Allowance for 4 Year Old - Tempe,AZ

Updated on October 27, 2014
K.H. asks from Tempe, AZ
21 answers

My husband and I are tossing around the idea of giving our 4 year old an allowance. I would like to start formalizing some chores for her and I would also like her to start having a bit more of a concrete idea about money (she starts to buy her own treats at the store). I'm just wondering what would be 1)appropriate chores for her age and 2) an appropriate amount of money. We were thinking of keeping her room clean and straightening up toys in the common room and she would get $1-2 a week.

I know you can make a strong argument for no allowance at all and that they shouldn't receive money for things that are expected. However, this post is mostly for those who do believe in allowance to see how you handle it. Thanks for any insight!

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answers from Denver on

My 4 year old gives the cat food and water, unloads the silverware, puts away her clothes and sets the table for dinner. Right now, she loves her jobs but we are considering adding some above and beyond for an allowance. I think I will probably wait another year or so, but I think a dollar or 2 a week is perfect.



answers from Dallas on

We basically follow these Dave Ramsey approach to allowance except he calls it commission we call it allowance.

4 imo is a great age to begin teaching about money and work. I believe it's important that money comes from working. My kids earn money for doing certain chores above and beyond. At 4 my kids: clean window seals help, dust, help sweep with laundry help vacuum and feed pets. It's important at this age not that they do it independently or perfectly but that they do it with you and learn about work and keeping up their house.

A great tool is financial peace jr on amazon it $14 usually has a chore chart plastic envelopes for save spend give

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answers from Norfolk on

What do you do if the kid doesn't care about the money and just doesn't do the chores?
Chores are not negotiable at our house.
Everyone helps with everything that needs doing because many hands make light work, and then we can all enjoy some fun time together - and I don't end up being the household drudge who waits on everyone else.
Some women like being needed like that - more power to them if it works for them.

Allowance is what the experts SAY the kids NEED in order to learn how to handle money.
What it really does is train them up to be good little consumers and spend spend spend before they have any idea how hard it is to actually earn the money.
It's amazing the number of people who live from paycheck to paycheck and misuse credit cards - and they had all this 'experience' from handling allowances.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I believe in allowance, and I believe in chores. I'm not sure at all about combining them because I think you kind of undermine your goals.

Kids should have age appropriate chores but not necessarily tie them to money. Otherwise, when they don't need or want money, they don't think they have to be cooperative family members. Four year olds have no concept of money and what things cost. They can barely count, so they don't get that 5 nickels = 1 quarter, 4 quarters = a 1 dollar bill, let alone that an item with a price tag of $2.99 is really $3 in price, plus tax. They don't study coinage until elementary school, and while things like 10 stacks of 4 quarters each equals $10 which fills a quarter roll is great for multiplication, but not until 3rd or 4th grade.

And taking a child to the store with her own money turns every trip into a "me me" experience, with every errand having a personal pay-off. It also keeps you from saying "no" to a particular purchase (too much candy, inappropriate toy) because "It's my money, Mommy."

So I'd separate them. And I'd make chores very simple - simple tasks rather than a long sequence. So pick your biggest battles in her room and the common room. Establish storage bins or baskets or designated shelves or dresser drawers for key items. Label each "destination" with a photo or a picture from a magazine or website so that pre-readers can identify where Legos go, where stuffed animals go, where socks and underwear go. If you put shoeboxes or plastic bins in a dresser drawer with a label/photo, a child can learn to put her own laundry away easily. To clean the room, have her start with ONE job - because "clean up your room" is way too general. Have her pick up only her clothing and put the dirty stuff in the hamper, then pick up ONLY her shoes and put them in the closet. When that's done, stop, compliment her, and move on. On the next day, do all the toys in one category - dolls & animals, or puzzles and their pieces. Stop, read a story together. The next day, do two chores in a row in the common area. Once it's clean (even if it takes a week), it will be easier to return it to that state after just one afternoon of playing. Associate chores with having more time with her family to do fun things - the work has to get done, if everyone does a little bit without a lot of time devoted to arguments and excuses, we all get there reward of a family movie or board game or nature walk or trip to the library.

