When it comes to educating children in the ways of responsible spending, there are various accepted methods undertaken by parents. The most common of these is the implementation of an allowance awarded for good behaviour and minor household chores, which usually consists of paying an agreed sum for menial labor tasks. This, alongside the payment of cash sums for good academic grades and effort, represents the current understanding of best practice when it comes to teaching children the value of money.
Given the absence of a compulsory financial teaching program available through High School, this methodology of education is the most common amongst teenagers throughout the US. Though it is widely accepted that giving children a financial reward for chores is a valuable practice, there are variable statistics and expert opinions that suggest it is in fact a potentially unhealthy and divisive activity. This can be assessed through understanding the actual lessons that this type of financial education teaches impressionable youngsters.
In order to evaluate the relevance of giving a financial reward for labor, it should be compared to the mechanics of the contemporary job market. This is because the education of children is designed to prepare and equip them for adulthood, and the necessities of work and economic awareness that accompany it. By contrasting the core values of the two, it may be possible to modify the way that parents administer their rewards and re-numeration for task.
When a young adult enters the job market, they are usually equipped with a specific skill set tailored to their desired career. They then apply and attend interviews for selected jobs, before beginning their vocation and collecting a monthly salary. Their jobs will invariably be well defined and carried out to performance related specifications, which gives both definition and a clear expectation of what is required to the employee. This rigid and well conceived infrastructure is entirely at odds with the environment of a domestic household, and the relaxed and inconsequential lessons learned within.
When children perform chores in the home and receive reward, it is often a token task performed for a token gesture. The parents create a minimal sum as a cash wage, and their child undertakes the given task accordingly. There is little in this process that correlates to a real working environment, as there is minimal guidance given or any significant consequence for an incomplete task. In retrospect, offering a token and meaningless cash sum for work can teach youngsters that working for money is an inconsequential activity that requires little skill or attention to detail, and also one which provides no concept of job satisfaction.
This theory is well supported, especially through various statistics that relate to social trends. Data on consumer expenditure in the US is revealing, and has shown a continual increase between the years of 1990 and 2010. Although this can be explained in part by increasing population and cost of living, these factors do not explain the significant increases in luxury purchases of entertainment units, games consoles and alcohol. As a point of interest, only the amount of consumer money spent of books and reading material has reduced significantly during this period of time.
This trend in increased spending has continued even as consumer debt has risen to unparalleled levels within the US, and suggests that the current generation of adults lack crucial fiscal awareness and responsible spending trends. This may be a result of a chronic paucity of relevant financial education available to young teenagers and children, where teaching bodies and parents impart ill advised or minimal knowledge in an attempt to inform their offspring of supposed ideals and best practice.
As a resolution, many industry experts recommend that children who are forced to request money for their requirements are more likely to giver their expenditure trends a deeper consideration. In addition to this, they are not exposed to a trivial and unrealistic representation of working for pay, which actually fosters a casual and ill defined attitude to occupational duties. Parents have a duty to prepare their children as effectively as possible for living within a real world environment, and by creating an ethos where they are required to think before they spend, they are encouraging the attitudes of financial prudency and responsibility required for a successful adulthood.