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Allowance, commission, pocket money. Whatever you call it, most parents grapple with the idea of giving their kids an allowance at some point.
I have been giving my 6 and 10-year old an allowance for a couple of years now and it has really worked out in our house. There are lots of lessons I’ve been able to teach my kids through their weekly allowance.
If you’re thinking of giving your kids an allowance, let me share with you some of the benefits we’ve experienced and tips to get started.
Less whining – Before I started giving my kids an allowance, there would be a lot of drama in the store. I couldn’t walk anywhere near the toy aisle without hearing them beg “pleeeaase mom, can you buy this for me?” Now I say “Do you have the money to buy it? No? Well, keep saving your allowance so you can buy it”. I like to put a positive spin on it like that and they have stopped begging me to buy them things.
It’s has saved me money – Before I gave my kids an allowance I would feel guilty for not buying them things. I usually didn’t buy them things when they whined (because as noted above, I hate that) but I would spend a lot of time weighing purchases that I considered “reasonable requests”. Now that they get an allowance I’ve been able to cut out ALL of those unexpected, guilt-laden purchases.
My kids have learned to make better spending decisions – The first few allowances were spent quickly. They used it to buy candy or dollar store toys. After a few mad dashes to spend their hard earned cash, they realised that dollar store toys break and candy was gone too soon. Now they save up their money and plan for purchases. They’ve learned on their own (that means, no help from mom, yippeee!) how to make better spending decisions.
They’ve learned to appreciate and take care of their things – Tying work to allowance has made my kids more appreciative for what they have. They will often mention how many weeks they have been saving for something and how many chores they’ve done. They’re thinking and I know that will serve them well as adults.
It boosts their confidence – They have both become more confident counting money and making purchases at at the checkout counter. My oldest even signed-up to be a teller at his school for a program sponsored by one of our local credit unions.
Tips on Getting Started:
Work within your means – I don’t give my kids a lot of money for their allowance. I’ve based their allowance on what fits our budget as a one-income family. There really is no rule-of-thumb or magic formula when setting an allowance amount. It’s what fits your budget. Just keep in mind, they will ask for more chores in the future so they can get a raise 🙂
Save, Give, Spend – We follow the save, give, spend rule that Dave Ramsey recommends. Sunday morning is allowance day in our house. I chose Sunday because we head to church in the morning and the boys can take their tithe and put it straight away into the church basket. They also get part of their allowance in quarters to put in their piggy bank to save. The rest is theirs to spend.
Teach Consequences – We have a morning routine. My kids have to get dressed and do a few chores before they can have free-time to watch tv before school. If they break this rule, I “dock” their allowance. Yup, just like a real job, if you punch in 20 minutes late or don’t do your job, you get docked!
Assign age-appropriate chores – My oldest does a few more chores than his younger brother so he gets paid more. And the tasks I give them are age-appropriate too. For example, my oldest helps his dad mow grass while his younger brother folds clothes.
Help them spend – I like to guide, not control what they buy with the “spending” portion of their allowance. This doesn’t mean I let them buy anything they want. Realistic toy guns are a No and so is anything that might poke an eye out, stain the furniture or be a choking hazard. Other than that, I give suggestions and prompts when shopping. Prompts like “Don’t you have a toy similar to that one?” or “If you save just another few weeks allowance you can get the game you really want”. These prompts get them to think. It may sound crazy but I’ve found that they often want my guidance and will take my suggestions!
I hope these tips help you in deciding whether or not to give your own kids an allowance. I’d love to hear from you and how it’s working in your house.