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Allowance for children

Japan With Kids - Forums: General Discussions: Allowance for children
By Fred Fishman on Tuesday, June 3, 2003 - 2:50 pm:

My son will soon be 7 years old and my wife and I have decided to start giving him an allowance. Unfortunately we have a wide discrepancy in the amount we both think he should start with and what the allowance should be for. I am an American and it is my understanding that the average starting allowance for children in the US is about $5 a week. My wife and her friend, both who are Japanese, think 200 yen a month is a good starting point. Needless to say, I think this amount is off the wall, so to speak. I also think that the purpose of an allowance is to teach a child the value of money and to instill a sense of responsibility and a gradually developing independence and too little will not accomplish that aim since he or she will not be able to buy anything especially here in Japan. Would welcome any comments you might have. Thanks.

By Scott Hancock on Tuesday, June 3, 2003 - 3:57 pm:

I agree with your amount. But, then I'm American, too so maybe that is the deciding factor.

Have you talked a bit more deeply about the subject with your wife? It's worth going into what the allowance covers or doesn't cover. Maybe she has a different idea and that's why her amount is smaller.

There are as many ways of defining this as there are families, so it takes some family discussion to get an agreement. This includes your son, after you & your wife agree.

Is your son aware of what the allowance covers or not? Do you have in mind some veto power over what he can or cannot buy? Is so, is that clear to everyone from the start?

Can't cover everything in advance, but having a discussion makes a platform for ongoing negotiation.

By Emily Homma on Tuesday, June 3, 2003 - 5:14 pm:

Why not give your son "the cost of a daily snack" each day. Say, kiddie snack costs about 200 - 350 yen a day, so a week's allowance would be 1,000 - 1,500 yen. If you teach your child how to save, budget, and plan for something( e.g saving for a gift for Mom Dad, friend on their b-day) he/she should have a "money" to save right? I remember My Mom giving us a "bank book" each when we were children. Every night, my brother and I would compare our savings (each 10 cents attached on a slot on the book) on our "bank book" so we tried not to spend so much of our allowance to boast about our savings. Since snacks were always provided (or in o'bento ,in Japan) 'bet your child will practise a lot of saving.

By Kit on Wednesday, June 4, 2003 - 9:27 am:

I'm with Scott on the allowance issue. It's probably more important to establish from the start what the boundries are for using an allowance. At five dollars a week, your seven-
year-old could conceivably amass enough in one year to fly roundtrip to Korea. Far-fetched maybe, but it did occur to my seven-year-old.

Just to chime in on the amount, 500 yen a week sounds fair, if there are chores being done. Plus, that's a convenient coin for you to dole out and an easy number for kids to deal with at the start.

By Cornelia on Wednesday, June 4, 2003 - 10:40 am:

My 6 year old already fully understands that Y200 over a 4 week period is as good as nothing. She knows how much a liter of apple juice costs, because I give her the money to go and buy it (one of her chores). So Y200 a month (Y50 a week) is unrealistic.

We don't do an allowance yet, but she gets a train card (to get to school and back) and a phone card (to call me) and emergency money. And she also gets Y200 for "okashi" after her gymnastics class which comes out to Y120 for a drink and Y80 for a snack. She's also had to pay for some of her wishes out of her own money. It's clear that the more she goes out on her own, the more she will need her own finances. I simply won't be with her to provide.

Fred, it sort of sounds like you and your wife don't really agree on the allowance thing. Maybe she is giving in to the principle of an allowance to keep the peace but then insisting on a really low amount because she really doesn't think it's necessary. If she is a stay-at-home mom, then she may feel that she is always there to take care of all her son's needs and that he really doesn't need to learn how to manage money because in Japan, mothers do that for their children and for their husbands, etc. This could be a deeper conflict than just a disagreement over the amount. And let's face it, a lot of control can be exerted on a person by holding the purse strings. Giving him an independent source of money, might seem to her like a dangerous loss of control. (Remember when it was against the law for women to own property?) Just a thought.

By Jill on Friday, June 6, 2003 - 5:18 pm:

I don't know if it would be helpful but there are a couple of books in English about allowances.

This is one: World of Money Allowance Kit!: A Hands-On Money Management System Exclusively for Kids! by Michael J. Searls, Summit Financial Products, Todd Clary (Illustrator)

but if you type allowances and children into a lot of books come up. I haven't used any so can't recommend.

Here is an online class that might be interesting to your wife.
it describes the rationale for giving an allowance,
and here is a website with articles on allowances including a survey.

hope it helps.

note from Admin (2007 April): The link for the Moneywise course above now leads to and not where it is supposed to.
However, here is a BRIEF and helpful article on the concepts underlying giving an allowance with many additional links called Money Skills for Kids suitable for a parent to read:

By myra p.ohara on Saturday, July 9, 2005 - 8:10 pm:

I am in desperate need of information on Parenting books for a japanese husband.My japanese ability is very poor to browse
Foreign wives out there,plaese recommend a book title your husband read.

thankyou very much.

By Tai Dirkse on Sunday, July 10, 2005 - 12:29 pm:

myra p.ohara I'm not sure about your question... but other ppl I got about 500yen a WEEK up till 5th grade or so.. then my parents increased it (cause I had to buy lunch... )and lunch @ ASIJ is pretty expensive

By Yuko Kubota on Sunday, July 10, 2005 - 12:57 pm:

Hi Myra,

I think it would be better if you can specify the reason you are so desperate and what you mean when you ask foreign wives for Japanese recommendation. Are you trying to look for a book from your culture that is translated to Japanese? If so, what culture or which author do you yourself prefer?

I understand from your profile that your children are older than 2 and 4. I'm not foreign but a local wife, and personally I prefered monthly parenting magazines rather than books, because magazines feature a variety of values and theories as well as words of wisdom from fellow parents (like "You don't really have to do as the book says"). Plus, they are up-to-date. Just go to any book store and ask for "ikuji-zasshi (parenting magazines)", buy 2 or 3 so that your husband can see for himself and choose the one that suits him best.

Otherwise, if your child(ren) attends some kind of pre-school, I'm sure the pre-school hands out a parenting handbook issued by the government.

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