Who Knows Where I Can Buy A Money Tree?

Does anyone else’s kid act like money grows on trees?  My kids don’t get the concept of money AT ALL.  They think there is a little plastic card that will buy them anything they want, and they don’t realize that at some point every month, the grim reaper comes to call.

Or, as my brother said to my mom when he was a little boy, “But mom, you have money.  You still have checks left!”

My 8-year-old son has just recently become very curious about money.  He wants to know what everything costs.  He is intrigued with the whole concept of credit cards, and he looks forward to getting his allowance every week.

In an attempt to dispel the myth my children seem to hold that material possessions are easy to come by and even easier to replace, we have begun giving allowances.  I have read a lot of theories on the allowance and how to handle it – to tie it to chores or not, to give it or not, and there are good arguments on every side.  We have come up with a little system that seems to work for us.

As I said, we do give an allowance.  Yes, I realize it is all coming from the same pot, and they are still spending our money.  But we figure that giving the children an appropriate amount of money to manage each week is a good lesson in the value of possessions and also money management.  So we don’t just hand out bills and call it a day.  We teach them to give some, save some, and spend some.

Hub gives allowance on Sunday mornings, and they each take a portion to church for the offering plate.  The rest they put in their piggy banks.  Then when we go to the mall or Target or the pool, if they want a treat, they buy it themselves.  I don’t buy toys for no occasion.  If they want something, they can save up for it.

As they get older, we will give them more money to manage and more to be responsible for.  I have a friend who has her kids purchase all of their personal belongings from their allowances.  The kids who like pricey clothes learn to buy a few nice items.  The ones who don’t care so much about labels may get more clothes for the money they have.  She says she gives them the amount she would normally spend on their clothes and other necessities, and then they have to manage it themselves.  She likes how this cuts down on the kids begging for the big-name labels that cost 3X what they should.  If they want them, they must learn to sacrifice in other areas.  I think that makes a lot of sense.

We don’t tie our children’s allowance to their chores.  They do have a few basic chores to do, and otherwise they are expected to pitch in and help around the house when we ask.  We feel that this is just part of being a family.  If there are big jobs to do, we may offer to pay them extra.  As they get older, we’ll flesh this out a bit more.  It might get to the point when withholding allowance might be a good consequence to slacking on chores, but at this age, we haven’t found that to be necessary.

So how do you handle allowances and chores in your household?  I’d love to know.

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20 Responses

  1. My kids think the little plastic card supplies an unlimited cash flow too.

    I’m currently trying to figure out an allowance plan for my kids. They have chores and I’m thinking of making a chart and every time they do a chore they get a sticker or something and then each sticker is worth a quarter or something like that.

    I don’t have all the details worked out yet, but I’ve heard of people doing it this way and it seemed to work out pretty good.

  2. if you find a money tree, can i have a seed so i can plant my own?

    ellie’s favorite new saying is “that’s too ‘spensive. lets wait until its on sale.”
    wonder where she picked that up! 😉

  3. I am so glad you’re talking about this. We parents have a responsibility to teach our kids about money–it’s so important for us to help them grow into responsible adults. Parents shouldn’t be afraid to talk to their kids about money.

    We have two teenage daughters and a 10-year-old daughter. When they were very young (like 4 years old) we would give them 4 quarters on a Sunday morning. They had three jars and, as they put the quarters in their jars they would say, “One for God (God always gets His money first!), One for savings, Two for spending.” As the girls got older we would increase the amount to 8 quarters (they’d go through their routine twice) and then 4 dollar bills.

    Now that two are in high school, we’ve gone to a system similar to the one your friend uses. The girls get “paid” every other week–whenever Dad gets paid (Mom doesn’t get paid). They buy all of their own clothes (except for big stuff like coats and shoes) and all of their entertainment expenses. They are expected as long as they live in our house, to tithe 10%. If they don’t have enough money, they get a job. Both girls babysit and the older daughter is now on her second “real” job.

