Allowances; to pay or not to pay… your kid!

Giving kids an allowance, a weekly sum of money, of their own is something that happens in most homes with kids.  But the reasoning between why to give your kid an allowance is very different from family to family.

Many  parents see this sum as “payment for service”  in the case of a child or a teen this takes the shape of chores and other small jobs around the house. Proponents of this method see it as teaching their children to learn the value of hard work. One researcher, Ron Lieber, the author of the “Your Money” column on The New York Times puts the number of parents who at some time choose this system of chores=money into practice af between 80%-90%.

But opponents often argue that as a member of the family, each person, a kid included, should chip in with his or fairshare of work around the house.  These parents argue that if a child only does chores when they get paid, they are likely, one day, to turn around and say “I don’t feel like doing the chores this week-  and besides, I already have enough for my (insert PRECIOUS THING here). I don’t really need the money”  Then, since most parents will insist on the chores getting done anyway, the family fights begin.

Another way to give kids an allowance is to give them a set amount, and then let them manage their purchases of any extras at all themselves.  This allowance is not linked to chores-  they get done anyway (for free-  hurray!) but instead it is linked to the kid’s age-  a 7-year-old gets 7€ and a 10-year-old gets 10€.  Then the parents stand firm on any non- essential (candy, toys, trips to the cinema) and the child manages their own “fun” budget.

Another big question is when to start.  Lieber says it makes sense to start having conversation about money as soon as a child starts asking for it.  In our house this started young, but after carefully negotiating an allowance, my son indeed forgot to ask for i at the end of the week!  For years!  So, I figured he was too young-  and he was.  I mean, who forgets to ask for money?  Someone who doesn’t need it. :)

Now he’s a teenager, and in our house we approach the allowance as a combination of the two methods above.  He does chores, but I get more than what I “pay for”  in terms of housework. He gets 10€ a week, but one week he uses that money to pay his phone bill.  The rest goes into the piggy bank, and he saves up for the things he wants. It works-  at least for now.

Here’s a link to an article about allowances,  and a video interview with Ron Liebe.

How much is the right amount for an allowance?

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