Allowance is a common practice of giving of money weekly to children for their own use. It may be framed as payment for work performed in the home, or it may be given as a “stipend” to cover the expense of certain items in your child’s daily life. I prefer the latter approach where the allowance is not directly tied to the required chores. However, if your child’s performance during the week has been significantly lacking, partial or no allowance may occasionally be an appropriate consequence.
Using the allowance as a stipend gives your child early opportunities to manage her money. We teach our children to divide the allowance into three categories: giving (10%), savings, and spending money. Allowances are paid on Saturdays so that our children can divide the funds accordingly, and offer the giving portion as their tithe in church on Sunday. The other two portions of the allowance are placed in separate containers or piggy banks labeled Spending and Saving.
An often overlooked but essential ingredient of a successful allowance system is a child’s need for income. This is accomplished by requiring that certain types of items be purchased by the child with the “spending” portion of allowance money. These categories broaden as the child grows. Without this ingredient, your child will never have a true need for the allowance money, and we have found with our children that “Where there is no need, there is no desire.” Allowance money is more highly valued and additional opportunities to earn extra money are more eagerly sought, if money is needed for certain purchases. Listed below are some suggested items or events by age that should be funded from the child’s own spending money:
5-10 Years of Age
- A prized toy
- Items from a gift shop while on vacation
- Candy or extra concessions at the ball park
11-15 Years of Age
- All of the above
- Nonessential clothing such as extra T-shirts, theme jackets, dresses, extra shoes. School and church clothes are not included here.
- Tickets to events with friends, such as movies or ball games.
- Eating out with friends
16-22 Years of Age
- All of the above
- Gas money for their car. The percentage of this expense can be adjusted according to your child’s opportunity to get a job and earn money.
- Saving to buy a car of their own