We give our son Steve an allowance, usually for chores he does around the house. He’s 14 years old and gets $15 each week.
Steve is a good kid and gets good grades at school, but I don’t agree with how he spends his money.
He’ll buy fast food, video games and if he saves enough, very expensive gadgets. He doesn’t seem to understand the value of money or that he should save some money for the future.
When I tell him needs to use his money in a better way his response is “it’s my money, I can do with it what I want’.
So do I have the right to tell my son what to spend his allowance on – or is he right?
Allison, Losing the Allowance Argument
Thanks for writing, great letter! In fact, I go through this with my own kids. I do believe in paying allowance for work done around the house, but with that must come guidance, otherwise you’re going to be making up the budget shortfall that your future 25-year-old son is going to be faced with every month once he’s out of the house. So here’s what I would do.
EXPLAIN HOW THE REAL WORLD WORKS: Look at the world through the eyes of a kid. The refrigerator is typically full of food; there are clean clothes and an abundance of toys around. When mom and dad want money, they just walk right up to a machine; insert card and the thing spits out whatever they ask for. Even if they’re old enough to know the ATM concept, they may not have a solid understanding of how the money gets there (seriously), what goes into making it and how to make it last.
GIVE CONCRETE EXAMPLES: I’ll never forget the time my daughter came home from their version of home economics class with an assignment designed to teach students how to live within a budget. Guess how much their monthly income was? $6,000 per month. RIGHT OUT OF COLLEGE?! Who do you know and what sort of job did they get that they were able to step out of a cap and gown and waltz right into a gig paying $72,000.00 a year? So I sat her down and we planned a REALISTIC budget. We looked at ads for rent, plugged in amounts for car payments, clothing, food, entertainment and incidentals. It gave her a solid example of what she would need to live on. I think one of the issues for us as adults is that we have been doing this stuff for so long that we forget that someone had to teach us the very basics too.
BE THE PARENT: Okay, here’s the part of my talk where I’m gonna tell you to buck up. You signed your letter as “Losing the Allowance Argument”. Uh, no you aren’t. Remember these two facts; Steve is 14 and the payroll department begins and ends with you. That means you wield all sorts of power over him, his allowance and ultimately how he decides to spend it.
What he needs to be clear on is you ALLOW him to spend as he sees fit. Until now. Tell Steve that part of your job, as a parent is to prepare him for the future, one where you will not be looking over his shoulder or loaning money from the bank of mom indefinitely. It would be nice if he understood and accepted that without push back. But you need to stick to your guns, even if he doesn’t.
Good luck mommy!
Do you have a question for Rene? She has an answer. Click here and fire away!