Ask Dr. Mary

Does an Allowance Make Sense

Although we don't give our 9-year-old an allowance, he says all his friends get one. How should we handle this? Should we pay him for doing his chores? How much is a fair amount for a 9-year-old?


There is no single "right" way to handle an allowance. If you feel it's ridiculous to pay your child for household chores, then it doesn't matter if his friends get money from their parents. Tell your son that giving an allowance just isn't something your family does.
But if you feel an allowance will help your son learn principles of money management?saving, spending and giving?then you should initiate a regular allowance. Zillions magazine recently surveyed 784 kids nationwide. Slightly less than half of the 9-to- 14-year-olds surveyed receive an allowance. Kids your son's age earn an average of $3.50 a week, a 50-cent increase over a similar survey done two years earlier.
Think of an allowance under the bigger umbrella of teaching your child money management, time management and his role in making a contribution to your family's welfare. If you're willing to take the time and effort to make an allowance a method of teaching your child these valuable lessons, then talk to your son about his expectations. Find out what he wants to do with the money he'd receive, then work together to set up a plan you can all agree to.

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May 25

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