Lessons on Allowance from an Eight-Year-Old

little girl with moneyI realized that my eight-year-old was ready for an allowance the day I took him shopping with the ten dollars he received from a relative as a Christmas gift. As he walked through the toy aisles at our local supercenter weighing his options, he turned to me and said (quite precociously), “Boy, Mom, these toys sure are overpriced these days!” Suppressing a giggle, I replied, “You’re telling me!”

Now, it’s important to point out that this is the same kid who had no problem picking out a $50 Wii game or a grossly overpriced Nerf gun a few weeks ago when it was my money he was spending. Anyway, we left the store that day with two packs of playing cards for him (a buy-one-get-one free deal, mind you) and a nugget of wisdom for me—this kid needed an allowance, and ASAP.

Before that “aha” moment I had standing in the toy section of Wal-Mart, I was like a lot of parents when it came to the topic of allowance. I thought: What in the world does my child need an allowance for? I buy him everything he wants. Little did I know then that therein lies the problem with most kids these days, including my own. Little by little, with every seemingly innocent treat—the board game you purchased to keep him busy on a rainy day, the book she’d been begging for because hey, reading’s good for them, right?, the candy bar you bought him “just because”—these youngsters are gaining a very dangerous thing to have in this word—a sense of entitlement. Yep, that’s right. If they keep getting the things they want with little or no effort on their part and no inkling of an idea of what it costs, then they will eventually come to expect them and even feel that they deserve them. And I don’t have to tell you where that kind of thinking will get you as an adult.

Now that you know the merits of doling out a weekly allowance, you need to know when to start, how much to give, and in what context. Experts agree that earlier is better when it comes to teaching your child about money. As soon as she’s able to understand what money is and what it’s used for (usually about 5-6 years old), you can begin filling her piggy bank. The amount of allowance your child receives each week is a personal decision that you should make with your spouse or significant other and should depend on what you can afford as well as your standard of living and values (e.g. how many toys does your child have now, how many do you think she needs to have, what do you anticipate that she’ll buy with the money you give her—candy, toys, BOOKS?). These are all things you will need to consider carefully before deciding on a dollar amount. As to the context, the jury is still out on whether to link the allowance to certain chores or achievements (such as grades). Although some parenting experts say that connecting the allowance to chores takes away the intrinsic value (aka warm fuzzies) a child gets from contributing to the family environment, the fact is they will eventually have to work for a living, as we all do, and teaching them that hard work produces the things they want and need in life can’t be a bad thing.

Since that momentous shopping day with my son, I have purchased him a responsibility chart (the one thing he hasn’t had to earn lately) and attached a dollar amount to the chores he performs each week. His piggy bank is growing, and I rest a little easier at night knowing he’s learning an important lesson— that his favorite things in life aren’t actually free.

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Lessons on Allowance from an Eight-Year-Old

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15 comments

  1. Diana says:

    that is very true when you start earning your own mobeyyou start taking care of it like it was gold.

  2. Heatherly says:

    Ha! Great article!

  3. MamaCat says:

    That makes a lot of sense. My daughter gets to put the change we keep away and that is hers and she has asked to buy things with her money a few times so I think in a year or so (she is 3 1/2) we should be ready for an allowance.

  4. That’s a great insight!

  5. PrettyBoogs says:

    That will be such a fun time. It will be rewarding to the child and it will feel good to me as well. I think I will give her an allowance along with a saving bank that we save in until she is much older (eventually a bank account of their own)

  6. Jeanetta says:

    Great article and tips.

  7. Janice says:

    My 10 year old granddaughter was just asking to do chores to get an allowance.

  8. lisair says:

    We don’t do a get paid for doing your chores allowance. I want my kids to know that we help each other out because we are a family and we all live here together. However, I do want them to be responsible with money so they do receive a weekly allowance. This is set up so that they get paid at the beginning of the week but it is all in quarters. Everytime me or one of their siblings has to do a chore that they forgot, they loose a quarter. This way they learn to be responsible and I’m not nagging them to get the work done!

  9. i started making my daughter earn her own money when she turned 10. she wants something from rue 21? do the dishes, take out the trash. i’m grateful that i started doing this with her, it’s taught her so much responsibility!!!

  10. Probably one of my favorite articles I’ve read so far.

  11. ML says:

    we don’t do an allowance. the kids help out around the house, doing their own laundry and each cooking and cleaning up the kitchen one day a week (5 older kids ages 9-16 plus one baby).

  12. Sharee says:

    I didn’t receive an allowance as a child. But that does make perfect sense. The difference is i worked very hard. Me and my sister would clean the whole house. one would take the 1st floor the other would take the second floor we would cook dinner every night and when my little brothers were born when we were turning 8 and 9 we would take care of them. wash feed dress take them to school as though we were the parents. So when you look at that i feel as though that was bad parenting on our parents side. but as my mom see it it was getting us ready to know how to do it when we were grown. but what about you when you were grown you didn’t have to do it because you made your kids do it and practically raise your kids which were your responsibilty not ours. i couldn’t go to soccer practice chior practice basketball practice. i was a very outgoing and in to a lot of school activities that i could not participate in. Due to being a mother to someone else child at 11

  13. Anna Jones says:

    I never got an allowance so I’ve been going back and forth about giving my son one. I want to teach him the importance of a dollar so I probably will,

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