Allowance Troubleshooter: 4 Common Problems with Kids' Allowance

child with lots of toys
Heather Weston
Even with a good allowance system in place, issues can come up (like when your child insists he's not getting enough cash!). Here's how to handle four common problems, according to family finance expert Joline Godfrey, CEO of Independent Means, Inc.

Issue: Your Child Has Poor Spending Habits

Issue: As soon as she gets her allowance, your 11-year-old daughter spends all of it on candy. When you try to help her understand the consequences of her behavior, she says, "It's my money; I can do what I want with it."

How to deal: First, "let your kids know that their allowance isn't a salary or an entitlement," says Godfrey. Then hold your ground. Say, "No, honey, that's money that dad and I gave you to practice with so that when you do have your own money, you'll know how to manage it well." Plan with her how she will spend her money before you take her shopping.


Your Child Refuses to Spend His Own Money

Issue: Your six-year-old son is annoyed that he has to shell out the cash for a new train set, saying, "Why can't you just buy it for me?"

How to deal: Say, "Sorry it's not in my budget either." Then teach him how to save his allowance from week to week so he will have enough for the item (he can get help keeping track in his ThreeJars account). Insisting that your son save up for his new train set also delays the purchase, giving him time to decide just how badly he really wants his new obsession.

Are your kids begging for a few bucks after finishing chores? See what our expert says about making allowance contingent on chores.

Your Child Complains About Not Having Enough Money

Issue: Your child constantly complains that he doesn't get enough allowance.

How to deal: "The most successful allowances are tied to something important in a child's life," says Godfrey. For example, your eight-year-old who has just gotten into ice hockey might have an allowance that helps pay for his hockey equipment and lessons. So if he comes to you and says he isn't getting enough allowance, you should say, "Enough for what?" It's a good time to create a budget with him to see how he's spending his money. "It's more likely that he's spending too much elsewhere than not getting enough," Godfrey points out.

Heather Weston
Heather Weston

You Can't Stop Buying Gifts for the Kids

Issue: You can't seem to stick to your own allowance rules and end up giving your daughter money to buy stuff when you're out shopping together.

How to deal: Stop doing that! Godfrey advises. "It can be hard, but you have to be disciplined for the sake of your child's financial future," she says. As you change your habits, be clear that this isn't punishment but a sign that you trust and respect your child to handle money like a responsible adult. That doesn't mean you can't ever buy her anything. But do decide what items your child needs to buy with her allowance, and stick to it.

Copyright &copy 2011 Meredith Corporation.

Nicole DeCoursy is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Westchester, NY with her husband, two boys, and three cats. Her work has been published in Redbook, Parenting, and Weight Watchers Magazine. is the allowance website that helps parents ensure their children develop good money habits. The ThreeJars system makes it simple to keep track of allowance using three jars: one for spending, one for saving, and one for sharing.

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