Should you give your kid an allowance? 💸
Friends, I finished a draft of Money: a guide for young people, my book that wants to teach 11-14 year olds the stuff they really need to know about money. There's a ridiculous number of poop jokes in it. Sorry/not-sorry :)
Here's a little sneak-peak for you, from the chapter about getting an allowance.
Have you ever watched nature videos about baby birds learning to fly? When the bird is very small, the baby never leaves the nest, and the mother bird will bring back delicious worm goop and drop it straight into the baby’s mouth. (Delicious for baby birds, that is. I don’t recommend you try eating worm goop.) When the baby gets a bit bigger, the mother bird will start holding the food out a little way away from the nest, so the baby has to learn how to use its legs to come get it. The mother bird teaches the baby to stretch its wings, and then how to flap them. It’s a slow, gradual process: the baby birds learn how to survive by themselves bit by bit.
Now, imagine what it would be like if instead, the mother bird just fed the bird in the nest every day until the bird was grown, and then one day just yeeted the baby bird out into the sky and hoped for the best? It would be brutal!
Allowances are a great way for you to practice managing your own money, so that one day when you move out of home, you don’t feel like you’ve just been yeeted into the sky before you’ve been taught how to fly. When I moved out of home, I was a fool and accidentally spent all my groceries money on Lego in the first two weeks, and then didn’t have money for food. DON’T BE LIKE ME. Practice being responsible with your money!
I’m going to say it again – families are different, and what I’m going to suggest here doesn’t work for every family.
The case for getting an allowance
There are a lot of really good reasons for kids to get an allowance.
- Research shows that kids who get an allowance show better self-control when it comes to spending, because they’ve had more practice at managing their own money.
- It’s a great way for you to learn how to save up for things you really want.
- Your folks are already spending money on you. An allowance isn’t necessarily costing your folks more money, it’s just about YOU having more control over what that money’s spent on.
- If you get an allowance, you can spend less time looking for side-hustles, so you can focus on school.
The case against getting an allowance.
There are good reasons that your folks might not want to give you an allowance. That’s fine, too! We’ll talk about what to do if they’re dead set against it, a bit later.
- Your folks might believe it’s better for you to earn your own money, because that’s an important life lesson (when you’re an adult, no-one’s going to give you an allowance - you’ll have to work for money).
- Your family might not be able to afford it.
- You might have older siblings who didn’t get an allowance, so you getting one might not feel fair.
- Your folks might not trust you to make good decisions with your money, or feel like if you have extra money you’ll spend it on stuff that isn’t good for you, like sweets or attack spiders.
- It might not have been a normal part of your folks’ money culture growing up, so it might just seem like a weird idea to them that they don’t understand.
The rest of that chapter looks at the different types of allowances kids get (like whether it's fair to be paid to do chores versus getting a standard amount every week/month), how to have a conversation with your folks about getting an allowance, and what to do if your family can't afford to give you an allowance or chooses not to.
I've tried to make the book a good mix of theory (there are simple explanations for stuff like compound interest, inflation, why some countries are richer than others, what assets are, how debt works etc.) and very practical stuff (ideas for safe ways to earn money as a kid, tips for resisting advertising, how to open your first bank/savings account and start investing). There will be a stack of new illustrations from the magnificent Nanna Venter. We're looking at a release date of September.
Okes, I had so much fun writing it. I really love my job. Thank you, all of you, for making that possible.
Wishing you poop jokes and worm goop,
Your friend Sam
UPDATES FROM SAM-LAND
So, I moved to Cambridge! It's bloody freezing and it looks like Hogwarts. The whole process went about as smoothly as it could possibly have gone (it helps to have spreadsheets and a wonderful partner). I'm figuring out how to cycle in the rain, eating a lot of pies, and trying to find a good international replacement for 22seven. I'm a bit lonely and I miss my friend-family back home, but I'm doing all the right things to make new friends, so hopefully that will be a temporary condition. Moving countries is hard but it's also pretty damn thrilling, and I'm excited about building a life here.
- Talking about stuff I've written for kids, my favourite Team Jay episode I wrote is now up on YouTube. The episode is secretly about how I'm terrible at spelling (but I don't care because English spelling is S-T-U-P-I-D).
- I wrote an 8 page guide to whipping your finances into shape in the latest episode of Cosmopolitan.
- I've been writing a "money agony aunt" column in Fair Lady over the past few issues, which has been enormous fun (in case it wasn't obvious, I love telling other people what to do). Recent questions have included stuff like, "should I insure my expensive laptop if I'm a freelance designer", "is it worth it to install solar panels in your house" and "should I lend money to a friend who's a reckless spender".
- Lettuce, the portfolio management app I've been involved in building, is opening a round of crowdfunding, which means you can buy real shares in my business for as little as £10. If you've got some cash for discretionary investments lying about, take a look! Investments in startups are risky, so please be thoughtful about whether this is right for you.
- I will FINALLY be able to tell you about the Super Secret Exciting Project next week. WHEEEEEEEEE!