W hether you call it an allowance or pocket money, this is an issue that every parent has to face at some time.

Your kids will raise the issue if you don’t so you’d better be clear about the issue. Should you give your children  an allowance, and when?

An allowance has more power than a heard of wildebeest thundering across the Mara. This is the first time your child will be able to understand the power of personal choice that money can bring.

Those who believe that pocket money is a good thing, argue that it teaches kids financial literacy – they learn to understand the value of money.

Those who do not agree with the idea say that allowances take away parental power and authority, and teach nothing more than greed.

Parents choose one of these approaches because they assume it will shape their children into successful adults. After all, children’s first and best experience with money is how it is handled in their families.

Every child grows up hearing “When you grow up, you can buy that with your own money.” But why wait until kids are grown to teach them how to manage cash?

Whether or not to give children an allowance is a personal choice for each family. But if you have capacity in your household budget, giving your kids a weekly stipend can be a powerful teaching tool.

So, when to begin? And how much to give? Here are some tips to help you decide:

When are children ready to learn how to handle money? It depends on your kids and also on how much money and added responsibilities you want to give them.

Decide how much to give. It doesn’t have to be a lot. This certainly depends on how much the parents have to give and what expenses your child is expected to pay with the pocket money. If you expect the child to buy lunch at school of maybe even his/or her own clothes, then you need to be reasonable. A child whose allowance is simply “fun money” would probably receive less.

Chores or no Chores

Decide whether you want the allowance to be tied to chores. Or not. It can be a good motivating factor for youngsters who are a bit lazy about making their beds; helping with the cooking or mowing the lawn. Other families follow the philosophy that kids receive an allowance because they are part of the family. They may also have responsibilities around the house, but the two are not directly related.

Parents Need to be Committed

Payment – parents need to be committed. Set a day of the week as payday and make sure you have the right money ready. You can’t mess around with this date; otherwise you’re sending the message that regular payments aren’t that important. This teaching tool will only be as good as mom or dad allows it to be.

Then there is the other approach of no allowance at all.  This is probably a common one in most African countries. The idea here is that we are all part of the same family, and we should all contribute what we can to the common good, helping with chores simply because the family needs them done.





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