The great allowance debate is still unresolved in our home. I, with a psychology background, say it is unnecessary and my husband, with his business background, says it is a great way to teach kids about money management. For me, it is not even about how much a child should get for allowance. Together, we can come up with an easy formula. However, should the allowance be linked with chores is another story. Some people give allowance without it being linked to chores, which seems like free money to me, but what do I know...I only have a psychology degree! Here are three reasons why I am opposed to giving an allowance to children.
Argument one: I strongly believe that as a member of a family, everyone needs to do their share. This is about working as a team in a family. Of course, parents need to keep in mind that chores have to be age-appropriate. It is appropriate for a 5 year old to make his own bed, set the table, feed the pet, etc. It is not okay for a 5 year old to be cooking, ironing, taking out the trash, etc. There are certain chores that kids should be doing without getting paid.
Argument two: I strongly believe children want to do well intrinsically and feel empowered when they make valuable contributions to the family. Chores teach kids responsibility, life skills, good citizenship, etc. Paying them to do these chores not only devalues these life lessons, but also complicates matter. Now, the parent has added an extrinsic motivator. Are the kids doing the chores because they want to or because they just want to get paid? Do you withhold allowance if they misbehave in situations that are not chores-related? What kind of rules do you set about how to spend the money they have earned? For example, is it ok to blow their money on a pair of shoes that cost $100? These are tricky things a parent has to be able to work around so we do not inadvertently send the "wrong" message. In other words, the parent has good intentions and is trying to teach their child the value of money, but only to have their child waste it on something that is not worthwhile. What kind of money lessons do the kids end up learning?
Argument three: I strongly believe that children can learn money management or financial literacy without getting allowances. We have not implemented allowance with our 7 year old son, and probably will not in the future. My husband seems to be seeing things my way at this time (wink). However, our son already learned some key money management skills such as understanding the difference between a “want” and a “need” and he has been practicing spend, save, and share (the 3S’s of money management). Most recently, he seems to be understanding the meaning of an “interest” like in banking. For example, I recently was low in cash and had to send some money to his school. Discovered this the morning of, so no time to run to the ATM. I told him I’ll have to take a small loan out of his piggy bank and to this he very casually replied “Ok, but you have to put back more money than you took out.” Surprised by this I said “What?!” and to this, he nonchalantly added “That’s my rule or you can go to B’s (little sister) piggy bank to get it.” Now, can someone honestly tell me that this kid does not understand money management?
I would love to hear your thoughts on whether you feel giving an allowance is a good or bad idea.