Pennies From Heaven

Since we've been talking about anti-commercialism, it reminded me of a subject that I've been meaning to blog about for some time. As I was picking my daughter up from a playdate a while ago, my daughter's friend was dancing around in a Bratz outfit. Her mom commented that she hated that she had it, and I too, admitted to not being a fan of the whole 'Bratz' enterprise, myself. While I was inwardly wondering why her daughter had such an outfit, if her mom hated them, she answered my unspoken question - "What can I do? She saves up her allowance to buy the stuff." Allowance? At age 5? Turns out her 3 year old got one, too, contingent upon cleaning her room. Hence, her room was (almost) always clean. Am I missing something here? I do not give my children an allowance. Neither DH or I ever had one growing up, and we both have a solid head on our shoulders concerning money. We have no credit card debt, and I have never received an overdraft notice in my life. Doesn't that mean I'm headed straight to the celestial kingdom? (I wish!) But I know an allowance can be a good thing. It's a great way to make the concept of tithing more concrete than abstract, and it can teach impulse control. My children already know they can't have everything (do you have enough money to buy that, Mom?) and that money is a part of that. Hopefully, they don't think that if we were multi-billionaires that I would give them everything, though. Do you give your kids an allowance? My in-laws know a girl who gets $500 a week! Wow. That's more than my first few jobs ever paid me. Has it been a good thing? Do you give a lot? I am at a loss here as to what is developmentally appropriate and when to start. Or if it is developmentally appropriate and I should start. Or is it just bribery, and not in a good way? Or is it bribery, but yes in a good way? So you see my confusion? Are you feeling my pain? Are there any good books on the subject? HELLLP MEEE!! There, the whining is out of my system. (And if you believe that......)


Blogger Julie M. Smith said...

Here are my thoughts on this:

(1) I don't think allowance should be tied to doing chores. You do chores because you are part of a family. I think it is a bad idea to set kids up with the idea that they should be paid for taking care of themselves and/or helping the family.

(2) We give a 4yo and a 7yo 2$ week each. They have a very good concept of tithing because of this. I'm not sure how a child can learn about tithing without having some money.

(3) I have to approve of purchases, but I willl allow junk (candy, stupid books, dumb toys, etc.) but I will not allow anything that violates our moral vlaues. I think they learn a lot from dumb purchases. And, sometimes things that I thought 'he'll play with this for 5 minutes and never touch it again' have become favorite toys. So you never know.

(4) An allowance is a great way to avoid battles.

"Mom, can I have X?"

"Sure. Save up your money."

(Notice how I didn't have to say 'no'?)

7/19/2005 12:46:00 PM  
Blogger Andrea Wright said...

Wiz, I've had this same struggle. I've heard two schools of thought -- one is you don't just want to hand your kids money -- that's not how the real world works. So, you assign jobs and a monetary value to each chore and you pay your kids based on the chores they did that week.

I have a problem with that because I want my kids to know that we work because we're a family and we all need to contribute and you're not getting a huge reward every time. Plus, not all kids are motivated by money. However, it then seems strange to just give them free money.

My 4 and 7 yr. olds have jobs they're supposed to do each day and we also give them an allowance. It's not directly related to each specific job, but we told them we do give it to them to help them learn to manage money as long as they're contributing around the house. My 7 yr. old gets $.50 a week and my 4 yr. old gets $.35 a week. I guess I'm basically paying based on work, but in more general terms.

I do think it's good to have some way for them to earn and manage money and learn about tithing. Maybe you could just have their regular jobs and then any extras could be for money? When you get it figured out, let me know!

7/19/2005 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger Andrea Wright said...

Um, too bad I didn't Julie's comment before I just rambled on forever. What Julie said, except I pay signficantly less -- I want it to take them longer to be able to buy that junk :)

7/19/2005 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger mindy said...

