If you have kids it's likely that the conversation of an allowance either has come up or will come up. There are many suggestions on how much to give your children and how to administer those funds. We've tried a few methods over the years and have had varied results. The one thing that has always been the case regardless of how money was dulled out was management of the process on our (the parents) part. While I support the idea of providing an allowance I also think the process should be well thought out.
Now you may be thinking, why give my kids an allowance? Sure, if your child wants something you as the parent can make the decision if you want to purchase it for them. You are the provider, of course. Yes, kids should contribute to the household by participating in chores. Kids should also strive to earn good grades without the incentive of money or rewards. These are all legitimate reasons to not give your children an allowance and something to consider when making your decision.
We started an allowance for our kids when they were pretty young. Initially they wanted this or that and we didn't feel right just buying our kids whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. We felt they should do their part to earn it and also learn how to manage their money. We decided on a few basic chores and had them complete their chores to earn allowance. This system didn't work out to well for either side. My thoughts were, "Why am I paying you to constantly remind you to do your chores". I also had to keep close track of the process and if I missed a few days and lost track then it wasn't really a fair process. Especially if one child was getting away without doing their part while the other was.
As the chores system broke down we considered grades and earning an allowance based on good grades. We very quickly threw that idea out. While as parents we do earn an income for working and yes going to school is my kid's primary job. Yet (to us), everything felt wrong about an allowance based on good grades. We didn't want to clutter grades and money. We want our kids to do their best in school but we have two very different children. They each excel in their own areas. Rather than add extra pressure to getting good grades tied to earning an allowance, we wanted them to focus on school. If they need help in a particular subject then we could assist without some consequence of not getting their allowance.
Finally, after a few years and a lot of trial by error we found what works best for our family. That choice was to give our children a flat dollar amount each month with no strings or responsibilities attached. To make a few things clear they do still have to get good grades. If they don't we cut back on other things like video games or phone time. They also still have chores they must complete. If they don't then again we cut back on hanging out with friends or time on their devices. So there are responsibilities and consequences for not taking care of them.
Where this method has worked for us is in learning to manage their money which is really an important lesson for them. We have one child who likes to go out with friends and see movies, go clothes shopping at the mall and hangout and grab a bite to eat at nearby facilities. Needless to say this child is still trying to grasp the concept that you can't spend all of your money at the mall on clothes and still go see a movie with your friends on Friday night. Now we give enough allowance that our kids can partake in an activity or two but have to save or budget their money to make larger purchases. That may mean no trips to the mall or not going to see that movie.
On the flip side of that our other child doesn't spend that much. It was nearing birthday time and he wanted a video game. Being they are difficult to buy gifts for, I suggested that it might be a good birthday present and to hang on to his money. He rattles off how much he had saved and I quickly changed my tune. I actually felt good about taking his money. He had saved up for the game and still wasn't coming close to spending all of his savings. He had earned it through a process of not frivolously spending money on just anything he wanted in the moment.
Is our method a success? For us it's been effective for our family. I've talked with other parents who use different techniques and it works for them. I think it's a process that each family has to work out based on the dynamics of their household. Essentially one size doesn't fit all in this case. What I think is important regardless of the method of allowance distribution; is the child learning to manage money. We don't offer credit and there are no advances on allowance in our household. It puts that responsibility in our kid's lap and they have to start making decisions on how to spend their money. We do our best to give guidance and offer solutions to save or budget for those big ticket purchases they want to make. Yet, in the end, they are the ones that have to use some self-control to save the money. Plus, as parents, we're not constantly throwing money out for their gratification.
We do still pay their way in certain circumstances. One of our kids wanted to go to an amusement park with his friends. We knew his allowance would barely cover getting him in. We covered the admission but he was responsible for any food, games and souvenirs he wanted. We also cover their necessities such as clothing for school, school supplies and we even give them room and board. We also reserve the right to change our allowance policy at any time. This allows us, the parents, to adjust the process as they get older.
The take away from this article is to find a formula that works for your situation. What works for us may not work for your family. If finances are tight, don't over promise. Make sure you can afford the allowance you agree to. Multiply the monthly allowance by twelve and make sure this is reasonable both to you and your children. It's okay to have different allowances based on your child's age. Our oldest receives more than our youngest as their activities are different and we adjust as they get older. As a parent I know this can be a tough process but if my kids learn to manage their money then I feel like it was a worthwhile experience. It's much easier to establish this concept before they are able to apply for credit cards and rack up some substantial debt. Just stick to it and find the solution that fits your needs.