I have waited patiently to write an article on this topic. I wanted to be certain that my opinion is based on experience.
At the beginning of last year we decided to start giving the kids an allowance. There were many reasons why I assumed it would be useful. Everytime we would walk into a store, the kids would ask me for 99% of the things they would see. Often I would say yes to buying them things I thought they “needed”. And then, when I cleaned out their rooms and cupboards (quarterly/seasonally) I would find forgotten items, duplicates and sometimes items that broke because they sat right at the bottom of the drawer. I also started noticing that my kids started thinking that when something was misplaced or broken we simply had to go back to buy another. I certainly didn’t want them to lose value for things and neither did I want them to feel like everything was just easily replaceable because the truth is that in the real world it isn’t so!!!
Another reason was spending money for school lunch break. I do make every effort to give the kids a wide variety in their lunch bags, however they often would still want to buy something at the tuckshop. And while I am in no way against them doing so, I do feel that they ended up buying too many sweets or fizzy drinks.
I sat them down one afternoon and explained to them that they would be getting an allowance. By starting them on an allowance I was hoping that it would teach them responsibility. Responsibility with cash, responsibility for what they bought and responsible spending.
An allowance meant that when we visited a store they were allowed to buy something – with their own money. If they didnt have enough they would need to save up until they did. If they visited the school tuck they were also allowed to buy what they liked. And if they spent all their money on treats they would have none left to save towards buying a toy/novelty.
At this point I am sure my readers are keen to know how much of an allowance I do give to each child. Each one receives R50 per week. Total of R200 / month.
Now when we started off I would give each child R50 on a Sunday (in R10 & R20 notes) so if they wanted to take any to school it was already split into smaller units. After a few months of witnessing a responsible 11 year old, I started giving her the full R200 at the beginning of the month. My 7 and 8 year old needed a bit more time. Initially when they received their weekly money they would spend it in no time, either at school or on little things like putty, pranks, cheap toys etc, but the turning point was when they seen their older sister buying a big set of Lego with money she saved over 4 months. That was a beautiful moment for me yet a very very tough one. Beautiful because I had seen her show responsibility and pride in her efforts, and certainly value for her new purchase. Tough because I had 2 little people begging for some Lego too. I had to be stern about it though or the lesson wouldnt have been learnt.
Now I know there will be varying opinions about the amount of money I give to my kids. There are people who are totally against the idea of an allowance at this age and others who may feel that a parents responsibility is to provide. While I dont entirely diasgree with either set of opinions I do feel that each household needs to implement strategies that work for them. Yes a parent is responsible for providing- but that is providing the needs of a child (food, cloth,safety, education and love). The extras should be controlled and in moderation to teach our little people value and resposibility. Often my kids would ask me for things in a store that they really didnt need and very often really didnt want either. And I discovered this when thay started getting an allowance. They would still ask me for 99% of the things they would see. Only my response differed now, I would tell them you can buy it with your own money if you’d like and I cannot begin to tell you how many times they would reply: “no I dont really want it” and I would chuckle silently.
So YAY! An allowance has certainly worked for us. Birthdays are still celebratory splash-out days. And I still offer advice to my kids on how to spend their money. For example: my son asked for an XBOX for his next birthday. Which we have agreed on. But I suggested to him that he start saving up to buy games for his console. So every month he has been keeping R50 for tuck and R150 towards a games fund.
My 7 year old really wants a Hatchimal and since her birthday is close to the end of the year, and she is too impatient to wait for it, I suggested she save up for a few months to buy one. She is already on R700.
An allowance has taught them to compromise certain things for others. They value their purchases alot more because it was bought from “their own money”. And not “free” from mom and dad.
It has also improved the math skills of my 7 year old. She is always counting up her money.
They have also learnt to spend less on sweeties because they preferred saving towards something more concrete. I know I may be cheating here but I did also tel them that if they bought too many sweets and their teeth went bad they would have to save up all their money for the dentist. Altho I think this one worked. Hehe!!!
Mind you it did take a few months to get into the routine of an allowance. For them and me. I learned to say no and stick to no! They learned to spend more wisely!
I would like to invite my readers to comment underneath and let me know your opinion and thoughts on an allowance. Xoxo