Monday, November 8, 2010

Kids Allowance

Reflecting today on kids and money.  I definitely think it’s our job as parents to teach our children proper attitude towards and handling of money.  As Christians we need to teach them that God provides for us, and we are to be wise with money without loving it. 

I didn’t learn great money lessons as a kid, so I have been reading, and talking with friends about ways to teach our kids about money.  One of the ways we have decided on as a family is an allowance.  At our house, it starts in grade one, and kiddo gets 50 cents a week per year of age.  For our son, that’s three dollars a week.  Kids get an allowance to learn how to save and spend money, not because they did chores.  That would make chores optional.  Chores at our house are done because you are part of the family and are not optional.  We chose that amount because it’s enough that he can choose to buy a treat with it, or save it instead.  We don’t want him to have so much money that he can just get everything he wants all the time.  That wouldn’t teach him about saving and waiting and looking for a good price on something.

It works out to about $12 a month, and we pay him monthly.  We started with weekly, but we’d forget to have the $3 in change each Sunday.  So instead, we transfer the $12 from our account to his on the first Sunday of the month.  Putting it in an account also means that change is not being lost all over the house.  The thing he most wants to buy is new games for his DS, and used ones are $20-25, so it takes him two months to save up for one.  I think that works well, it means he has to wait, but not so long that it discourages him.

I was proud of him when he got the DS in the first place.  He sold some of his old toys that he didn’t play with anymore, and saved some allowance, and was able to buy a used DS for himself. 

Another nice side effect has been awareness of what things cost.  When he was being too rough with an item, I asked him what he thought it might cost.  The answer was $40.  “Now, if you break that, and had to pay to replace it, how long would it take you to earn $40?”.  He’s good with math, and knew in a moment “4 months mommy”.  Without saying another word, he stopped beating on the item.

We decided not to give an allowance to our 4 year old yet.  There were several reasons.  First, she has nothing she’d like to save up for, so the concept would be lost on her.  She also loses a lot of the change anyway.  Plus, it’s nice for our son to have some lines that give him more privileges that come with being older.  We’ve told her that Baden is in charge of having money left for special treats, but mommy and daddy are still in charge of having money for her treats.  If we walked to the store for a treat as a family, we would tell our son to bring money from his piggy bank, but we would give our daughter money from our wallet when we got there.  She’d still get to pick her own treat, and if any is left over, it can go in her piggy bank when we get home.  She can look forward to this extra privilege when she starts grade one, and they can both look forward to a “raise” when their birthday rolls around.

There are also optional jobs that the kids can do to earn extra spending money.  We’ve chosen two things so far, one is moving a load of laundry ( from washer to dryer, or from dryer to basket).  I picked this one, because I have front load washers they can reach easily, and because I hate bending down to dig out that last sock which is always stuck in the back of the washer machine.  The second job is pairing up socks.  As I fold laundry, I toss all socks in a little basket, and when it gets too full, I offer the kids the chance to pair them up.  Apparently this is good for their math and thinking skills, but really I just like the help.  They earn 25c for either job, and I pay them immediately out of a change jar we have around, so I don’t forget.  They are very excited to get a quarter because they know that’s the coin they need for the candy machines, hee hee hee!

One thing I would like to work on a bit more is the idea of tithing.  I want our kids to learn that as an expression of gratitude and an acknowledgment that everything we have really comes from God, we give 10% to the church.  Shawn and I already do this, and we let our kids see this.  I would like to make a focus on each child taking their 10% to give to the collection during Sunday school.

So that’s where we are with kids and money.  I want to teach them better, so they don’t have to repeat the mistakes with debts that Shawn and I made.

How do you deal with kids and money?

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