17 answers

Question About Allowances

My husband and I are trying to decide on a "fair" weekly allowance amount for our son who is almost 8 years old. Chores have nothing to do with the money he will receive as we choose to make chores part of sharing responsibilities (thus not getting paid for doing them).

Thanks for the help!

V.

5 moms found this helpful

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Featured Answers

We have done $1/week for 1st grade, $2 for second grade, etc.
When they're older (HS) and buying lunch, we gave $5/day in addition. Hope that helps.

Here's my 2 cents-- start low-- you can always increase it. I'd say $4 seems fair-- it will buy a small toy in a week, or he can save for a couple weeks and buy something bigger. I recommend 'The First Bank of Dad' for suggestions on helping kids learn to handle money.

More Answers

We did a lot of searching on this topic last year when the question of allowance came up at our house. We wanted to start teaching our children how to handle money and wanted to have it separate from chores also for the same reason. Here's what we are doing (our kids are 5 and 7 years old):

Each week our children get half their age as allowance, so the 5-year-old gets $2.50 and the 7-year-old gets $3.50. They divide it into 3 parts--10% to their giving bank (it goes to church), 50% to their savings bank, and 40% to their spending wallets. (I work out the percentages for them.) So next year when my son turns 8, he'll get $4 a week--40 cents for the giving bank, $2 for the savings bank, and $1.60 for his wallet.

It doesn't sound like a lot, but for us it's just enough and has worked out great! It gives them enough money to buy a pack of gum or something from the dollar aisle each week, or they can save for a couple weeks to get something a little bigger. When their savings bank has at least $10, then they are allowed to spend it, or continue saving if they wish. (By the way, they supplement their allowance by taking care of recylcing cans and bottles which gives them a little extra once and a while.)

It's important to decide what the purpose of having an allowance is and explain it to them. Our kids know that they are learning to make choices with their money, just like mom and dad have to choose to say no to some things so that we have money for other things (especially the household bills). And it has been great with our family budget because I buy much less for them from the toy aisle. When ever they want a new toy, they know that it's something they can save for if they really want it, because they are going to have to buy it with their own money. But I have discovered that I have little spenders who feel the need to spend as soon as they have any money, so I'm glad they don't have any more to blow during the week. And I notice that they are finally starting to get a bit wiser in their spending decisions, but it's going to be a long learning process with them....

I know others give their children more allowance, but may expect them to buy particular things with it also, like school lunches or clothes. I think the key in general, though, is that they have just enough to be able to get something small, but not so much that there is no incentive to save up for something bigger.

Here is my favorite article about allowances, which you might like, from Crown Financial:
Children and Finances, Part 1 http://www.crown.org/LIBRARY/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=342
and Part 2 http://www.crown.org/LIBRARY/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=343
but there are a lot of different views out there. I'm sure you'll get lots of other good advice from the moms here.

3 moms found this helpful

Hi V.

You might want to search the archives on this topic because it was raised before about 2 months back. One mom especially was great, she had older children and she had some great advice. My insight into allowances and their effect on my kids was that you can't decide for them how they will spend thei money - not even dividing it up into wallets for them. You are taking all the decision-making away from them, so they are only left with the decision to buy .... gum or juice?

I also posted last time - I have pasted it here.

I started giving my daughter an allowance when she turned 5, starting at
$3, now she is 8 and she gets $8 each week. Our agreement is that she buys any toy or book etc, but mom buys her all necessary articles of clothing, food and candy – so she can’t spend money on gum or juice or any food item. She can spend her money on anything, and we don't tell her she can’t buy a certain toy for example, although I might ask once (and only once) whether she really needs it, and to help her check quality. After two years, she has learned that many toys can be crappy, so my guidance on quality over time has become more meaningful to her. I usually also pay sales tax because its just too tricky for a kid to understand that a toy marked at a priced of $11 may end up costing $12.

