Allowance/ Payment for Chores

Updated on January 17, 2015
F.B. asks from Kew Gardens, NY
14 answers

Mamas & Papas-

We have one kid, he's four years old. To date, we haven't implemented formal chores, allowance, or any sort of payment earning opportunity. He knows about money. We've made him a part of making purchases, by having him ask to pay, turn over money to a cashier/ waiter/ collect the change. We've taken him to the bank for deposits and withdrawals, and we've talked about how we work to earn money to pay for things.

At what point did your kids "get it"? that is understand comparative value of coins, costs of things, accumulation of money, and earning power?
What were your motivations in offering an allowance, or payment for chores?
What are your boundaries, if any, on your kid's spending?

Trying to decide what way to handle this, and whether we'll do chores/ allowance at all.

F. B.

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So What Happened?

I grew up with no allowance, and no chores to speak of. My mother, who was stay at home into our teens preferred to do it all herself rather than supervise/ countenance our efforts. My husband on the other hand had regular chores, extra chores, was expected to pitch in on big projects, and was given pocket money for special outings/ occassions.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

My child got it around 5 or 6. That's when we started. So my 4 year old is also on the plan now.

I pay for chores - but not all of them. Each of my kids have a list of standard "everyone has to help the house run" chores. They do not get paid for these chores. I also have a list of extra chores which they can do to earn $.

Standard chores include helping clear the dishes from the table after meals and emptying the dishwasher. Paid extras are things like helping me vaccuum on the weekend when we have a clean-up day or wiping counters in the kitchen.

My 8 year old has stuff he wants to buy, and so he's motivated by $. My 4 year old doesn't really have stuff he wants yet, so while he will help because he likes to help (which is great), he is not at all motivated by $ yet (I still pay him for doing extras to be fair, but he wouldn't notice if I didn't).

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answers from Chicago on

My oldest started to get it at about 5.5. Now at almost 7, I think she truly gets it all, including how long it will take to save for Y, etc.

Now, we do not tie household tasks to the allowance. As a member of the household, you have to contribute, but because you're a member, you too get your own money.

We have no boundaries on spending. I'm going to let them figure it out for themselves, and if I think they need some serious financial planning intervention, I will intervene.

For instance, my son, at 4, wanted a skateboard. It cost 90 with pads. He paid for it. Then recently, around his 5th bday, he wanted this giant stuffed shark. He now owes me money! So he won't get an allowance for a few months. I'm Okay with him learning this way.

We also give pocket money when we go on vacation, etc.

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answers from New York on

He is part of the family. With that comes responsibility. Age appropriate of course. No payment for being a family member. Sorry.

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answers from Washington DC on

i think you've got two separate issues right here. one is allowance, and you'll find passionate views on either side. we did give an allowance, and if memory serves it was at around this age. it wasn't hard-tied to chores, but if they did extra work they could earn extra cash. i do agree that chores are family responsibilities and should not be cash-motivated, but you'll find folks on either end of this one.
but your question seems to be more about the penny dropping (heh) and kids understanding the value of money and how it works. and this, like the ubiquitous sex question, is more of an ongoing unfolding of comprehension than a lightbulb moment.
both my kids had the same rules. but my older kid can't let a dollar get dusty and now, at 30, finally seems to be getting a vestigial appreciation for delayed gratification. my younger hangs onto a dollar like it's his lifeblood, and always has.
just keep the conversation moving (but light!). in a few more years he'll be ready to see a chart of compound interest, and how it works for you and can also cut you off at the knees, and THAT will be a lightbulb moment!
:) khairete

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answers from St. Louis on

I just started giving my kids an allowance for chores. I use an app that tracks the jobs they are responsible for and how many points they earn with each job. If they do the job, they get the points. If they don't, they don't. There's no "I'll do it later" with the app because it calculates everything once I input that they've completed each chore. At the end of the week, the points equate to money. They can "withdraw" their money, save their money, select an item to purchase (from a pre-approved list of items on the app), etc. But they also put some aside for saving and for charity/church. I think it teaches them responsibility, a job well-done, etc. I have a 12 yr old, a 10 yr old, and a 6 yr old. My 12 and 10 yr olds do pretty well at it. My 6 yr old doesn't do as well. I'm hoping she will get more interested in it in the next year or two. My 10 yr old is the most interested in doing chores, but he's also the most organized and has the cleanest room. lol

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answers from Lakeland on

I think doing chores is a good way of teaching to help out. I don't think children should get an allowance for helping their parents or keeping the house clean.

I don't think at 4 they truly understand the value of money. I see some adults that don't understand it either. I think that comes with time and continuing to help your child understand.

My daughter doesn't get an allowance, but she can purchase things with her own money (birthday, holiday) and I will allow her to get small things when she has done really well in her studies. I do not reward her behavior, I expect her to behave all the time and she knows that.

ADDED: I never got an allowance and grew up with a single mom so I had no choice in doing chores. My mom worked all the time so my siblings and I had to handle things at home without getting paid. If we wanted money we had to earn it, babysitting, raking leaves, shoveling snow, etc. for other people.

