– Ask a Teacher with Nancy Downing –
Q. My two children, ages 7 and 11, are asking for allowances. What is a good age to start this practice?
A: There is no magical age to start receiving an allowance; it is more about the maturity of your child. Teaching money management skills should go hand in hand with allowance. Sit down with each child separately and discuss what that child’s allowance is going to be used for. Talk about the responsibility that is connected with money. In that discussion explain how you expect your child to save a specific amount each time the allowance is given. Set that amount.
Give your child a clear jar to put the savings in. This way your child has a visual of the savings as they grow. When your child asks for a toy or game, don’t take out your debit card and pay for it. Have your child save up to buy it. Both of you sit down, and with paper and pencil figure out how many allowances it will take to make that purchase.
Giving your child the experience of “waiting” for something is a gift that will stick with him/her through adulthood. These simple skills that you instill into your child are good life skills.
Take a moment and look around you. Listen to the news and read the newspaper. How many people are filing for bankruptcy? How many articles are written about how to manage your money? Many adults never learned the skill hat you will be teaching your children at a young age. By the time your children hit adulthood a savings account, delaying a purchase and living within a budget will all be a way of life.
- As your children get older and need to buy gas for their cars and lunches at school, put that into their allowance. Help them make a budget.
- One month when you are paying bills, have your child write the checks and you sign them. Share your household budget.
- Go to the bank and set up a savings account with both of your names on it. Before they head off to college, setting up a checking account is a must. If this can be done their senior year, then you are allowing months of practice before leaving home.
Copyright © 2014 by Nancy Downing. All rights reserved.
Read more Ask a Teacher Q&A’s with Nancy Downing. Nancy has been named a USA Today Teacher of the Year. She is a special education teacher and the former Center Director of Learning Rx in Little Rock.