I don't connect her allowance to any performance of any kind. Doing
well in school should make her feel proud of herself. Doing chores is
an essential part of being part of "family", and she has to know that
intrinsically she has to look after herself and take responsibility for
herself and her own things (gradually as she grows up). External rewards
such as money, in my view, completely muddy the concept of 'internal'
rewards and responsibilities. We never use allowance as a punishment or a
reward – rather it is used as a learning tool. After all at age 8, she is halfway through her ‘childhood’, so I want my kids to be able to use money wisely.

I initially tried to get her to divide her money into 3 - spend, save and charity buckets. But that never worked, and I realized that such a concept is just not meaningful for kids. After she saved $100 she found it way too difficult to decide how to spend it on poor people, and figured that she would not make a huge difference anyway. Hence she decided to be charitable in other ways. She gives her toys to charity instead, and we speak often about poor kids, and what that means for them. At her last birthday party she refused presents because she thought she was being greedy (we had asked over 25 kids!) and we had a book swap instead. As for savings, the idea of a "retirement" plan savings for a now 8-year old is way beyond her. The idea of giving an allowance is for kids to understand what spending means, and what it takes to save.

The results of our family policy have been nothing short of amazing. I am so proud of her understanding of the value of money after just a few short years. She discovered that if she saves, she can spend way more money than she could otherwise. Initially she used to spend her $3 per week on practically anything she saw – then she saved up she can buy much larger, and more desirable, toys. I have found that by not restricting her
choice of spending has meant that she was able to figure out for herself
what works and what doesn't.

Then she just got savvier and savvier about money. She has now almost $400 in the bank. At 7 she got her own ATM card, which was just a great moment for her. She would ask me in September to buy her a toy for Xmas, and that way she figured she would get the toy and not have to spend a cent. Same deal with birthdays etc.

She stops now and figures out about value. This spring she began reading the Harry Potter series and after the library was out of books, she decided to buy them herself. She forewent having the hardback versions for the softback because there was a $60 price difference, and she opted to pay the least amount for them that she could.

I had a garage sale at the start of summer, and she packaged up her old ‘silly’ purchases of toys, and sold them. She gets to keep the proceeds of her sales – after all, they were her toys – so she doesn’t have to save them for little sister. She went through a transformation that showed her what happens when we start owning ‘too much stuff’ and she found a solution by selling her things. It made her feel very responsible as she had to emotionally detach from her toys, and was a time to reflect on her past ‘impulse’ buying. Her brother suggested she could now buy more toys, to which she heartily responded that she needed a good education, a laptop and a cell phone when she was older, so was certainly not going to start throwing her money away now on just toys.

She reminds me of an old financial planning saying – “Saving is nothing more than a spending plan.”

I used to give her the money, and she would physically have it in her
room. However she used to play with it, and transfer the cash from purse
to purse and it would end up getting misplaced. So now I keep her cash
in my room, and each week we discuss how much she has. She has had a few windfalls from the tooth fairy who never had small bills (unfortunate
timing for mommy).

My sister has teenagers, and the agreement in their family is that she
gives them something like $40, and that has to cover their entertainment
and clothing as well. If they run out mid-week, there is no advance, so
they can't do their weekend dates as planned. I have decided that gradually my children can expand their spending choice to include clothing too.

I didn’t ‘teach’ my daughter anything about money - rather I feel that I provided her with a non-judgmental tool for figuring out about money and its value all by herself. And I am proud to say she did a marvelous job! If my daughter was restricted in spending her money, she would never have been able to appreciate what 'savings' means.

V., let your children decide what to do with their savings - they might spend them quickly, but maybe they will save up for what they really want too.

