17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

From the Tales Inbox: What is Your Opinion on Allowance?

I have a recently turned four year old. We were at the store a couple of weeks ago getting a gift for a friend's birthday and she asked me if she could get a toy. I asked her if she had any money, and she said no, so I told her she couldn't get a toy (this is our usual conversation when we walk down the toy aisle at any store). But then she said something that kind of surprised me.

She asked me if she could "earn money like Daddy does at work". It surprised me--in a good way that is. I was glad that she understood that she needed to do something to get something and that it wasn't just expected that she would get a toy every time we went somewhere.

So my question I would like to ask everyone is--what is your opinion on allowance?

I definitely think children need an allowance. It teaches them to save, pay tithing, and I think it gives them a sense of pride that they were able to buy it on their own. What I'm not so sure about is if I feel allowance should be tied to chores, or if it should be something they are just given. I do believe in chores. Don't get me wrong. But I kind of feel that chores should be done regardless of money given, because our children are a part of our family and should be expected to help out.

And, what do you think is a good amount? I don't want to make it so impossible to earn enough money to buy that $5.00 toy that they bore with the whole idea of saving.

And then there is always the problem of, what do you do if they don't do their chores, or behave properly or such? Should you take their allowance away? Or should you take some other kind of privilege away?

It's always nice to get other peoples opinions, so any suggestions would be helpful. Thanks.

-Amber :o)


  • I experimented with this exact thing this summer. I have 6, 4, and 1 year olds. For the older 2 I pinned up a pipe cleaner with 10 wood beads on it. If they were fairly well behaved that week they earned 50 cents. When they had a time-out, used naughty words, etc. I took a bead off, so they lost 5 cents at a time. At the end of summer (we just started school) I let them each buy a pack of gum with their earnings so they had more of a yummy reward too. I think it was a great experiment with allowance. I never had it as a kid and have wondered a lot of what you mentioned here.

    I'm glad I did it for a finite period and I think I will do it again in a similar fashion next summer. Until then I will probably just give them a little money here and there for doing special jobs--this is how my folks did it. Especially with kids as young as 4, they don't need a lot of money to begin to learn saving, tithing, etc. But I hear ya, that $5 toy wipes out the savings. :)
    posted by Blogger Katie at 8/21/2007 09:44:00 AM  

  • I will give my children an allowance, and not tie it to chores. Chores they have to do anyway, and those are tied to other rewards/punishments. However, I can see that if the child was really out of control we might take the privelege of an allowance away. We'll see.

    As for an amount I'd do something that is easy to divide, will cover their wants, (icecream man, gum, occasional toys), and seems right for your budget. For example, maybe a 5 year old gets $3 a week, and you set up envelopes or piggy banks so $1 goes to charity, $1 to savings, and $1 to play money; or something of the sort. If my kid were older I'd want it to be enough to see an occasional movie, buy a cd every now and then, or magazines for fun.

    I also really want to assist my older chilren with Quicken or Money accounts so they learn how to really track their spending/earnings before leaving home.

    Good luck ladies!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 8/21/2007 10:35:00 AM  

  • Allowance is an important idea at our house. I view allowance as a great way to teach my daughter how to manage money. We've never tied it to chores. Giving her allowance gives her control of part of the family budget.

    DD was very young (like 2, I think) when we began weekly allowance. I think it was ten pennies a week. She divided the pennies using one of those cardboard banks--1 penny for tithing, 2 pennies for savings, and the rest in spending. We did this almost weekly for a long time...each year on her birthday, she got a raise.

    At about six or so, I read somewhere to give a kid a dollar a week for each year in age. That's a lot of moola to me, so we've done 50 cents per year each week. (8 year old gets 4.00 a week.) She also started using plastic bags for saving for big stuff. We'd label the bags and she'd put in the coins. The tithing and savings were non-touchable: tithing to the bishop and savings to the bank.

    About age 10, we changed to a monthly allowance, same amount, which by this time was 20.00 bucks a month. This is a lot. She has enough to make real choices...and we never, and I mean never, buy her stuff outside of clothes twice a year and christmas/birthday. If she wants it, she buys it or saves until she can.

