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« Is Your Car's Odometer Costing You Money? | Main | Parting Words of Wisdom from Jonathan Clements »

April 24, 2008


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I think like all things in the real world, dealing with kids. What works and motivates one kid will not work on all kids. It might be great for some kids and it might not work on others. I also think it is much more important all the other money lessons you are teaching them, along with their allowance.

It's every parent's right to dock their child's allowance, but I can't say from my own experience as a kid that this was very effective. My parents did it, and it provoked long term bitterness and didn't do much to change my behavior.

I think fines are appropriate some of the time to curb bad habits, as is withholding money for chores that weren't completed. These both reflect the real world pretty well.

But I wouldn't take away money as a punishment for bad behavior. In my opinion, discipline and/or correction should be immediate and directly tied to the bad behavior (if possible). Money doesn't do that for most infractions.

The author of this article argued that "revoking an allowance has no practical application in life." I disagree and here's why: Their son was mouthing off to his mom about homework assignments and failing to take out the garbage (his household duty, I would assume) several times. I'm not sure about the rest of you, but in REAL LIFE, if I mouthed off to my boss and then failed to perform some of my obligations(intentionally or not), I may be on the chopping block for losing my job. In other words, by not doing what I am supposed to be doing, I have a very good potential of losing my income. If you ask me, that's a practical application.

"I tried that early on, when my son was much younger, rescinding his allowance for misbehaving in school. It was a disaster; he learned to lie about his transgressions to protect his money."

That is a problem with every punishment, the only solution is to never give your child negative consequences for things. Weak objection at best I think

Taking away money for not doing the chores is fine. The child is getting paid to do a job. But using money to dictate behavior can have consequences.
There is a fine line between teaching a person good behavior and trying to control their behavior. Taking away money simply because the disagree with you or they are argumentative is wrong. Children need to be taught that its okay to express themselves. Punishing them for speaking their mind will only damage their growth. Taking away money because they disagree with you is punishing the child for being themselves. My father did this to me and all it did was take away my self confidence and made it harder for me to grow into an adult.

I agree that a child shouldn't get an allowance "just because he's cute and was born. ", but he shouldn't get it just for good behavior either.

This sends a very bad message that one should only behave properly if there is a monetary reward for doing so. It's also not how things work in the real world. People earn an income for performing a task or service that other people find valuable, not for having a sweet disposition. (I'm ignoring Hollywood and the celebrity culture here, but that isn't an option for 95+% of the public anyway.)

Also, I think that people accumulate such financial baggage in the way they think, feel and behave about money that tying money to behavior has a great potential to add to that baggage. I believe that an allowance should be provided for performing tasks (chores) and used to educate the child in personal finance and money management.

I generally agree with the wife and disagree with the author for the most part.

I think that tying any behavior fines to the paying of allowance is confusing. If you fine a child for bad behavior and its associated with their working for allowance then the message gets confused. The dad is trying to equate fining someone for bad behavior with work lessons and that is what the child might be getting out of it as well. You do lose money in life due to bad decisions (e.g. speeding tickets) but thats not part of work. So personally I'd keep the behavior fines separate to not confuse messages.

On the other hand not doing your chores is an obvious reason to not pay allowance in this situation. If you don't do your job then your boss doesn't pay you. So when the child failed to take out the trash he shouldn't get paid. That is part of the lesson about work.

Personally I'd also introduce rewards for good behavior. I'd pay the child money as a reward for getting good grades in school for example. My parents did this for me and it worked well to motivate me.


Tying allowance to chores makes sense to me, so withholding some allowance for chores that weren't performed also makes sense. However, it's important to make sure the allowance reflects the amount of work being done.

For example, because I was the girl, I was told to do all the cleaning and laundry for all people in the family. For that I was paid the same allowance that my brother got for simply existing and occasionally putting out the trash. I was an impressionable kid and believed that the situation reflected my actual worth. It took 25 years for me to finally leave underpaid cleanup work. I still see many women my age (40s) accepting far too little pay and wonder what messages they got as kids.

I'm trying to find how this teaches kids about money and money management. All an allowance does is teach kids how to work for money...and not how money works. Now, I'm not against allowances. And granted, I don't know what else goes on beyond that with the family above, but what about saving? A slush fund? Debt? Investing? Banking? The more you teach your kids about "money", and not just working for it, the better their chances in becoming financially secure when they're adults.

We've given our kids an allowance since they were in first grade. We increase it every year and we always take out a little as "withholding". The money goes in a can and when it gets full we take it to the bank. We wanted to make sure the kids understand that all income isn't disposable.

We give our kids an allowance for two reasons. One is because they have to have some money to buy things. The other is to teach them about money. As they have become older and get a bigger allowance we have started to make them pay for more things. For instance, we'll still give them money to go to the movies, but only enough to get in. If they want to pay $5 for a soda and popcorn they have to use their own cash.

As our oldest enters her last 2 years in high school we are considering significantly increasing her allowance but requiring her to make more of her own purchases of clothes, music and once she gets her driver's license, gasoline. She works in the summer but not during the school year and we encourage her to save at least 1/3 of her pay.

We've never tied allowance to chores. They have to do chores because they live with us. If they don't do their chores they don't get to go out until they're finished with them. It's hardly ever been a problem because nothing is worse than staying home with mom and dad.

Animal trainers will tell you that positive reinforcement (at irregular intervals) works a zillion times better than negative reinforcement. Fining your kid for biting his mouth just means he'll either try to detect evasion or lapse back into the habit once the enforcement is over. Rewarding him when he goes some length of time for not doing it is much better.

Also, by withholding allowance for failing to do chores you are basically teaching your kid that work around the household is something you do for the cash, rather than because you are part of the household.

My dear stepson gets paid per job. He gets .50cents to fed and water the dog. (Yes, that does work out to be $60 bucks an hour.) Regardless, he forgot one night last week. He fed her an hour late and didn't put his usual check mark on the calendar. He made the poor thing wait so he took no pay. Gotta love a kid who disciplines himself.

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