I’ve written here already about how back-to-school always feels like a breath of fresh air to me – largely because we get the chance to establish some new routines and it brings a whole new flow to our family life.
One of those routines we’re currently focusing on are our chores. These include both family jobs AND money jobs.
So far, it’s going really well. But one of the things that stumped me for a bit, especially when we first started to pay our young children for their “money jobs”, was where they could spend their earnings.
They’re not making a lot, after all, so saving up for a full-price item from the local toy store could take nearly an eternity in my kiddos’ minds.
Today our contributor, Alli, is sharing her thoughts on the best places for young allowance earners to spend some of that hard-earned dough...
My oldest son turns five this Christmas, which is when we were planning to start him on an allowance. And with every day that passes, he’s asking more and more about the money. Where it comes from, how much things cost, and even how it’s made. (Kids’ minds never cease to amaze me.)
He’s a little young to fully understand, but I’m well aware that the earlier we teach him about money, the better off he’ll be.
My parents did a great job teaching me about money. And by the time I was twelve, I was managing my own budget. I’m so grateful for what they taught me, because it’s saved me plenty of heartache in my adult life.
I definitely want to follow in their footsteps, and teach my son well when it comes to money. So I’ve been burying my head in “allowance research.”
I’ve found plenty of tips on how much allowance is appropriate per age, and how to teach generosity (here’s a great resource for both of those questions) but there was a lack of good information on how to help kids spend their allowance in an appropriate way.
Which, to me, is a very important part of the money lesson.
So I put together a “go-to” list; 10 great places for young kids to spend their allowance, for anyone looking to guide their kids in the right direction when it comes to spending.
- Target Dollar Section: Okay, so we all know the jackpot that is the dollar section at Target. But it’s also the perfect spot to guide little ones on spending their allowance money. It’s a one stop shop that allows them several choices. (Tip: Let them take their time, and let them make their own decisions. Since everything here is $3 and under, they’ll easily stick to their budget. But if they have more than than amount, they may need a little help with math.)
- Re-Sale Shops: We have a great re-sale shop near us, that specializes in books, movies, music, and toys. Chances are, you do too- you just have to ask around. Re-Sale shops are a great place to teach your kids about the value of a dollar. They may want a specific book or toy that they can’t afford full price, but they can afford if it’s used. (Tip: If you have the time, take you kids to the full-price store first, so they can see the prices first hand. Then immediately follow with a trip to the re-sale shop so they can see the difference for themselves.)
- Yard Sales: Not only are yard/garage sales a great way to spend an allowance, but they are a fun family activity as well. Pick a Saturday and look for local sales in your neighborhood. This route can be the most exciting (and great for indecisive kiddos), because you never know what you’ll find. (Tip: Talk with the person in charge of the sale when you arrive, and let them know your kids will be paying for their items by themselves. If you let your children handle the transaction on their own (with you close by, of course), they’ll learn confidence in handling their money.)
- The Dollar Store: Ah, the local dollar store. Where would we be without it. We have one right next to our house, and we cherish it. This is a great place to let your kids explore. Since most dollar stores have a wide variety of options, they can choose anything they may want or need. It’s also a great lesson in narrowing down your decision, so be prepared to let the kids browse awhile. (Tip: Before going in, make sure that it is truly a “dollar store.” Many dollar stores these days sell things for much higher prices, which can be confusing to kids. If they know how many dollars they have to spend, they know how many items they can leave with as long as everything is marked at one dollar.)
- Online App Stores: Apps are the gifts that keep on giving and – bonus – don’t clutter up your house. They’re also priced right! Help your kids sign on and look through the many options. There are games apps, art apps, sports apps, you name it. And they can run anywhere from 99 cents to a few dollars. Again, they might need a little help with math if they’ve been saving or have a few bucks to spend. (Tip: Most apps are rated with reviews, or categorized- just make sure they are age appropriate).
- Charities: This one might be a hard-sell for the really young kids. But if you swing it right, it can be a great lesson on generosity and giving. Set up a list of local charities and talk to your children about each one of them. Then let them decide which place they’d like to give either a portion, or all, of their allowance too. (Tip: If you have the time, take your kids to the charities and let them see their work first hand. Kids learn more from experience than anything else.)
- eBay: This one is online, so they’ll definitely need your help and guidance. But if you have super decisive kiddos, and they know EXACTLY what they are looking for…then eBay is a great alternative. Much like the re-sale shop lesson, eBay can teach your children that you don’t always have to pay full-price. And, you can shop around for bargains. The only down-side is waiting for the item arrive through shipping…but that can also be a valuable lesson in patience. (Tip: Amazon.com also has sellers that offer used items for lower prices.)
- Experiences: This is a great one! Most kids’ minds will go straight to material items. But don’t forget to remind them that they can buy experiences as well. Maybe they’d like to buy a ticket to a matinee movie, a museum, go for a special ice cream sundae or get their own special drink the next time you hit the Starbucks drive thru. Propose the idea and let them decide for themselves how they’d like to spend it. (Tip: Help them choose items from the menu (or ticket lists) that they can afford so they know how far they’re money will go.)
- Drug Store: Stay with me on this one. Most drugstores have a wide selection of items to choose from other than medicines. And the best part about them? The coupons. CVS in particular offer’s a great coupon system that gives you dollars back on your spending. So buy a toy on sale, and you just might get a $5 spending coupon at checkout to use on the next visit. It’s a great way to teach kids about saving with coupons, and how to get more bang for your buck. (Tip: Make sure you are signed up for the store’s coupon system before you go. Most all drugstores have a coupon card, or e-mail list that you can join.)
- Their Piggy Bank: In my experience, this one all depends on the personality of your child. When I was a kid, I started to catch on that if there wasn’t anything in particular that I was wanting, I was better off saving my money. I used to put my money into an old shoe box, and I’ll never forget the look on my sister’s face (who’d spent all of her allowance) when she saw how much I’d saved after a few months. Saving is one of the greatest lessons we can teach our kids, and it’s best to start early. (Tip: Let them pick their own bank! There are so many fun options out there these days. And if you don’t want to buy one, let them decorate an old shoe-box and make it their own. There are also some great printables for making your own Spend, Save, and Share Banks included in MPMK’s Kids’ Responsibilities & Money Management Pack.)
More MPMK Posts on Chores:
*Post contains affiliate links.
Get Your Free Printable
Subscribe to our newsletter today and get our free printable... No More, "Mom, I'm Bored!"