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You know who else needs a budget and needs to learn how to manage their money? Your kids.
Being deeply invested in budgeting with more kids than most, I’ve given this subject a lot of thought.
Allowance has always been a huge hassle for us. It’s hard to be consistent, it creates a lot of undue overhead, which makes it even harder to be consistent.
After interviewing Ron, Lieber, the author of The Opposite of Spoiled, last year, we changed things up. Ron has studied and researched for years focused on how to raise kids who are grateful, kind, generous, and just generally not spoiled. I asked him about his #1 biggest takeaway, and what he said surprised me: separate chores from allowance.
Huh. I had to think about that a little bit, but it began to make a lot of sense to me, and we’ve since implemented with great success.
We give our kids chores so they can learn to work and contribute. They are part of a family and it is important for each of them to do their part, and appreciate the contributions of one another.
We give them money—an allowance, totally independent of chores—so they can learn how to manage money.
We used to attach commissions to different jobs. When we ran into some quality control issues, then we were paying based on how well your chores were done, how few times we had to ask you to do them, or whether or not Mom was in a good mood when payment came due. It was impossible to be consistent. Not to mention it felt like anytime we asked them to do something they were expecting to get paid. The balance was all off.
Now, we pay our kids an allowance every week. It is the same amount, every single time. It has nothing to do with chores or behavior. You just get it.
Part of me still reacts a little bit like, “No! That’s not right! You don’t just get money. What are we teaching these kids if you just get money automatically for breathing?” But we are very disciplined when it comes to chores.
We’re teaching them to work. Everyone does their chores, everyone is contributing to the family. This isn’t something you get paid for. You don’t get an extra gold star. It is just what is expected. It’s just a part of being in our family.
And we’re teaching them to manage their money. The whole point of the allowance is to let them experience holding money, handling money, losing money, saving money—managing money. It takes practice. You must battle with your own emotions, weigh your own priorities, experience the consequences. The allowance provides valuable practice.
For us right now, with kids ranging from 13 to one, we’ve drawn a hard line between chores and allowance and it’s working very well. What is working for you and your family?
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Remember, budgeting is not restrictive. You won’t be spending less, you’ll be spending right. You can do this! Today. Right now. What do you have to lose? Except all that debt and stress. (Ok, so kind of a lot.)
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