Family life |

Family life

YouthZoneby Lori Mueller

We all remember that line in the movie Jerry Maguire: Show me the money! And I think some of us hear it in our homes very often being screamed out by our kids. I have three kids, two of whom are teenagers, and yes, I hear that phrase way too often. So I stopped it fairly quickly with very little effort! Yes, this is a parenting technique that really works and the kids are usually all for it. Its called allowance. What a great invention allowance is. I dont know who thought it up, but its awesome. Our kids now have money for the movies, community center, snowboarding, dirt biking, music and even gifts.Now, we dont give our kids enough to pay for all of that easily; however, they sure can save and do other work to earn almost anything their little hearts desire. Lets talk about some of the benefits of allowance. It teaches money management, saving, banking skills and making hard choices about what they really want. I actually teach a class on money management for adults who didnt learn it at home. Its an important skill to know and will make your childs adult life much more successful. Heres a perfect example of how beautifully this works. Our son is 13 and loves dirt biking. So we agreed to help him buy a dirt bike, and he paid for part of it with his allowance. He needed a helmet, chest protection, boots, pants and gloves. He paid for the helmet with money he earned by doing yard work in the neighborhood, and he wore hiking boots until he saved enough for boots ($100-$500). Heres what happened when we went shopping for his boots. As he was trying them on, he asked how much they were and the saleslady said $250. You wouldnt believe how fast he was out of those boots.He told the saleslady that he had $107 to spend, and so he got a pair of boots he could afford. She said it had been years since she had seen a boy pay for his own equipment! I do believe our son learned many incredible lessons, and guess who is taking exceptional care of those boots. He actually puts them back into the box when he is done wearing them! Our kids dont go for the cheap 25-cent items in the machines much anymore, because they have learned the value of money, especially their own. Its very interesting to me when my kids beg for something, hoping Ill pay. I tell them they can have it if they use their own money, and the item suddenly loses its appeal. Here is how we set up allowance at home. First, our kids do chores because they are part of the family; they do not get paid to help around the house and we do not pay for grades, either. Secondly, they can choose to use their allowance to pay me to do their chores (usually they are not too happy about it). They can also earn more money by helping me do my chores. Next, we give them allowance based loosely on their age, per week. So for instance our 13-year-old gets $13 dollars a week, half goes into his savings account, the other half he shares part of with a charity or church, and he gets the rest to spend any way he wants. I cannot emphasize enough how little I hear show me the money anymore. Our kids are learning to save, to make choices about how to spend their money and how good it feels to share their money with others (the tsunami relief was the most recent). Dirt biking boots: $100.Dirt biking helmet: $89.Dirt biking pants: $50.Never hearing Show me the money again: Priceless. Lori Mueller is a parent class facilitator at YouthZone. Have a question you would like YouthZone to answer? Send it to YouthZone at

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