My kiddos have been receiving an allowance for years, and it works well. I don’t have to deal with requests like “Can I have this silly thing in the checkout land?” or “Can I have a book from the school book order?” I can simply respond “Do you have enough money in your spend jar?”
I pay out allowance in dollar bills for easy counting, which means that I have to occasionally go to the bank to take out cash. It is a bit of a revolving door, because an online purchase means that I am also “repaid” in same dollar bills. But at an allowance rate of one dollar per year of age per week, my oldest son is now up to $10/week and he is now has foresight to save his money for something bigger.
I had opened up savings accounts for both of the kids when I first started the allowance, thinking that we would go to the bank to make deposits of their small amount of money each week. But it was far too much of a hassle and made more sense to just keep the money easily accessible at home, which became the “allowance jars.”
My oldest son received an old iPhone for his 10th birthday a few months ago. He has no actual cell phone number, but can use it on the WiFi at home with a few apps. I have our family Google calendar synced up to the phone so that he can see upcoming events. He even marks books he has read on Goodreads.
I decided that he could likely handle the concept of me transferring his allowance into his savings account, checking his account balance through the bank’s mobile app, and then transferring money back to me if he wanted to buy something. His age was such that money no longer needed to be a “tangible” possession in order to understand it.
Simple enough? Unfortunately, no.
The savings account had been set up in a way that he could not transfer money back to my account. And with a $25 minimum balance, he was going to need to “do math” every time to see how much he could actually spend. I wanted the experience to be as simple as possible.
So I hauled him into the bank earlier this week. After talking with the personal banker for awhile, we decided that the best route would be to open a checking account for him. He would be able to make the transfers, no minimum balance. And I could set up the account in such a way that I could create his own login with online banking so that he could see ONLY his account, and not other accounts we have at the bank.
The account is now set up and I have the automatic transfer in place for his allowance. Working on getting him access to online banking. And he wanted to make a purchase of three books on Amazon this week (all in the FunJungle series), so once I get the online banking enrollment done, he’ll be able to go into the app and transfer the exact purchase amount back to reimburse me.
As we were leaving the bank, I told him “And you don’t want to find out what happens if you try to take out more money than you actually have…” The personal banker chuckled.