Allowance uncertainty is real, according to Mydoh’s Canadian Allowance Report

Parents have more questions than answers about building kids’ financial independence

Toronto, ON (May 9, 2024) – If there’s one consistent message to take away from Mydoh‘s Canadian Allowance Report, it’s inconsistency. Canadian parents can’t seem to agree on much when it comes to giving their kids an allowance, including whether to give one at all. Withholding allowance as a punishment approach and allowance amounts are also divisive topics.

Mydoh, the money management app for kids and teens powered by RBC, partnered with Ipsos to poll hundreds of Canadian parents with children aged 6 to 17 about their family’s allowance habits.

Among the findings?

  • 47 per cent of Canadian parents give their kids an allowance, which means that for every Canadian family with an allowance routine, another family is opting out of allowance altogether.
  • Canadian parents are evenly split on whether withholding allowance is an effective tool for discipline.
  • B.C. parents pay their kids the least at an average of $17.80/week, while Ontario parents are the most generous at $23.90/week (an annual difference of more than $300).
  • B.C. parents also wait the longest to start paying an allowance. On average, kids in that province start receiving an allowance when they’re almost 11 years old. Parents in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, on the other hand, start offering allowance two years earlier at almost nine years of age.

“We know parents want their kids to learn money management skills, but this report highlights the uncertainty many Canadian parents feel around the role an allowance can play in building good financial habits,” said Angelique de Montbrun, chief operating officer and chief marketing officer at Mydoh. “Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that one-in-four Canadian parents say it’s easier to talk to their kids about the ‘birds and the bees’ than it is to talk about money.”

In fact, almost a quarter of Canadian parents say they’re unsure if they’re even using an allowance effectively. To help, Mydoh has partnered with financial expert and accredited Financial Counsellor Jessica Moorhouse to equip parents with three simple allowance guidelines: the ABCs of allowance.

“First and foremost,” says Moorhouse. “I think it’s important to make clear that, assuming it fits in your family’s budget, an allowance can be an incredibly important tool in teaching kids healthy money skills. Giving a regular allowance can open up powerful conversations about money and give kids low-risk ways to build real-world experience with budgeting and money management. But we need to approach giving an allowance with purpose.”

Specifically, Moorhouse suggests:

Autonomy
Although 78 per cent of parents surveyed for Mydoh‘s report say kids should be required to save a specific percentage of their allowance (and 32 per cent say kids should be required to put at least a percentage aside for charity), Moorhouse cautions against parents making too many of the decisions around how allowance is used or spent.

“Allowance is a safe way to teach kids about financial independence,” she explains. “Your child may impulsively spend a month’s worth of allowance at the candy store, but it’s a powerful opportunity to teach a lesson about saving.” The more parents dictate what happens with their kids’ allowance, the less kids have an opportunity for active learning.

Buy-In
Key decisions like how much and how often to give allowance should be made by each family based on their individual financial situation and their child’s needs. Once those decisions are made, parents should ensure kids understand the rules and guidelines.

Moorhouse encourages families to think of allowance as an agreement, with kids having a say in how it works. “If a child has a choice and is actively involved with the terms of their allowance – even having the ability to opt-out if they want to – they’re more likely to feel engaged, leading to positive associations with money in the long run.”

One-in-four respondents to Mydoh‘s survey said although their kids receive an allowance, there isn’t a clear understanding of what kids are responsible for buying themselves. Will you still pay for a new pack of trading cards if your kids get an allowance? What about a cool new pair of running shoes? Make sure kids know what is and isn’t expected of them financially and keep the conversation going, using open-ended questions to get kids to talk about their financial goals.

Consistency
Almost 40 per cent of parents who give their kids allowance say they forget to give allowance regularly. “While missing a week of allowance may seem inconsequential to you, it can lead to confusion and cause long-term negative associations for kids,” says Moorhouse.

Similarly, withholding allowance as a form of punishment is a financial no-no, according to Moorhouse. Limiting access to money as a way to control behaviour can have negative effects on feelings about money.

Automating the allowance process can help create simple, yet effective routines for parents and kids. According to survey results, 81 per cent of parents are still paying allowances with physical money, but in an increasingly cashless world, it’s unsurprising that 26 per cent of parents say they often don’t have the cash on hand to pay the week’s allowance.

Digital money management tools like Mydohwhich recently went subscription-free – allow parents to set up automatic allowance deposits or send money to kids as, and when, they need it. Kids and teens can securely spend their allowance using an age-appropriate, reloadable prepaid Visa card like the Mydoh Smart Cash Card.

View the full version of Mydoh’s Canadian Allowance Report here.

Survey Methodology

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between April 5 to April 8, 2024, on behalf of Mydoh. For this survey, a sample of n=700 parents ages 18+ with children ages 6 to 17 in Canada were collected. Quotas and weighting were employed to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the Canadian population according to census parameters. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 4.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian parents aged 18+ with children ages 6 to 17 been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to, coverage error, and measurement error.

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About Mydoh

Since 2019, Mydoh has been committed to helping parents raise money-smart youth. Mydoh began with the shared belief that money management isn’t something you are taught, as much as something you learn through experience – and that experience should start early. Mydoh has championed this belief since its inception and with it, has been able to help over 142,000 Canadians build a more solid financial foundation for the next generation. For more information, visit www.mydoh.ca.

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Source: RBC Insurance

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