These are my random musings. Hopefully they will be witty, insightful, and frequently updated.
Kids earning or learning?
Published on June 8, 2007 By singrdave In Parenting
I don't want allowances to be a handout. I want to teach my children the value of work while also teaching the value of saving versus spending. Hopefully I can instill in my children a good attitude towards money, something that both my wife and I didn't get in our own childhoods.

I give my kids an allowance, based on their participation in household chores. The chores are leveled in difficulty for the age of the child: I don't require my 5-year-old to perform the same chores my 11-year-old does. But each chore is tied to a dollar amount -- since the 11-year-old can do more, he gets paid more than my 5-year-old. No chores, no allowance. If they want a raise that week, they can work more and get more money (get "overtime pay").

Where this plan falls down is in two places, one of them self-inflicted:

1) We end up buying stuff for them. Most times they forget their allowance money when we go to the mall, so my wife and I end up paying for their items with the hope that they'll pay us back afterwards. This becomes "please buy this for me" and I'll admit that we are weak-kneed in this area.

My oldest son (the 11-year-old) is a real skinflint with his money and a wastrel with ours. When we challenge him with "use your own money for that" he almost invariably puts the trinket back. He'll quite happily spend our money, but is a real tightwad with his own cash.

2) They get lunch money and snack money. My 11-year-old has a school lunch for $2 and an additional snack for $1. He can keep the snack money if he doesn't spend it. I'm certainly not advocating making my kids pay for their own school lunches, but this extra $5 per week cancels out his need to earn extra cash through chores. If he doesn't need more than $5 per week (see above) he isn't motivated for work.

I guess what I'd like to know is how others feel about allowances for their kids, and whether the allowance is based on work or given as a handout?

on Jun 08, 2007
Work.  I can easily mow my own lawn, but my son wants money, so he does it.  Same with the other chores.  I can do them, but if he wants to earn money (and he does), he does them.  This summer is deck painting. hehehehehehe (I hate that one!)
on Jun 08, 2007
Not to say that my kids don't step up: digging in the garden, assembling a barbecue grill, washing the car, or whatever. It's just that they do it for money when they choose to, not when it needs to be done.

There's a definite school of thought which says children should pitch in around the house because it's part of living in the house, rather than for pay.
on Jun 08, 2007
When I was growing up, I never got an allowance. I got money for doing things that weren't my weekly chores. That was the only way I could get cashola from my parents - digging weeds, vacuuming the front room, etc. I couldn't get jack diddle for just cleaning my room, mowing our lawn, things like that. My grandparents used to pay me to mow their lawn, as well.

In retrospect, I may not have had the money that some of my friends did, but I've come to value money much more than they have. I'm stingy like no-one's business, and as a result, I have more money than any of my friends. (Which I continue to squirrel away).

Sounds like you're going about things the right way, Dave.
on Jun 08, 2007
I agree that they should pitch in just as members of the household. I consider things like throwing away their trash, putting dishes in the sink, cleaning up their own messes, putting laundry in the laundry room and putting the clean clothes away just part of their unpaid responsibilities. I have just started paying my boys 50 cents a day for making their beds in the morning. I told them I would add other paid jobs when they make their beds every day without reminders. Before my husband paid them $10 a week straight allowance. They were supposed to keep their rooms clean but would just end up cleaning it before allowance day usually by throwing everything under the bed or in the closet. It's hard to find a system that works for you but we'll keep experimenting until we figure out what works best.
on Jun 08, 2007
They were supposed to keep their rooms clean but would just end up cleaning it before allowance day usually by throwing everything under the bed or in the closet.

