On Allowance

We decided back in July to start giving the boys an allowance as a means to teach financial responsibility (as opposed to paying them to do jobs around here – but I’ll talk more about that later). So far, it’s been an interesting study in the boys’ personalities, and I’m so glad that we’ve started this at an early age.

A little about how we decided to do it: The boys get an allowance each week equal to half their age – so Luke’s getting $3 and Bennett’s getting $1.50. Then, it gets split four ways because we use this piggy bank. We changed “invest” to “church” and 10% goes in there, as well as 10% in the donate section (they use this money to help support our Compassion child or when their classes collect items for needy families; the percentages are approximate, given the amounts they get…we only break it down to quarters). The rest gets split evenly between save and spend. Thus, it takes them a long time to save up much to spend!

Luke’s money burns a hole in his pig pocket big time. For a while he was saving well, as he really wanted to buy a Lego set that costs about $50. Then, he got discouraged at how long it was taking, and realized that if he and Bennett pooled their money, they could buy this Playmobil ambulance together. Bennett at first wanted nothing to do with this, and over a few days’ worth of discussions, I fear that Luke wore him down enough that he consented. I made sure he genuinely seemed interested in this toy, too, and when I was convinced that he was, I ordered it online for them. They got it last week and they do really love it…they were so proud they took it to Effingham last weekend to show their grandparents, and then forgot it there! Never fear – Zach and Michon can rescue it for us this weekend!

While Bennett isn’t exactly a hoarder saving up for something big, he’s definitely shown that he’s more likely to hold onto his money than Luke is. Luke still talks about saving up for that Lego set, which is great, but when he realized that he still had a couple of dollars left in his spending money after his big purchase, he asked me, “Do I have enough to buy something?” I told him he could get a pack of gum, and he grinned and said, “Yeah! I’ll do that!” Which led to a conversation about how if he ever wants to buy anything that costs more than a few bucks again, he’s going to have to save up. The next day, I’m not joking, I overheard him trying to buy a piece of candy from Bennett for a dollar. I was all, “Whoa! That is not happening in this house!” This is the opposite of what I would have guessed the boys’ propensities to be at the outset of this little adventure.

The boys do help out around the house with things…both can fold some laundry, Luke can put away folded laundry, both boys can do the silverware in the dishwasher, both clean off their places at the table, and they do odd jobs here and there, like dusting the baseboards, a job that, surprisingly, they like. I will pay them a little extra to do harder work, like “helping” me scrub the kitchen floor.  But all in all, allowance, for us, is about teaching responsibility with the choices you make with your money, not about being paid to do things around the house…those are just done because they’re a part of this family.

What I like best of all is the conversations that Luke and I have had since he started wanting to spend his money. One night he was crying, just genuinely sad, about how he really wanted this toy (when Bennett was a roadblock to making it happen) and we talked for a long time about having the patience it takes to save for what you want, and I used the analogy of us buying a different house (I know this isn’t a perfect analogy since we obviously won’t be using cash, but it works with a six-year-old). I explained that though it’s something we really, really want to do, we can’t just yet because we still need to save some more. He seemed to understand. I just desperately want to raise kids who get what it means to responsible with money. This country is in such a disgusting, I-deserve-it-simply-because-I-want-it-now stage that I can’t stand it, and I refuse to contribute uneducated citizens to our populace.

While I don’t think we really missed out on anything with Luke that we can’t continue to teach, I do wish we’d started this when he was 4 1/2 instead of 5 1/2.  So my advice to anyone with really young children would be to have a plan in place well ahead of time!

What works for you?

PS  I’ve also tried bribing offering an investment opportunity to the boys, and it goes like this: If you sleep until 8am, I’ll give you a dollar. 9am and it’s $2. So far, no one has taken me up on my offer.

11 responses to “On Allowance

  1. i like the 1/2 their age = amount they receive for allowance.
    i know a lot of people who give their kids a dollar for how old they are and that just seems like a lot.
    eric and i will have to start talking about this. i think it’s great that their money goes towards donating/spending/saving. i love what that teaches them.

  2. I love this post. I have always been a firm believer in kids helping out because they are part of the team, and not because they want something in return. You’re such a good mommy. And I also agree with you about the disgusting sense of entitlement that pervades society right now. If you want it, WORK FOR IT!!! I do, as do many others. If you run for President, you get my vote!!

  3. This is a great post with perfect timing for us. We have recently started talking about an allowance for the kids. We really don’t want it to be for doing chores around here either. We want it to be learning responsibility and how to save. So, I’m going to discuss this bank w/ Kirk and see what he thinks. Thanks for posting!

  4. That is a fantastic idea about the allowance. The bribing isn’t bad either! LOL!

  5. Your timing is perfect! We have tried without success to implement an allowance for the kids – it is exciting for the first week and then they realize that by helping with the dog, putting their clothes away, and cleaning their rooms that they won’t be able to buy a new Playstation 2 game for oh….about 6 months – then they’re over it.

    Thank you for the tips and the piggy bank information – I know now what the Easter Bunny will be bringing the boys!!!!


  6. The allowance issue is so hard, and I think you’ve come up with a really good plan. I know we tried a couple different methods, and although nothing worked exactly as imagined, we plugged along. It’s not an issue that’s chisled in granite; it can always be modified if needed. The important thing is to do SOMETHING and to feel that the kids understand the basic premises, which your boys do.

    So interesting about how their personalities play out in their little corner of the financial world!! I knew you’d started this, but I really forgot all about it.

  7. Sounds like you have a good program in place for them. I definitely agree on the I-deserve-it-simply-because-I-want-it-now comment.

    That being said, Dana gets an allowance each week too that is equal to half of her age, $13 per week. She has been saving for new tile in the bathroom. At this rate, we should have the new tile by 2018.

  8. Luke is right!!! My parents gave it to Ryder last year for Christmas. Has lots of little pieces that hang on the inside of the ambulance. Hard to keep up with but Ryder likes it.

  9. I have mixed feelings about allowances because I never got one for the you-just-do-things-in-this-house-because-you’re-a-part-of-this-family reason. But if we DID an allowance, your way would be the way we would do it.

  10. thanks for passing on that piggy bank. i LOVE it. my mil bought the boys cute piggy banks w/ their name on it when they were born. unfortunately, i broke kenny’s a few months ago (oops..)
    i love the donating part of this piggy bank.
    i ordered it a few days ago and it came today. kenny is super excited too.
    thanks again!

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