There Are No Free Lunches

March 12, 2015

Our society has changed so much. In my day, it was a given; if you wanted something, you worked for it. If it costs more than you made. you saved up for it. You were not entitled to anything. If you were part of a family, you were expected to do chores.

And then there was the issue of an allowance. Are children entitled to an allowance if they don’t do anything to earn it?? I think children need to learn that if they want to be part of a family, certain things are expected of him that have nothing to do with getting paid.

It is a parent’s right to expect each member of the family to do some chores. Now, I’m not talking about the Cinderella Syndrome; I’m talking about things like making your bed every day, doing some of the housework, clearing your dishes from the table after you’ve eaten, keeping your room clean, etc.

The kind of chores that tell a child that he is a member of a family and he has a certain responsibility to that family. It gives a child a feeling of belonging while developing a good work ethic.

But, above and beyond the usual chores that are expected of a family member, there is a compelling reason for giving a child an allowance for the extra chores that he does. In addition to giving him the feeling that he is a valued member of the family, it also teaches him some fundamental lessons about budgeting and prioritizing. He learns that he can’t have fifteen #1 priorities; he can only have one #1 priority. This, in turn, teaches him how to make good decisions.

It also teaches him that he is not entitled to anything. He learns that there is no such thing as a free lunch and if he wants to be successful at home and at work, you have to give something of value if you want something of value.

An allowance also teaches a child to distinguish the difference between want and need, as well as teaching him that if he wants something that isn’t covered by his allowance, he has to save up for it.

A young child can hone his entrepreneurial skills by finding projects that he can charge his parents or his neighbors for to fund the things that his allowance doesn’t cover.

As a child gets older, his wants will greatly exceed his needs and that, if anything, will be his prime motivation to learn the basic rules of finance and budgeting.

Whatever a child learns at home about handling money will be the building blocks or the stumbling blocks for how he deals with his finances as an adult.

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