Should You Give Kids an Allowance?

Giving kids an allowance can teach them many important lessons, but only if you do it right. 

Cherylyn Feierabend
5-minute read
Episode #168

When my brothers and I were kids, I’d like to think we didn’t ask for much. My parents were pretty generous anyway. We would each get the one big thing we’d ask for on our birthdays. Our parents took us camping, fishing, and on tons of vacations, and we were able to play on all the sports teams we wanted to--even though, I now know, the uniforms and equipment cost a bundle. So, the fact that we didn’t get allowances as kids doesn’t bother me. I don’t think I cared much about it back then either, since I always had everything I needed. There was a time when my mom put five quarters on each of our dressers. For each day that our room was messy, she’d take away a quarter. So basically, we were losing 25 cents per day when we let our rooms remain messy. That didn’t last long, I think, because we didn’t value the allowance. I’d love to see some improvements around my home and have been considering how I can use allowance to my kids’ and my own benefit.

What’s the Best Way to Give Kids an Allowance?

In order for the allowance to be attractive to kids, you have to give them some type of real goal or incentive. Let’s assume that my daughter is asking for a new video game. The game costs approximately fifty dollars. When we are all done swallowing the cost of the latest video game, we can break this down. If my daughter can earn five dollars a week for ten weeks, she’ll have just about enough to buy her game, especially if it’s on sale. If I were to tell my daughter that I’ll give her five dollars a week if she does specific chores or extra work around the house, she may or may not decide to do it. If she knows that doing these things for ten weeks will earn her enough money to buy her coveted video game, chances are she’ll be much more inclined to get things done. It also gives me the power of reminding her that if she doesn’t get paid this week, she’ll have to wait even longer to get her video game. At which point I refer to the picture on her star chart of the game we printed out and hung up as further incentive.

Discuss the Allowance Arrangement Beforehand

The goal of the allowance process, at least in my house, is to teach the children about the meaning of money.

Once you know what incentives you have to offer, you can start bargaining. Sit down as a family and discuss what can be done to make things better for everyone. Have a list of the things you’d like to see improved and some of the incentives you are willing to put on the table. Printing out pictures is a great way to get your point across. You can also make up daily or weekly charts beforehand. It’s useful to have visual aids, especially where money is involved. You can even offer to simply put stickers on the chart, and when the chart reaches a certain number of stickers, you’ll buy the item in question. But for the purpose of this week’s topic, I’m recommending that you offer a monetary allowance for a couple different reasons. The first reason is that if your child changes her mind about what she’d like to spend her earnings on, she’s allowed to do so. The second reason is that this entire routine is designed to teach your child about how money works, and how it’s earned, whether by her, or by you. You have to go to work to earn this money; therefore, she’s going to have to do some work to earn it as well. Once you’ve all agreed on your arrangement, you can even draw up an in-home contract for everyone to sign.


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