The money-school goes to church

Kiddo#1 is still at “money school” and is doing splendidly. To recap: he gets a ten-dollar allowance but must budget that to purchase any hot lunches he wants at school. Lunches from home are free.

Thus far, he’s never run out of money for the week and wanted to purchase more than he could afford. In fact, he’s gone the other way: he’s built up quite a surplus, enough that he wants to deposit some in his bank account; and he’s figured out how to do the lunches he wants “on the cheap.” He’ll break up some a la carte rather than buying the whole meal. Some days he’ll get the soup rather than the main entree.

By george, I thought, the kid’s got it.

(Funny note: soup is a dollar, and soup crackers are five cents per pack. Each pack contains two saltine crackers. One of the Kiddo’s friends came out of the lunch line with a tray on which he had twenty packages of soup crackers. And that was the boy’s lunch. Kiddo#1 was laughing his head off when he told me about this. Ah, yes, the wonder of the tween-age mind. I’d probably have done the same thing when I was a kid.)

The last three weeks, Kiddo#1 has brought a dollar to put into the collection basket at church. I hadn’t told him to do this; neither had his father. But since the beginning of the year, he’s been getting a dollar every Sunday before church and making a point of bringing it.

I’m guessing in part that it’s imitative behavior; right before church every Sunday is the “Oh, I’ve got to get the check” moment, and with his systematic mind, my son may simply have figured That’s What You Do Before Church. It’s not just the joy of putting something into the basket, because he hasn’t been doing that for years now. (Kiddos #2 and 3 are the ones who get the envelope and a spare dollar. Kiddo#2, who gets a dollar a week allowance, began also bringing a dollar to church, but I stopped her as that’s unfair.)

I said to him yesterday, “At religious education, did they tell you about tithing?”

He said, “I don’t know. What is it?”

I replied, “If you don’t know, then they didn’t tell you.”

Because that’s what he’s doing: ten percent of ten dollars is one dollar. It’s probably that a dollar bill is the most convenient thing for him to grab on the way out the door. Regardless, he’s started a precedent (without us telling him to do so, and without him knowing the details of our own contributions) of donating ten percent of his income to charity.

It’s possible he’s seen the amount written on our envelope. It’s possible he’s heard us discussing the subject. But for whatever reason he’s doing it, I’m just letting it go as a good thing. He’s got his priorities in order; he’s got the money; he’s got the safety net. And it’s a habit I hope he continues nurturing throughout his life.


  1. Cricket

    You don’t use direct payment? Churches here like it. People don’t forget it at home or on vacation, and it’s easier for the counting committee. The kids (and nosy neighbours) can still see the envelope and spare dollar.

    Sunday school kids used to get their own box of envelopes. I was so proud to be considered an adult even before confirmation. I remember having so many problems finding exact change that I would save quarters, then stick one in each envelope for several months ahead.

    We’re working (slowly) towards tithing time. 10% of a typical work week is 4 hours. I thought I’d never make it, but it’s like calories — the hard part is finding the little things that add up.

  2. Cricket

    You inspired me to rant about my own recent donation issues in my own blog.

  3. AnotherFaceInTheCrowd

    Ah, allowances. In my case, I don’t think they helped me be good with money. I almost always had something left over for the week and so I’d just toss the change in a drawer and forget about it. My siblings quickly learned that I was like an extra piggy bank that one could simply raid at will… which once I cottoned on, would have me sometimes spending all I’d gathered so it wouldn’t get taken away from me.

    Churches that do direct debit have to be one of the things that most shocked and outraged me about the U.K. I can understand their desire for a reliable revenue stream but I cannot like it. I’m of the opinion that giving to the church needs to be something one does consciously and out of conscience, commitment and ability and that direct debits rob us of that. I don’t set foot in churches with direct debit twice.

  4. philangelus

    Our old church had a direct payment option. We never used it, and it wasn’t very popular IIRC. I’m not angry about it, but I like it to be as you say, a deliberate choice to write the check.

    And you needed a better place to stash your leftover cash. 😉

    Cricket, I’ll be going over to your blog now…

  5. Cricket

    I like the option of direct payment. It actually being done outweighs the benefits of habit and conscious act. We review the amounts every year when assembling the receipts for our income tax.

    In Jane’s case, she obviously goes regularly, and remembers to write the cheque, and has the chequebook and pen handy, so her method works best for her.

    Direct payment is easier for the church. It’s automated, so they don’t have to open and record each envelope, although most churches have a committee that enjoys doing that. (I was thrilled when husband’s dojo went to direct payment. Cheques sometimes took two months to clear.)

    The downside is, how many people call up and change the amount after getting a raise? They’re more likely to remember when writing the next cheque.

    I agree, though, that any charitable organization that implied they expected it, or did anything more than say, “Yes, immediately” if asked to reduce or stop my contribution, would lose me.

  6. AnotherFaceInTheCrowd

    Yeah, I did need to find a better place for my money, but now that you’ve said that, I just remembered the smell of rust and mouldy money. There was a time I took to stashing it in an old tin, and when I went to get money out for some event I no longer remember, it’d gone mouldy in the heat and humidity: I can recall the imprint of some notes on the bottom of the tin. >.< I sent money to the bank, being so proud of opening a bank account, but then inflation and the then-nugatory rate of interest ate it all to nothing. Couldn’t win for trying. 😀

    Cricket, you and I are not going to agree on this issue. I pay all my bills by direct debit, but all of them are for services actually rendered. The only places that expect money regardless of whether patrons show up or not are gymnasiums (heck, I think the latter depend on that fact!) and for church to even think of using that model… ugh. I’m sorry, it’s just not right. It might as well just close its doors.

  7. illya

    I think this entry speaks volumes about your own good example in gicing to the Church regularly, which Kiddo#1 has picked up. Were he in a family where money was a commodity to hoard and treasure, he would not be contributing. And he is a very generous kid on his own to give $1 of his allowance when he is trying so hard to save it. As with the widow int he gospel he is giving out of his allowance which could go fo food in the lunchroom. You should be proud of him.