The Six-Year-Old has been getting an allowance since she was four. In setting it up, we linked it to her age (she gets one dollar per week for every year of her age)–not to the number of chores she completes around the house. Although The Six-Year-Old has tried several times to convince us to pay her for her work, so far we’re holding firm. The Six-Year-Old is expected to help out around the house because we are family and everyone pitches in to take care of the family.
We also set the expectation from the beginning that she would save a dollar every week, set aside another dollar to give to the charity of her choice, and spend the rest of it anyway she liked.
It’s that last bit that’s giving me trouble. It’s really hard for me not to set limits on how The Six-Year-Old spends her money. When she wants to spend fifty cents or a dollar on a cheap vending machine ring that’s going to break before we even get home, more often than not I stop it. When The Six-Year-Old comes home from a shopping spree and tosses the money she didn’t spend carelessly on the playroom floor, I tell her to pick it up and put it away so she doesn’t lose it.
But according to parent educator Vicki Hoefle, if I want my child to become a savvy consumer I’ve got to stop doing things like that. In her article, How to Teach Children to Be Savvy Consumers: Let Them Spend, Hoefle argues that the best way to teach The Six-Year-Old to manage her money wisely is to let her spend or lose her money with abandon now, before it really matters.
Once the money is handed to the kids, micromanage as little as possible. Part of my Duct Tape Parenting methods stresses the less-is-more approach. Avoid the urge to “helicopter parent,” and let the kids lose or forget their money or blow it on impulse purchasing.
If they leave their money lying around, toss it into a “vacation jar.” Allow them to see how money can collect over time, teaching them to be more conscious and take better care of their earnings.
I’ll admit it. I’m struggling with that. It’s really hard for me to simply let The Six-Year-Old waste (or lose) her money.
Do you give your kids an allowance? If so, what expectations have you set around it?