For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High. —Psalms 50:10-14
The Bible tells us that God owns everything in the world – the animals, the mountains, food and drink, even us. We’re on this earth because God wants us to be here. We’re simply borrowing all the pieces of His world until God calls us back to Him. In return, we need to treat this world with respect and repay God in kind. This is the same teaching Christians can take when considering allowances for children.
Dave Ramsey, a radio host and personal finance guru, advises keeping allowances and everyday at-home tasks separate. “Keep in mind kids shouldn’t get paid for every little thing they do around the house,” advised Ramsey. “There are some jobs they should have to do just because they’re part of the family, or because mom or dad tells them to do that job. Some of these jobs should have a higher purpose, too. As a parent, you want to find as many teachable moments for your kids as possible.”
Once they’ve earned their money, sit down with them and divide it into three separate envelopes: one for saving, one for spending, and one for giving. This way, they get to learn about these three important things while they’re learning how to work.
According to Ramsey, “Teaching kids that there’s an emotional connection between work and money is one of the best things you’ll ever do as a parent. If they learn this when they’re five, chances are they won’t be clueless and financially irresponsible when they’re 55!”
One of the biggest questions you should consider is what you want an allowance to represent to your children. Do you want them to expect cash every week, or do you want to teach them that they have to work to get paid, as in life? Are making the bed, taking out the trash and doing the dishes weekly or daily chores for your children? Do they recognize these tasks as tasks that need to be done for the family, or tasks that are done for the sole reason of getting paid for it? Teach them their responsibility to the family.
Shane Barkley, author of Dad Cents, writes in his book, “I don’t want my children to grow up with the mindset that they should be paid for everything they do. I want them to be very aware that they can bless others through acts of service, whether it’s a family member or a neighbor in need. With this approach, I think they will be more likely to be generous and not always think about what they can get in return for their efforts.”
Be sure to also teach your children about the value of the dollars they are receiving. Have them set aside funds for a savings account and funds for the church. It is an important lesson to learn that not every dollar they earn should they or will they necessarily keep. Teaching the importance of giving to those less fortunate – through monetary or other means – is a basic Christian principle that is taught even in Sunday School.
Whether you decide to give your kids an allowance or not, think about the values you want to teach them beforehand. While it’s nice for kids to have their own cash on hand and to be able to make their own decisions – the good and the bad – it’s also important to remember Christian values.