Husband has a job; wife works at home, being a homemaker and bringing up the children. Wife wants to buy a book.
Husband says "well, I have the money in my account, but you don't get your allowance until Thursday, and by the way, you have to wash my car and change three fuses before you can have it. And you can only buy the book if I think it is appropriate"
It all depends on one’s attitude to property and resources within the family. I do not think those doing the earning should dictate what happens to all the money; other members of the family contribute to family life in other ways but do not end up with $$$.
In favour of an allowance system: if family works out how much spending money is left after rent, bills, food etc., and works out what sorts of money-spending activities each is likely to want, then sharing out the money saves the child(ren) having to ask for permission or approval. It respects their autonomy, and means that they themselves can learn (with advice where asked for) about managing their finances, and about choosing the resources they want around them.If child blows a week’s allowance on something they immediately regret, then parent can help them minimise the frustration (selling item on Ebay? What is the shop’s returns policy? Does a friend want to do a swop?)
In favour of not having an allowance: as long as everyone has a sense of how much money is available, and everyone is prepared to put a rational case for their spending plans, and everyone’s desire for a share of the family resources is met, then handing the money around can be done in an ad hoc way. This requires everyone involved to be happy to justify their expenditure – it might be rather collectivist for some. “Mum can I have £30 for some DVDs?” “no, we have no spare money” “why not?” *blush* *stonewall* *hedge* *equivocate* “your hair cut looks lovely, mum; what did it cost?…”
At the moment, I would advocate an allowance for what used to be called “pin money”, so that every child, from when se expresses an interest in having money, can buy a magazine, some sweets, some Star Wars stickers, a small lego set, without having to ask anyone. Instant larger purchases have implications for the finances of the whole family, and therefore should be open to discussion.
I would never advocate forcing a child to perform tasks for a share of the family money, especially since it is not easy for children to earn money in the West. If what the family can spare is insufficient for the child’s needs, then helping them to make money legally should be a priority for the parent – paper round; computer programmer; making cakes for the Women’s Institute; whatever.But forcing someone to vacuum in order to be allowed a share of the family resources implies that only those actually earning $$$ should have a say in how they are spent.