This is a good time to institute a sticker chart as a measure of task completion. After a certain number of stickers are accumulated, there's time for an activity of choice.

Then, totally separately, start teaching about money. If you have a big bucket of change someplace, get those coin sorters from the office supply or discount store, and a bunch of coin wrappers from the bank. Make sorting into a game - separate quarters from dimes etc., then organize into stacks. That teaches that a little bit of money, over time, builds up to a substantial amount when it's not spent - that's a lesson in savings and not giving in to the temptation to buy something just because the money is there.

When our son was about 7, we found a child's bank that helped sort money into 3 categories - spend, save and give. He learned to enjoy a little bit, save up for bigger things and donate to charity. The sections had parental locks on them (at least Save and Give did) - It helps to infuse your family values into the subject of money.

His money came from what he found on the street (no kidding - some people still pick up pennies!), what he got in gifts from Grandma, and what he earned doing special chores above and beyond regular chores. So in your case, I'd do at least a few months of basic, no opting out chores as part of being a responsible family member. Then I'd introduce separate, "above and beyond" chores for money - something other than routine maintenance of her space - maybe raking leaves or sweeping off the porch or sorting things for a garage sale. These are optional chores she can do to earn money. She won't be able to do much at age 4, but you're planting the seed. She may come up with added things she can do - and I think it's great to let her choose "her line of work" as long as it's a job she can do safely based on her age, size, ability to use tools, etc. You don't want her dusting Grandma's crystal and she may be far too small to use a vacuum or a set of hedge clippers, but investing in a child-sized rake or broom is fine even if she's totally inefficient at the actual job. You base the payment on the size & duration of the job - just like real life.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

For me, allowance became relevant when they started asking for things above and beyond what they "needed" so it came about during the tween years, earning money for things like a new video/computer game, or the "hot" new pair of boots, etc. That's when they started doing extra chores around the house, baby/pet sitting for neighbors, stuff like that.
Before that they simply didn't need money, and I just didn't want to burden them with it. An ice cream cone or slurpee or any other treat that happened on a day out running errands was just a part of our routine (and yes, they had simple chores that they did because they were expected.)
Not trying to get you to change your mind (okay maybe I am lol!) just providing you with my perspective.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Our daughter is 19 and we never did the allowance thing. There were certain chores she was expected to do as a part of the family.

We did fund anything she needed when something came up. Our focus was mostly about learning about money and educating her about money. She'll tell you today the she has heard "delayed gratification" and "debt is evil" all of her life. We taught her the importance of living below your means and the importance of saving money.

She sees a prime example now as she is in her 2nd yr of college with no financial worries and she sees so many students struggling to get through college with minimal debt and worried about what will happen when they graduate from college.

So, allowance or not.. I think educating children about money is very important.

Daughter lives in what will become her condo.. it is in our name right now. We give her a specific amount of money each Friday plus she is on my payroll with our company. She is well aware that the money she receives weekly is there for food, gas, necessities and maintaining the condo.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I have never known allowance to work the way people think it will. You are part of a family, not a business. Allowance just establishes this warped you don't do these things because that is part of being in a family, you do it for money. So then you have this dynamic of you want me to do something what is it worth to you, worth to me. Is that really what you want?

You end up producing those icky adults I avoid. The ones where your lawnmower breaks and you ask to borrow theirs and they are like fine, it cost you 10 dollars for gas and maintenance. You end up standing there scratching your head because you lent them your weed whacker the summer before and only asked it come back in one piece.

Just adding this after reading Mamazitas response, if my kids wanted something above and beyond I would give them small jobs, my dad would give them small jobs and I would drive them there. Just allowance for being a member of my family, no.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Salinas on

Some things in life should not be a transaction, especially to a four year old.

Never did allowance in our house. Kids are expected to help out around the house and are supported by us. One doesn't depend on the other. Now that they are older they either work in our business for extra money, babysit or save gift money to get the things the want.

At four focus on completing simple chores for the sake of responsibility not to earn a wage. Personally I think the less you try to raise a little "worker" the better of she'll be in the long run.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

If your intention is to create a self-serving, stingy person by all means give her an allowance. Like all things, time is needed to grow. So what is she growing into?