Or, if they shared a room, shoving it all to the brother's side!
on Jun 08, 2007
my wife and i are wrestling with this issue currently as our 8 year old has recently asked. we're still debating the issue, and i'm not really sure what the best path is. like san, i tend to thin that the "extra work" shoudld get the cash. she's not so sure....i'll be interested to see if more share their success / failure stories.
on Jun 08, 2007
I never got an allowance for chores around the house, but I think there is a midpoint between chores as part of living in the house and chores for allowance:

You could set a certain chore or chores to be the responsibility of one child: let's say you make your 11 year old load your dishwasher after meals. That's his or her job. (S)He has to do that. Then, you can tie monetary amounts to work above and beyond that initial work. If they don't do that chore, then there are consequences - whatever those consequences are, you decide. Also, you can make it so that if they don't do the chore they're responsible for, they can't actually have the money they make from other chores until they've got their assigned chore done.

You don't have to give away money for chores either - you can do things simple like TV time or Gameboy time or whatever it is your children like to do. Chores don't necessarily need to be all about the money. You can tell them if they do X amount of chores around the house this week, you'll take them out for pizza, or something of that nature. If they do all their chores and more for a month in a row, you can take them to a minature golf course or Magic Mountain or some sort of arcade (boy suggestions, as I'm not sure as to the gender of your children, and these are things I'd do chores for ).

As to the buying things for your kids part - be a little more strong-willed is all I can suggest. After you flat out refuse to buy things a few times, they'll get the hint, and start bringing their own money.
on Jun 08, 2007
my wife and i are wrestling with this issue

I didn't mention him, but we have an 8-year-old son, too... and our reasoning is that the older you get the more your wants grow. So my 11-year-old boy, his 8-year-old brother, and his 5-year-old sister are each going to want less expensive things. And therefore don't need as much money as one another. So maybe this conversation will help guide your decision?

Come to think of it, heck with your 8-yr-old... make that new baby earn his keep! You know, formula doesn't grow on trees and breast milk isn't cheap either. ::
on Jun 08, 2007
Come to think of it, heck with your 8-yr-old... make that new baby earn his keep! You know, formula doesn't grow on trees and breast milk isn't cheap either.

LOL...he's startin at the coal mine next week.
on Jul 11, 2007
You know, formula doesn't grow on trees and breast milk isn't cheap either.

LOL! Good joke!

My children, including my 5year old do chores as expected of them. Their major jobs are to keep their individual rooms clean, i.e., spread the bed, put dirty sheets in the wash (not the younger one), pick up after themselves, make sure their laundry goes into the laundry room for washing, my oldest does her own. My oldest cleans the bathroom they use and she has certain days to wash dishes or use the dishwasher. My son just started doing dishes - he complains. He doesn't clean the bathroom because of his asthma. I have told him though that he will start cleaning the toilet since he's so messy when he uses it (his sisters complain)! He's learning to aim more carefully!lol!

I do give them allowance, unless I have to buy something that they really want, then that supercedes getting an allowance. My daughter was working and didn't need an allowance, but when she quit that job she was back on the payroll! She's working again now!

Kids can be lazy in that they don't want to do the simplest things or you have to remind them. So if they want to hang with friends, or go to a friend's house or something else, they know they won't be allowed until their chores are done.

I pay them for anything they don't usually have to do, like babysitting their younger sister.
on Jul 21, 2007
I pay them for anything they don't usually have to do, like babysitting their younger sister

Totally agree. Kids can be very Mercenary, and before you know it household/family chores that we expect family members to pitch in with, become the subject of "Union Negotiations", as being paid for everything has become the norm in what is IMHO a misguided effort to buy peace and get jobs done without drama. Works short term, but they grow up with a distorted set of values, so overall, baaad news.

The unexpected aka babysitting is fair enough, they save the hassle of getting one your not sure about anyway, you are paying them gratefully for the peace of mind they give. Thats a solid sense of purpose and reward, and they respond well to it.

Kids are not stupid - despite our impressions at times - they can see through dubious schemes to pay them to shut up or do what they hate anyway. With regular chores they know they will end up doing it like it or not, but if they can get mum & dad to cough up money to do it as well, hey great wheeze lets go for it.

Mercenary devils