Sometimes (or should I say most times) I think life is funny. Not in a ‘haha’ sort of way. More like in a…. ‘whoa, that is interesting’ kind of way. Have you ever purchased a car, let’s say a white Honda CRV - and the minute you drive out of the lot you see…..a bunch of white cars and a bunch of Honda CRV’s. Now, those cars were on the road long before you bought yours…. but you never even noticed them before. And now you do all the time! Why is that?
Before I became a blogger conversations were just that…conversations. But NOW everything is a blog idea. And I think, oh man, I need to blog about that. I think, if this person is struggling in a specific area, others might be too. I see blog ideas everywhere now! Hopefully some of them will resonate with you!
So, why am I even telling you this?
I met someone the other day who has 2 children ages 7 & 5. As we were talking about motherhood and children, the subject of allowance came up. She was unsure if giving an allowance was a good idea, how would they even earn it, and how to stay on top of it all.
Now, as a Budget Counselor I think allowance is a must do. I have raised 4 children and my thoughts on allowance have stayed basically the same with a few exceptions. I would ask you to trust me on this, but hey, wouldn’t you rather decide for yourself?
My children received an allowance at an early age - probably 5. I taught them what each coin was and showed them how to spend it. They younger ones had a bank from Crown Ministries with 3 slots: Give, Save and Spend. I seem to recall, at age 5, we gave them $1 a week. Of that $1, 10¢ went into Give, 10¢ went into Save, and 80¢ went into Spend.
I will have a subsequent post about the merits of a budget for a child. But right now, let’s talk about the why’s and how’s of an allowance.
The big debate - should an allowance be tied to chores?
Now, I might bump a few heads here, but I don’t believe allowance should be tied to chores done around the house. We are a family and every one does their part to live together happily and make sure the house runs smoothly.
No one pays me to do the laundry or dishes. No one pays my husband to cut the grass. Does anyone pay you?
I make my bed everyday (see ‘Does Making Your Bed Everyday Set You Up For Success?’), therefore my kids should make their bed every day, too. (they started at age 5 and my son, age 29, makes his bed all the time - his wife loves me - now if he would only take out the trash…..).
Money has become such a status symbol in our culture. It has become an idol and something coveted, admired, and hoarded. Money is really a means to an end. It enables us to live indoors with food on the table and not be naked while we eat (thanks heavens!) It should never define us or dictate who we really are. Not everything should be tied to money. (I am not talking about a job where we are hired to do a specific task and get paid for doing what we were hired for.)
You may or may not agree, but I do not think that chores at home are a job. A home is where we all live. It is a place that we all need to take care of, and maintain together. So receiving an allowance for tasks completed is not necessary. Or even ideal.
Should your child get an allowance?
I totally believe children should get an allowance. For these main reasons -
Receiving an allowance gives us, as parents or grandparents, the ability to teach them about budgets -
We have budgets for now and budgets for the future. How will they know how to save for the future if we don’t show them? How will they know that having $1,000 in their checking account does not mean that it can all be spent on new clothes or a new phone? What about the rent or the auto insurance or even food?
When we begin teaching them at an early age, for the most part, it becomes routine. Kinda like brushing their teeth or combing their hair or getting dressed before they leave the house (check out ‘Does Making Your Bed Everyday Set You Up For Success?).
Receiving an allowance gives your son/daughter freedom and teaches them critical thinking skills -
They get to decide if they want to spend their money or not…and if they do spend it, and something better comes along, the critical thinking skills come into play - they either have to save for the other item or not buy it at all. Sometimes there are tears because they regret their initial decision. But, in any case, a lesson is learned.
How much is a pack of gum these days - over a $1? It will take them, at $1 a week, 2 weeks to save for that pack of gum. Instant gratification is NOT healthy nor is it realistic. Can you just go out and spend two weeks pay on anything you want?
Receiving an allowance teaches them the value of spending and items purchased -
I don’t know about you, but when I save and buy things myself I tend to value it more. Same with our children. It teaches them to save and decide what to buy - thoughtfully and prayerfully.
Receiving an allowance also gives them the opportunity to make mistakes when the stakes are low -
Like buying the wrong flavor of gum or the toy car that broke within the 1st 2 hours of play. Not earth shattering or life altering decisions. But learning opportunities for sure.
Need some ideas for ‘chores’ to be done that should not be tied to an allowance? I got ya covered!
Getting the mail
Setting the table
Clearing the table
Washing and drying the dishes
Folding the napkins
Making their beds
Dirty clothes in the hamper (I only washed the clothes that were in the hamper not the floor - dirty clothes were definitely not a reflection on me).
Hanging their towels
Feeding the pets
Walking the dog
Helping in the yard
Sweeping the kitchen
Sorting the laundry
Folding the laundry
Picking up toys
What about extra stuff?
Sometimes kids need extra money - for a new skateboard or a Target shopping trip. How do they earn extra money? Well, I also think it is a great idea to pay them for extra stuff. It is a way to earn extra money. Like washing the car, sorting shoes, arranging all the items under the kitchen sink, helping put away groceries, sorting legos by color, matching and folding socks, etc. Maybe you could find extra jobs that are age related and let them decide if they want to earn the extra money or not.
When I was 12 my aunt, uncle, and my 2 cousins were going to California for 2 weeks. They wanted me to go with them, but I had to earn my trip. I got paid 50¢ a day to help around the house, above and beyond my normal stuff, to go. It took me a year to save up. A year! What do you think? Would you have lasted a year?
Do you need a few ideas for earning extra money? How about these:
Sort and fold socks
Sort Legos by color
Wash the car
Organize the pantry
Organize the items under the kitchen sink
Sweep the front and/or back porch
Sort the pencils and pens
Go thru the crayon box and discard all the unusable ones
Organize and clean the refrigerator
Mow the grass (only if this is a service you would normally pay someone to do)
What are the draw backs of giving an allowance that is not tied to chores?
The one downfall to NOT tying an allowance to chores done is that your child might not do their chores. :( What if they don’t make their bed or take out the trash? Well, there are plenty of other consequences that don’t need to be tied to money.
How about -
Taking away screen time
No new toys from mom/dad/grandma/aunts or anyone else for that matter
No movies or play dates
No ice cream
No cell phone
No borrowing the car
What happens if they persist in not participating in helping maintain their home how about….no ballet, gymnastics, soccer or hockey, or any other activity? After school activities are a privilege not a right…and they need to be earned. Driving a car is a privilege not a right. Don’t you agree? Your child has the opportunity to earn their activities.
I don’t know about you, but as a parent, I tended to give too freely. Yes, you want what is best for your children. But, what is their best? For me, ‘their best’ was raising them to be self-sufficient adults who can take care of themselves, and eventually a family, in a responsible way. To teach them the value of money. To help them understand that nothing in life is free and that most everything needs to be earned (except for the love of Jesus). Have you given any thought to ‘their best’ and what that might look like to you?
Now, I don’t know your child….
Some kids are pretty stubborn and no matter what the consequences are, they will not comply. Does that apply to any of your children? If so, you may need to come up with a creative solution for chores and allowance. Reply to this email if you would like to brainstorm with me. I am here to help. I had one of those too! We had a ‘Star Chart’ for her.
I will have a very in-depth post about the How To’s of a budget for a child. But, as a parent, if you aren’t on a budget, if you aren’t debt free, or if you have NO idea where to begin - I’ve got you covered with budget ideas for you. I will definitely be adding more budget items as time goes on.