Dear Dave: Our son just turned 8 years old. Is it time to start giving him an allowance?
Dear Dan: There’s never a time for an allowance, no matter the child’s age. In my mind, that kind of thinking is the best way to plant the seeds of entitlement.
Instead, work out a plan to pay him commissions. Assign him weekly chores that are age-appropriate. Then, when the work gets done, he gets paid. And guess what? If the work doesn’t get done, he doesn’t get paid! Not only do we want to teach a healthy work ethic, but we also want him to learn that work creates money.
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Of course, there are some things a child should be expected to do without financial reward. Everyone needs to pitch in and do certain things to help out when they’re part of a family. But once you’ve taught him about work, make sure to also teach him about the three uses for money—saving, spending, and giving.
Dear Dave: My fiancé and I are getting married in May. He’s a youth pastor, and I’m in grad school. His mom and dad found a home they think we’ll like, and they want to gift us money for a down payment. I’m not sure how I feel about this under our present circumstances. Do you think we should go ahead and accept when I’ll still be in school and we’ll still have debt to pay off?
Dear Emily: You need to get to know each other before you buy a house together. I always recommend that young couples rent for a year and concentrate on each other, the new marriage, cleaning up any debts you have, and establishing an emergency fund. Then, after another year or so when you’ve had time to take control of your finances, the idea of looking for a home becomes much smarter.
It sounds like your future in-laws are really generous people. They’re trying to do something nice for you two, but they kind of got out ahead of things with this idea. And in the process, they violated some boundaries in your relationship with your fiancé.
My advice is to have a conversation with your fiancé about all this and get on the same page about what is the smart thing to do. Then the two of you need to have a loving discussion with his parents. Let him do most of the talking, and say thank you a lot, but let them know you both feel it would be best to start out by renting something for a year or so. Then after a little time has passed, tell them if they still want to help with a down payment you’d both very grateful.
I think this approach would be good for the boundary issues and for your finances!
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