Kids and allowances are always a tough subject to handle. Should you pay kids? How much? Do you pay for chores? What about teens and teaching them how to handle money?
Kids and activities are easy topic for me to handle. Since we have 5 kids and a limited budget, we usually stick to one activity per kid per season. So far, our elementary-age kids and teenage son have been fine with this. We usually take the summer and winter off from sports while continuing to do scouting.
I originally wrote this post in response to a series of tips written by Laine of Laine’s List. I updated it to reflect where we are now with kids, money, and activities.
In Laine’s letter on paying off her home mortgage early, one of her tips relates to kids, activities and allowances. Since the family’s income is tight, Laine and her husband allow their children to be involved in music lessons and activities at their church. They’ve also encouraged their teenage children to use their musical skills to make some money such as giving lessons to younger children. Laine and her husband don’t pay their children an allowance, instead they pay them for jobs around the house, similar to what Amy Dacycyzn describes in The Complete Tightwad Gazette.
Allowances for Kids
In my family, for the longest time only one of our children receives an allowance – our teenager. Honestly, we’ve struggled a bit with the allowance thing over the years for several reasons. When it was just one child, there weren’t many chores to do. We also liked the idea of tying money and work together though we never sat down to figure out how to make that happen. While we never encouraged our oldest to save any of his money, he was not a spender, and became quite frugal with his buying and selling used games at Gamestop.
I personally think that children do need an opportunity to handle money on a regular basis. Even though I feel like we need to work more with our oldest on some areas of personal finance, I do think he is frugal with his purchases and capable of saving money if he wants something big. He’s also been developing a pretty good work ethic.
For the younger kids, my daughter and I took the money in their 4 piggy banks to a local bank with a coin machine and set up passbook savings accounts.We have the 4 younger kids put 25% of their allowance into their savings accounts. When they receive money at First Communion time, we allow them to have $50, and the remainder of the money goes into their college savings accounts.
Activities for Kids
Since we have 5 kids, we’ve always had an activities category in our budget. Each child has one activity in fall, winter, and spring. Generally, we sign the kids up for the same sport where possible, taking advantage of multiple child discounts when we can. While we would love to do music lessons, reality is that we can’t afford them nor do we have the time for them in our schedule.
Since sports equipment can be costly, we have stuck to the “cheaper” sports like soccer and baseball. I try to keep an eye out for cleats at thrift shops, consignment clothing sales, and garage sales, with the option of purchasing the cleats at a local sports store as my plan B. I found most of our soccer balls at Five Below and only paid $4 each for them.
A few years ago, we started participating in local scouting programs for boys and girls. Boy Scouts, Venturing, and Girl Scouts run during the school year with opportunities for making new friends and learning new skills like selling and speaking in public. The cost to join is much lower than registration fees for sports, and the kids help to raise money to finance their activities. Overall, joining scouts has been a great experience for our kids.
What is your experience with kids, activities, and allowances? Please share in the comments.
50 Ways to Leave Your Debt Behind Series
Give to the Poor
Pay Back All Debts
Save, Save, Save
Make a Budget
More on Electricity
Cooking from Scratch
Make Savings a Bill to Pay
Phone, cable, and internet access
Good food, Quality ingredients
Waste Not Want Not
How Can I Be Thankful and Content?
It’s Not the Amount of Money that Comes In
Kids, Activities, and Allowances
Just Stay Home
Maintenance and Renovation
Organizing Saves Time and Money
Shared at: Clever Chicks