    She's now almost twelve and has a debit card. She's required to track all her money...everything goes through the bank. $5 from Grandma, $3 babysitting...all money goes in the bank. About once a month, she pays tithing and transfers the 20% to her long-term savings. If she can't account for an amount, she loses that from next month's allowance. She does not have the password for online access. We do transfers together for now. But she's responsible for keeping her register.

    We gave her a clothing budget this year and she made all choices. (With requirements from me...3 pairs long pants, 4 long-sleeve shirts, socks, underwear, etc.) First time we've ever bought clothes at the mall.

    We'll keep doing allowance (50 cents per year each week, paid monthly.)But beginning in the spring, she'll be required to earn her own clothing money. She's just started babysitting for neighborhood families. Didn't like it at first, but now is highly motivated to find more jobs.

    This has worked really well so far. She understands how money works. Our bank offers 1% loans to minors, and we have plans to let her try that out in the future. But our rule is that the first time, she'll have to have the amount already saved before she can borrow, just in case.

    I want to teach her that she can control her money. Took me years to figure that out. She's growing up with it. Hopefully she'll be grateful some day.

    One last thing: consistency has been really important. We weren't real good about that until she was a older. I would change that.
    posted by Anonymous Ahna at 8/21/2007 11:42:00 AM  

  • I started allowance when my daughter was 4. She gets twice her age once a month. I keep it for her. During the first FHE of each month we sit down and talk about how much she owes in tithing, and what her running balance is.

    Her allowance is not tied to good/bad behavior or chores. Chores are just part of life. Although she can choose to pay me to do her chores. (i.e if she doesn't want to make her bed, I will do it for a dollar. I never do it and then charge her, I let her know the cost before hand.)

    If we are out somewhere and she see something she wants she can use her money to buy it. This includes treats or drinks at restaurants, toys, candy, whatever is outside the norm for me to buy her.

    Recently she saved 30 dollars to buy a baby she wanted at Target. That meant that she didn't want to buy rootbeer when we ate out.

    This system has worked wonders. I no longer have her begging for things, because she has the power to decide for herself.

    Allowance is a win-win in my book!!
    posted by Blogger theabby at 8/21/2007 03:33:00 PM  

  • We kept allowance and chores separate, allowance to help them learn how to use money, and chores because they are part of the family. I don't recall ever taking away allowance as a discipline tool, or if their chores didn't get done. I would give some other consequence. We were cheap, too, and always heard about how everyone else got more $ than they did. We have an allowance ledger, and required them to put 40% in savings, tithe 10% and they could spend the rest. The savings went towards college or mission, nothing else ('no, you can't buy a car!!!!' ) It helped them see that money was not just something to spend, but something to use for the future, too. I would periodically give them a check for tithing, and take their savings $ to their bank account. It was pretty structured, which may not be everyone's way of doing things, but it did teach them a lot. I have heard of people who gave them allowance and expected them to use that for clothes or lunch $, but we never did that. That idea has some merit. Right now I have an 11 year old, she gets $2 per week. (I said we were cheap) She has earned her own $ this summer with pet sitting and a bit of babysitting. She has to save 40% of everything she earns, too.
    posted by Blogger Muum at 8/21/2007 07:14:00 PM  

  • Amber - I'm so glad you posted this. My DS is too tiny for allowance, so I don't know if I have any advice. I'm just taking tips for the future. I do like the idea that theabby had about talking about tithing/allowance during FHE. I think you're right that chores & allowance should be separate. Maybe you could still give your daughter the opportunity to earn more $$$ if she does chores above and beyond what is expected of her. I'm not sure what is a good amount for allowance. Maybe a dollar a week or something - then she could earn a $5 toy in about a month or so.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 8/21/2007 10:09:00 PM  

  • I don't have any pearls about allowance, but my parents strongly encouraged me to get a job as soon as I hit the legal age for working. Since I never got an allowance, it wasn't too hard to convince me to do it. After tithing, 80% of my earnings had to go into savings, and I could do whatever I wanted with the remaining 20%. That 20% was more than enough spending money, and when I went to college, my well-padded savings account was more than enough for groceries and rent for the entire year. Also, my parents got me a checking account at the same time that I got my first job - and a credit card when I went to college - and made sure I understood how to use them. I feel like it worked out really well.
    posted by Blogger A. at 8/22/2007 08:53:00 AM  

  • Wow. Thanks so much for all the good ideas. It seems pretty unannoymous that chores shouldn't be tied to allowance, which I was leaning toward, but it was good to hear it from everyone else also.

