Why I will never give my kids an allowance.

Yesterday I wrote this post about how I have told my kids they have to wait 30 days before spending any of the money they happen to receive for their birthdays.

And I’ve been doing a lot of thinking over the past couple days.

I want to do a better job about teaching my kids about money. About how to save it and when to spend it. About what is a smart investment and what is a waste of money. About long-term planning.

Of course, they need to be receiving money in order to learn how to manage it.

That can be tricky though when you are ten years old. Or younger.

I could give my kids an allowance.

But that will never happen.

I have a huge problem with giving kids money just for, well,


Because that doesn’t happen when you are an adult.

People do not give you money every week simply because you have a pulse.

I also have a problem with paying children for everyday chores.

I will not pay my kids for doing the things they are supposed to do everyday no matter what.

You are supposed to keep your room clean. You are supposed to clean up after yourself in the bathroom and the kitchen. Put your clothes away. Vacuum.

If you contribute to the mess, you are obligated to clean it up, too. Free of charge.

Nobody pays you to do that when you turn 18.

As far as I’m concerned, your reward for taking care of your responsibilities at home are all the extras.

Watching TV. Playing on the iPad. Going over to play at a friend’s house.

And do not even get me started on the people who pay their children to get good grades in school, for every A they receive on their report card.

I do want my children to have opportunities to earn money.


Earn it.

I know our current situation has a lot to do with my thoughts on this.

I also saw Mark Cuban in an interview a while ago, and he was talking about how he got his start in business.

When he was twelve years old, he wanted a new pair of basketball shoes. He told his dad, and his dad told him he better get a job. And so he started selling garbage bags to earn money to pay for those shoes.

I want my kids to understand that making money is hard work.

And I want to teach them to be proactive. Because sometimes you may have a fairly easy time finding work.

Other times, it’s going to be really, really hard.

And sometimes you get to do work you really enjoy. Other times, you have to do stuff that is just no fun at all.

And even the fun stuff has aspects to it that suck.

Number 4 gets it.

She is a go-getter.

Two years ago she broke her elbow in the middle of the summer. She missed the whole swim season and couldn’t really swim in the pool. She was devastated.

So I helped her turn lemons into a lemonade stand.

She has been begging me to help her make another one ever since.

Last summer I just couldn’t get it together. But this summer, since she had still been so persistent, I set her up with everything she needed.

There are no concession stands at our home baseball games, so I told her whenever Number 3 has a home game this summer, she could set up shop.

So far, she has opened for business twice.


She had fun making the lemonade and making the signs and setting up her table and dealing with customers.

But she also learned that people like to come experience all the glory without putting in the work.

You know. Like The Little Red Hen.

She learned that people will try to take advantage of you.

And people will steal your shit when you aren’t looking.

But she has also made $45 so far.

It was hard work, but it was very rewarding and mostly fun.

The younger kids can’t really do this.

They could help Number 4. But she’s kind of in business for herself.

Number 3 can’t set up a lemonade stand when he is on the baseball field.

I hope that they learn something from Number 4 taking the initiative.

But we talked about this tonight.

And we decided that there are things the kids can do around the house and the yard that are beyond the scope of everyday responsibilities.

Things like weeding garden beds.

Raking up the grass after the lawn has been mowed.

That kind of stuff.

Those jobs will be assigned a dollar amount.

And should the kids decide to be proactive and choose to do those jobs, they will all have the opportunity to make some money.

The good, old-fashioned way.

By earning it.

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6 replies
  1. Jane Gordon
    Jane Gordon says:

    Growing up my parents didn’t give my brother and I allowance because they were the same way, why should you be given money just for doing things that you should be doing aroung the house? Now my parents did reward us for getting good grades or if we had an issue in a class & we overcame it they would maybe treat us to something on the WEEKEND or a new outfit, FOR SCHOOL. I think what you’re doing is great, teaching your children the true value of a dollar! 🙂 Love it!

  2. Bleeping Kerri
    Bleeping Kerri says:

    I have a friend who children return recyclables and get to keep the coins from the returns. The children are much younger. Seems like a win – win….constant encouragement for your drinking and the opportunity to teach about money, recycling and the environment.

  3. swati@mammabugbitme.com
    swati@mammabugbitme.com says:

    You come up with,such thoughtful ways of teaching your children,it amazes me every time.That is everyday.My two year old knows nothing about allowance but knows we need money to buy. And has just started to accept a few ‘No’s.My almost eight year old knows all about allowance but doesn’t expect any.He reads books at a pace I can’t keep buying and we don’t have great library facilities here in Delhi.I asked him to spend a week with a book before he could start another.He got bored initially but know finds re reading fun and will even draw his own illustrations!! Learning to wait and learning to value- that’s life ‘s lemons preserved!!
    Great post this.

      MICHELLE says:

      Hi Swati- i am wondering if you heard about Little Free Library. Your community seems like it would benefit greatly from it. I have seen them set up across from schools, at playgrounds and at the end of driveways. Our town library also takes book donations and then has a book fair a couple of times a month. Here is the link for the little library: http://littlefreelibrary.org/. You are absolutely right though, your son is definitely benefiting from the multiple reads of the same book. He will be the most fluent reader in his class. 😉

  4. Bill Dwight
    Bill Dwight says:

    Allowance can be a very emotionally charged word as you point out. It implies a lack of work ethic or entrepreneurial spirit – two things most parents surely want to encourage. That said, most parents also agree that budgeting is a critical life skill and one that should be developed early. You might consider taking some specific category of expense that you are currently covering for your child (clothing is always a good one), work out a budget with your child, and have them manage that expense instead of you. It’s a great technique for developing basic money management skills while sidestepping all the emotional baggage (entitlement, etc.) of an allowance.

  5. Amoya
    Amoya says:

    This sounds a lot like Love & Logic. I do not give my kids allowance either. I just pay them for extra jobs. We call their everyday chores contributions. Mommy and Daddy contribute so they have to contribute to the household as well. Thanks for another great post!


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