To Allowance or Not to Allowance… That is the Question!



But how will they ever learn to save?

Or tithe?

Or live on a budget?

Steve and I try to end our parenting conferences with at least a short time for Q and A. It’s no surprise to us that one of the most frequently asked questions we hear concerns whether or not we should give our children an allowance.

I want to say this clearly, giving, or not giving, an allowance is not something you’re going to find in the scriptures! It definitely falls into the category of personal parental choice. Which means if you give your kids an allowance and your best friend, sister, neighbor, etc. doesn’t…That’s ok!

You have the freedom to choose, they have the freedom to choose, EVERYONE has the freedom to choose!!

But since we’re asked the question so frequently, I thought it might be helpful to share our thoughts and the decisions we’ve made for our family concerning allowances.

I certainly want my children to learn to save carefully and give generously. I also want them to learn how to budget their money and wait patiently to save for the things they want. However, I just don’t think an allowance is the best way to get to that end goal.

Let me ask you a couple of questions… Do you get paid for being a mom?

If you’re anything like me, there’s no monthly paycheck made out in your name just for being a part of the family. (Might I add, an ESSENTIAL part of the family) You don’t get a yearly W-2 or Christmas bonuses or dividend checks!

Too often, parents give their kids an allowance just for being… well…their kids. Although their end goal is noble, (helping their kids develop money-smarts) the vehicle they’re using to get there is teaching a far less noble lesson. Giving our kids money through an allowance, essentially a regular paycheck, for just “existing,” runs the risk of teaching them that they are simply entitled to that money.

Entitled kids = Demanding kids = Unhappy Moms and Dads!

Besides, you and I know that the real world just doesn’t work that way.

Another question… Do you get paid for doing the dishes, vacuuming, making beds, the list goes on and on?

No? Me, either!

The other reason parents give for presenting their kids with an allowance is that the allowance is their children’s pay for the chores they’ve completed. Again, a noble end goal, but somewhat faulty reasoning.

Chores are something we all do because we are all part of the family. Our kids aren’t doing chores to “help us out,” but rather to faithfully carry their portion of the family responsibilities. When we pay our children for doing the chores that are necessary to help our home to run smoothly, we are preparing them to become husbands and wives who only help out when there is some tangible benefit to them.

I don’t know about you, but I sure wouldn’t want a spouse who was always looking for some sort of payback for their work around the house!


Still, we want our kids to learn those money-smarts, so what are we to do?

In our family, I kept a list (quite extensive) of extra jobs that could be completed for payment. Many of those jobs were what Mike Rowe would call Dirty Jobs. They weren’t normal chores that were necessary for daily living. They were extra jobs, and as such, we were willing to pass them on, with pay, to willing workers.

Jobs like scrubbing out the big garbage cans, or organizing the garage, or cleaning out gutters, all made it on to the list. Because of our ministry, we always had opportunities for our kids to earn some money by filling orders, stuffing envelopes, reproducing DVDs, or constructing Parenting and Marriage packages.

We paid a fair wage for work well done. Honestly, if a child did the work poorly, one of two things would happen. Either they were paid less or the next time they asked for work, there were no jobs available for them.

Having our children work for their money accomplished a couple things. First, it helped them to learn that work and compensation go together and that those who don’t work won’t have money when they need it. The principle is found in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “If anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.”

Secondly, it helped them to understand that “family chores” are expected for all members of the family. Those chores aren’t extra… they’re just part of all of us living as a family, together.

With the money our children earned by completing those extra jobs, we were able to teach them those important principles of giving, saving, and spending. We were able to reach the end goal we hoped to reach, but without teaching negative character lessons that we knew would impact our kids in their future relationships.

This is just how our family chose to deal with allowances. Again, Your kids = Your decision. However, whatever you decide concerning your kids and money, remember to consider all of the lessons being imparted. Financial training is just one part of the big picture with our kids. However important it is for them to learn lessons concerning money management, equally (or perhaps, more) important are the lessons they learn about working hard in and out of their homes!

Remember, wise parenting means making wise choices with the end of wisdom in mind!