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Tess Vigeland: So as we head into our final countdown before our live show in Portland on Monday, we’ve been asking you, our listeners, for your stories about childhood and money. What your parents taught you… or didn’t. What you’re teaching your kids… or not.
This week, a retired dad and his adult daughter remember what he taught her about money when she was a kid and what sticks with her today.
Curtis Larson: I’m Curtis Larson. I’m from Hudson, Wis. I have three daughters.
Erin Anderson: My name is Erin Anderson. I’m the eldest.
Larson: We wanted to make certain that they had dollars that they could spend with their own free will. In first grade, they got about a dollar per person per week. And in second grade, $2, and then in sixth grade like $6. And I was looking at — believe this or not — my records, which are on index cards, as I look at my little card here, I see that in 1984, Erin got a $1 a week, but at that point, she was required to… what was it Erin?
Anderson: Like 25 cents to the church or to share, 25 to spend and then the 50 cents to save. I remember every Sunday we got to go into dad’s drawer, “The Drawer,” and he had a butter dish full of coins and we got to pick out our coins every week. The drawer was always a sacred place. Even today, he’s still got the butter dish with the coins.
Larson: To be perfectly honest, it helped make it easier, at the same time, I think it instilled trust, to let them take their own allowance. And then the toughest part for me, being a practical guy, was to let them take their spending money and spend it on whatever they wanted to spend it on. If it was a little blow pinwheel or cotton candy…
Anderson:…The candy bar, the gum at the grocery store as mom was paying for all the groceries.
Larson: My wife and I really worked together on that very well, to say “No, let ’em do it. This is the way they learn.”
We never took the allowance away from our daughters for not doing things. Allowance was a privilege they got for being a member for our family. And so we never said, “If you don’t do that, you’re not going to get your allowance.” I would go and try to put myself in their shoes, “What would I do if my employer was to take my pay away from me, because they didn’t like what I did for one week, even if I was trying hard?” You know?
The kids’ job is to explore and experiment and they’re going to make a lot of mistakes. You need to encourage it and know that you’re still an OK kid.
Anderson: It wasn’t a reward or a punishment system. And I think that maybe even helps me today with money, to not look at it as a reward or a punishment — and how can you use it responsibly, I guess, and not emotionally.
Vigeland: Curtis Larson and Erin Anderson talking about childhood and money. We want your stories and your questions.
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