I love everything about summer – except the ice cream truck. My three-year-old son goes berserk every time it pulls up in front of the park, with its jingly little siren song of a tune.
“I want ice cream!” he screams (yes, he literally does scream for ice cream).
My husband and I now realize the time has come for our little guy to get an allowance. Yes, three is young, but we want to him to understand that the ice cream cone costs money — and that he can’t afford to have one every day (let’s not even talk about the sugar content!).
We started by giving him enough each week to cover the cost of ONE ice cream cone (three dollars) − he can either take it to the park and buy a cone, or he can save it in his piggy bank and buy something bigger, like a toy, once he has enough. What he does with the money is his choice. And once it’s gone, that’s it for the week.
He doesn’t quite get it right now – but with a little time and patience, he’ll figure it out.
I am a big fan of giving kids an allowance − I always had one when I was growing up and it helped me learn that saving my allowance and watching it accumulate made me feel great. It’s a habit I developed early on and to this day I love saving my money and watching it grow.
So how much of an allowance should you give? Personally, I think it depends on the age of your child and your financial situation − a buck a year per week based on age is a good rule of thumb (i.e., my son is three and he’s getting three dollars a week).
Most experts agree you shouldn’t tie an allowance to chores − pulling your weight around the house isn’t a paid job and your kids need to learn that early on. Instead, create opportunities for them to earn extra money by tackling big jobs, like yard work.
You should also help your child manage their money by showing them not just how to spend, but how to save and give back to the community. You can give them three jars or create a system for them to organize their money accordingly − that way, as they get older, they can develop good money habits for later, including giving to charities.
I’ll keep you posted on my son’s allowance adventure − I have a feeling the ice cream truck tantrums aren’t over yet. But it’s better to learn your money lessons over little things like ice cream than through big money mistakes later on!