Allowance Questions

Updated on October 31, 2010
M.I. asks from Pittsburgh, PA
20 answers

hi there! looking for some ideas on how other parents handle allowance for their kids. we have decided that this is the route we want to go, and have some general ideas in place, but i'm looking for a bit more structure, mainly:

1. How much do you give and how often? Do you give an amount per chore (ie, $2 for emptying the dishwasher, $.50 for folding the towels) or is it a set amount each "pay"?

2. If a chore is missed, how do you handle it? Do you deduct a certain amount, withhold the full allowance, some other type of discipline?

3. How do you track the chores being done? Do you use a large poster-type thing, or is more of a mental listing?

4. What type of chores do you givet eh allowance for? Are they for any and all chores, such as bed making, picking up toys, or is it only for things above and beyond "normal" expectations, things like laundry, dishwasher, setting table, things like that?

again, we have a general idea of what we want to do, but i wanted some perspective on what others do. age of your children doesn't matter, what we have in mind is totally age appropriate.


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answers from Minneapolis on

I like a comment I heard that allowance wasn't as much about earning the money but rather about learning to budget.

So allowances are given regardless of chores however chores are expected to be done. They're just not tied together.

The allowance is a time to learn what happens from mistaken choices as much as making good choices. Also, we pay like work pays - 2x month and teach to take some out for short-term savings, long-term savings and charity.

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answers from Chicago on

Read the book, Making Allowances: A Dollars and Sense Guide to Teaching Kids About Money by Paul Lermitte. I found it at my library. Great advice, easy to read and implement.

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answers from San Francisco on

Well when I first got my allowance back way back,my parents included things like bed making,dishes being wash and they mean assigning chores for 4 kids.Our beds always had to be made on our own and I got a job on dishes washing,vacumming(second oldest is like a second sargent)empty laundry in to a hamper while my older sis(1st sargent) patrol on laundry and both younger brothers are garbage and lawn mowing.Also we all take turns in walking our dogs in pair.Today me and sis,tomorrow the younger brothers.My sis chores also include homework patroling.We always have to look after ourself and Dad put up a big black board with all the chores and the name that goes with certain one.It all consist of regular general chores and some are our parents things like bill pay so we know where it goes and how much money are spend on things and how hard the money is being earned by our folks.If it all not met for a good reason like study for test and making project for science class.They won't punish us by keeping the allowance but if it was for no other reason.NOne of us gets it.It forced us to help each other complete our chores.I think it was for 20 bucks a week.So hope this help.But then again my father was in an army so it was different than your case but I think you can use some of these ideas.

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answers from Augusta on

We use a token system rather than actual money.
The kids earn tokens or points for chores and good behavior and loose points for bad behavior.
5pts for unloading the dishwasher, 5 pts for loading the dishwasher.
5pts for making bed, 5 pts for picking up toys, 2 pts for brushing teeth,
5pts for doing homework.
3pts for no fighting between breakfast- lunch, lunch - dinner , dinner- bed time.
we use poker chips as tokens they got strait into a jar as soon as they do the chore. they can spend the tokens on things like computer time or going to the movies , or they can save up and trade in their points for allowance $ , 1$ for every 100 points.

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answers from Orlando on

My daughter is 9. She gets 3 dollars per week for cleaning the bathroom (toilet, counter, sink and floor) and 3 dollars per week for cleaning her room (dusting, vacuming, picking up, making bed, etc) If she doesn't do her chores, she doesn't get her allowance. She also helps out around the house w/other things that she doesn't get paid for


answers from Jacksonville on

We do a combination.
There are certain things they are just supposed to do because they are members of the household and need to be involved in daily care of themselves and the household, like: making beds, keeping their rooms picked up, bringing dirty clothes to the laundry room, changing sheets on their beds, taking their dishes into the kitchen and putting them in the dishwasher after meals, setting the table, taking the full kitchen trash bag to the trash can outside, etc.

