Making Allowances

Everything you need to know about raising financially savvy kids in a material world

"Mom, can I have money for ice cream?"

"Dad, I need more batteries for my CD player."

"Mom, I lost my school ID and need $2 to replace it."

Requests for money were becoming all too common in our house, especially when our boys turned into teenagers with expensive social lives. So my husband and I set out to create an allowance system that would teach our three sons how to handle money.

Our culture tugs relentlessly at the pockets of our children. They are bombarded with messages that tell them to buy the latest gadget, the coolest clothes, the hottest music. And increasingly, our children are giving in to those messages. While it's always been important for parents to teach their children to be wise in their spending habits, it's essential for today's children to learn to be good stewards of their money.

The most obvious way to begin building good money habits in our children is to give them some money of their own and teach them to manage it well. That's where allowances come in. Now some families choose to skip allowances altogether, but for our kids, a regular weekly allowance has been the most effective way for us to instill valuable lessons about smart tithing, saving, and spending. Naturally we hit a few snags as we tried to find a system that worked well for all of us, but we learned some valuable lessons along the way.

Setting up

Our initial plan was a no-brainer: the boys would earn their allowance by doing chores around the house. They'd learn responsibility and we'd have help with the housework. It sounded too simple to fail. But boy, did it fail.

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