Cash Flow According to Covid-19: Kids Edition (Allowances and more!)
Hi, again! Long time no post. I figured I’d also add some extra thoughts here without torturing you with another video of Link (if you haven’t seen that – go check out my Instagram or my facebook page!) and I just yet. Also, this is more of a “work in progress” thing, so probably better to keep off camera before I start dropping swear words as fillers.
Another super important and super current thing to contemplate in terms of the whole kids and money dynamic has been floating around my brain lately. I just honestly can’t come up with a firm “this is the best answer” solution to this. Probably because it really varies so much from case to case.
We’ve talked a bit about pandemic cash flow, we’ve talked about kids. But, have we talked about kids and pandemic cash flow? Nope! Until now that is…. and this is the reason I really don’t have a full theory on how to approach it because we haven’t exactly lived through many pandemics.
So, one question I’ve heard a few times is “if my kid qualifies for CERB and I don’t, is it okay to ask them to help pay the bills?” This question also inspired me to think of another one “is it okay to pause my kid’s allowance if my income is affected due to Covid-19?”
First of all, I will say this: you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.
Your high school or university aged kid who qualifies for the CERB (age 15 and up) should have a good idea of what is going on in the world right now and be able to understand that somehow the family needs to keep a roof over their head and put food on the table. I think what it comes down to is how you approach it. It is a time to be vulnerable and real with your young adult. It is also a time to teach them how to come together as a family and a community. I personally wouldn’t force it upon them, but I don’t see anything wrong with laying out the situation and asking if they would be willing to pitch in a portion. (Some parents also might already ask children to cover some of their own expenses, so this might just be reallocating what those funds are for. My own parents told me that if I lived at home past university and was working, I’d have to pay rent. Little did they know I’d be in university forever! 😊)
For allowance aged children (presumably those who are not yet old enough to get a job elsewhere, so those under 15), this may actually be a bit more difficult to explain. Your seven-year-old may not know that your income has been affected. This would totally depend again on what they know about the current situation and how you explain it. That being said, this also brings up the whole allowance debate all over again. Allowances shouldn’t really be tied to things like chores to begin with. Yes, you work to earn your money. But you have learned that you need money for certain things – motivation, yes, but also just… maintenance of your life. If kids are told they get money for making their bed or cleaning their room, they may well decide they’d just rather be without the money and not clean. You want them to clean anyway because it is good to not be a slob. The point of the allowance is to teach kids how to manage their money. It is one tool in your teaching tool belt, but you can use many other tools as well – in addition to/instead of the allowance.
This one is honestly trickier for me to try to answer, because I think that we should explain to our kids what is going on without lying to them – but it should also be age appropriate. (Your three-year-old does not need to know how many people are dying from the virus.) I did some community research on this one. Some people said that they give their kids an allowance of sorts, but it is actually something like stickers or gumballs because that motivates them more than money at this point. If that is your case and you still have a big supply, rock on and keep going with that. If you are really in a tough situation, you may need to adjust the allowance thing. I think that my suggestion would be you switch to a different system. Something points-based or the like where your child receives a certain amount of credits or tickets (You are the new Dave&Busters!) and these can be applied to a type of reward system that you can manage now – like the stickers or gum balls thing, or “buying” additional screen time, or letting them pick an activity to do with the family (meals on the menu, movie to watch, game to play, etc.).
At any rate, I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to either of these questions. You just need to remember that we are all doing the best we can in a complicated situation and I am sure your kids will recognize that, regardless of their age.