Then there are very regulated/specific things they receive compensation for: Taking out the trash and recycle bins to the street. Bringing them back to the garage after the trash people have been here. It's like a dollar a week each (one child takes them out and the other brings them back in). Initially, they also received $.50 for each of these: scrubbing toilet, cleaning mirror, cleaning sink in the bathroom, vacuuming the family room rug. But they tended to not do them very regularly, b/c of heavy homework loads and extracurricular activities making "free" time a little chaotic (son had just started middle school, was in Confirmation classes and about to test for his BlackBelt in TangSooDo, so had classes 3 times a week and then when he was Confirmed, he started immunotherapy 2x week, and sister also started karate and takes piano - none of which occur at the same time!). I don't like to spend my Sundays harping on them to get the bathrooms cleaned, so we went to doing them more on demand (once or twice a month), rather than on a weekly schedule. But they still got paid for them. Things have calmed down a little since then, but that is how we had been doing it, so we just stuck with that. I do them during the interim times they need attention.

There are also the "special" assignments: When son helps Dad mow the grass and does a big chunk of it. Or when they are told to pull the weeds in the flowerbeds or pick up branches/sticks after a storm or something. They don't get a lot of $ for these.. but usually Dad makes it "fun" for them by saying... "go ___ and I'll pay you $5 when you're done." or something like that. Usually it is not a difficult job, but an uncomfortable one (very hot working outside here in coastal GA, and the biting gnats can be terrible).

They do what they are asked, most of the time without complaint, and are growing up to be very respectful and polite people. They are usually quick to help with a "chore" when asked, but our son especially, is very disorganized and doesn't do well with a standing list of things. So I tend to ask for help when things need doing, rather than make it a weekly thing he just has to remember. It works better for us. I tried charts, he didn't look at them. His sister is excellent with charts and worksheets and checking things off, etc... but it doesn't work for our son. So it just created tension between them and stress for me.

So I sort of mentally know that every week they get a dollar each. And if they have done "extra" payable things...if I don't remember, they usually remind me.

They aren't yet required to pay for any of their own needs (school lunch or clothing or anything) so they don't need to be paid a lot. But they are required to spend their own money for fun things that they just "want". They always seem to have a gift card to Target or Walmart lying around from a previous birthday or something... so they don't need to earn a lot for the "fun" stuff, either. But keeping their "compensation" low, helps them see that there is a limit to how much can be earned/spent during a short amount of time.

Hope this helps.



answers from Dallas on

My son is 6. He doesn't get a weekly allowance yet, but we came up with a system. I recently made a list with about 20 items on it -- to earn and allowance he has to do a certain amount of those items through the week. I deliberately put extras on there so he could swap out stuff he does. Once he completes the designated "chores" he can earn money for doing additional chores. The idea is that I don't feel like he should be paid for every time he helps. I want him to understand that some of being part of a family is helping and contributing to the cleanliness of the house, and regular chores. We all have our responsibilities.

This seems to be working for us as a nice introduction to chores, earning money, and some awareness of everyone pulling their own weight.

I will also give him incentive rewards sometimes out of the blue.. like this month his first grade reading goal is only 300 minutes a month, he's decided he wants to hit 1000. Thats a lot of reading! The other day I told him if he read 100 minutes that day, I would give him a dollar. He was pretty excited, and likes reading anyway... so he enjoyed it :)

Good luck :)


answers from Chicago on

We have not yet started the allowance thing, he is 4, but here is what my mom did for me.
We had a point system 100% of a job well done meant 100% of my total allowance possibility for an example $10 for 100%

Collect House Trash 5 points
Wash/dry 1 load of your laundry 10 points
Dishwasher 5 points
Daily Points 20
So say there is a total of 100 points by the end of the week and child got 80points, child gets 80% of 100%= $8 allowance for the week. this way they know the potential and they see/understand how to get 100% but understand why they did not when they do not.
My mom went over the points given for that day every time so I understood what was expected of me.
And in addition b/c they looked at school as MY job I was given bonuses for good grades A=10 B=5 C=0 D= -10 F= NO MONEY AT ALL, and AP/Honors Classes A=15 B=10 C=0 D= -15 F NO MONEY AT ALL (these classes go towards college credit and extra points on the GPA hence extra money.)
That's how my parents did it ... and I see myself doing the same or quite simmilar in my son's future.



answers from Pittsburgh on

My 8 year old gets 3 dollars a week for making his bed, putting away his laundry and NOT COMPLAINING about going to church! We added on the last one because we were having trouble getting him there. haha! Worked like a charm. If he has trouble with any of these, no allowance.

