While visiting a sister and her kids this summer, I was confronted with the idea of allowance. Her son carried around his Boston Red Sox wallet and generously bought himself and my daughter a plastic insect while in the gift shop at a butterfly exhibit. Until this moment, it never occurred to me to pay my kids to do work around the house. Give my girls a sponge, soapy water and a bucket, and they couldn't be happier, so why would I pay them? But then it hit me... My oldest daughter, at the age of 4.5 asked for me to buy her a magnifying glass that we saw in a shop window as we were walking to the grocery store. I hastily said, "no, but maybe you could by it yourself one day". "But Mom, how could I, I don't have any money?"
So it began right then and there, my daughter would be earning an allowance so she can have the freedom to purchase. Don't worry, I worked her hard that first day as all of my bushes needed trimming and I didn't have to bend down once to pick up a fallen branch. Are we entering into the material age way too soon by giving kids money? Surely they aren't going to buy groceries, clothes or something truly needed, so should they have money? I feel guilty handing her money, like I'm forgetting to teach her manners, or neglecting to teach her about stranger danger (which is next, I promise) Do other parents give their preschoolers money, and do they feel bad about it? Should I hope she forgets, and never mention it again or should I continue to help her reach her goal and purchase the magnifying glass before the first frost kills all of the insects she is dying to view closer? Did all of these thoughts run through our parents mind while they were opening up their wallets for our small allowances?
We give our kids an allowance.
For us, it's not tied to specific tasks, it's a flat amount and it's a monthly thing. We did this as a sanity move for us. The weekly version was driving us nuts; "Is it allowance day already?" I would ask.
Our (older) daughter is a saver. She has quite a stock pile. Our son, though is a spender. He wants to buy something that's pretty expensive, but is having trouble saving for it (it's equivalent to about 4 month's allowance). He is definitely learning the value of money with this as he weighs the decision of buying an inexpensive toy and waiting another month for the big toy, or should he save for the big one and get it sooner. Tough decisions at age 7.
As he contemplated all of this the other day, he asked, "Dad, what to I have to do for a raise?" I think that he's learning quite a bit already.
Scott, thanks for the allowance feedback. It just so happens that the money thing has already been a forgotten endeavor, so I'm not going to bring it up again until she's old enough to stay focused on a end goal. Just for some perspective, what age did you start your kids on the allowance?
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