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Allowance is the money you give a child so they can learn to save and how to make good choices with their spending.

Doing chores is learning we are a family. This is our home and we are all responsible for taking care of it. It is not a punishment it is being part of a family home.

Everybody loves their home and want it to be clean. Want to take care of it and the things inside of it.

If the bathroom is not kept clean, we can get sick. If the dishes are not washed, we will not have anything to eat with. Eating a meal means, planning the menu, purchasing the food, storing it properly, preparing it properly and then cleaning up after ourselves.

In our bedrooms, our beds are where we sleep. We need clean sheets.
Our toys were gifts so we take care of them by playing with them and then putting them back where they belong so we can play with them again later. If we cannot take care of our toys, we will not be able to get new toys when we want something new.

We want to look nice, so we take care of our clothes. When we are not wearing them, they need to be in the closet hanging, or folded in a dresser or on a shelf, or in the clothes hamper so they can be washed.

If we see things out of place, we need to put them where they belong so they do not get lost. And so we can find them when we need them.

Children understand with explanations. 4 year old's like to be "Big Helpers" They deserve to be positively acknowledged when they follow the rule.

So do you and so does dad. It will feel awkward at first to tell your husband "Thank you dad for mowing the lawn and putting the lawn mower in the shed!" "Suzie, didn't dad do a good job?"

"Suzie, I like how you made your bed (not perfect is ok) this morning."

"Thank you dad and Suzie for putting the dishes in the dishwasher. "

The allowance will be a concept more than a tangible to your child.
Ex: You give her $2.00 a week,. Maybe do it in Quarters. 4 quarters can go into her bank for saving for a toy or whatever she may want to buy for herself. Especially if she likes Legos or sees a toy that a friend has that she would like. Go to the store and look at the item, look at the price.. talk about how you and dad also save money so you can buy things or pay for the fun things you all do as a family.

2 can go into a donation bank. Maybe for church or for a charity. Discuss why we donate to a charity or to church.

And 2 she can decide if she wants those in her savings or to charity. No judgement no more right or wrong. This will be her chance to decide where it will go.

It is a good habit. Our daughter loved saving and then being able to purchase the things (mostly books) that she wanted.

I used to find fun piggy banks for her. She ended up with a fun collection.

She is now an adult and she is great about saving. (unlike her parents!)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

4 seems young for an allowance. But, then again, we don't do allowance.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Smart wording of your last paragraph. I just wanted to give you kudos for that-- because I cannot give you a response since I think that allowance for a 4 year old is not a choice I would make.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

We don't do an allowance. However, we have 2 categories of chores.1) helping unload the dishwasher, taking dishes to the sink after meals, and picking up your room. Expected and unpaid. Just part of life. 2) paid extras. I have a list of things my kids can do to earn money. It includes doing their own laundry (8 year old does it on his own, 4 year old loads his clothes on the washer and I run it). Matching and putting away socks. Helping me clean the kitchen, like running the swiffer, wiping the table. Etc. I set the amount earned based on the task. Socks are $0.10 per pair. Laundry is $1.00 if the get it into the washer then dryer. Kitchen help depends on how long it takes.

We don't give an allowance in the absence of work. I think it's important for kids to learn that money isn't just handed out in life.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My kids gets 2.5 a week. It is not tied to chores. As a family we all contribute to the household, and all members share money. It's called being a member of a household.



answers from Oklahoma City on

Please understand what you're thinking isn't hard work and is appropriate for her would be hard work for a tween.

Put her toys in her room and out of the rest of the house. Your house isn't her playroom.

Simple chores for a 4 your old are things that can help them with skills they should be learning and perfecting. Such as putting all the silverware up out of the dishwasher. Sorting and matching and clean hands before touching other peoples dishes are just a few things this activity teaches.

Sorting socks with mom/dad folding the rest of the laundry

Folding wash clothes/dish clothes while mom/dad fold the towels

Sorting toys into categories and putting into bins on shelves, such as doll clothes, books, blocks, and things she doesn't have a lot of. She should be doing this alongside mom/dad as they help her clean her room or the family area where her things are.

