Allowance. I never got it growing up and I never believed in it. I never really understood the concept of doling out money to the kids just because they made it through another week. So, when my husband and I got married, it was the obvious choice that allowance would not be part of our kids’ lives either.
That is, until I read a great book about parenting by Dr. Kevin Leman entitled “Have a New Kid by Friday”. His book combines several “common sense” approaches to parenting that help teach your kids how to take responsibility for their actions in a very constructive way. I highly suggest it for many parenting helps, but specifically, I have come to love his use of allowance. Click here for an ebook download of the book.
His approach to allowance is three-fold: 1) Teach children to contribute to the family workload, 2) Teach children the power of choices and consequences and 3) Teach children money-management skills.
Teach Children to Contribute to the Family Workload
First, teach children to contribute to the family workload. Per his instruction, my husband and I sat down with the kids and explained that as a family we were all responsible for the upkeep of our home.
Each of us would have certain things expected of us like making our beds, cleaning our rooms, doing dinner jobs, etc. If we did our part, we also deserved to participate in the financial rewards of being in our family.
As such, each child would have a certain amount of money given to them each week. We don’t call it allowance. We just refer to it as their share of the family income. Their receipt of it is contingent on their willingness to do their share in taking care of the home. Now, their share of the finances doesn’t have to be huge. The amount is entirely up to you, but should not be extravagant. For us, we chose to start with a quarter per year each week. So, our 6 year old earns $1.50 per week, our 8 year old earns $2 per week and so forth. You decide what best fits into your budget and beliefs.
Teach Children the Power of Choices and Consequences
We started reading Leman’s book, in the first place, because we were having such a fight from some of our children when it came to doing their simple jobs. We had seen a clip on a talk show where Leman talked about his approach to allowance. It made so much sense that we implemented it right away.
Remember, the family earnings are only shared with those who help with the workload. So, my children each have certain daily chores that are expected of them. They know what they are. When dinner rolls around and the table needs to be set, I’ll ask the child in charge to please come and set the table. Now, they have a choice. They can come right away and do their job and they’ll be paid their normal share on Saturday. Or, they can choose not to come and do their job. If they don’t come, I simply hire someone else in the family to do it at the rate of 50 cents (this will vary depending on what you’re giving for allowance and what will actually motivate your other children to be “hired”).
Where do I get the 50 cents? From the child who chose not to do their part. When Saturday comes, that child gets 50 cents taken from their share and the child who was “hired” gets an extra 50 cents.
It has been amazing how much this simple concept has changed our home. The complaining stopped. The kids come quickly and do their job. No more nagging, begging, giving up, and doing it myself. When they don’t want to do their job, they know the consequence and will sometimes even go hire someone themselves. That’s fine with me. All I care is that the job gets done. It’s their choice as to whether they do it themselves or hire someone else. A great concept to learn young.
Teach Children Money Management Skills
I never knew how powerful this could be for little ones. The first concept we taught was the value of prioritizing the money they were earning. In our family, we taught our kids to first pay 10% of their earnings in tithes. Then, 40% they put in a savings account and 50% is left over as their spending money. My kids were 4, 6, and 7 when we started and they’ve been so excited as they’ve seen their savings grow. They know they can’t touch that money until they’re 18, but by then they also know there will be lots of it.
As for the 50%: It is theirs to do with with as they wish. I don’t interfere. My youngest took his first months’ worth of money and wasted it all on candy. Then, he watched as his sister saved hers and eventually bought herself an American Girl Doll off Craigslist. It didn’t take long for him to realize that maybe his tactic wasn’t as smart. Bit by bit, they’re saving money, paying tithes, and learning how to budget and manage their spending money. A great lesson!
So, to allowance or not to allowance. That is the question. Done right, it can be a great benefit to you and your kids. Best of luck and happy reading! I hope you like the book.