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Should You Give Kids an Allowance?

3 March 2013

Over the course of a child’s life there are many difficult decisions parents have to make. And one of them is whether or not to give their children an allowance. Just like anything else, there are arguments both for and against the case of giving kids money for doing virtually nothing. So, which one is the right argument? And should we be giving our children allowances?

The answer, just like every other hard decisions parents have to make, will depend largely on both the parent and the child. Some parents really are struggling to make ends meet, and to ensure just that their children have heat and water available every day. Finding even $5 a week to give to their children might not only be difficult for these parents, it might be impossible. And while there may be a few children that don’t benefit from an allowance, most will. Why? Because it gives them a chance, before it’s too late, to learn about money management.

The biggest argument against giving kids allowance is that later in life, no one’s going to give them money simply for existing. And that might be true. But if this is your argument, then make sure you’re not giving kids money simply for eating your food every day and sleeping in a bed that you provided. Link their allowances to chores around the home. If they fulfill all of them, they get their whole allowance. And if some have been neglected throughout the week, that allowance is deducted from to show the missing chores. This is very similar to what they’ll face later in life. If you work hard, you’ll be rewarded for it. If not, you won’t.

But there’s a bigger advantage than even just having a cleaner house to giving your kids an allowance. That is the lesson they’ll learn from it. How are kids ever supposed to learn the value of a dollar, or even what to do with it, if they’re never given a chance to actually make choices on what to do with that money. When your child tells you that they want an iPad, what good does it do either of you to tell them they have to save up for it, if they’re never given anything to save? Birthday and Christmas money is good, but let’s be realistic. It would take them at least 5 years of holidays to save up that much cash, and by then there will be many many new things on the market. They will have missed out on their iPad, and you would have missed out on a golden lesson opportunity.

Giving kids the chance to watch their savings grow, or even to blow it and find out how disappointing it is to have short-term consumables rather than being farther along in their own goals, is the biggest argument for giving kids an allowance, and it’s a good one. Just like so many other things you’re currently doing for them, an allowance arms them with experience – and with the proper knowledge on how to manage it properly.

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