One of my favorite cartoons features a young boy standing at Dad’s computer, while Dad looks blankly at the screen. The son says, “In return for an increase in my allowance, I can offer you free unlimited tech support.” Now that’s the truth in most homes!
Can anyone else relate to this little comic- or is it just me?! With out littlest Leman out of the house, Mrs. Uppington and I are having to call our 2nd oldest daughter that lives in town to help us fix our computers or turn on the TV. She now answers the phone, “Hello Tech Support.”
Any of these sound familiar?
“I give Matt, our 14-year old, an allowance every week. But he’s always coming back to me the day after he receives the money asking for more money for something he’s just got to have it’s driving me crazy”
“We give all three of our kids- who are 12, 14, and 16 the same amount of allowances every week. But our 16-year old is constantly asking to borrow money for our 12-yera old… and getting it! Should we give more to the 16 year old because he’s older? Or be fair and keep the amount consistent?”
“Our 2 children, ages 11 and 13 are vastly different in personality. Jen, the oldest, is a hard worker. Always doing extra chores. Mark, our youngest, has to be prodded away from his Wii serval times in order to get his own chores done. I was raised in a home where everything was ‘even Steven’. But it always drove me crazy when I would do all the work and my little brother and I got the same amount of allowance. I don’t want to make Mark feel inferior by giving him less money, what should I do?”
Here’s my 2 cents on allowances:
Giving allowances is one of those areas that influence many other areas. Money a child has at his fingertips, how he has received that money, and how he views that money affect not only what he’s able to buy or save but how he feels about himself. In my view, an allowance is part of a family’s recreational budget. It’s one of the perks of being a family member. This is very different view than most of us grew up with. Remember, the chore list on the refrigerator? We all groaned about it, but we did it (unless we could get our little sister to do it for us!) because it was the only way to get paid.
Clean your room: 50 cents
Set the table: 10 cents
Take out the garbage: 20 cents
Doing those chores directly related to how much money we received in our allowance each week. But here’s what I am suggesting: every family member should automatically receive an allowance from the family’s recreational budget. Some family members, due to age and abilities, will have more work to do than others. For example, you wouldn’t expect a 6-year old to do the same kind of work that you would expect from a 14 year-old. But by the same token, the older child also has some perks that younger child doesn’t have- like a later bedtime and freedom to go out with friends.
I suggest that you start a child with an allowance around the age of 5. Give the child, say 5 quarters ($1.25 per week). Age 5 is also a good age at which to begin teaching the value of money. As a child gets older, increase their allowance with respect to her or his age.
Little Kayla, who is 8, is a saver. She puts every penny she received into her buy-a-horse-someday fund. But last year when she heard about a little girl who lost her home in a flood, she dipped into her allowance and sent that girl’s family a special gift- from her own heart and finances. Encourage your kids to think about how they could help other people with their savings.
Children need to know that when the money is spent, it’s spent. There’s no free lunch in life. If your child ask for more money because he/she used it up, say, “Well, payday isn’t until Saturday. I’m sure you’ll make something work.”
Children also need to know that upholding their end of the bargain as a family member is important. If they don’t there are consequences. Let’s say your son doesn’t mow the lawn like he is supposed to, instead of bickering what if you quietly hired another sibling to cut the lawn? What if the money it cost to hire someone else was taken out of your son’s allowance the following week? Do you think you’d get them message across?
Allowances teach children how to manage money- and they also teach children firsthand about consequences. If your child does not get around to a certain task, don’t cajole her, remind her , or lecture her. Simply hire someone else to do that task and take whatever you had to pay that person from your child’s allowance. No threats-no warnings- only action.
I go into even more detail about allowances in the book Have A New Kid By Friday. How do allowances work in your house? What works, what doesn’t? What will you take from this post?