Don’t Pay Your Kids An Allowance Just Because You Love Them

Feeling the love??? (Photo courtesy of

I’ve read and researched a lot about kids’ allowances over the years.  It’s a popular topic and there’s a ton of articles out there with different approaches to allowances. This article, “A Child’s Own Money” at, surprised me.

The reporter interviews Allan Gonsher, author of “An Allowance Is Not a Bribe” and says that Gonsher refers to an allowance as an “I love you allowance.”  The article goes on:

” Parents should explain to their children that they are getting an allowance because they are loved, not because of chores they’re expected to do around the house. Tasks such as cleaning their bedrooms and clearing dishes from the table should not earn a child extra money, he said.

This was a new take on kids’ allowances for me.  Usually people fall into two camps:  give them an allowance unconditionally so they can learn to manage money or give them an allowance based on doing chores around the house.  (We don’t take either approach but I’m working on a longer blog post which will talk more about this.)

What surprised me is the recommendation to tell children they are getting an allowance “because they are loved.”  I’m really hoping that Gonsher was misquoted because I think this is a terrible message to give children. What happens if the parents later withhold money?  Does that say that you no longer love them? Associating receiving money with being loved, particularly for girls, just seems to hold too many potential negative consequences down the road.

The article did contain a good reminder about why I’m so focused on teaching my kids about money:

Eighteen-year-olds have access to three to five credit cards, Gonsher said. Students who aren’t fiscally responsible could find themselves $15,000 to $20,000 in debt by the end of their first semester in college.

Parents could end up shouldering that debt.

By the time we’re waving our boys off to college, I want them to be prepared to handle the marketing pitches and credit offers that will come their way. It’s not only for them.  There’s no way parents should be picking up this kind of debt at that stage of their life.

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