Here's Why I Don't Believe in Giving My Kids an Allowance


There was a time when my kids got a couple of dollars out of me each week just for, well, being my kids, I guess. Back then, a lot of their friends had started getting a weekly allowance, so I jumped on the bandwagon and went the same route.

But I realized after a while that I wasn’t a fan of paying my kids an allowance at all. So I’ve since stopped doing that and have begun taking a different approach to financial offerings for my kids instead.

You don’t get money just for being

The main reason I stopped giving my kids an allowance was this: I realized that just as I, as an adult, am not entitled to any sort of recurring payment simply for existing, so too are my kids not entitled to one on the basis of simply being members of this household.

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To put it another way, I was tired of handing my kids money — money they came to expect — for nothing in return. It didn’t seem like I was teaching my kids any sort of valuable lesson.

True, my kids were taught early on about budgeting with their allowance. I explained that they could save their money for bigger purchases or spend it on smaller things for instant gratification — the choice was theirs. And I guess there was some value in going through that exercise — but not enough to get me to keep giving out an allowance just because.

A better system

These days, there’s no allowance in my house. You get birthday money (sometimes, and usually not from me), holiday money (again, that’s usually the grandparents), and Tooth Fairy money (all me). But otherwise, if you want extra spending money, you have to earn it.

To be fair, though, I do give my kids a chance to earn small amounts of money by doing chores around the house beyond what’s expected of them. For example, I won’t pay my kids to pick up their own junk off the floor or put away their laundry. But if they help me put away general household laundry, like sheets and towels and stuff, I might throw them a couple of dollars (I never said my hourly rate was excellent). 

Similarly, sometimes I don’t have the time or patience to sit with my younger kids while they do schoolwork or projects. So on occasion, I’ll offer to pay my son a modest sum to sit there in my place. 

And yes, you could argue that helping out is something a sibling should just do. But the way I see it, he has enough of his own schoolwork to handle, so if he’s taking 30 minutes to help a younger sibling, I can throw $5 his way. 

Recent data from T. Rowe Price found that 79% of parents give their kids an allowance. Of those, many respondents say that their kids have to earn that money. But 16% give an allowance with no strings attached. 

I don’t judge other parents who feel that giving an allowance is right for them. But it doesn’t work for me. Unfortunately for my kids, there won’t be any handouts in my household anytime soon. 

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