Last winter my then 6 year old son was driving me completely crazy asking me to buy him things. We live in an urban area, and every day as we'd pass the candy store, or the grocery store, or the stationary store, or the toy store, or any other store with kid-appeal I'd start hearing a never-ending chorus of "buy me buy me". Most things were little items, but I didn't feel that he really needed to have a new pack of soccer cards every single day, or even every 2 or 3 days for that matter (not to mention that that stuff adds up over time), and it was getting harder and harder to give him a reason why that he was able to comprehend and accept.
We decided to start giving him a weekly allowance - 6 Israeli shekels each week (about $1.50) "because he was six". We wanted him to have enough that he could afford to buy himself that pack of cards, plus perhaps something very small, each week, but that he wouldn't be able to afford say cards and candy, or that he'd have to learn to save up for something larger.
To our amazement it worked beautifully. My 6 year old son saved his money for MONTHS until he had enough for a particular toy. No more cards, no more junk, because he knew he'd have to pay for it. Most importantly, no more nagging. If he'd ask, I'd just remind him that he was welcome to spend his own money on it and that would be the end of it.
Now, at 6.5, he's got a better grasp on the concept of money. Sometimes he saves, other times he blows it on popsicles at the pool, but he's just as likely to spend it on an ice cream or toy for a friend as on himself. He's learning important skills and values, and I'm getting a much more hassle free life without the constant begging for little treats.
Allowance - it works for me.
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