He that is of the opinion money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for money.
– Benjamin Franklin
When I was a kid and up through my first job, money came to me by two means.
One was my allowance and eventually paycheck. As explained to me by my mother, my allowance was what I got as a member of our family. I had chores and the like, which I was expected to do as my part of keeping the family running. I contributed to the betterment of the family and benefited from the success of the family.
I used my allowance for the general upkeep of me and the upkeep of my adolescent operations. Snacks at lunch, movies with friends – looking back now, I can’t quite remember what I did with my allowance. Largely, I remember squirreling it away for nothing in particular.
The other means by which kid me acquired money was the act of being alive each year – birthday money. Brithday money was something altogether different from allowance and the eventual paychecks that accompanied my first job.
Brithday money wasn’t squirred away at all. It was spent on those things I would have spent my allowance or paycheck on were it not for the costs of being me which eventually included car insurance and gas money.
CDs, books, hats (I wore a lot of hats) – these were the big expenditures on which birthday money was spent. Nothing recurring like increased insurance coverage or a new car and the accompanying payments.
I understood birthday money came once a year and the amount was always uncertain. It was to be appreciated, but never expected.
I’ve been getting the feeling lately that the School District of Philadelphia doesn’t quite know the difference between allowance money and birthday money.
Birthday money is when the federal government gives your state about $4 billion for education initiatives as part of a one-time stimulus package. See, they even call it a package so you know it’s birthday money.
Allowance money is when the federal, state and local governments chip in to your annual budget to take care of the general upkeep of your schools and the upkeep of educational operations. It’s what you get for doing your part in keeping the bigger family running.
See. They’re different.
Even without birthday money, it was important for me to keep track of my allowance and first job spending. Spend too much on something new and shiny and I’d have trouble keeping up with my basic expenses.
I’ve been getting the feeling that the School District of Philadelphia has misunderstood the idea of managing an allowance as well.
Of course, if I misspent my allowance or paychecks from my first job, it meant not being able to drive my car. As much of a bummer as that was, it’s paling in comparison to watching my friends and colleagues fear for their jobs.
See, when I screwed up, it really only inconvenienced me. I wasn’t responsible for the livelihood of thousands of people. It’s a good thing too, I was only a kid. What did I know?
In those times of screw up with my money and they were at their wits’ end, my parents would tease me they were going to put me up for adoption.
I wonder if anyone will get grounded.