The Allowance Dilemma

A question was posed to me recently about what age is the right place to start to get an allowance and what the conditions should be.  Here are my thoughts and they may surprise you a bit.

For the people who check in just to get a quick answer, here it goes.  There’s not an age when an allowance makes a lot of sense.  What is created is a  “something for nothing” mentality which states a person can be compensated merely by their existence.  One of my jobs as a parent is to teach my children about the real world. Here are 3 points to consider if you are on the fence about giving an allowance.

1.  As a child, I was given an allowance.  Over time, the appreciation wore off.  The only thing that happened was that I would make a little money every week but complain if I had to do any real work such as taking out the trash or cutting the grass.  That’s not to say I never did those jobs but I typically gave my mom grief that she didn’t deserve. Also, giving more money over time doesn’t help.  There is a short term satisfaction but it goes away in less than a month.

2.  An allowance can stifle creativity in terms of making money.  Over time, children want money for things whether it be a toy cash for a movie date.  The age of the child isn’t that important.  But, it’s that desire for cash that a parent can use to their advantage.  Children who need a little money are typically motivated.  It’s at that point that a child can earn a little money for basic chores around the house.  If a child proves they can do a good job, he/she may even go into the neighborhood for those same services.  It doesn’t have to be cutting grass either.  It can be as simple as washing windows, sweeping, dusting, watering gardens, etc.  The list goes on and on.

3.  An allowance can make a child poor.  What can happen psychologically is that a child can get used to amount you make for an allowance, get comfortable, and never strive for more.  Children who do work for others typically have more than those who sit on their behind and do little to nothing.  The child that I remember having the most money growing up was a person who delivered newspapers.  He brought more money into school one day (which I am sure his parents never approved but I digress) than I had ever seen and I made an allowance.  Growing up, I thought he was “lucky.”  The truth is though that it wasn’t luck.  He was a hard worker who was compensated appropriately.

Here’s a final story which may aid you in your decision making.  My oldest child who is 9 wanted a pet and decided on a fish.  With his own money, he bought the fish, food, colorful rocks, and a little statue (he thought it looked cool).  The only thing he didn’t buy was a small tank which his grandmother kept from when I was a child.

The coolest thing about the story is this.  Not one time did he ever ask me for any money.  He knew what he wanted and also knew that he had the cash to get it.

Feel free to check in next week for another post.  Also, stop by and hit me up for more positive messages on Twitter.  My handle is adad2trust.


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