Kids and Allowance: How Much Say Do I Have?

Can you tell your child how she can spend her allowance?
Kids and Allowance: How Much Say Do I Have?

The Question: My daughter wants to spend all her allowance on candy. Do I have a say in what she buys with money she’s earned?

The Expert: You sure do. Just because it’s “her” money doesn’t mean there are no guidelines about what she can and can’t spend it on, especially when she’s first getting used to having an allowance. You’re still the parent and you get to say what’s ok and what’s not. So set up some ground rules at the beginning: Perhaps you simply put a limit on the amount of candy she can buy instead of banning it altogether. As kids get older and more experienced, try to step back more. In fact, the goal is to be involved as little as possible — so they ultimately learn (sometimes the hard way) the best ways to spend their own cash. — Ron Lieber, New York Times “Your Money” columnist and author of The Opposite of Spoiled.

The Mom: With allowance spending, let the chips fall where they may. The idea is to let kids spend foolishly now so they’ll learn from their mistakes. However, I’ve definitely discouraged certain purchases by my son (like the random toys he only wanted in the moment) and made others off-limits (for instance, we don’t allow toy guns in our house). Our rule with candy buys: The parents are in charge of when and how much he eats, just like usual. — Sandy M. Fernández, a journalist in New Haven, CT, and mom of a 7-year-old

The Kid: You could set limits — because, if she has too much candy she’ll get too much sugar in her blood and she could get diabetes. Or, you could take the chores away so she can’t buy candy. — Cole Davin, 10, Rye, NY

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