When my wife and I had our first child, we, like most parents, wanted to make sure that we taught and reinvented good financial habits in our children through their childhood and into adulthood.
We read many different articles and came to the conclusion that it would be a good idea to start giving our son an allowance at age 5 – at an age that we thought would be appropriate for starting to learn about money. We decided to give him a weekly allowance of an amount that equaled his age. At that time we wanted to teach him two important lessons: the habit of saving some of his money and the joy of spending some (not all) of his money. So, each week $ 2.50 went into his piggy bank and $ 2.50 went into his wallet. Everything went fine and dandy until one week when my son was 6 and I did not have the money ready for him on payday. I said I was sorry and that I'd go to the ATM machine in the morning and when I got some change I would pay him the money. Well, this did not sit well with him and he became rather upset with me for being late with his money.
The next day I did pay him the money like I promised, however, this was the defining moment that made me realize that I was not actually teaching and reinforcing good financial habits; I was actually teaching my son entitlement and to expect something for nothing. Well, I continued to pay my son his weekly allowance, but I was secretly looking for another way to undo the mess that I created while researching on how to really teach him some good financial lessons. Also, by this time, my second child was already two, and we wanted to make sure that we did not repeat the same mistakes with her.
So, three years ago, when my son was 7, I started what I thought was to be an experiment that is still going strong today; I helped my son start his own business. By starting his own business, he was going to learn some real-world lessons, like getting paid for results and not to just expect money for nothing. And, I am happy to say that once my son started making money with his business we immediately phased out the allowance. Incidentally, since this experiment went so well for my son, we never even started an allowance for my daughter. When she was 4, I helped her start her own business. And she has now had her business for 2 years and it's still going strong.
With my kids having their own business and making their own money my wife and I have been encouraging our kids over the years (instead of just dividing their money between spending and saving) to divide all of their money into four meaningful categories: Giving, Investing , Spending and Saving. This way …