When I was growing up, my parents gave us an allowance equal to our age. If you were ten, you got $10 a month. When you were 12, you got $12 a month. This continued until we were old enough to work. I thought this was a great system, so when my kids entered elementary school, my husband and I gave them the same age-based allowance. The only rule was that they had to hold back 10%. They could save the rest of their money or spend it as they wished. We intended for our children to learn how to handle money. Instead of them begging and whining for a toy each time we went to the store, we encouraged them to save up their money.
I didn’t anticipate that my children would see this system as patently unfair. Every month, we had the same argument– why should their older sister get more than they did? If it wasn’t the same amount each month, then they didn’t think it was fair.
I also didn’t expect that when one child purchased something at the store, the others would buy random junk just so they could have something too. They didn’t usually even want that specific thing–they just didn’t want to go home empty-handed.
My children weren’t learning anything about money management at all. So, we stopped giving them money.
We don’t pay them for regular chores. We don’t give them an allowance. They don’t get birthday money (from us, anyway).
Instead, they get gifts on their birthday and Christmas, as most children do. We provide them with their clothes, school supplies, and other necessities. We let them pick out a souvenir on trips. And occasionally, we are nice and give them some money here and there to buy something while we’re at their favorite store, or when we want to support things like the school book fair or a neighborhood fundraiser.
Are they learning how to manage money? No, not really. Are they learning to appreciate the things we buy for them? Most definitely. Have we rid the house of all that worthless junk? Thank goodness, yes!
This might not work for your kids. You might have no interest in “cutting them off” from the money pipeline. But if your kids are being wasteful or acting entitled, it just might be the solution you need.
We realized that our kids aren’t responsible or mature enough to handle their money appropriately yet. Now we can use this time to really teach them about money management before handing them handfuls of cash to spend. As they get older and earn their own money, we will sit each one down, set up a budget with him or her, and help each one manage his or her money along the way.
Now when we go to Target, no one begs for a toy. No one whines about what the other person got. My children are more grateful for the things we buy for them, and they treat their belongings with more care.
My children might not be learning much about money management right now, but the life lessons they are learning might just be more important!
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