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#1 of 1 Old 12-29-2001, 06:34 PM - Thread Starter
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allowance? the value of money or consummerism?

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Author Topic: allowance? the value of money or consummerism?
Member posted 07-07-2001 09:55 AM
My daugher is almost 4. Some of her friends are starting to get allowances - $2 a week seems to be the norm. This seemed like a really good idea to me at first : an opportunity to learn about the transaction of buying something, an appreciation that stuff costs money, the thrill of decision making, the notion of saving, relative value and so on.
But then I was thinking isn't giving an allowance just levering them into consummerism by: making them aware of or more aware of products, making them want more and have to deal with those complex feelings of wanting more than you can afford. I'm concerned that by giving an allowance the focuse will be more on the purchasing of items more than on the playinng with the thing.
Please let me know what you think about this and how you have handled this with your kids. At what age did you do the allowance thing, or not? Why? What rules did you have, or not? How did it turn out?

Member posted 07-07-2001 11:23 AM
Wow. 4 seems young to me, but I don't know. My ds is 2, and I find myself thinking of allowance and what we will do. Also, that some parents pay their children for good grades (another topic).
Once there was a thread about chores in the home. If I remember it was, allowance vs. upkeep at the home that was for EVERYONE to keep up (basically). It raised some very good points too.

I don't have any suggestions. But I cannot wait to read the replies.

Currently, I know that I will not give an allowance that young. Neither my husband nor I got allowances growing up. I had chores to do and that's the way it was. We got $$ for birthdays or had to earn it somewhere else. Dh probably helped some, but his mom gave him $$ when he asked. I don't know which one is better.


Member posted 07-07-2001 12:32 PM
We start allowances at age 5. They get a small amount weekly, and the amount goes up a bit with each birthday. Roughly a third of the allowance goes into savings, to be saved for college or some big future goal. The rest can be spent however they want. The amounts we give are really pretty small but extra can be earned by doing extra jobs around the house. We do not pay for regular chores or good grades, those are a given around here. My kids rarely get the gimmees because they know we will just say "Do you have enough saved for that?" A pack of trading cards becomes much less important if they have to fork over the bucks!

Member posted 07-07-2001 02:11 PM
A friend of my family's wrote a book about money and kids which is great. Recently he was on Oprah talking about the theories in his book.
It's called Capitate Your Child. I highly recommend it.

Member posted 07-07-2001 07:31 PM
We just started an allowance and i have the same concerns bc now all ds thinks about is what he is going to buy. We go anywhere and he is scanning the shelves looking for something...something... frantically to buy.
I read something in (i think) The Tao of Parenting ??? something like...if you want them to be generous, you need to allow them to be greedy...

If they are to be brave, you must allow them to be scared...
If they are to be kind...allow them to experience being mean...

Thse aren't exact words, just the general idea of allowing them to experience bothsides of the duality, if you resist the greediness, then they will cling to that way of being more than if they are allowed to experience what they are feeling at the time ..

I realize that i am very resistant to the way ds feels when he wants to As i think about it i must be so bothered bc i am bothered about that quality in myself, and the whole of society (at least in the US)

I'm not sure of the answer, it is a work in progress for us... i guess the value is in being conscious of what is going on , observing them and ourselves and trying to improve our own relationship w/ $$$ (at least in my case) and being able to talk about what we notice w/ ds.

Member posted 07-07-2001 08:37 PM
I saw that Oprah show that Moukii mentioned, too, and thought the suggestions were great. The best part was that the kids just didn't get an allowance to go blow on whatever, like 3boysmom suggested, they had to put some of it away for savings, etc. Then when they got older (teens), they would get more allowance but had to use some of it to pay for their gas/makeup/lunches or whatever. That way, they learned little by little the skills that they would need to get by in life.
But, I think 4 is way too young, I'd say around 6-7 might be a better age for them to really "get" it.

Good luck!

Member posted 07-08-2001 06:21 AM
We are dealing with this issue too. We plan to give our ds his allowance in coins so he can easily put some into savings and also set some aside for charity. I don't plan to make the corner store any more a part of his life than it is now (because then it would all go to penny candy) but I agree that we have to let them got through the feelings of "this money is mine to use as I want to" for them to arrive at the attitude we hope for. We will visit used book stores a little more often than we do now and he can bring his wallet to the farmer's market and places that aren't full of nothing but coloured sugar and plastic. I see this new stage as a growth opportunity for me, too - to lighten up somewhat on my control and support him to discover his own tastes and decisions. He doesn't watch TV and we homeschool so his exposure to junk is limited. Still, it will happen, but I trust the process of him learning from our values and building his own value system. I believe that if I exert too much control now the rebellion later will potentially nullify all of the good work I have done. Moderate control with freedom. Does that make any sense? We aren't a consumer-minded family so I trust that he won't be too sucked in to that.