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answers from Norfolk on

I highly recommend Dave Ramsey and daughter's book "Smart Money, Smart Kids." I just finished it this week and they have some fantastic insights. I did Ramsey's "Financial Peace University" years ago and obviously this book promotes the same ideals.

I very much like his ideas of not giving an "allowance", of tying hard work to money, staying debt-free, and more. Checked mine out at the library, so saved there too! It will definitely set you in the right direction. Good luck!

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answers from Norfolk on

I'll repeat what I said on another allowance question:

We never got an allowance growing up and our son doesn't get one either.
It merely teaches how to spend spend spend before they have ANY concept of how difficult the money is to earn.
Doing chores and helping around the house is something you just do and no one pays you to clean your own toilet - using a clean toilet is your reward.

I can think of a dozen people who live paycheck to paycheck and can't manage saving in spite of all the 'money skills' an allowance was suppose to teach them.
I'm aware of what the 'experts' say/recommend but it just doesn't work and I don't buy the hype.
In the worst case, the allowance becomes an expected entitled handout regardless of attitude/behavior/chores/grades.

I can think of a few others who had to work very hard for what ever cash they earned (paper routes, mowing lawns, raking leaves, shoveling snow for neighbors, etc) and they learned to pinch a penny till it bleeds.

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answers from New London on

As a certified parenting instructor...The answer is: Children should do simple / some chores and absolutely not get paid. A child at 4 should be putting his/her own laundry in the hamper. S/he should be setting the dinner table and clearing the dinner examples.

When my kids turned 7, they were responsible for putting their laundry away in drawers, still putting laundry in the hamper, and helping w/ dishes....

Each yr, I added a small chore.

Once they were about 8 yrs old, I offered extra jobs for allowance.

I have met many teens who were never given chores. Then, kids usually rebel when asked to do them...especially if Mom has done too much all along!

So, no you should not pay for chores. Doing chores teaches responsibility. And it teaches the child respect for the home, too.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I'm in something of the same position as you, I have an only son who is 4yrs old. I thank everyone who has answered because I was thinking of paying him for accomplishing the 'responsibilities'
(I got a Melissa and Doug 'responsibility board' with smiley faces, etc.) The responsibility board lets him see the task(s) which we have discussed and he gets to put a smiley face up when the task is complete. I was going to tie the task to money but after reading the replies I understans why I shouldn't. (He winds up getting our loose change, etc anyway.)
Since he does get money and has it, from family, for birthdays, helping out, change from our pockets, etc I have made him pay me back for a few things.
My son HAD to have a specific Hot Wheel for his new track when we were in the grocery store. Instead of fighting about it I simply told him he would have to pay me back. So I purchased it and when we got home he asked me to get his monkey bank, I explained what the coins were and helped him count out $1.07. I then had him physically put the coins (paying me back) in my hand and I thanked him. We have sense done this one other time with something else (can't remember). I told him that since I wasn't planning on making the purchase he would have to pay me back.
He has since stopped the 'I wants' and whining in the stores.

Anyway, thanks again to all for teaching me not to pay for household responsibilities.

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answers from Tampa on

My kids are 7 and 9. I tried to do an allowance a few years ago, but found that I fought with the kids to get them to do their chores to get the allowance. I stopped paying it because it was such a hassle. Now I approach it with them that they are members of our family and thus must contribute in the chores to keep our house running smoothly. I decided that I was not going to pay for them to do things that they should be doing already to help the family.

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answers from San Francisco on

Our kids always had very simple chores, like picking up their own messes, helping clear the table, or putting their folded laundry away. But these were things we ALL did, so nobody got paid for it.
As far as money? Well when they were young I didn't even think about it. They didn't need it after all, all of their basic needs/wants were met, money just seemed like a burden at that age.
Once they got old enough that they started asking for things above and beyond the basics, like expensive video games, special shoes/clothes, electronics, etc. we gave them opportunities to earn it, doing things like cleaning the car, garage, doing yard work, etc. That happened around 10 to 12 years old. Not long after that they were babysitting, pet sitting and taking care of neighbors' mail and plants when they were on vacation.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

We don't "pay" the kids for chores. Either they get an allowance that's free spending money or they don't.

IF they want to make extra money then we do let them do some chores "IF" we have any money.

Chores are assigned things they do to help out because they are a member of the family and this is their home.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Growing up I had a few chores I had to do uncompensated (just part of
being part of the family) BUT then my dad was brilliant he instilled chores we did for money.
It's because of that I know the value of work=earned money=buy what
I need or want.
One of the best things you can teach your child is working for a living
(compensating for chores) & budgeting that money (some in savings &
some for a spending).
You don't necessarily need a chart but you can if you need that.
I started small. 4 yr old, pick up all our toys, get a dollar.
Put that away in your piggy bank or the bank for a future toy.
But then you need to let them have some instant gratification in order for
it to teach/make an impact etc.

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