Allowance, Cash and Unschooling

Our finances have been tight lately and a few months back, Wyl (9) graciously agreed to take I.O.U.s for his weekly allowance. I've been keeping track in my head and the last 3 weeks, he's been asking how much he has "saved up" (which I thought was cool-he doesn't see it as us "owing" him, but as us saving it aside for him), and doing the math (very quickly) as to what he'll have next week and the week after-all the way up to $140-stopping because "it's even". He even requested that even if we can afford to start giving him his allowance again, if we could save it anyway until he had that $140 because it would be cool to have all that money as *his* at one time.

He hugged me and wished me a happy Mother's Day as he and Dave went up to bed a bit after midnight tonight. Dave came back down a while later to see if lying on the couch would help ease his shoulder pain and he told me that Wyl asked him if he could have some of his allowance. Dave asked why and Wyl said he wanted to buy me a present. After some discussion, they agreed that Dave would put in some money, but Wyl could use some of his allowance *and* Wyl got to pick it out. 🙂 I seriously doubt I would have gotten such a lovely, generous "gift planning" if I'd have either controlled his spending and/or made savings or chores a stipulation of allowance *or* if I'd have made gifts a "requirement" of holidays.

"Teaching" or requiring gift giving tends to thwart sharing. Generosity with kids leads to them being generous with others. Funny how that "Do as I say not as I do" just seems to backfire on parents that rely on it...


From Radical Unschooling Info, July 2013:

Colleen Prieto:

My 10 year old has about $75 saved up from the weekly spending money we give him. A couple days ago, he told me he didn't want an allowance for a while, because there's nothing in particular he's saving up for. He said "I don't need to keep getting money just to have more - if there's something I want, then you can buy it for me, or you can allowance me again til I have enough."

My husband looked at him, looked at me, smiled, and said "this is another one of those side-effects of unschooling isn't it? He has enough, and he's happy. He's just HAPPY."

I said I think so, yes. A pretty cool side-effect of unschooling - knowing when you've had enough (food, cake, money, candy, TV, or anything else). And being happy. 🙂

Though I rarely duplicate information within my website, this story has been put here, at "Unforeseen benefits,"
and at "Generosity" because it was too multi-faceted to put in just one place.

Allowance has been discussed on lists from time to time.

Always Learning. There used to be some direct links here. The first one could be identified, but the "money" and "allowance" were insufficient to find The One Link, so... those link to several, and you can pick what looks good, if you want to read more.

Children Staying Home? about older kids and money

Some discussions mentioning allowance or money

From December, 2001:


But what about money? I've been thinking of starting an allowance for him, but not sure how to go about it. I think it might help him to know/have some control over when we can and can't get stuff. Instead of it just being sort of a luck of the draw to him.
I have been thinking about working out a allowance system with my dd. She's 7 and has a pretty good grasp of the 'we can or can't afford it' scene, but I would like for her to be able to save up for the bigger ticket items that I can't buy her spontaneously. Can anyone tell me how they handle allowances (like how often and how much)? I need some food for thought. Thanks
We give our nearly 11 year old son a relatively large allowance. He gets $15 a week, but from the early days of his getting an allowance we showed him how to budget it into different categories. The way it works right now is he puts $6 a week into his spending bank, $5 a week goes into savings, $2.50 a week goes into a piggy bank that's set aside for gifts for others, and $1.50 goes to charity (his choice of charities). He's happy with the system so far and frequently will put his spending money into one of the other categories. Recently he's been trying to make sure he'll have enough for everyone's Christmas presents so he's shifted a good bit to that fund. Often he's added to the charity bank. He has his own Quicken file on the computer with four accounts showing how much he has and where he spends his money. He seems to enjoy using Quicken. He sure keeps up with it better than I do with our accounts.
Pam S:
Ours is one dollar per month for each year old a child is. So the 10 yo gets $10 per month and the 14 yo gets $14 per month. HOWEVER - we made a drastic increase in the amount when my oldest daughter started getting interested in clothes and long-distance phone calls and buying lots of gifts for friends, etc. When I noticed that we were butting heads, over and over, whenever we were out - that I was having to CONSTANTLY decide, on the spur of the moment, whether to buy something for her, or not, we upped her monthly allowance to $50 a month and she is supposed to buy all her own clothes, accessories, gifts, and pay phone bills. We don't stick to it very well - I buy her clothes when I feel like it. But this way it is a sort of gift from us and she never asks, she just assumes she is paying and is very grateful when I step in and say, "I'll pay for that for you." Now she is 17 and has a paying job and we still give her that money and still buy stuff for her when we feel like it. She wants to spend her earned money on going to all THREE sessions of Not-Back-to-School Camp in the fall.
We usually start the kids out about 3 years old, getting a dollar for every year. We do not tie it to anything other than being a member of the family. The kids tend to share amongst themselves and are often buying candy for one another. Dh and I pop for all their activities, movies, etc.. They usually spend their money for candy, occasionally toys and Adriane just saved up for a personal CD player.

