What would happen if you started a no-cash allowance? This easy-to-use money management plan for children starts as an home account where parents act as bankers and the child as account owner. All funds you give your child are directly deposited (in writing) your child’s home account. Your child can only receive cash by withdrawing it from the account.
Consider your bank account.
- How does money get in and out of your account?
- Is there anyone telling you how to spend it?
- Who is responsible for managing it?
In the adult world of money most funds are electronically transferred in and out of your account. No one tells you how to spend it. You are totally responsible for keeping track of your money so you have funds available when you need them. A no-cash allowance for children creates a similar scenario for them. In the case of kids, the money deposited in the account comes from allowance, chores and gifts.
Here’s an example for a family using the no-cash allowance. One daughter opens her account book (or computer spreadsheet), adds her weekly allowance and records the new balance. She announces that she has enough to buy a new sweater. Her sister updates her own account and asks to stop at the bookstore. The mom takes the girls shopping and pay for their purchases using my credit card. When we get home they subtract their shopping expenses and update the balances in their accounts.
Throughout this experience no cash has exchanged hands yet everyone knows exactly what happened. Deposits were made, account balances got bigger, purchases were made and account balances got smaller. Also, neither child asked for more money or asked the parent to buy something for them. The children took responsibility for their own spending decisions and the resulting change in their account balance.
This is the reality of money that your children can start learning now. Expecting anyone to learn how to manage the complexities of money overnight is asking for problems. Yet we expect an 18-year-old to suddenly be able to manage money (and be legally responsible for money) in all forms with little or no training.
Money management training must include actually making real decision with real money. One of your responsibilities as a parent is to help your child make the transition to the adult world of money where financial pitfalls are many.
You can do this by setting up a system like the no-cash allowance and providing the resources they need (money), giving them control (while you bite your tongue), and assigning responsibility for appropriate child-related expenses, “Yes, Johnny, you must pay for your school supplies with your own money.”
Benefits of a no-cash allowance for a child
- Ownership Children want to have the power to control money just like they see adults doing. “This is my money.”
- Responsibility “I have to pay my phone bill this week and remember that my school activity fees are due next week.”
- Decision-making “If I don’t buy that game today I will have enough next week to buy that jacket I want.”
Benefits of a no-cash allowance for a parent
- No more begging for money Your child will know when, what for and how much money he will have.
- No misunderstanding “Yes, Suzy, you did get paid for mowing the lawn. It’s in your account.”
- Money becomes neutral topic When you child has ownership of his funds it becomes easier to talk about money as a separate entity.
- Expenses become real Something as simple as buying school supplies takes on real meaning. When the money comes out of your child’s account, she makes the decision about what to purchase, based on her available resources (account balance).
Parents can help children understand that each money decision affects their total money resource. Kids need to see that there is a bottom line. By setting up a system as explained in my book, The No-Cash Allowance, your kids will learn that managing money is all about making decisions.