I have been thinking about this issue, too, and am still not 100% decided. I had allowance when I was growing up, and I think it is a good way to handle money issues with kids. I like the idea of so much money per week (when they are younger) or per two weeks or month when they are older, as I think it teaches them to save up and to plan ahead. Otherwise you end up just giving them money for things randomly, and it seems like it is harder to teach the delayed gratification if the only factor is convincing mom or dad to give you the money. I think allowance can be good to take the whine/beg factor out of kids, as you can say that once their allowance is gone, too bad! I don't know what a good age is to start, nor how much money is appropriate for the different ages. My oldest daughter is 3, and I don't really think she's ready for an allowance yet. Maybe in a few months or when she's 4, but I think it would be something pretty tiny. Like 50 cents a week.

7/19/2005 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger Mabel Maybe said...

I borrowed Judith Martin/Ms. Manner's reasoning on allowance money. Here's my paraphrase:

A family has work that needs done. That's why everyone pitches in and does chores--the family does the family work.

Our family has been blessed with family resources. Besides enjoying family activities and living in our nice family home, family members might also share in our abundance by receiving a personal allowance.

When I started allowance with my kids five years ago, it was an amount equal to what I was spending on baubles and impulses anyway. Besides teaching tithing and self-control and avoiding mom saying "no," I hoped it would give my kids an interest in better quality stuff, and it did.

The reasoning about sharing in family resources really saved my butt, when my husband's business had a huge slowdown and we had to cut back dramatically on everything. We had a family meeting and suspended allowances.

Your friend who thinks she has to accept Bratz clothes because her child bought them with allowance is shortsighted. How's that going to play out when daughter wants to wear trashy, skimpy, or offensive clothes to middle school?

The Bratz stage is over at our house, though the toddler still love changing their feet/shoes around. At our house now we're finding the appropriate role for manga and anime in our lives. Bratz aren't the only bug-eyed miniskirted monsters out there.

7/19/2005 04:23:00 PM  
Blogger TftCarrie said...

I remember getting an allowance when I was young. It was a dollar a week-paid out on Family Night. I specifically remember instead of receiving a dollar bill, I got three quarters, two dimes and one nickel. This way it was easy for me to immediately put a dime in my tithing jar and another small amount in my savings bank. I do remember that my allowance was not based on chores, but I think that it could be taken away if I had a "bad" week.

In my house there was always a job jar filled with extra jobs that could be done for money. Each was assigned a monetary value based on how extensive, time consuming, or gross the job was. I remember actually loving to go through that jar during the summer to find chores I could do so I could buy this tiny tea set that I wanted so bad.

7/19/2005 06:21:00 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

I'm of two minds. We don't give our kids an allowance, though I see how it would be useful to teach them about money. I never got one as a kid.

Chores are, as has been said here, I believe, a part of being a member of the family. However, I will pay for chores above and beyond regular duties. I.e, cleaning the bathroom when it's not their turn, mopping the floor mid-week, window washing, car washing, etc. So they do earn money and have learned about tithing. They also pay tithing on birthday money before it's spent (or saved) on anything.

That being said, I didn't learn about budgeting, saving or investing until I got a paper route at age 12. I am a firm believer of making kids, who are of age (I had a paper route, but babysitting counts to), earn money. It teaches them to budget their time and helps them have a better work ethic. I have a much better idea of how to budget my time than my husband who never held a job until college. (And then, it was only cushy TA jobs. I had to work food service. No, I'm not bitter... :)

7/19/2005 06:28:00 PM  
Blogger Arwyn said...

We never got allowance when I was a child; we didn't get paid for chores, either, since -- as so many have mentioned -- doing chores is part of being a member of the family.

However, my mother (who worked from home while my father was in school or working full time) always paid a girl to watch the five of us a couple times a week so she could get work done since we were always home, being homeschooled.

We didn't have much money, though, and paying a babysitter was a fair amount of the budget. I got my first real money when my mom started paying me (at 11 or 12) instead of a high schooler to watch my younger sisters and brother.

I got a whole $0.50 an hour -- or $0.25 if I split the hour with my older brother. It wasn't much, but knowing how little we had made me all the more conscientious of it, of the value of not spending money you don't have, and of working hard to earn what you can get.

I think when I have kids (I'm not a Mormon Mommy yet -- hope it's okay to comment! ;), I'll use a similar system to what a couple have mentioned: not paying for chores, not giving allowance, per se, but having extra jobs that my kids can do that wouldn't normally be asked through which they can earn a little spending money.

