Kids can greatly benefit from practice at fiscal responsibility as well as learning to help out around the house. Should the two be separate or joined? Let’s talk about allowances today.
There are some epic questions that one encounters as a parent:
- Cloth diaper or disposable?
- Breast milk or formula?
- Organic or conventional?
- Allowance, commission, or nothing?
Granted you have some time with that last one, especially if yours is a babe in arms. It took us fifteen years to settle on an answer. It was about time.
As a couple who has made some serious financial mistakes and lived to tell the tale, it’s important to us that our kids learn the value of a dollar and how to spend it wisely.
As I’ve mentioned before, we don’t buy the video games around here. The kids do. We’ve seen great fruit in our kids over the years as they’ve saved birthday money and Christmas gift cards or worked extra jobs to buy the things that they really wanted. They’ve prioritized their spending and saved when there was something really important to save for.
We’ve also gotten a glimpse at some of their spending personalities. Several children are savers, praise be to God. A couple have a hard time letting the impulse to sit and the money quickly slips through their fingers.
However, I always wonder if we’re doing enough to teach them financial responsibility. They don’t have cell phones or many fancy gadgets, but we certainly have more “stuff” as a family than either Fish or I did when we were growing up.
That said, I think it’s good to let kids learn financial know-how — and learn from their mistakes — while they live under the protection of our roof. They won’t be here until they’re fifty. But, hopefully, when they do go, they’ll know how to take care of themselves.
For years we struggled with how to handle the allowance v. commission dilemma. I’ve heard great arguments for both. And let’s be honest, there’ve been some seasons where there was money for neither.
Since we don’t buy our kids treats and toys very often — mainly at holidays and birthdays — their spending power has been pretty limited. However, it was this book that really helped me make sense of this dilemma. (You can read the gist of the allowance discussion here.) This is how I’ve synthesized it:
My priority is for my children to learn:
- how to manage their money
- how to serve our family and household with a good attitude
By separating chores from monetary gain, I’m enforcing the idea that you help with household tasks because you are a part of the household. End of story. I don’t get paid for folding laundry, do I?
Likewise, I’m helping them practice stewardship and financial responsibility by giving an allowance for them to practice with, in a low-risk, safe environment. It goes back to what I heard Susan Wise Bauer say at a homeschooling conference, “Don’t teach more than one new and different skill at the same time.”
This separation of household and fiscal responsibilities for kids makes sense to me. And I love Amy’s cautions that it be enough to be tangible but not enough that they can buy whatever they want at the drop of a hat.
For our family, this makes the most sense at this time. We’ve allotted one dollar for each year of age, so our fifteen-year old gets $15 a month; our four-year old receives $4. This works for us.
How does your family handle allowances?
This is Frugal Friday. In an effort to make these weekly financial discussions more interactive, I’m no longer posting a link-up. Feel free to leave a link in the comments. But better yet, chat with us on today’s topic.
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