Allowance, Chores & Money Management for Kids

chores and allowance
source: Alan Cleaver

The great debate when it comes to giving kids an allowance is whether or not it should be tied to chores.

There are pros and cons to both viewpoints, but I’ve never understood why it had to be an either/or kind of thing.

First, let’s look at the debate:

On one hand, an allowance offers the incredible opportunity to teach our kids money management skills from an early age that really will serve them for a lifetime.

Proponents of this aspect of the allowance issue stress the importance of giving kids money regularly so that they can learn how to save, give and invest as well as learn to spend responsibly. However, they believe that chores are a family duty and payment should not be tied to the things that kids are expected to do anyway, so the allowance is usually a set amount each week.

On the other hand, in the real world most of us have to work for our income, and parents who hold onto the allowance-tied-to-chores philosophy believe that kids should only be given an allowance if they’re working for it through daily chores. Receiving an allowance each week is not a given if chores aren’t completed as expected.

A Hybrid Approach

I think both sides of the argument have very valid points. I want to teach my kids money management skills and that there are certain jobs you do without pay as a member of our family. On the other hand, I want to help them develop an entrepreneurial spirit and good work ethic.

So how do we strike a balance? Here is our approach:

The girls have the opportunity to earn $3.50 a week ($0.50 a day) through a variety of chores. They only receive payment if they do their jobs without being nagged, and there is no guarantee that they’ll receive any of that money if they don’t complete their chores.

However, they also have chores that they’re expected to do without payment each day simply because they are a member of the family.

And finally, we regularly offer extra jobs to the first taker. Jobs may include playing with the baby while I make dinner, cleaning out the arts & crafts bin, dusting or straightening up after one of their younger sisters. There are not a ton of these opportunities, so they have to carefully decide each time if they want to take on the job or risk missing out on the opportunity to earn extra money until the following week.

The last part is especially important to me because, as I said, helping them develop an entrepreneurial spirit is an important part of my parenting philosophy. I think being a self-starter and working hard to achieve your goals are important character traits whether money is involved or not, and this is one way we demonstrate that.

A Help-Wanted Bulletin Board

One thing I want to do as my girls get older is create a help-wanted bulletin board where my husband and I can post job descriptions and rates that the girls can choose from to earn extra money. I don’t want cajole them into doing these extra things, and I think creating a neutral place for them to browse and choose the ones that appeal to them (and they think are worth the money being offered in exchange for their time and effort) could be a really fun way to practice some of those skills. I also think it could grow over time to a place where they learn about negotiating, applying for jobs and so forth.

My girls are still young, so our philosophy and system may change over time, but it’s working for now!

What is your allowance philosophy? What benefits have you seen from giving an allowance to your kids?

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