Member posted 07-09-2001 07:15 AM
Where other kids carry around blankets or dolls, my 4 year old will often be carrying around a dollar bill. I'm really torn about his fascination with money. The thing is, he really has a good understanding of it. Knows all the denominations and adds and subtracts quite well for someone his age.
I generally just can't see giving an allowance for doing things like feeding animals, putting away the trash cans and stuff that they take for granted doing. But the other day after doing yard work and looking at all the clippings on the ground I did offer a dollar to anyone who cleaned up for me. One of those times where I didn't care if I was sending the wrong message; I just didn't want to clean it up! And they all did come running to do it.

Member posted 07-09-2001 07:59 AM
This is the way we have started working the $$ situation in my house. My 6 year old asked for an American Girl doll. If you are familiar with these dolls, they cost about $100. Which, is way more than I have to spend on a doll, so I told her she would have to save her money for it. We cut a picture of the doll out and pasted it on a jar, for a bank, and this is how she receives her $$: At the begining of each day, she starts out with $1.00. For every episode for which she needs to be corrected, or punished, she loses .25. For example, If I have to tell her more than three times to put away her clothes, she loses .25 of her 1.00. So far, this has been working out really well. I do not reward for doing chores, but simply take for what she is not doing. Another example would be fighting with her sister. I can take away .25 for that, too. It has really helped as a no-yelling way to correct her. Truthfully on most days she earns about .50 of the $1.00, and it works for us.
I'm not sure what age would be good to start a system like this, but I could imagine it would work well for a 4yo because there is a goal at the end. I don't know that I would just give a 4yo the cash to spend. I don't do that yet for my 6yo. I kind of like the idea of seeing the benefits of saving, yet being rewarded for saving, too.

Good Luck!

Member posted 07-09-2001 12:18 PM
I saw the Oprah episode previously mentioned and I got some insight into the power of money and how to start teaching my kids about money. I started giving my son an allowance at age 5. He get one dollar per year of age per week. Currently that is $6 per week. HOWEVER, $2 goes into long term savings which he cannot touch (his college fund, ect.), $2 goes to short-term savings for things that I am not willing to buy outright but he really wants (that new Lego set, or a new bike, or vacation spending money), and $2 is his weekly money for impulse purchasing when we go to the store, or for snacks during his camp field trips. On his next birthday he will get a $1 raise, but I intend for that money to go to a charitable cause of his choice. We have already started talking about what that will be. His allowance is not tied to chores, but he does have the threat of loosing portions of his spending money for being non-cooperative looming.
I guess I want my children to grow up to be money savvy... to know it value, it limitations, how to save and how to spend responsibly. I was not taught how to deal with money as a child and that has translated into a woman with debt issues (creidt cards, student loans, car notes, etc.) and I am just beginning to understand how to make money work for me and not the other way around.

I don't think there is any one right answer or any one right time. My son was ready to learn the basics about money, so we started. Other kids might be ready sooner, and others later.


Member posted 07-10-2001 07:04 AM
We don't do allowances. I guess our family economic structure borders on communism or socialism. Dh earns all the money. We provide the kids needs and sometimes wants. We expect them to help out because they live here. They sometimes have an opportunity to earn a small amount of money for actual work. They also get some money as gifts. If they want something we aren't willing to buy, they have to save for it.
I think they learn about money from us. They are always with me (homeschooled) when I shop, and I discuss where I shop, and what I'm buying, and why. We talk about good deals vs. bad deals (and the difference between that and expensive vs. cheap) and sometimes annalyze both my purchases and theirs afterwards if it was a particularly good or bad idea. They understand that Dad works for our income and we trade our time with him for food, clothing, etc. They know that some jobs pay more than others and that some things wait for the overtime check.

I can't see any reason to hand them money.

My Grandfather is very unhappy about that. He thinks that they're missing out on learning responsibility, "The Work Ethic", and money management. On our recent vacation he paid them each $5 to help clean up the pinecones in the yard. They would have done it for free. He thinks it taught them some "responsibility". I think it just left them bewildered. They handed me the money ("here Mom") and haven't mentioned it again. (I will put it in their banks.)

Member posted 07-10-2001 07:40 AM
Another way that I know a lot of families use, is to consider the family income as belonging to the entire family. When a family member needs something, everyone takes a look at the budget and sees how it can be finagled to get that thing/service/whatever. There is a lot of talk and illustrations of where the family gets their money from, and where they spend their money. Everyone pretty much agrees that they want a place to live and other necessary items (which might be different for different families). SAving for various items and activities (vacations, college tuitions) can be a part of the agreed upon program for their money. Some families might decide to spend less on clothes in order to spend money on some other valued item/activity - say, more computers and programs.
Often, kids in families with this take on money will ask for an allowance. An amount might be deposited in a bank account and access to that account arranged - checking, debit card, credit card (this might be for older kids, but preteens can easily handle these transactions). Younger children could have money in a piggy bank or jar, available when they want it. If they find they need more money than they have, then the family takes a look at the budget and see where and when more money can be finagled out of it. This goes for the parents, as well, if they find they need more.

