J2 Content – Perspectives

A varied collection of thoughts on education and parenting

To Give or Not Give an Allowance

My husband and I have been struggling with something for a while now: whether or not to give our kids allowance.

My childhood existed without an allowance. We had chores and everyone pitched in to help. If I wanted something I asked Mom and Dad. If they said “no” and I really wanted it, I had to learn the art of negotiation. It didn’t always work, but sometimes I got lucky.

When I was a teenager, my parents gave me a car and a gas card – now before you assume that I was some sort of rich spoiled teen, let me explain. I am the youngest of 4 and the car was a hand me down of a hand me down of a hand me down. And that gas card? My Dad checked the mileage on my car against what I was spending at the gas station every month. The car was getting to and from school because we lived in a rural area and that’s what I needed.

Finally, when I was in college, my parents gave me an allowance. $400 a month and that included everything. I had to work within my means. I didn’t always, but for the most part it was a good life lesson on spending.

My husband on the other hand did have an allowance. He learned early on about saving for what he wanted to buy and it gave him a little independence on making his own purchase decisions. Even so, I’m riddled with questions on how it would work. What is the right age for an allowance? What am I giving them an allowance for anyway? If it’s for chores what happens when I ask my kids to do something that’s not on their ‘allowance chore list’? And, what about monitoring what they spend their money on? I fully expect an argument if my daughter purchases something with “her money” that I believe is not age appropriate.

I would like to think that I provide them with what they need. If my daughter needs a new pair of shoes, I’ll get them for her. If, however she wants a pair of shoes because she just stopped liking the shoes she ‘had to have’ a month ago, then I’ll pass. Should she be allowed to spend “her money” on the new shoes?

On one hand, I could give them allowance to buy want they want with “their money”. On the other hand, should I really encourage my children to spend money on items they may want today but actually do not need? My 10 year old son changes his mind at the drop of a hat – and don’t even get me started on the ever changing trends of a teenage girl. Today’s precious items become tomorrow’s garage sale junk piles and the $50 neon Vans special order shoes are not as special after a month or so.

There are benefits to getting an allowance – your children start to learn about money, and if you set up a savings account it’s a great lesson on banking and savings. It’s also a valuable lesson on giving a percentage to charitable causes. This is one of those items in my house that will remain undecided – for now. At least kids will still need to do their chores.

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