    The point about wanting “nicer” clothes is important here, too. A couple of weeks ago I was shopping with my girls, and my older daughter decided to spend nearly $70 on a pair of jeans at Nordstrom. Now, I have never spent that kind of money on a pair of jeans in my life, but it didn’t bother me that she was doing it because IT WASN’T MY MONEY! It was her choice to allocate her money in the way she chose. In fact, we were talking about the allowance arrangement we have and she said, “Yeah, Mom, you never would have bought me that pair of jeans if YOU were buying my clothes.” Darn tootin, honey! 🙂

    Anyway, I could go on and on, but I want to encourage parents to definitely give their kids some responsiblity for how they spend their money. They will be much better for it in the long run.

  4. We give our kids a commission. This is a Dave Ramsey thing. We have a chore chart and every time they complete a chore they get a mark. Each mark is worth a quarter. If they do a bigger job than usual, we just put two marks in our “other” category. Right now their chores are cleaning their room, helping with dishes, sorting laundry, folding laundry, dusting, vacuuming the kitchen, and other. As they get older, cleaning their room will not earn money, but right now we are still trying to teach the concept of work being tied to payment, and there are only so many things they can do. They get paid every two weeks, when Husband gets paid. They have a spend bag, save bag, and give bag. We do a rough 80/10/10 split. They take the give bag to church. They can use their spend money on whatever they want. The first time they took their spend money to the store was agonizing! None of them had enough money for what they wanted and they spent an hour looking at everything and deciding if they wanted to buy something to keep saving. They all ended up buying coloring books. We haven’t really elaborated on what the save money is for, but we figure that will come in time. For now they accept that spend is all they are allowed to use. This was a really long comment! My favorite part of the whole system is that I don’t have to sort the laundry any more, and a lot of times I don’t have to fold it.

  5. oh this is such a big issue in my house… my kids just think we should be able to just keep giving and giving and giving, they have no sense of what money is really worth. I have three daughters.. 17,14,12 and one son 7… they all love to buy stuff when I am the one spending…LOL…if its their money they are not quite so frugal.
    We have tried before to give allowances and then we have slipped and stopped doing it.
    Just this month we have started giving the kids money again… I also don’t want to attach chores to it, I too feel that chores are just a part of being a family. But I have told them that they will stop getting it if they don’t help make sure that their bathroom and bedrooms and stuff are not a pig sty. They can use the money for whatever they need for the month. I didn’t include that it had to cover all the clothes they might need, but it is for all the other extras. My oldest two have cell phones and I am starting to make them pay for them every month too..which they are not happy about, but oh well… and if they don’t pay up then we get to take their phone away. Both my older girls do not think they need to get a little part time job… but they are going to see soon that they definately do. Especially my daughter in grade 12….
    I think you are doing a great job.

  6. My two and a half year old wanted something at the Dollar Tree and I found myself with only two dollars. I refuse to use a credit or debit card there, so I told her that I didn’t have any money. Her response was, “Mommy has a credit card.”. Obviously, she sees me use the plastic for our grocery and Target rips a little too much!

  7. We don’t necessarily do the allowance for chores either. We believe like you do, we’re a family and we all have to pitch in and do our part. They do receive an allowance of sort if they go above and beyond (meaning cleaning up brush outside, raking, etc.) Otherwise, they just save up their birthday/Christmas money for what they want.

  8. We’ve decided to give an allowance, but not link it to the chores on the kids’ charts either. However, I do place a “Jobs for Money” chart on the fridge. If the older one is looking for a little extra to pad his pocket, he can choose from one of those chores and make more money.

    We’ve been trying to explain money/credit to #1, and he is big time against credit cards now. Gets a bit embarrassing when he starts yelling at me in the checkout aisle for pulling out the debit card. All plastic looks alike to him!

  9. Money managing is a really hard concept. Whether you use all cash and go to the bank to get more, whether you use checks, or a credit or debit cards; kids visualize that it is easy to get money.

    Right now I don’t do allowance at all, however, I do tell my son when he asks that Daddy has to work hard so that we have money to buy food, have a house and stuff like that. He knows very well that I buy practically nothing that isn’t on sale and that there are things that cost too much money.

    I never got an allowance as a child, so I don’t necessarily think that you have to, however, I do think you have to be transparent about money with your kids. Don’t pretend that money is easy to get, but also don’t pretend like you have no money if you do.

