Town: Essex Junction
Job: Director of software-quality assurance, ShareCare
Kids: Daughter Alex, 17; son Colin, 14
We supervised them more when they were younger. As they've gotten older, we've given them a bit more freedom. For example: When we were in a store and they were looking to buy something, we would tell them that we would come back in a week to buy it. We'd give them a cooling-off period to temper the initial excitement of something new. Most of the time, they didn't even ask to go back to the store. If there was anything that we would allow impulse buys on, it was books.
We also encouraged them to save and provided some incentives. We'd give them some interest on their allowance if they would put money into their bank account. In general, I think they're pretty thoughtful about how they spend their money now.
Job: Video producer, Demars Media
Kids: Daughter Caney, 21; son Ben, 16
We've always been very savings oriented. Most of our furniture is from yard sales. We're very cheap. And I think maybe that caught on. We did give the kids a little bit of an allowance, but they could pretty much do with it what they wanted. They didn't go crazy, either. If they'd gone crazy, maybe we would've said something. But we're pretty easygoing and it just worked out well.
When my daughter was 8 or 9, though, we went to the Champlain Valley Fair. She wanted to play one of those carnival games. We'd already done some of that, so we said, "Well, you'll have to use your own money." She was like, "OK!" and she was all excited. And then she didn't win. Oh! It was heartbreaking. She broke down into tears. She spent all that money and what did she get? Nothing. It was a formative influence on how she spends money. She's probably not gonna go to Vegas now and blow her entire 401(k) on blackjack.
Job: IT manager, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation
Kids: Daughter Gertie, 9; son Ira, 6
Two years ago, my partner, Rachel, and I went to a class called Parenting On Track, run by Vicki Hoefle, and we've tried to use her model in terms of supervising the kids' money. We give an allowance each week — each of the kids gets a dollar for every year they are old. That will be in place until they're 12 or 13. Then we'll cut that in half, because they will have more opportunity to earn money at that point.
We've actually stopped buying them most things that we would have previously. And we weigh in on what they can purchase only in a limited way. If it's something that we really don't like, there might be a consequence — like, "Fine, you can buy 10 pounds of candy. But if you do that, I'm not making your dinner."
We really wanted them to learn as early as possible some basic ideas of money management. Instead of just being a piggy bank for them, we now say to them, "If you want it, how are you going to save your money?"
Job: Lead coordinator, Adam Hergenrother Team at Keller Williams Realty, Green Mountain Properties
Kids: Sons Zachariah, 11, and Ezra, 9
First, I don't have a set allowance for them. If I see them doing a good job at something — if I come home and everything is clean, or if they do things without me asking — then I'll usually reward them, whether it be a cash allowance or going out to dinner, something of that nature. Allowance is not all the time, either, because I don't want them to think that they automatically deserve something just for being good.
We live right on the Burlington Bike Path, and last year they had a lemonade stand. I had them taking inventory and keeping track of costs and profits — and handing all the little kids in the neighborhood a quarter for helping out. It was pretty fun. I think that if they learn about handling money at a young age, chances are, as they grow and get into real-life situations, they'll know how to manage their money better.