Allowance For Children: The Stay At Homer Way
Giving the kid an allowance? Really? I gave him a home, I cook his food, I give him clothes, and now I gotta pay him for the privilege? I guess that’s how it’s gonna go, because we’re doing it. We are giving Noble an allowance now. We figured it was time, because he has a grasp of money and it would be a great experience for him to know what it’s like to have to save up for important things like legos, or candy, or a down payment on an overpriced home mortgage. We talked about it a little on my Facebook page, but I figured I’d go into some more detail here, and we can discuss whether or not you think we’re doing the right thing over here.
Gayle and I went back and forth on the reasons why we were going to give him an allowance. Would we have him get paid for a set amount of chores? Or maybe we’d start out at a certain amount, and slowly take money away for behavior issues or if he’s neglecting his obligations. In the end those seemed to go against the teaching tool of an allowance: to teach about money. Using money as a weapon for discipline, while probably accurately depicts how “the real world” works, doesn’t work for us in our family.
Here’s how we are breaking down allowance for our children:
- Alistair doesn’t get an allowance – He’s 2. I’m not interested in watching one dollar bills get flushed down the toilet (literally).
- Noble will get $2 per week no matter what – Money, in this case, isn’t seen as a reward/punishment thing. It’s about pieces of paper that have the power to purchase things. Allowance is about learning. If we were teaching Noble all about how to shoot a gun, but we didn’t give him any bullets, the lesson wouldn’t work as well. That was an awful analogy, but you got what I was saying…right? No, I don’t want my son Yosemite Sam-ing. No, I’m not going to teach him how to shoot a gun! I was just, I’m trying to explain, oh forget it. Damn I wish I had a backspace button or the ability to highlight portions of text and then CUT it out and delete it. I wish Apple would figure that out already.
- The allowance will be divided into 3 parts – We are teaching him about saving, about spending, and about charity. So with every $2 he gets, $1 will automatically go to savings. In Noble’s case, it is the Death Star Fund: He really wants the Lego Death Star. It’s ONLY $400! Unfortunately for Noble, he has these parents…me….and Gayle….who will NEVER buy him a $400 present that you assemble once, break apart, and then keep in a storage container for the rest of your life. So $1 of HIS money goes to that. Then $.50 will go to charity. It will be saved up until the end of the year when we are deciding what charities to donate to. Noble will get to pick something that he feels passionately about. Right now, it will probably be a donation to the charity “Children Without Lego Death Stars.” And finally, the last $.50 goes right into Noble’s pocket where he is free to lose it wherever he sets it down. He can also enjoy the evil mental game that money plays on a person….”should I buy that gumball now? Or should I wait until next week and buy an even bigger gumball? Or should I wait even longer still and buy a small toy? Or maybe I could….Dad! Dad! Did you see where I put my allowance money?” *tears*
- Chores - He will not be getting paid for chores. It is his privilege to do chores around the house to be a part of the team. We allow him to live in our house for free. And I have yet to charge him for food or clothing. So he can set the table and keep his room clean, pro bono.
- But he CAN get extra money for extra work – Even though he has chores to do, there will also be times when I will offer to give him money in return for some extra labor. I don’t think this is a bad thing. I will probably pretend that I’m a boss hiring him for some work, and I’ll print out a really neat kid friendly job application, where I’ll get his SS# and other important information. Then when he’s done with the work, I’ll introduce him to “Payroll” and how most of his money is going to go to taxes that don’t make any sense. And just when he’s confused and angry about getting less than the original agreed on price, I’m going to declare “AUDIT!” And that’s when the new game of “Attack of the IRS MAN” will begin. It’s all about the real world, right? He’s gonna have to learn it at some point.
What age did you start your kids on an allowance? What are your parameters for how they earn the money? Do you make your kids chop all your firewood for you, for sweat shop labor prices? There’s no judgy judgy in here, so feel free to express yo-self!