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Team Allowance or Team Pocket Money? – Whom do you support?

01 Mar Posted by in Culture, Family Life | 8 comments
Team Allowance or Team Pocket Money? – Whom do you support?
My husband: Hey, did you see your younger brother’s post on Facebook?

Me: No, why?

My husband: He’s mad because… something about he doesn’t get an allowance this week? What’s an allowance again?

Me: It’s when you get weekly money for doing chores.

My husband: (Blank stare.)

Me: Like taking out the trash, vacuuming, emptying the dishwasher…?

My husband: We don’t do that here in Germany.

Me: Really.

My husband: No, we get pocket money here.

Me: So you basically get money for doing nothing?

My husband: It’s your weekly or monthly money you get from your parents.

Me: Oh, man, your society’s going to hell in a hand basket real quick.

So, after the Valentine’s Day incident  I’ve learned that I can’t always ASSume what my husband tells me is true; I took the time to do some research and asked around our ultra-liberal neighborhood.

What I found was that a majority of neighbors still use the Pocket Money Method with their children. One neighbor explained that the amount of money to be given is based on the child’s age. And the official German name for the money is, “Taschengeld.”

According to the Jugendamt, the city office for youth similar to Child Protective Services in the US, they recommend using the following calculations:


The mentioned amounts are indications only; it is also always dependant on the family income.

The guidelines that go with table (aka The Rules of the Pocket Money Method) are:

  • The child receives the agreed amount on a regular basis and without asking.
  • Younger Children have a harder time grasping longer time periods, therefore they should receive the pocket money on a weekly basis. As of the age of 9 or 10 it is ok to give the amount on a monthly basis.
  • The child is always able to choose how in which they spend or save the pocket money. The only rule should be that the object or activity is not dangerous or unhealthy.
  • Parents shouldn’t step in only if the child asks for advice.
  • The amount of pocket money shouldn’t be related to additional smaller income or monetary presents from relatives (such gifts aren’t calculated into the weekly/monthly money).
  • School supplies, groceries or clothes shouldn’t be required to be bought with the pocket money. Exceptions are if the child has destroyed school materials or has special clothing wishes (e.g. expensive name brands that the family doesn’t normally purchase).
  • Punishments or rewards shouldn’t be done via the pocket money; it should be a constant, and not a parenting or pressure instrument.

I couldn’t believe this. All those years growing up in the US, breaking my back to clean our old Victorian house only to learn had I grown up in Germany, I would have had a standard issue weekly ration of pocket money. What a rip off!

Then I started thinking a little more.

What if I had this all wrong? Receiving an allowance is meant to teach children that they should get something for working. Sounds fair enough, right? It is being used as an incentive to work. Well, then what happens if they don’t get paid to do something? They won’t do it.

Need a helping hand with something not on the chore list? Not gonna happen.

The pocket money on the other hand is teaching the child not that they get something for nothing, but when they do things around the house, they should just do it because it’s the right thing to do, not because they will get something for it. The money and the chores aren’t tied together.

The pocket money is only used for teaching financial responsibility, not a reward program.

Hm? Scary concept. I don’t know if I’m ready to let go of my allowance belief.

I mentioned before in my Top 10 Most Exciting Things about living in Germany that the German mentality is much different than the US mentality. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. On the same token, just because you aren’t getting paid to do something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the time to do it.

The Germans have been doing this for years. So how does this concept translate to adulthood?

Our neighborhood is filled with people who are more than willing to always pitch in and help out. When projects need to be done, a majority of neighbors will be there to help in a heartbeat. Dig wells, paint walls, or even just bring large trash to the street.

In the US…to get friends to help with any project, including moving, typically you have to bribe them with food and or alcoholic beverages. Ok, maybe I was hanging out with the wrong people.

It at first sounds like a socialist approach…the parent controls the money and everyone gets money for doing nothing. But I have to admit, look at the examples regarding German mentality vs. American menatlity. Perhaps I was too quick to judge.

It’s still killing me to think of not making the children work for their money after all I suffered…I mean all I did around the house.

How do you get children to do chores then? Is there some secret dungeon I have yet to learn of?

As the Germans say, Komisch… Weird! I’m still trying to grasp this concept.

As a stay-at-home mom, I am proud to say I received my first pocket money yesterday.


My husband: Hey, look. It’s a shiny new 2€ with Neuschwanstein, the Disney castle on it. (He hands to me to look at.)

Me: Cool. Thanks…

My husband: (I get the “huh?” look but can see he is thinking, “It’s only 2€,” then he digs into his wallet again.) And here is a shiny one with the Belgian President on it.

Me: Ok, not as cool, but I’ll take it anyway.

Apparently my pocket money is only 2€ a week because he didn’t hand over the second 2€. Still not a fan of the Pocket Money Method, sorry, I’m not sold on it.

But… This is just me. (So much for unbiased opinion at the polls.)

…which Team do you support?

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  1. Carolee Rausch03-03-12

    My boys get Taschengeld here in Germany BUT of course they have to do chores ..or no Taschengeld!!!

    • Mommy03-03-12

      Ok, I think I have to clasify that as Allowance. :) LOL

  2. Bill at FamZoo03-07-12

    Ah, the classic debate: whether or not to tie allowance to chores. We do something in between: modest regular allowance (pocket money) and the chores are expected…but, if they blow off the chores, we ding their allowance account with a penalties. It’s a “chore fail chart”:

  3. Jessica03-09-12

    We do allowance based on chores that benefit the whole family. No allowance for things that are already your responsibility, like taking care of your room, making your bed, etc. My son (7) gets allowance for gathering all the trash on garbage day and putting away the clean silverware. My daughter (4) gets hers for setting the table and folding the clean washcloths (again…she’s 4). I agree with teaching them the value of money and how to responsibly manage it; we have discussions about that all the time when they say they want something. This way is more of a preparation for later in life when they WILL be expected to work for their pay. To just expect money without work…….isn’t that the same as welfare? I guess there’s too much American in me to see past that!

    • Mommy03-09-12

      Oh, wow! Helping out at 4, that’s great! There has to be a medium somewhere, I guess. Luckily, my son is still too young for “pocket money” so I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. LOL Maybe my opinion will change after having lived here longer:)

  4. Lukewarm04-06-12

    Germans use the “allowance-system”. They just don’t use it with pocket money but more with favours. You do something for the family, the family – which usually means the parents – do something for you. Be a good child and your parents will be more willing to allow you special favours like staying with friends over night. Be a lazy child and you might loose some of your privileges. It’s usually based on trust, not on a direct exchange of chores for favours, although you ask for a chore in exchange for a favour from time to time (e.g. “Clean up your room and you can stay with your friends tonight!”).

    I for one root for team pocket money. Like you have pointed out it’s meant to teach children to be responsible with money and it gives them room to make their own decisions. We use other measures do teach responsibility in a community, and I think that if this “system” works, it is the better system to teach children to be responsible with money and their role in a community. But it requires more work and trust on both sides, and I can imagine that “team pocket money” might fail more often than “team allowance”.

    • Mommy04-07-12

      Luckily our son isn’t old enough for either… I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it:) But he is already throwing away his own diapers at 16-months-old…for FREE:)

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