Allowances are more than just you giving your children money to spend on whatever they may want. It’s also more than just “payment” for doing their school work helping with chores around the house. An allowance is most importantly a learning opportunity for children teaching them very important life skills that will be useful for the rest of their lives. From wise management of money to charitable giving, there are plenty of things you can teach your children through how you handle allowances!
Setting up Allowances
Now, every child is unique so deciding when you’d want to start and how much varies from child to child. You just have to look at your situation and decide what is and isn’t reasonable at the moment! For example, your three year old probably doesn’t need an allowance nor does your eight year old need an allowance in the hundreds.
When your child reaches an age where you deem an allowance is necessary, start off small. I know of a family from church who started their children off with $5 a week. They were first taught to tithe $1 to church and were given the freedom to spend or save the remaining $5. This was meant to teach them to have the heart for giving, which I think is one very important lesson that allowances can teach. You don’t want to raise a child who is reckless and spends all of their money in one spot, but it’s just as important to not raise a child who is frugal with their money and wants to spend it all on themselves!
Once you decide on how much and how often, you then need to decide on what your child must do to earn their allowance. Just like with any job in the real world, you should not and will not get paid if you do not do the work given to you. While I choose not to look at an allowance as “payment” for a job well done, it can be used to teach children how to take responsibility for jobs and responsibilities that have been given to them. Once you’ve established clear expectations, you can begin reinforcing them when they put forth some effort and giving them praise and direction as they look to continue doing so.
The Most Important Part: Learning
At the end of the day, the money and the chores are not the reason for setting up an allowance for your children. It’s the life lessons that you can teach along the way. By emphasizing the lessons rather than the money, your children are able to hold on to something much more valuable than a couple dollars. While money can be spent and lost throughout life, the lessons your children learn from you will stay with them forever.
If they learn from your allowance practices lessons about proper money management, your future bank account will be spared greatly as you watch your children grow up to manage their money in a healthy way as adults. If you emphasize with your children how to have a heart for giving, as adults they grow up wanting to put forth an effort to better the community around them and not just live in it. If you make an effort to connect their allowance to their own hard work around the house, they will grow up and enter their adult careers ready to put in the work. All that money spent on their allowances will definitely be worth it once they’re taking you on those nice family vacations!
However you choose to go about handling allowances, always emphasize the lesson. Make an effort to assure they are understanding the why behind everything. Why do I have to save my money when I can just buy the toy I really want? Why do I have to give part of my money away each time? Why am I not getting the money this week if all I did was forget to take out the trash? Instead of simply brushing it off with a “because I told you so”, sit down with them for a minute and explain to them exactly why. They’ll thank you one day for it.