2 moms found this helpful

what do they get allowence for? My kids are a part of this family and help out! Make their bed, feed the dog, pick up gameroom, etc. If they do extra things like empty the dishwasher, fold laundry, etc they can earn about 50 cents. We don't spoil them, but my 8 and 5 year old don't need to buy anything. We do help them save...if they get $ for b-days, holidays, first communions, etc...and decide to put it in the bank to save instead of spend, we match it! $10 here...$20 there...they LOVE it! And it sure is teaching them the value of $! Not sure what to tell you on what is FAIR! Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Check out Neale Godfrey's A Penny Saved. We read it just before we started giving our kids allowances (oldest is now 16). It really helped us think through all that we wanted to teach our kids about money.

You'll love the story about her getting the lion. Taught us not to say, "Sure, honey. If you can save your money, you can buy _______ (fill in the blank)" Because she did and she did.

1 mom found this helpful

I've gone back and forth about money tied to chores. I think kids should do things because it is part of being a family. So my kids have certain chores they don't get paid for. I also want them to know they have to work for their money. I have to work for mine, so it attaches "I worked hard for this money so I don't want to blow it on something silly." They still blow it on silly things but we have this discussion often, so I hope they are learning. I pay them 25 cents to 50 cents for certain chores. They earn roughly $2-$3 a week. (they are 10 and 6) Since I don't want to keep handing them quarters all the time, they have a sticker chart that they keep track of their chores and then I pay them every few weeks or if we are going some where that they might want to spend the money (a museum, or family outing). I like the idea of having them save some of their money (for college), and they do have money they get for holidays for that purpose. My next step is to build in the money for charity. That is also very important.

1 mom found this helpful

My friends always gave their children an allowance of 50 cents per year of age. So your son would get $4 per week or $16 per month. This does not seem like a lot, but for an 8 year old, it should be adequate. As a parent, you will still be paying for essentials and his allowance is for the little extras that he wants. My oldest loves to go to Jamba Juice with his friends.

The reason I suggest such a low amount is If children are given too much, they do not learn the value of their money or of saving. If your son wants to "earn" additional money to save up towards something expensive, provide him with chores over and above his regular ones or have him help with yours.

Also, I would recommend that you encourage your son to bank and save at least 1/4 to 1/2 of his monthly allowance. It is important that he learns to "pay himself first" because he might want/need something and the wonder of having all/most of it already in the bank is great feeling. Maybe let him go wild with spending the first month and then begin to save. These are important lessons that I never learned and am trying to teach my children based on advice from economists and parent educators.

I too do something similar to the last few ladies. My daughter is 10yrs old. We give her $3 a week and it's not tied to chores. Doing chores is part of being the family and everyone has to help. Out of the $3 she puts $1 into her "savings" money. When we've gathered enough ($10 or so) we take it to the bank to deposit. Then $1 goes to her gift money. This is used to buy birhtday or Christmas presents for her dad and myself. It helps teach her to budget and she feels great using her own money. The other $1 goes to her "fun" money. This is money she can do what ever she want to do. She has learned that it's better to save it for a while so that she'll have more money to buy something she really wants. At the beginning all she wanted to do was spend it but it's taught her to save now. I know $3 doesn't sound like a lot but we think it's just right amount for her at this time. Good luck!
M.

I really like what Noelle M. says she handled this. Very smart! I did want to add one thought about money for chores though.
When it was time to start our kids on allowance it seemed impossible to balance the idea of being paid to do what you should be doing anyway, and the idea of just giving them money for nothing. Our solution was to explain to them that doing their chores on time and without complaint was a way of showing they can be responsible for their share of the family work (cleaning, pet care, trash/recycling etc.). If they could show us they were responsible with the work, we'd know they could be responsible for their share of the family money. The key was the word 'responsible'. Responsible doesn't complain, or whine. Responsible doesn't need to be constantly reminded or nagged. Responsible knows what needs to be done, and when, and just does it. So my kids get one cheery reminder, like - "Don't forget its Tuesday." (trash day) and that's it. If they don't do it, or moan about it, there is no allowance that week. They still have to do it, and all of their other chores that week anyway which is just part of being a member of they family, but they don't get any money. This has worked very well at our house.

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