    Katie- I love the wood beads on a pipe cleaner idea. It gives them a visual reminder of how well they are doing, which is important for little ones.

    Anonymous- I like the idea of teaching kids to use Quicken. I know quite a few adults who still don't know how to, or choose not to, use a balance ledger and they are constantly paying NSF fees.

    Ahna- 50 cents per year each week sounds like a great amount, especially the more children one has. And I like the idea of putting all money in the bank and making her accountable for "missing" money. It teaches kids that there are natural consequences and we (as parents) aren't going to alway bail them out. And consistency is KEY. I know I will struggle with that. I'm sure my kids will help "remind" me.

    Theabby- I like that you have your daughter buy her own rootbeer when going out to a restaurant. In addition to teaching her to manage her money, she is also learning that soda and treats are "extras". What a great idea. I'll totally use that one.

    muum- I definitely agree with you. Allowance should not have to be used for lunch money. My dad did that for a while when I was a teenager and I found myself not eating lunch so that I could have more money to go to the movies or such.
    posted by Blogger Amber at 8/22/2007 09:16:00 AM  

  • We don't do allowance...yet, so it's great to hear everyone's ideas on the subject. I remember first getting allowance when I was 4 or 5. I got 50 cents a week (paid out at FHE). My dad always paid me the amount in 1 quarter, 2 dimes and 1 nickel so I could easily pay my tithing.

    I also remember 1 summer when I wanted a miniature tea set from a local store. I remember it was $6.50. I saved my allowance for what seemed like forever so I could get it. I think my mom might still might have that little tea set packed up somewhere because it was so important to me.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 8/22/2007 09:34:00 AM  

  • My parents tried a multitude of allowance plans over the years, spanning the entire rainbow of chores/allowance linkage. The best was when there was a core set of chores that had to be done, but if we wanted to make money, we had a list of chores that could be done with various amounts attached to them.
    posted by Blogger SilverRain at 8/22/2007 03:43:00 PM  

  • When younger, I had regular chores, did not get allowance, but could earn money. In our house you did regular chores and work along with anyone else. But, if you wanted some extra money, you could ask for extra chores and know ahead of time what you could get paid. Mowing the lawn was $10. Washing windows was $.25 per window. I believed it worked very well and plan to use the same strategy with my kids.
    posted by Blogger Amber at 9/01/2007 02:50:00 PM  

  • My wife and I have been talking about this recently as our oldest is 6 and we are wondering what to do about allowances.

    We both like the 50 cents a year a week philosophy.

    One thing I've read that I really like is giving the children the freedom on how to spend that money (after tithing). But, if a child chooses to put money into savings... the parents MATCH that money dollar for dollar. This creates a large incentive for children to save.

    When they withdraw money from savings, they LOSE that dollar to dollar match unless the money is being used for one of three things: college, a mission, or gifts for dad.

    I don't think I saw this mentioned, but I have heard of families that will
    posted by Blogger Brandon at 9/02/2007 12:41:00 PM  

  • IMO, giving an allowance is not as important as money management. You can't be financially intelligent without learning it from someone or somewhere. Financial intelligent comes from money, and money comes from work. I think kids should work to earn money, and should manage their money- or lose the privilege of it.
    Honestly, I wish i had learned good finances when I was younger. Even though Hubby and I are learning them now, it is hard to be disciplined and keep our budget in the right place.
    posted by Blogger MiniMarie at 9/05/2007 06:10:00 PM  

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