Helping mom/dad run the vacuum, sweep the floor, helping gather trash cans when trash is going into the big can, there are all sorts of things she can do that are extra things that are chores and not expected things she's supposed to be learning to do and maintain all by herself.



answers from Los Angeles on

You said this post is mostly for those that do believe in allowance. I do not, asked the question BUT gave a great answer yourself :) "We were thinking of keeping her room clean and straightening up toys in the common room and she would get $1-2 a week. " I think your idea is perfect because it is your idea for YOUR family. My only suggestion... good, bad or indifferent LOL! to also teach her to save the money and why. After all you are raising her to be an adult, not a child. :) Best of luck!



answers from San Francisco on

I don't know that I would use an allowance for keeping her room clean and straightening up. I think you could do a behavior chart or some type of chart which can keep track of her chores and anything else she's expected to do (brush her teeth, etc). I'm hesitant to assign money to these areas because I think that a) they are part of her job as a member of the family and b) then she will come to associate money with everything she does at home. Not sure that this is a good pattern to start.



answers from Washington DC on

My four year old has 4 simple little chores that are Making her bed, putting away the silverware, blowing out the candles when she goes to bed and spraying lysol when I wipe the kitchen counter tops. Right now my wife and I are doing one task per year of age. As for allowance she gets a dollar per task that we keep track of on our phones, when she wants candy at the store or a new toy we deduct it from that and she knows it.



answers from New York on

We don't do allowance, but our 4 year old has certain jobs. Setting the table. Sweeping up the crubs after a meal. Sponging down the table. Making his bed. These are his jobs. He takes them seriously and does them daily.

As for cleaning up, his daycare set a precendent, which we continued, that only one toy can be out at any given time, and it needs to be put away before another one comes out.

We are lucky too that he is a tidy kid, either by nature or by example, and he will of his own accord grab a wet wipe and clean a surface. I've seen him clean the end tables, the foot of our bed (it's a metal frame), the baseboards, lightplates, the feet of lamps. He also wipes down sinks, and counters after washing his hands, and wipes down the tiles after taking a bath or shower.

F. B.

He understands that thing have to be paid for. He will ask us if he can hand over the money at the register or to a server. His pretend play sometimes has him driving to work, then going to the bank, then going to the store to get something nice for himself or for us. We sometimes give him a few coins to drop into those centripital donation things at the zoo, or science center, or the church collection plate, but that's about it in terms of allowing him to have money on his person and to spend it.


answers from Denver on

My son is 5 (as of this month) and for the last year I have given him 50 cents a day for cleaning his room. (I do it on the weekends). On Friday he has $2.50 and we go to the store so he can pick out a little toy. It gives him a sense of pride to have his own money, and he is starting to learn to save too. A month ago he wanted a toy that was 4.25 and saved for two weeks to get it. It's a great lesson to teach your kids no matter the age. I'm planning to increase his responsibilities when he turns six and raise his allowance. I say go for it!



answers from Houston on

We started with our boy, when he was 4 years old, a concept that we very much like. (he is 5 now)

We expect light help around the house and garden, and he enjoys doing it and have rarely a problem doing his work. He takes pride in the results.
But that is independent of any allowance.

My daughter, she is 7, worked out a calendar where she puts in who is cooking at night. On her and his days typically she is doing some salad or pasta, baking etc. and he helps her to put it together. Since they both maintain a little garden together they like to harvest their produce.

However, we started to give the kids every Friday $4 dollars for him, equals his age and $7 dollars for her, equals her age.

They will put a third in their wallet, a third in their piggybank (for vacation, or donation) and a third they put in their bank account.
Both have a sheet where they put the numbers in and maintain their spending habits but also see what accumulates in the bank account.

What the best side affect is when we go to a shop they not argue with us to get a toy or anything they desire there. Now it is all about how long does it take to get what they want or often they say
"I really D. not need it"

Both kids love math. Playing with numbers (Montessori pre-school)
For them it is a game. For us less whining at the toy isle ;-)

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