For the past three or four years, my kids have chosen to pool half of their allowances in a common ledger. They called this "Buying Club." I wrote in this post about ownership how their fluid sense of ownership and our family focus on 'responsible custodianship' rather than 'pride in ownership' contribute to comfort in sharing gifts and purchases. They never had difficulties deciding when and how to spend the Buying Club money, or sharing whatever it was after the purchase was made. Most of their joint money went to Playmobil, but there was some that went into an electronics kit and some for some outdoor play equipment and software. I was amazed how natural and comfortable the whole thing was for them. If I'd been asked I would have predicted Buying Club would end up being a source of conflict and hurt feelings. It never did.
For the past year or two their interests have been drifting apart, and the Buying Club money was continuing to accumulate, with no consensus on what it should be spent on. No controversy, really, but there didn't seem likely to be anything much they all wanted equally, so the money had just been sitting there, accumulating for two years. They had over $350.
A couple of weeks ago they all agreed to disband Buying Club. The next question was whether to leave the money there, or to divvy it up, and if so, how, since the contributions have varied in proportion to age. I was amazed that they were very gracious and easy-going about splitting up the cash. They decided that $100 each made sense, with the remainder to Fiona (who hasn't been getting any allowance of her own until this month). I asked the older kids whether they were comfortable with this, and whether they understood that they had contributed more than Sophie (and certainly more than Fiona, who had contributed nothing!) and they said yes. In fact, they said that they weren't entirely sure it was fair that you should get less money just because you're younger, so redistributing some of the money this way made sense. So that was that. Easy decision! Now they're all wealthy individuals.
Erin has spent all her windfall at iTunes, her current addiction. Noah and Sophie, who have
been the family's big(ger) spenders in the past, are sitting on their money. Sophie has iPod dreams, but although she has enough money, she's waiting for now, to see if an iPod will still be as attractive an item in a few months. Fiona is just using her money to help her think about "big numbers" (i.e. >30) and perform small feats of addition as she accrues an extra $2 each week. Her big addiction is clothes -- especially long-sleeved shirts with hoods or pink or both -- and she thinks she might spend some of her money on that some day.