7/20/2005 01:34:00 AM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

The book "Between Parent and Child", which is a great book, BTW, talks about allowances, and says that it can not be used as a tool to bribe or reward or threaten. It has to be what it is, just money given to the child to use as the child sees fit. You can put conditions on it, of course, but those conditions can not change, regardless of the behavior of the child, or anything else. Otherwise, it stops becoming about money, and it starts becoming about other things instead.

That said, we never had an allowance, ever, and I think I turned out with a pretty healthy attitude about money. I had a variety of food service and retail jobs in college, and some interesting health care ones after college. I liked working (well, you know, as much as somebody can ever like being a waitress), and I'm glad that I learned what I did about money before I got married. I don't think I missed out on much by not having a set allowance.

7/20/2005 01:02:00 PM  
Anonymous JKS said...

I believe in allowance. However, it is healthier for allowance to be more like real money--How much money to do you get to just waste on junk? If a kid has too much junk money, they never learn what money is for--the stuff you need.
So, here is my plan.
1. They pay tithing.
2. They save for college (yes, my 7 yr old and 5 yr old have to put 10% into their college savings piggy bank)--when they start "earning" money at jobs, I will say they can have the job if they save 20% of that money for college
3. My son has to save 10% for his mission--unfair gender issue but I don't care.
4. My kids shouldln't have more play money than I have!
5. As they get older, I will require that they buy their own stuff with their money. Makeup, entertainment, etc.
6. Separate from cash allowance, I plan to start a clothes "budget" for the school year. That way they know what they can afford, and have to keep some in reserve. It can't be cash, of course, because some kids (some boys?) would be happy in the same tshirt and jeans. But I think it is fair for a child who is frugal to get to buy more things....also, I don't want kids whining and begging for stuff. I'm a planner, so I appreciate knowing what I can or cannot have. I also think you should reward the NON-begging type of kids. They would simply go without because they wouldn't know it was ok to ask, you know?
I liked never having to ask my parents for money for a movie, money for makeup, etc. And if you were out of money, it was your own problem.
Also, I think that if you start with allowance when they are young, you have more "control" or say over how they view money. Once they start babysitting or getting jobs and you step in and tell them what they are supposed to do with the money, will they mind that?
My 7 year old gets 50 cents a week. My 5 year old gets 30 cents a week.
My 5 year old is still pretty young and clueless about it. I'd say 6 is a good age.

As for chores, we have a sticker chart for everything from putting shoes away to brushing teeth to emptying the dishwasher. 50 stickers earns my 7 year old a prize that I pull out. It is usually worth $1-4. Not a lot of money per sticker, but she is SUCH a good helper and does so many wonderful things that I feel I need to give her some positive reinforcement.....because she gets in trouble and gets punished all the time too. SHe just can't be still. She's either doing something wonderful or she's getting into trouble. Miss Initiative. Initiative in a child is both a blessing and a curse.

7/20/2005 11:11:00 PM  
Anonymous JKS said...

My daughter wanted an $11 yearbook. First grade. Up until maybe this last year, we've been really, really tight financially because of owning a house and health insurance increases eating up every yearly raise.
ANyway, I'm used to never spending a dime on anything. $11 yearbook? So, we finally decided that yes she could get it if she got 100 stickers.
I think we will do that a lot for those "extra" types of things. Have them pay for half or something.....because if they have to contribute they appreciate it more. And if they don't really want it, they won't bother. I hate to think of wasting money.

I think another reason why I like allowances is that I am a planner and like being independent. My parents had clear rules for me. I knew what I was allowed to do, and what was against the rules. I was happy with it. I never had to "ask" my parents if I could go out on Friday night. Of course I could! But, of course it needed to be an activity that was allowed.
I couldn't believe my friends had to "wait until Mom was in a good mood and ask her" or ask for the $5 for a movie having no idea if the cash would be granted or not.\
I think kids should have a safe world, with rules they can count on, and complete freedom within those boundaries.

7/20/2005 11:22:00 PM  
Anonymous JKS said...

I should add "complete freedom and autonomy" within those clear boundaries.

7/20/2005 11:23:00 PM  

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