Monday, March 9, 2009

Should kids get an allowance?

I have waffled back and forth on this, even while the kids get one. I have no idea if I am doing it right or if you should even do it. It is so hard!

For the past few years, my kids have gotten an allowance and the more I read, I think I am doing it wrong.

I will back up. When I was a kid, I never got an allowance, but I always had money, albeit not a lot until I got a job at age 16. DH also never got an allowance, but he did not want for much. His family was not wealthy, but his parents went a little nuts at Christmas very year so he always got big items that he really wanted that way. He also worked from the time he was 16 or so, so he always had that money to get the stuff throughout the year.

So when the kids were young, we decided that they should get an allowance when they were over 5. We started out giving it to them weekly and found that we always forgot or had no cash or whatever. So we went to monthly a few years back. That works pretty well. We give them twice their age per month. (We were doing half their age per week and this was a good approximation.) The upside is that they get a raise on their birthdays, which makes them look forward to that month even more! I mean, they always look forward to their birthday, but more cash, forever, is a good thing too. We always pay them on the last day of the month and think of it as their “salary” for being a part of the family.

We have always done deductions for things that they know not to do, just to make it painful for them. But it seems they no longer care about that either. Since they do not physically have to hand over the money, they do not seem to care. I am at the point where I want to give it to them and make them actually pay me. The problem with this is that they are likely to spend it as soon as they get it, meaning they will forever be asking for an advance against next month and that has bitten us in the butt too.

I have read not to tie it to chores, but to let them practice spending and budgeting. I have read not to give them an allowance at all. I have read so many things that I can no longer read much more. (I actually read an article in a magazine about this LAST NIGHT which reminded me how little I know about this and how frustrated I am by it.)

For example, in an effort to make them more responsible for turning off the lights, I have given them each 5 light switches upstairs that they are responsible to turn off before school and bedtime, taking off $0.50 for each if they are not turned off, thinking I could nag less. But it has not worked and has only resulted in taking away most of their allowance last month.

I would like to get to a point where I was given them a set amount of cash for their own clothes, shoes, and school supplies too, but I am fearful that they would just spend it on crap and then go to school in rags. Why does that bother me so much?

And when we have a little less disposable income, the allowance amount went down too. The kids have to know what it feels like to get by on less, just like everyone else.

So we do give our kids an allowance, and I think the amount is OK, but I am not sure we have all the answers yet in the implementation, so I welcome as much feedback as I can get!

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