The topic of allowance seems to be something that everyone feels differently about. Is there a right way to do it? How much allowance is enough? While the answer might be different for everyone, here are a few ideas to get you thinking.
My Allowance Story
Growing up, my parents would reward me 10 to 20 dollars weekly depending on which chores needed to be done. There was always a way to earn a little extra if I was willing to work hard. After school, I would spend my afternoons bagging leaves, washing dishes and picking up after the dog. My parents encouraged me to save up for the things I wanted. And more importantly, never spend all of my money in one place. Before I bought anything, my dad would say “sleep on it, you might change your mind.” 99 percent of the time he was right.
As a kid, having money is the best feeling in the world. It gives you a sense of control. And if you’re able to teach your kids how to use money wisely, it can set them up for success in their adult lives. Here are a few thoughts on how you can use allowance to teach, discipline and motivate your children to be responsible workers and spenders.
How Does Allowance Work?
There are three primary ways to set up a family allowance system. Some parents like to give their kids a weekly allowance, whether or not they do any chores. Others only give an allowance based on their kids doing certain chores. The third group uses a hybrid of the first two – they give an allowance, but their kids have the opportunity to work and earn more.
Each system has its merits, but it’s important that you can do two things with the allowance system. First, be consistent! Whichever system ensures you to remember to pay them an allowance (whether for working or just because) is the one you should choose. Using an app or spreadsheets can make the process a little easier to remember, too.
Second, make sure your kids have the opportunity to spend, make, and talk about money. Letting your kids have “real world” experience in a sheltered environment will empower them to make better decisions when they’re adults and have their own jobs.
How Can Your Child Earn Allowance?
- Chores – They look different for every family. Setting standards on the difference between chores and everyday responsibilities is an important conversation to have with your kids. If keeping their rooms clean is something you feel they should be doing anyway, then make sure they know that. If yard work and kitchen clean up require more work, chores like these are a great place to start.
- Behavior – Bad behavior can dramatically affect work ethic. If respect is something that is important to you, then teaching your child to fulfill their responsibilities with a positive attitude can be just as important as the responsibilities themselves. Taking behavior into account with allowance can encourage children to keep the right mindset no matter what they’re doing.
Allowance: How Much is Appropriate?
The amount of allowance given looks different for every family, too. Using their age is a good starting point. Many experts recommend $1 per year of age or grade level. So, if you have a 12-year-old in 6th grade, you could either pay $6 or $12.
Another approach is rewarding allowance for individual chores. If certain chores require more work, you can make exceptions to the rule. Kitchen clean up might not be worth as much as raking the yard, and teaching your children about the worth of different tasks can give them a better concept of the value of money. This system can work well, but remember to be consistent, and make sure you establish how much to pay them ahead of time.
Saving and Spending
When it comes to allowance, teaching your children about the importance of saving money is critical. While freely giving your kids the money they’ve earned might seem like a logical thing to do, the concept of allowance is useless if they don’t know how to spend it wisely. Putting systems in place that require mandatory saving and having clear conversations about why is a great standard to practice.
How Can You Help Your Child Save?
- Money Jars – Separating allowance into different money jars can be a great visual for children as they learn about saving. Labeling them with titles like “fun money,” “giving“, “short-term savings” and “long-term savings” can teach kids how to enjoy the money they’ve earned, save for things they want and also save for unexpected expenses.
- Interest – If your child has saved a decent amount of their allowance, then rewarding them on their saving can push them to save even more. For every $20, $50 or $100 saved, put an extra 5 percent of the total amount saved back into the jar and tell your children why you’re doing it. Saving money is a good thing!
- Avoiding Impulse Buys – No matter how you choose to help your kids save money, it’s important to warn them against the power of impulse. Everyone, regardless of age, can fall into the trap of buying things too quickly. My dad often encouraged me to think about my purchases for a week before following through. And most of the time, I forgot I even wanted anything.
- Let Your Kids Make Mistakes – Sometimes, even after a week, your kid might want to buy a piece of plastic junk, and that’s okay! They can then learn some really valuable lessons throughout the process. The junky toy prevents them from buying something they might want more, so next time, they might be more likely to save.
No matter how you choose to give your children allowance, clear communication about money and saving is critical. Work hard to ensure your children are driven to earn and take responsibility for their earnings. How do you like to give an allowance? Let us know in the comments and talk to other parents about it on FamilyApp!