Summertime, and the kids are asking for things at the checkout counter, the ballgame, in the airport gift shop and every other place where there are toys, candy and items they decide they want. Some parents just give in and let them have what they want. Others don’t believe in satisfying their child’s every whim. Other parents simply can’t afford it and may find every shopping trip a struggle.

There is an answer to the problem of kids’ demands and it really works! I’ve used it personally throughout my kids’ childhoods and want to share it with you.

When children are about three, or at the age where they notice inviting items on store shelves, consider starting to give them an allowance. Wait! Don’t say I’m crazy, and that they’re too young. This will work, and it will start your kids on the road to knowing the value of money and how to handle it!

Usually, the first demands come at the checkout counter where all kinds of enticing candy are displayed. You might buy a small item for your toddler the first time he asks, then, when home you can discuss the cost and decide to give him a small weekly amount that would cover it on the next shopping trip. Give him something to save his money in such as a piggy bank or small wallet or purse. Make sure he has it with him when you go out. When the time comes that he asks for a treat, tell him he can pay for it himself. He will be excited to open his wallet and bring out his own money.

boy and huge sucker

What happens if he forgets his money? You may decide to give him a loan that he repays when you get home. If this becomes a habit, he hasn’t learned to be responsible and suffering the consequences of not getting the treat will make sure that he remembers his money next time. You can ask, “Do you have your money with you?” when he asks for something. Or, “Do you have the money to cover the cost of that?” If he doesn’t have it, the item can wait until the next shopping trip.

As kids grow older, the amount of their allowance can be increased to cover their needs and some of their desires. Don’t tie an allowance to chores. This amount of weekly money is their share of the family income and it is a training device as well. Some kids will save it and not spend it. Some will spend every cent and wish for more. It is theirs to do with as they like without your suggestions or censure. They’ll soon learn the value of money, how far their amount will go and how to save for something more expensive. They’ll come to you to negotiate the amount they’re getting or to ask for the occasional loan.

I’m not saying that you can’t pay children to do extra chores around the house if they ask to do them, such as washing the car or cleaning the garage. This would be money on top of their weekly allowance. They may want to earn money to save for something big. Kids can do chores because they’re family members whose help is needed and appreciated. This is another subject altogether, one which I’ll be talking about in another post soon.

By the time your child is a teen, you can sit down with her and discuss the amount of money she needs to cover school expenses, bus fare, clothing purchases and so on for a period of a month. She’ll learn to budget her money and plan to make it last the full month. She may decide to babysit or get a small job of some kind in the neighborhood to top it up and buy extra items that she has her eye on.

Giving an allowance is the means of training your children to value money and spend within their means. Given consistently, it will help them to become adults who can use a credit card wisely and pay their bills on time.
You’ll be providing a valuable life lesson – and reducing the stress at the checkout counter!

See further thoughts on giving allowances at:

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