I remember my parents granting me some kind of weekly allowance as a kid but it wasn’t much. I have no idea how they came to the conclusion of how much to dole out to me for my existence in the family home and whatever chores I needed to get done, which I completely blew off many times in favor of more enjoyable activities. Either way, my plan as a mother is to hold off on giving my two children an allowance. If they want money for something, they will need to earn it through chores around the house or out in our yard or save up their birthday and Christmas money from generous relatives.
According to a 2019 survey of more than 1,000 parents by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, two-thirds of parents give their children an allowance. Kids of those parents get an allowance, on average, of about $30 per week. I had to read that statistic a few times over for it to sink in. I can’t remember how much money my parents gave me per week but I do recall it was nowhere near what today’s kids are apparently raking in from their parents.
It’s of utmost importance to me in my role as a parent that my children learn how to handle money properly and also learn where it comes from and how to earn it. Even though my parents were generous enough to grant me a certain amount of money per week when I was growing up, they also taught me how to manage it and perhaps most importantly, that money doesn’t grow on trees and that credit cards aren’t magic – they actually link back to you and run up debt that you have to pay back.
Conversations about money were a common occurrence in our household. As a tween, my parents taught my younger brothers and I how to read the stock market page in our local newspaper and let us buy a small amount of stock. We loved getting to see if we made money (or lost it) by watching the stock prices of the companies we invested in. I learned that health insurance was insanely expensive for my family as my dad ran a small business. And I learned that my parents were sticklers about paying off their credit cards every month. When I finally did get a hold of my weekly allowance, a portion of it always went into the collection basket at church. Giving back to others was a lesson not lost on me.
All these conversations may seem like they would be over the heads of today’s middle schoolers but my parents wanted their kids to learn through real-world occurrences and taught us things that I am forever grateful for. My oldest, who is 9-years-old, is somehow interested in learning about loans and interest rates. She may have overheard lengthy conversations between my husband and I when we were buying a house (don’t underestimate what kids overhear) and has randomly started asking how these complicated systems work. She has astounded me with her questions. So I answer them and then she asks more questions. It’s a conversation I didn’t think I’d enjoy with a 9-year-old but I do.
When I was in college, a roommate had quite the spending habit and didn’t understand credit cards. By the time we were juniors, she had maxed out five credit cards. Add student loans on top of maxed out credit cards and graduation all of a sudden doesn’t sound that great. Even though parenting was a long ways off for me at that time, I vowed my kids would understand that credit cards were real money. Of course they don’t have credit cards yet but I talk to them about credit when I swipe my own card, show them statements that I pay online, and let them see how it’s connected to our bank account.
I need my children to understand that just because they want something – and they always do because they are kids – that it doesn’t just show up. I don’t want the entitlement culture to seep into their lives. They need to earn what they want and work for it.
We have recently started a chore chart in our house that corresponds to jobs that are appropriate for the ages of my two children. They have learned that if they would like some special privilege, doing more chores than are on their charts is a good way to get it. Just because they live in our house is no reason to give them money every week. As they get older and start to contribute more, I’m happy to let them earn money. Until then, they will get to learn about budgeting, spending, saving, and donating through the everyday use of money in our household.