Is Your Child Ready For An Allowance?

Oh, the days of getting an allowance when Mom or Dad gave you money pretty regularly.  Maybe it was tied to chores, and maybe it wasn't, but an allowance - your allowance - was money that took the trip to the candy store from dream to reality.  Pretty sweet, wasn't it?  Now as parents, we might find ourselves in the proverbial boat as our 'rents were.  When is a good time for Junior to start receiving his own money?  If you have children and are pondering when to start giving them a regular allowance, here are some very general guidelines that might help you gather if your child is ready.

Age

This is kind of a no-brainer, right?  I don't know if there are too many people out there giving out allowances to infants; a six-month-old would just want to stuff dollar bills or change into his mouth anyway.  But a six-year-old is a different story.  They're walking, talking, learning and generally curious about everything.  When considering an allowance, age is probably one of the biggest determining factors.  But you can't talk about age without talking about . . .

Maturity Level

This kind of goes hand in hand with age.  There are some pretty precocious three-year-olds out there, just as there are children twice that age who act younger than their years.  A child who shows interest in money or buying and obtaining things will probably better grasp the concept of receiving a monetary allowance than one who doesn't.  If Sally just isn't interested or really cannot grasp the idea of getting an allowance, it might feel like an exercise in futility trying to dole out money.  As with just about all-things-children, waiting a few months might make all the difference in the world in this regard. 

Interest Level

Most children express their wants and needs pretty clearly.  From the crying of a baby to indicate hunger to a two-year-old's tantrum over not being able to do something deemed unsafe, our kids are usually pretty good in letting us know what they want.  When this natural tendency graduates to seeing something they don't have (think the newest Zhu Zhu pet accessory) and expressing a desire to possess this something, then you might have an opportunity to introduce the monetary allowance.  Granted, if a full-blown screaming fit is how your child communicates this desire, calmly discussing using their own money to buy the coveted toy is probably not going to fly.  However, if your child wonders (more calmly) how he can nab a certain toy, he might just have enough interest to delve a bit deeper into the world of earning and spending.

Your Call

Of course, you know your child better than anyone else.  You'll know best if your four-year-old can grasp a very basic get money and spend money concept.  You'll also be the best judge if your six-year-old's interest level might lend itself to introducing an allowance.

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Anonymous's picture

MoneyCone wrote:

Mon, 02/28/2011 - 12:55 Comment #: 1

Allowance can be a good way to introduce a child to the concept of money. But that shouldn't be easy money, but tied to chores/behavior so that the kid understands how real world works (unless he is Trump's kid)!

Anonymous's picture

retirebyforty wrote:

Tue, 03/01/2011 - 20:37 Comment #: 2

I agree with MoneyCone. Maybe the kid can help with some chores and get regular allowance. If he's bad, then dock allowance?

Melinda Gregory's picture

Melinda Gregory wrote:

Tue, 03/01/2011 - 23:53 Comment #: 3

I think allowance is often given as a response to chores done by kids in the home. I have read, however, that there are some out there who give allowance free & clear of chores, with the expectation that chores are to be completed - that they are expected of every family member. This same theory goes on to say that if a child desires money outside of the allowance, then they can be given "jobs" in addition to their chores to be completed for money.
I see pros & cons for both ways of thinking. I guess the main thing is that a child has to have money to learn how to handle it; it's up to parents to decide if that money comes with strings attached or not.

Anonymous's picture

Family Finance Carnival April 20th | Living With Clariity wrote:

Wed, 04/20/2011 - 16:19 Comment #: 4

[...] presents Is Your Child Ready For An Allowance? posted at MomVesting, saying, “Here are some very general guidelines that might help you [...]

Anonymous's picture

The Kids-and-Finances Guide for Parents | MomVesting wrote:

Thu, 01/19/2012 - 21:45 Comment #: 5

[...] When are your children ready for an allowance? These ideas will help you decide what's right for you. [...]

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