It isn’t hard to notice an increased sense of entitlement in younger generations today, mine included. It is partly due to a culture of entitlement which pervades American society and demands comfortable, high quality lifestyles without understanding that one should work for what one wants. Ask a teenager what makes a country or a government good or bad and many will answer that such qualities can be gauged by how much “free” stuff the government provides. They want an easy ride, hand-outs, and to live off the fruits of someone else’s labor. These desires can be neatly dressed in the clothes of social reform, but they produce nothing more than debt and poverty.
As someone who hopes to one day be a father, I find myself contemplating how best to impart the values of hard work and providing for one’s self to my future children. When it comes to the modern tradition of an allowance for children, I found myself torn. Many people believe allowances are a good way to teach children about money. But what does having an automatic income that is detached from any production teach about hard work? And what does having an income teach you about savings or providing for yourself if you have no bills?
For an allowance to truly be used in an educational manner, it must be accompanied by two things: chores and bills. A child must be shown that the money is only paid to them when they produce value for the household by doing needed tasks. The tasks must be important, age appropriate, and regular. A fair allowance rate should be established, keeping in mind that all the child’s real needs are being provided by you, the parent, and that the child also benefits from the household being kept. Maybe $2 an hour or so, would be a fair rate.
Secondly, a child must understand that with money comes responsibility. I would make my children pay 50-60% of their allowance towards a bill. If kids have phones, internet streaming services, online videogame memberships, magazine subscriptions, or anything that is a luxury which costs money on a regular basis, that is a great place to start. If they do not, or the cost is not enough, consider having them pay you a monthly contribution (even if it’s small) towards the electric or internet bill. It isn’t being cruel, you’re teaching them a valuable lesson about reality: nothing is free.
I myself haven’t had the best record with finances, which is why if I do have children someday I would like them to learn the value of a dollar and how to handle financial obligation. As much as it may be natural to want to give your children everything you can, it serves them better to teach them how to earn it.