house is the base of operations. It's the place where we retreat to rest, regroup, celebrate and grow. Working on our home and getting it to a place where I feel like I can fully relax seems like a logical place to start. 

In the interest of keeping it real, today is the FIRST DAY I'm trying this. I don't know if it'll work. But every good idea needs to have a starting point. Today is as good a day as any!