I have to share an "Aaahhh" moment. We were coming out of Walmart and Zach (8yo) has a fit. "Who is that guy thinking he's Santa? He doesn't even look like Santa." Finally figured out he was talking about the Salvation Army bell ringer. We talked about what the Salvation Army is and what they do. Zach and Marsie (5yo) walked over and emptied the last remnants of their allowances into the pot. I almost cried.

Mary Hickman:
I have been giving my kids paychecks since about 3, once they stopped putting it in their mouths or ripping it. I decided to give them 1/2 their age,( my way of introducing fractions) so at 3 they got $1.50 a week, at 7 they get $3.50 a week. Somewhere along the way I read that money comes in different ways, gifts, work, dividends, etc. Treat allowances like gifts, giving $ just because the child is part of the family. I have allowed my kids to work for $ too, like watch the baby for 15 minute for a quarter. I do not pay them for regular chores, these are expected.

My oldest is great with $. She has saved for important to her items. She treats those items very well. She is now saving all her $ for a camera. She thinks at $14.00 a month she will get her camera a year or so from now. She will stay focused on the camera, I know her. I have also slit items with her. Scooters are the rage here and mine do not have them. She started to save, I said we would split it. She realized a stereo was more important to her, had saved $40.00 already and we went to the store where she proudly got her item.

My 5 year old is just starting to understand his power with money. As he unfolds I'll share more stories.

Oh, my 7 year old has now decided to get her money all at once at the end of the month. Her choice.

A story slightly involving allowance, but a snapshot of how kids who aren't desperate for money can act:
Yesterday (June 3, 2006) two of Marty's friends were going to pick him up to go run around, but they ended up staying here. Then another friend came over to see all my kids. Then a friend of Kirby's from work came over. I hadn't met her before. She was nice. So my three (14, 17, 19) plus four more (17-21) were all having a great time laughing and looking at stuff on Kirby's computer and around our house, and Marty's big Lego Viking village, and so forth.

They decided to go out for ice cream and then to see "Over the Hedge." I asked Holly if she needed money, and she didn't. (She saves her allowance up.) Every other person there has a job. Outside of Kirby possibly having an interest in the girl from work, there were no couples. Two of those kids do have steady others, but didn't bring them over. So it was four teenaged girls, four teenaged boys, no romantic tension (unless Kirby and new-girl; didn't see any).

And here's the big success part. They asked Keith if he wanted to go. I didn't know they had, when Marty came and asked me if I wanted to go. So they would have taken me, or Keith, or both of us, with them.

We separately thanked them and declined and found out later they had asked us both. Pretty sweet!

We didn't "teach them" to invite their parents to the movies. 🙂 One advantage of our not going was that then they could fit into the big van and didn't have to take two cars.

(original post on Always Learning)

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