Allowances for Kids: Follow these Guidelines

“When I was a kid, I got a penny a week for an allowance, and I was happy to get that!” If you feel like saying that to your own children, you’re probably struggling with one of the eternally perplexing issues of child rearing: Should your kids get an allowance?

Most experts seem to agree that an allowance can teach young people some basic money management skills. That’s only the beginning though,. Here are some common questions and answers regarding allowances:

  • When should you start? The younger the better, as soon as children understand the concept of buying things. By the time they reach first grade, most children will be aware of what they can buy and what their friends and their friends parents are buying. This can be the best time to start teaching them about money.
  • How much should you give them? A common formula is one dollar a week for each year of the child’s age. It’s not your only option, however. Talk to your children about how much money they think they need, and discuss what’s reasonable.  As they grown older, give them responsibility for some of their own purchases: video’s, books games etc. so they can start learning how to budget their cash.
  • How often should you pay it? A regular schedule is best. Some parents hand out allowances weekly. You may want to give money when you get your paycheck, so kids can start to see the relationship between work and money. Or you can make it a monthly payout, requiring children to budget their money so it lasts long enough.
  • Should allowances be linked to chores? In general, most childcare experts recommend against this. Chores should be a family responsibility – something kids do because they’re expected to do them, not because they get paid. Paying for chores can send the wrong message – children may decide that losing their allowance is worth avoiding a detested chore, leaving you with fewer disciplinary options. You can pay for extra chores, but in general, keep allowances and chores separate. If kids don’t do their chores, take away a privilege, like watching TV, instead of “docking their pay”.
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