Monday, November 7, 2016

Put A Meaningful Label On Your Kid's Allowance

Kid With Allowance Labels

“Here’s your ______.”

Fill in that blank if you’re delivering money to your kid on a regular schedule.

“Allowance.” Right?

That’s what most parents call it. But maybe you’re missing an opportunity to reinforce a more focused message with your kids about money. A message your kids would hear or see every time you hand over cash or deliver a deposit.

If you could give that allowance a more meaningful label, what would it be?

I pulled an anonymous sample of allowance names parents are using on our family finance site. Kids see the names and absorb subliminal money messages every time allowance is delivered into their accounts.

Here are some of the highlights (and lowlights) with my best guesses at the messages being conveyed by the parents:

  • Pocket Money — Here’s a small amount of money you can carry around in your pocket for minor discretionary expenses. (It’s what the Brits call allowance.)
  • Play Money — Pessimistic view: Money isn’t real, it’s just pretend! Optimistic view: Our family believes everyone needs a little play in their life. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, right? So, here’s a little money to facilitate some fun on a regular basis.
  • Mad Money — Make some speculative bets on stocks every once in a while. Who knows, you might be the next Jim Cramer! (For the record, I’m in the Jack Bogle camp. Stick with index funds.)
  • Random — Spend this money on random stuff! (Sorry, can’t come up with a positive spin for this one. Ugh.)
  • Free Money — See above.
  • Budget — An allowance isn’t a random hand-out or free money, it’s a tiny slice of the family budget. Use this money for the things we agreed you’d pay for.
  • Wants — We’ll take care of your core needs. Handle your wants with this.
  • Clothing — here’s an additional allowance specifically earmarked for clothing based on the annual budget you proposed and we approved. We’ll let you make the purchasing decisions, but when it’s gone, it’s gone.
  • Commission — Like Dave and Rachel say in Smart Money Smart Kids, you’re working for us on commission.
  • Work — Remember, money comes from work.
  • Weekly Chores — We assume you’ve completed your weekly chores as we agreed...
  • Make Lunches For Dad — Remember our deal: you keep making my lunches, and I’ll keep delivering your allowance.
  • Mudroom Manager Paycheck — Here’s your regular payment for managing the family mudroom. Keep up the good work!
  • Study Allowance — Keep studying, and your allowance will keep coming.
  • Good Grade Money — Make the grades, and you’ll make the money. (If you insist on linking school and money, you might consider paying for good study habits instead of outcomes.)
  • Stipend — As we discussed, a stipend is a payment made to a trainee or learner for living expenses. While you’re in training or learning mode, we’ll help you cover expenses. But when you graduate, you’re on your own.
  • Dollar A Day — If you’re mindful with your money, a dollar a day can really add up over time!
  • Photography Expenses — We love supporting your passion for photography. Here’s the amount we budgeted to keep expenses within reason.
  • Gas, Clothing, Donations — Manage your funds wisely between these three areas.
  • Gas Card Top Up — You’re responsible for most of your own gas, but we’ll kick in a bit each week.
  • iTunes — Let’s keep that iTunes obsession on a bit of a leash.
  • Social Money — Great to see you hanging out with good friends. This should be enough for fun but frugal outings together.
  • Lego Allowance — Keep saving this for a few months, and you’ll have enough for that next cool set.
  • Dadz D**n Money — “An allowance is where I ALLOW you to stay in my house.” ~Chris Rock. (I don’t recommend this crass allowance label, but check out this classic sitcom clip to see what it reminded me of and why it gave me a chuckle.)
  • FOOD!!!! — We get it. You’re a growing teenager playing 3 hours of sports every day. This is for after-practice hunger pangs.
  • Base Salary — We’re kicking in a modest allowance for fulfilling your expected family obligations. Want to earn more? Check out the opportunities posted on the family odd jobs chart.
  • Purchases Normally Paid By Parents — We’re putting you in charge of buying the things that parents typically buy for their kids. That way, you’ll know how much everyday life costs, and there’ll be fewer surprises when you’re on your own.

Did those labels make you rethink how you’re positioning allowance in your family?

What message do you want to send whenever allowance hits your kid’s account?

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