A few year ago we got tired of our older son asking us to buy him stuff.  We also noticed he didn’t have a good grasp of what things were worth, and why something was “too expensive.”  So we figured it was time for an allowance.  We talked over the options and decided to give him $2 a week, not contingent on doing chores.  He was close to 5 years old when we started this (assuming our memory is accurate).

first thing he purchased with his allowance

We opted for the school of thought that says that a child should help do chores around the house without the expectation of being paid.  That being said, we have held back our his allowance (or taken it back) at times due to bad behavior, but he’s expected to help when he’s asked just because he’s part of the family…not because he’s getting paid for it.  We do, at times, offer him additional money to do certain jobs, but that’s rare.  More often the conversation around here is: “you will do it because you’re a member of this household and we all have to help, even when we don’t want to do it.”

That’s not to say that the other option (complete this list of chores and earn an allowance) isn’t a good one – we just thought the “do the job because we asked” school of thought fit us better.

Watching the transition to having money has been fascinating.  The first time I took him to spend his own money I thought I would die of boredom. I’ve never seen anyone take so long to make a decision.  Since then he’s gotten much better.  He does some research online and in the stores, and knows how much he wants to spend (he likes to have something left over, so he’s not leaving himself with pennies), and now we just go in the store and he already knows what he wants (and which store has the better price).

We’ve also witnessed the pain and suffering that comes with having your allowance taken away due to really bad decisions.  Each week it was like he had amnesia, a condition that quickly changed once we reminded him of his current situation.

Want to teach your child math?  Give them an allowance and watch them want to calculate how much time until they can buy a certain toy.

Tired of saying no to toy requests?  Give them an allowance and change your answer from “No, I’m not buying you that” to “Sure, you can buy that with your money.”  My favorite response to that statement?  “No thanks, I don’t want to waste my money.”  Sure, wasting my money is fine, but your money – no way!

So….do your kids get an allowance?