It is a question that many parents ask themselves – should I give my kids an allowance? If you struggle to get a simple answer to this question you aren’t alone. And, if you do an online search for this topic you will find all sorts of advice and ideas.
An allowance will be your child’s very first exposure to money and all the responsibilities that go along with it. They will learn about saving, giving, and spending.
On the other hand, an allowance may leave children feeling a sense of entitlement to get money from the bank of mom and dad. Sometimes, an allowance will lead to greed.
So then, how do you know if you should give an allowance to your child or not? It is not a question with a simple answer.
Why an allowance is important
As a parent, you are your child’s first teacher. Your son or daughter will learn how to talk, take care of themselves, cook, clean – and be an overall good person. These lessons come from you.
The same is true when it comes to money. Your child needs to learn how to create a budget and manage money. Of course, a 5-year-old will not need a budget but your 14-year-old needs to start learning how to use one.
However, kids of all ages need to learn how to save and the difference between needs and wants. You don’t want your child rushing out to spend that $5 they earned on toys they don’t need.
Instead, you want them to save some. You also want them to learn that just because we have money does not mean we spend it on what we want. It is about learning delayed gratification and spending only when it makes sense.
For example, you can teach your child how to save 20% of everything they make. Then, when they land that first job as an adult, saving will be normal to them. It is the way they learn to handle money and so it is just part of being responsible with their finances.
An allowance should be used as a tool to help teach your kids important money lessons.
Should you tie an allowance to chores?
This, my friend, is one question that parents often disagree on. Some feel that a child should not be given money for doing what is expected and others believe that your child can’t get a traditional job so they need to get money in some way.
No matter your thoughts, the important thing to keep in mind is that your child needs to do something to get money from you. But the way to pay kids an allowance differs based upon their age.
Younger children can do simple chores such as picking up their toys. You expect this. But, there does not need to be an allowance rewarded for it.
However, if they help you pick up dirty clothes, sweep or cook dinner then they may earn something. Why? These are tasks are outside of what you expect.
As your kids get older, so do the responsibilities. They need to keep their room cleaned, help with dishes and pick up the items they leave around the house. They may also need to sweep the floor and take out the trash each week.
Kids do not need to be paid for these tasks. They are what is necessary to have a functioning household. They are required as they are a member of your family.
If kids want to earn money that happens when they do things outside their regular chores. Tasks such as raking leaves, cleaning the family room without being asked, or volunteering to make dinner. When they do things that are not what is expected they earn money.
Call them commissions
An allowance is something that sounds entitled. It evokes a feeling of getting money every week whether work is attached to it.
The minute you call it commissions — it has a different ring to it. Commissions are earned as you did something. Your work helped you to make money.
That same premise can be used when you talk about the chores that are above those which are expected. When they do extra work, they can earn a bonus or commission. It encourages your child to look for other ways to help.
The caveat, however, is that they must also do their regular chores too! That means they can’t focus only on doing extra items and fail to keep their room clean and still expect to get paid. Nope! They must do both.
It is all the mindset and what we call it. When it seems like something special there may be more incentive for kids to participate.
You want/need your child to learn more as they grow. It is how they learn to take care of themselves and a home once they move out. They need to learn these tasks.
When you tie money for work done it makes sense. Adults do not get paid if they do not work. Children need to learn this valuable lesson too.
Giving money to your child without expecting something in return does them a disservice. You are missing out on an opportunity to teach your child important life lessons.
But ultimately, it is your decision. Only you can decide to do what works for you — whether to give your child an allowance for chores or not.
–By Tracie Forbes