Allowances and that Green Ledger Paper

I grew up in a middle class household; my dad set us up with a system to understand the value of a dollar at a young age.

Our allowance each week was a dollar. (Hey, that’s the name of this blog)

We had our typical household chores, and expectations were set early on that straight A’s were the expectation in school. Since we weren’t rewarded for specific actions, like getting good grades, allowance was how we got our money.

It came with a catch.

Each dollar had to be split into 4 categories. Each of these categories had to be logged in an accounting ledger book that my dad provided, to keep a running total of the balance. Categories were:

  • Savings
  • Tithing (Church)
  • Christmas gift savings
  • And the leftover: free spending


(Dad setting the template for how to track)

As you might imagine, these categories didn’t grow quickly – 35 cents in spending per week doesn’t buy you much! So it made us learn what was valuable and “worth it” when it came to spending our money.

Who knew that as an 8 year old, I was learning what it meant to be frugal, assign value to any purchase I made, and establish the difference between needs and wants.

As much as we complained about this forced treatment of money at the time, laughed about it when we went on to get our own high school jobs, and look back at it as a family now that we’re adults, this household policy was the single most important thing that shaped my philosophy on finances in my life.

I was just talking about it with my brother: “ah, memories of learning how to split a nickel!”


(Me trying my hand at tracking; with some mistakes and fascinating hand writing!)

This was reinforced in the way my parents handled their own finances – a high savings rate, smart spending, and strategizing for their whole family’s future.

Here We Go…

My wife and I just welcomed our first son, and while we care for him during his first weeks and months of life, I want to document our path to get here and what the future holds for our little growing family, specifically tied to our finances and investing.

I’m getting my first taste of Financial Independence during my 3 weeks of full time off as paternity leave (no alarm clock!) – although the diaper changes, feedings, and mid-night cry sessions aren’t making this a vacation. 🙂

After the first 3 weeks, I’ll begin working from home part-time and transition back into full-time work in the coming months leading up to the holidays.

My wife and I both work for the federal government. While we are unable to receive dedicated parental leave, we are fortunate enough to accrue enough leave, and roll it over, to take as much time off as needed to care for and bond with our precious new little one. Let’s just say I use my leave and my salary in a similar fashion – save first and spend strategically. After 9 years in the government, I currently have over 800 hours at my disposal.

I hope you tag along for the journey as I detail specific stories the helped transform my philosophies on money, spending, investing, personal finance, and any related topic, and talk about more big picture items that define how my wife and I live our lives.