  10. There may not be any money trees but Princess thinks there is something similar.

    Last night Honey took her with to do some banking. She came home with a lollipop, as is known to happen when a teller sees this cute child of ours. I asked her where she got the lollipop and her answer made me bust out laughing. “The Money Store!”

    Oh, how I wish.

  11. We followed a similar plan to your friends when my children were young with one major addition. Both kids are big readers and I’m a huge fan of owning and rereading books so we had 3 “allowances” One for their clothes, school supplies etc, one for them to spend or save as they wanted, and the third was a monthly that accompanied a trip to the book store. Both are now in their late teens and are very good at budgeting and controlling their money. I may not agree with all their decisions but I recognize the thought they put into it. Heck of a start for them.

  12. We don’t due allowance really. My kids are good about not asking for things, since they know how limited our resources are. We were watching a show last night, and one of the AllTell commercials came on. The cost was something like 79 a month, and Boo goes “That is to expensive, we can’t afford that”. Smart girl.

    We have always made them save for things that they want, or pay for half. Boo paid for half of Camp Rock, and Hunter has paid for his own video games. If there is something they really are saving for, they ask for extra things to earn money (folding laundry, doing the dishes all weekend or cleaning the garage).

    They do have small chores, but nothing major. They are also expected to help when we ask, and not give attitude about it. This has only come into play a couple times, but overall no issues there.

    We have talked about allowacnce for Hunter, but he isn’t at our house often enough, only two weekends a month. Sometimes if he has worked really hard on things at home, or even if he has had a great week at his mom’s we have given him a couple dollars. It is a once in a while type thing.

  13. Let me know when you plant your money tree – I’ll be over to pick from it.
    Moose is getting better with asking for things and saving up his money. He asked to open a bank account the other day.
    My girls don’t get it at all. Whenever we buy something at the store and the clerk gives us change they think that we are getting money, not paying for something.
    Although, I have to say that Webkinz has helped them understand saving. If they want something in W World they have to work for it and save their money. They also worry about caring for their online pet and making sure they eat and all. So something is getting through their little heads.
    Good Luck!

  14. I grew up on the same sort of system you described for your kids, and we’ll probably do that when ours get old enough. I agree completely with all of your reasonings (no surprise). I guess the clothing/necessities included in it is just the same thing with a bigger scope (more allowance given, more expected.) My parents didn’t give us much, but they also didn’t expect us to buy our own clothes. (Usually.) We’ll play that part by ear. 🙂

  15. We give allowance, too. $1 per year (my 6 year old gets $6 per week) to be divided between 3 jars – save, spend & give. They allowance isn’t necessarily linked to chores, but if I end up having to do their chores, they have to pay me. When I give the warning that I’m about to make a bed, they usually come running!

  16. We started using a kids savings program called KidsSave.

    Our kids love it – their pocket money gets paid in automatically. If they want to buy something, I deduct the money from their “account”. They love to see the balance grow in their account, and are much more reluctant to see anything being deducted.

    Birthday money and any extra money from the grandparents also gets added.

    You can even chose to pay the kids interest on their money to encourage more saving.

    Here is the link


    It offers a free trial, and by the end my kids begged me to purchase it.

  17. Great topic! My oldest is almost four, so we’ve yet to do anything with an allowance. But, we do talk about not getting everything we want and waiting until something is on sale before buying it. She also loves cutting coupons. I guess it is a start.

  18. We have not given our girls allowances. We always figured we supply them with what they need but don’t always give them everything they want.

    A few years ago we started paying them for jobs we would not normally ask them to do. We always pay them to mow the grass and they mow for our neighbor too. They also babysit and make a good amount of money each time.

    They pay for their own entertainment and if they want to do some shopping, they fork out the cash. They quickly decided that they would hit the sale rack first and do a great job spending their cash. They know that we won’t pay for everything.

    If they need something we will pay for it but the wants are up to them.

    We whole encourage them to give to the Lord first, save second and spend last. This is something we continue to work on with them but they know our expectations and don’t give us much trouble.

    Good luck with that money tree!


  19. I think it is our job, in this land of plenty, to go out of our way to create some hardship for our kids. I say “NO” a lot even though we could easily afford to say “yes.” When they see us with easy access to cash, the message is conflicting no matter how much they know how to manage their own $$.

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