Forcing another person to do what you think they should do with their money does not necessarily teach the lessons you might like to teach. They are learning subtle things about power and how to weild it, and that they have to fight or sneak around to get what they want.

Instead, the whole family uses money to get what they want in the world. Doing so supportively and with everyone on the same side, helping each other get what they want ( I can wait another month to get this, if you really need this now; how can we earn more money; cutting here and gaining there), is a positive way to learn about how to use money to get what a person and their loved ones want in the world. The bills and taxes get paid, saving happens for those it is important to, and things/experiences that are important to each family member are attained.

I see this as part of 'people more important than things'. People and their wants and needs and feelings are more important than money.


Member posted 07-10-2001 08:37 AM
I have found each of your responses so valuable and informative! I can see how much thought people on these boards put to the issue of children and money and all issues really, I take my hat off to all you mamas
JP - I found what you said about trading time with Dad for food, clothing etc most intriguing. And the story of them earning money from their grandad was amazing - I love the way they handed you the money!

Mouki, Sadean, Ellasmama - I'm definitely going to follow up with the Capitate your child book.

Jenmama, I know 4 seems young to me too! I don't think I'm ready to decide either about what I want to do exactly that gives me time to plan it out a bit.

3boysmom - the 'gimmes' put the fear into me, they haven't started yet in our house but no doubt... I like the idea of kids doing their own saving.

St Claire - man that was profound, allowing kids to experience both sides of the duality. Knowing what greedy feels like is okay... breathe... . I find this so enlightening and deeply challenging. Thank you so much for pointing this out.

Chantal - yes of course, one doesn't have to visit the store more often. great point, thanks for sharing. I also believe that exerting to much control is shaky

Diane - That's hilarious! Do you think you have a stockbroker on your hands?

Rosesroses - wow! your kid must be the most motivated saver I've heard of! It sounds like your daughter is very determined.

Sadean - I really like the idea of giving money to charity. Check out Its an organisation where you can buy a cow, goat, ducks, geese, bees etc for a 3rd world family. We have adopted this as our family charity

Suzan - yes, I agree that money management is a family affair. thanks for the great ideas.

Thank you for all of your responses.

Member posted 07-12-2001 10:49 PM
We just started giving our 5 yo an allowance. We give hime 3 dollars a week that go into 3 different jars labled spending, giving, and saving. (Giving is charity, saving is for much later, like college.) The allowance is in no way dependent on house work or daily and weekly jobs as we call them. We help out because we live in the house together. I started the allowance for 2 reasons. We keep talking about as you get older you get more responsiblity and I was tired of always being asked Can I get this? Now I just say, Do you have enough saved. The giving jar has been the most interesting topic starter. We only have 5 dolars in it right now so we haven't decided on where it will go but I love the discussions ds and I have over it each week. Also on a camping trip this weekend my ds got a bit fustrated and ripped his friends comic book. He had to take his allowance down to the store and replace it. Great learning lesson!

Member posted 07-13-2001 05:51 AM
Hi Frolix.
I don't mean to sound harsh, but most of us don't live in a commune and therefore work-for-money and money-buys-food-shelter are the rules under which we live and prosper. Hence consumerism, but don't forget that we all "consume" - we all have to buy food, shelter, etc. (unless we are farmers on government granted land, etc.). And we all give back, by work and volunteering and taxes, etc.

I personally agree with chores in conjunction with allowance. I plan on doing the following when my daughter is 3 or whenever she can understand:

Giving her a couple chores that she always has to do, like picking up her toys every Saturday. She does these to contribute to the family. I'll also give her a "base allowance" of $1 or $2 a week that she gets because she shares in the family bounty.

Then, I'll give her optional chores that she can do for extra money, like helping me dust or something. I hate to say it, but the work-for-money thing is a reality that is unlikely to go away soon.

Sure, as a child she'll be saving for toys, but playing is an important part of children's lives and shouldn't be invalidated as consumerism. (Although some toy schemes obviously are overly consumeristic.) Later she'll save for more "grown up" things, like clothes and a car, and soon enough she'll be saving for rent and food.

Why not start these habits early? It's unlikely that any of our children will grow up and not have worry about working for money and saving and planning financially. And I'm sure we are all "consumers" in some way, too.

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