Zachary is becoming much more interested in money here lately. He has had a couple of opportunities to make his own purchases at the store and really enjoyed it. We talked through the process first, told him how much money he had to spend, helped him choose which toys that were less than that amount, and then let him pay for them himself at the cash register. Ever since then, he keeps asking when he can buy more toys. I explain to him that he’ll have to save more money up before he can buy more toys. The problem is, he probably won’t be getting much money until his birthday rolls around again.
Is it time to start giving him an allowance?
My first response to that question is yes. I do think it is time. He’s interested and ready to start learning about money management. But, how do I go about it? Do I just give him a set amount every week, no matter what? Do I make him do chores in exchange for his allowance? At first I thought chores were the way to go, but the more I think about it I’m not so sure.
A while back I read an article about family responsibility (I would link but can’t remember where I read it). The basic premise was that things like cleaning and taking care of the house should be the shared responsibility of all members of the family (to the best of each member’s ability) and should not be done for any kind of expected reward, but for the good of the family. The only reward would be the natural consequence of the action (the child can easily find the toy they want because it is put away where it belongs) rather than receiving an allowance or other treats for doing something that should be expected of them as a member of the family unit.
Along with this argument, comes the fact that the true purpose of an allowance is to teach the child money management, not teach them to do chores. When giving an allowance, you should also be teaching your child to budget, save, and spend wisely (none of which I’m very good at myself).
On the flip side of that is the argument that as an adult he will be expected to work for his money. Zach knows that Mommy and Daddy go to work in order to have money for food, clothes, toys, etc. He understands that work is required to earn money. So, should I just hand him money with no expectations? Doesn’t that negate the idea that you have to put forth effort in order to meet your financial needs? I don’t know.
I’m still leaning toward an allowance in exchange for chores because it is what he has been asking for, but I’m thinking some things should just be expected of him without earning money for doing them as well. Maybe a base amount with a “bonus” if he keeps up with his chores would work? I don’t know.
I’m pretty sure I’m over thinking this whole thing, but I’m really curious to hear how other families handle it. Do your kids get an allowance? How old were they when they started receiving it? Do they do chores in exchange for earning allowance or are they just given a certain amount each week?