For school age children, an allowance serves two purposes:
- An allowance motivates children to assume responsibilities around the home. These tasks should contribute to the family's (and not just the child's) well-being. Yes, children need to learn to care for themselves (clean up their room), but they also need to contribute to the family.
- An allowance introduces children to the value of money—to saving, budgeting, and planning. These are life skills that are important to acquire. School-age children are not ready to assume the responsibility for purchasing necessary items, from clothing to school supplies, but their allowance can be used for discretionary purchases. For that reason, it should be only a modest amount. However, since discretionary purchases tend to increase with age, so should a child's allowance.
Make sure your child clearly understands the purpose of an allowance. If you use it as a reward or payment for chores, then the rules should be clear about what your youngster needs to do to earn that money, and you need to abide by the agreement that you make.
If the allowance is provided for discretionary spending and to teach money management, then a different set of rules apply. Spell out the amount, purpose, and expectations for the money in advance, and monitor the spending to teach important decision-making lessons.