For all of the benefits of an allowance, in teaching kids how to manage money, budget, and save – there is a dark side as well: the allowance can become a tool in your war chest against child insurrection.
I’m not happy we’ve come to this place. It’s a dark place. Somehow, our household has descended into a true democracy… and the kids have the largest voting bloc. Fortunately, Tracie and I are the only producers in this economy, and we’ve just gone Galt (from Atlas Shrugged) on them.
Maybe I should take a step back.
In our house, we use allowance as a financial education tool – not as payment for jobs or chores. Handing off an allowance is a signal that says, “You have exhibited good judgment, here is some money for you to manage.” This is the same money that we were going to spend on their upkeep anyway, so it’s no skin off our backs – but it’s a huge benefit to them, as they have the freedom of choice. Of course, if they stop showing good judgment, we’re free to keep the money and decide how it should be spent…
At least, that’s how it usually works. When they’re not showing good judgment, we reserve the right to revert to the basic rule, which is, “Everything you think you own, is actually owned by us. We make the rules around here.” And that’s where we are now. Our household has entirely too much “conversation” about when and how chores are to be done, and we’re being given a lot of unsolicited opinions when we give direction on the ways in which they could improve their attitudes and performance. Somehow, our household has become one large committee, without an identified chair.
So, for the month of March, there will be no allowance. It will remain in my bank account. I’ll spend it on them, to be sure – but I’ll get to decide when and how it’s going to be spent. There might not be any Magic Cards, or cell phone top-up minutes, or duct tape (don’t ask!) this month. They aren’t going to suffer, but they will experience once again what it’s like to be without money, and dependent on someone else to make all monetary decisions on your behalf.
I hope it’s not pleasant for them.