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Is It Time For An Allowance?

Zachary is becoming much more interested in money here lately.  He has had a couple of opportunities to make his own purchases at the store and really enjoyed it.  We talked through the process first, told him how much money he had to spend, helped him choose which toys that were less than that amount, and then let him pay for them himself at the cash register.  Ever since then, he keeps asking when he can buy more toys.  I explain to him that he’ll have to save more money up before he can buy more toys.  The problem is, he probably won’t be getting much money until his birthday rolls around again.

Is it time to start giving him an allowance?

My first response to that question is yes.  I do think it is time.  He’s interested and ready to start learning about money management.  But, how do I go about it?  Do I just give him a set amount every week, no matter what?  Do I make him do chores in exchange for his allowance?  At first I thought chores were the way to go, but the more I think about it I’m not so sure.

A while back I read an article about family responsibility (I would link but can’t remember where I read it).  The basic premise was that things like cleaning and taking care of the house should be the shared responsibility of all members of the family (to the best of each member’s ability) and should not be done for any kind of expected reward, but for the good of the family.  The only reward would be the natural consequence of the action (the child can easily find the toy they want because it is put away where it belongs) rather than receiving an allowance or other treats for doing something that should be expected of them as a member of the family unit.

Along with this argument, comes the fact that the true purpose of an allowance is to teach the child money management, not teach them to do chores.  When giving an allowance, you should also be teaching your child to budget, save, and spend wisely (none of which I’m very good at myself).

On the flip side of that is the argument that as an adult he will be expected to work for his money.  Zach knows that Mommy and Daddy go to work in order to have money for food, clothes, toys, etc.  He understands that work is required to earn money.  So, should I just hand him money with no expectations?  Doesn’t that negate the idea that you have to put forth effort in order to meet your financial needs?  I don’t know.

I’m still leaning toward an allowance in exchange for chores because it is what he has been asking for, but I’m thinking some things should just be expected of him without earning money for doing them as well.  Maybe a base amount with a “bonus” if he keeps up with his chores would work?  I don’t know.

I’m pretty sure I’m over thinking this whole thing, but I’m really curious to hear how other families handle it.  Do your kids get an allowance? How old were they when they started receiving it?  Do they do chores in exchange for earning allowance or are they just given a certain amount each week?

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  1. Jenny McE Jenny McE

    We have been doing the chore thing for money. and most weeks the kids don’t get their allowance. I print off a chore chart of the things that we think they need to do and on the other side of the chart is a list of rewards they can choose (shopping, mommy time, daddy time, pizza night etc.) most of the time the kids choose money.

    Nolan has NO clue about money or chores, she just follows his sister around. Money is a GREAT incentive for Paige, She ‘gets it’. but I also really understand the part about doing chores fore the good of the family ‘team’. There are a few things that they do for me that are not included on the chore chart. They just need to be done because I simply don’t have enough hands AND i was sure to include ‘helping out your mother’ on the chart… I’m so sneaky.

    If you figure out a nicer/smoother/better method for this, I’ll be excited to hear about it!

  2. I think that most households have more than enough chores to go around that can be divided into “team” and “job”. For example, I will NOT be paying my kids to mow my damned lawn. They will do that for free. 🙂 But I could see setting some specific daily chores as part of an allowance setup.

    My chore was washing dishes. I began when I was in first grade and got $1 a week. But I also knew that is my responsibility to do it. It was MINE to do, but I got paid for it as well.. Not sure if that makes sense.

  3. dee dee

    Jen – I definitely think the chore chart is a good idea. We would have to implement something like that as well to keep track of what he had done. I like the idea of other reward options too. We’ve done a chore chart previously with him receiving a small “prize” but it didn’t last long. I think there were too many chore options. We would definitely have to make the list smaller if we do it again.

  4. dee dee

    Cagey – I like the idea of splitting chores up into “team” and “job”. I can see things like picking up toys (which needs to be done daily) as a chore and things he does occasionally (like feeding animals, etc.) as being team jobs that we all do as needed.

    By the way, I got paid for mowing the lawn and I loved it! That’s how I bought my clothes/shoes when I was in high school. I read a comment last night on another site that said to think of allowance not extra money you are spending, but money you would be spending on your child anyway. You’re just handing it over so they can learn to manage it themselves. Makes a lot of sense. My parents were just giving me the money they would have spent on clothes/shoes. It was just up to me to use it wisely.

  5. I may very well pay my kids for mowing our lawn – who knows?

    I see an “allowance” as exactly that – a set aside piece of the family pie for the kid. That is all.

  6. I only really started receiving allowance when I was in grade school. Before then, I would ask my parents (or sometimes my grandparents would give me some without my asking) for snack money in the afternoon. I grew up in a community where there were lots of kids to hang out with and my parents and grandparents worked in the neighborhood too. So if I needed snack money, I knew where to go 🙂

    Allowance as an incentive for chores sound like a good idea for Zach’s age 🙂

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