Allowance Is More Than Money

“I want this. How much does it cost?” asked my six year old son, handing me a small paint set.

“It’s about $3.00. We’ll check your bank and if you have enough, we’ll stop back by next week,” I replied.

My son smiled and returned the item to the shelf. The sales clerk stood astonished. There was no whining, stomping, huffing, or puffing. Why? Allowance. It’s one of the best decisions my husband and I ever made.

Though my sons have never pitched the fits I’ve witnessed some kids performing, they have had their moments of begging or pouting over candy and toys.

Those behaviors changed, however, after I put into practice the allowance theory from Dr. Kevin Leman’s book Have a New Kid by Friday . Since then, allowance has been beneficial in teaching our kids some valuable lessons.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch. (Proverbs 13:11)

The sooner a child learns this concept, the better. For my kids, allowance means payday. Just as adults deposit their checks into the bank to divide it among paying bills, saving accounts, and leisurely spending, my kids look at the amount of money they have and decide how to spend it accordingly.

They are fully aware of how much items cost and just how far they can stretch a dollar.

Waste not, want not. (Proverbs 6:6-11)

When children are responsible for their own spending, they learn to appreciate what they already have.

Several years ago my oldest son, Caleb, saved for almost a year to purchase a video console that is now on the verge of becoming obsolete. When we surprised our boys with an updated, more popular version this past Christmas, we assumed Caleb would want to sell or trade his outdated one.

No way! Saving for such an expensive item took discipline and patience. He was proud of his accomplishment. Caleb understood the value of his purchase when many kids would have carelessly tossed it aside. He now enjoys searching for used games for the old console that, of course, cost way less than the games for the newer version.

Tithing (Leviticus 27: 32)

To teach tithing, we use a great tool called the My Giving Bank. Divided into three sections (bank, store, and church), this piggy bank is an excellent visual to teach children how to be good stewards of what God has provided.

Each week my children take out a tenth of their allowance and place it in the church section. After tithing, they then decide how much to set aside for savings and how much to spend.

Train up a child in the way he should go. (Proverbs 22:6)

Think you don’t have the money for allowance? Think about how much you already spend on candy and other trinkets.

Not only has allowance saved us money and countless “Why not?” conversations, it’s also taught my children how to be good stewards of what God has provided.  How different would today’s economy be if adults could learn this same lesson?

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  1. BillAtFamZoo said:

    Hear, hear! Once kids make the mental shift from spending Mom & Dad’s money to spending their own money, it’s a complete transformation in behavior. It’s like magic and it’s worked wonderfully for each of our 5 kids. To set the amount, I like to use the simple 3 steps (1) Decide what they’re responsible for purchasing – might just be “trinkets” for young ones or things like clothing for teens (2) Make a simple budget with them using a few representative items (3) Set the allowance amount to match the budget. I’ll have to check out the book you mention – had not heard of it before. To simplify managing the allowance and the splitting between bank, store, and church, etc. you might check out the online “cash-less” allowance solutions that are springing up. They typically include some other nice tools for teaching kids good personal finance habits and reinforcing your family’s values. Try googling on “virtual family bank” to see what’s out there.

    April 22, 2010

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