Allowances for Children Family Money Matters

| January 12, 2014 | 0 Comments
As kids get bigger, so do their desires, and it gets harder and harder to distract them from what they want. When my daughter was three, for example, she might have pointed at a Barbie doll in the store, but I could easily divert her attention to the colorful construction paper we had gone out for in the first place or, failing that, a 50-cent bottle of bubbles. Now that she’s almost nine, however, she’s not quite so malleable. She came to me several weeks ago with a list of things that she wanted to buy. Since I wear a lot of TOMS shoes and she loves anything sparkly, a pair of red Tiny TOMS Glitters occupied the number one position. I should tell you that, having adopted my love of shoes and clothing, my daughter has probably a dozen pairs of shoes, including a pair of ruby red slippers, a la Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. I pointed this out to her, but in true diva style, she looked at me skeptically and said indignantly, “Glitters are not the same as ruby red slippers!”Clearly, something had to be done. Since my husband and I had been talking about it casually for a year or so, we decided that this was an opportune time to start giving the kids an allowance. I had read all of the articles I could find on this topic and had also discussed this with friends, and knew that we had to hash out a few issues.

How Much?

If you ask around, you’ll get all types of responses to the question of how much money is enough, but not too much… or at least, I did! Answers ranged from a couple of bucks per week, to a dollar per year of age, to a larger chunk of cash. There are a few considerations, including what the child is responsible for (see below) and how much you can afford. We chose an amount that was somewhere in the middle of what her similarly aged friends were receiving.

What’s It For?

Your child will need a larger allowance if she is responsible for buying clothing, school supplies, and the like, than if she is only going to be spending her money on candy bars, movie tickets, and earrings. In general, the older the child, the more responsibility she should have, and the more money she’ll need. Although our diva-in-training wanted to buy shoes with her allowance, that wouldn’t be typical; at her age, her allowance is for “fun” things (which red, glittery TOMS shoes are). Also, each family needs to decide whether part of the allowance needs to be saved for the short- or long term, and whether a percentage should be donated.

Should It Be Linked to Chores?

This seems to be a biggie when it comes to allowance discussions. In our house, the kids have chores, and up until now, they have been doing them for no pay. In other homes, though, kids are paid to do things like vacuum, unload the dishwasher, and keep their rooms neat. We decided not to link chores and allowance… but as the kids get older and their responsibilities increase, I could see that changing. Maybe we’ll add bonuses for things like vacuuming out the car or washing the windows. We’ll see!

So, as the weeks have passed, we’ve made a few tweaks and changes, and I’m pretty happy with the way things are going. She has almost enough to buy her shoes, which are still number one on her list of things to buy. The next lesson I’ll be teaching her is savvy shopping, which I think she’ll be interested in, seeing as how it’s now her money that she’ll be spending! Soon she’ll be a pro at hunting down TOMS coupons, scouring the clearance racks, and asking store employees when coveted items will be going on sale. This is going to be so much fun!

Do your kids get an allowance? How have you handled some of the issues that go along with it?

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