At our house, reaching the age of 12 is a huge milestone – not only because that means that you have officially left childhood behind and joined the ranks of the “youth” at church, but also because you start to receive something REALLY cool…a clothing allowance.
You must understand that this is something that the kids wait for with much anticipation because it makes them feel pretty grown up. It also shows them that we trust them to be good stewards over their money, and trust is an important thing to any kid, especially those on the brink of teenager-hood.
Up until their 12th birthday, they get a small monthly allowance – one dollar per year of age per month. That money is used to teach them how to pay tithing, and for small purchases of things that they want. (We provide them with everything that they need, and very little of what they want…like maybe two presents at Christmas and one on their birthday…we are mean that way.) We have some kids who are natural savers, and some who like to spend everything in one day. We are trying to help them understand the value of saving. If they use all of their allowance money, we will not, under any circumstances, give them an advance. Money does not grow on trees, after all. They do not get paid for doing daily chores, such as cleaning their bedroom, washing and folding their laundry, dishes, etc. They get to do those things simply because they are part of our family, and we all have a responsibility to help. That’s just life.
Sometimes, they decide that they want more money than their small monthly allowance provides. If that is the case, they can earn it by doing “money jobs.” These are usually more intensive things that don’t get put into the daily chore line-up. They usually take more time and effort, and must be done well if they want to receive payment. Those jobs vary, but may include things such as washing walls and baseboards, cleaning out cupboards and drawers, cleaning the car, pulling weeds, trimming bushes, etc.
Now, back to the clothing allowance. Starting at age 12, we give them a monthly allotment of money that can only be used to buy clothing or shoes. (It can be transferred into their mission savings account if they have extra, but I will explain more about that another time.) I would actually prefer to give it to them on a quarterly basis, which we have tried, but I always ended up forgetting to transfer the money into their accounts. Monthly just seems to work better for me. At the beginning of each month, we put the money into a checking account in their name, and we show them how to keep track of their balance. I take them shopping when they request it, give them guidance if necessary (you might want to look at these clearance racks over here…), and then keep my mouth shut. They get to pick what they want, as long as it is within the clothing standards that we have agreed are appropriate. If they spend all of their money on expensive name brands (which hasn’t happened yet…), they do not get one extra dollar to buy necessities.
Jordan and Andrew both get a clothing allowance now. Jordan is a saver, and never uses all of his money. He has, at times, transferred large chucks of it into his mission savings account. (He may not have quite as much to save in the future with the size of those feet…not many clearance options there!)
Andrew, however, is more of a spender. He cares more about his clothes than his older brother does. It has been fun to watch him shop. He gravitates towards name brands, looks at their price tags, and usually realizes that he must move on to cheaper alternatives if he is going to have enough money to buy all that he needs. Every once in a while, he will splurge on the one thing that he loves, and then search for cheaper options for everything else that he needs. Plus, he gets really excited when he finds a cool brand on the clearance rack. It is so fun to watch them learn such important life lessons!
There is one more thing…with the addition of the clothing allowance at age 12, all other allowance gets cut off. Yep, that is right, they no longer get one free dollar to buy things outside of the clothing realm. They get to do lots of money chores if they would like to buy other things or go out with their friends (we don’t pay for that either). It makes them pretty motivated to work! I get things like a nice organized pantry or cupboards, and they get money for fun, while learning the value of work. Win, win!
All of these ideas came from the book “The Parenting Breakthrough” by Merrilee Browne Boyack. It is my absolute favorite book on teaching kids how to work. I will be giving away a copy soon, so stay tuned if you would like your name entered into the drawing.