My 5 year old gets himself dressed and only gets 1 dollar. When he is ready to take on more, he will get more.

If behavior is a problem between the boys, they get a warning, then no allowance. They are really learning to save and I love telling them I am not buying them something, but check your wallet and maybe you can save for it!

If I find any toys on the floor after the boys have gone to bed, I throw them away. This takes care of the cleaning up issue.



answers from Harrisburg on

We don't give allowance in our house. Our feeling is that we're a family and the family works together as a team to keep the house running. Chores are a responsibility and not a choice and should not be paid for. For us, if they're being paid for a chore it becomes a choice, "Do I care about getting paid for this or not today?" Although we don't give them an allowance they do get money or a toy or game now and then if they've been behaving well. On some Fridays we'll send our 15 year old to the bowling alley with some money for games, shoes and eating, and he hangs with his friends. If his grades are below an 82 or not behaving well we won't offer or allow those extras. (grades under 82 keeps him grounded to the house)

We did try the chore thing 15 years ago with our oldest son and then later with our now 15 year old son and it just didn't work out for them. It worked out better knowing that us working together to keep the house running... responsibility.

If we were to give an allowance, this is what we would probably do, to answer your questions:

1. We would not pay per chore as this gives them a choice to say that they've made some money already and I don't feel like doing the rest. It should be a flat amount per week or pay period when the parents get paid. Dad works and has to wait for pay, so do the kids.

2. Chores would not be missed in my house as the parents should check to see that they're done and done correctly. But if they're not done they will be given the choice to do them or not given their allowance at all. Are they willing to forfeit it all for one small chore? After all, it's not like you're asking them to shingle the roof or pain the house.

3. Children have short attention spans so a chart or calendar works well. I use that for my 15 year old. I bought a desk calendar and put it on the wall for him for chores, days off of school, activities, etc. It has large squares to write in. For the younger kids you can mark it with a check or gold star or something daily after you check their work. Kids will make lots of excuses when it comes to chores. "I thought you said to just clean the bathroom sink, not the toilet too!" If it's written down then it lessons the chance of arguments later.

4. Everything you listed are things that are normal for members of a family to help out with. As soon as a child is old enough to reach the buttons and can use a washer/dryer then they can do their own laundry. My oldest was 8 when he started washing/drying/folding/putting away his laundry. My next was 10 years old as he was shorter, lol. I work with them though and let them load the washer, go out for an hour, put it in the dryer, play for an hour, come in and fold and put away and go back to playing. They hung their own shirts too. My triplets are only six but they collect their own hangers and hang them and I put them in the closet for them as I like them sorted a certain way. So I can't tell you what is allowance worthy. I would suggest whatever is on their list for chores (everything that is expected of them) should be paid for if you choose to do allowance.

I would not pay them much for chores as it's not a job where they can collect a lot of cash and they think, "Why bother doing chores when I've got enough money in my pocket right now." It's basically a token reward that gives them pocket change to buy a candy bar or drink at the end of the week, or even a trip to BK.

Remember, not matter what you do the idea is to teach them that a family is a team and it takes every member of the household to keep the house running smoothly. If they balk at not enough allowance or whatever just tell them that those are the assigned chores. They can get a small reward or do it for free. It's their choice.

K. B
mom to 5 including triplets
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answers from Fort Smith on

I think this is a good subject to talk about, and I love some of the suggestions. We do give our son an allowance that is per chore. We took what we want to give him per week and divided by how many chores. I also included one section that is labeled HELP for those times when I need him to do something extra. He is 6 and his responsibilities are:
Feed the dogs
Make his bed
Keep his room clean
Help with laundry
Help pick up the living room
If he does his chore to the best of his ability with no complaining then he gets a check. If he complains or say just throws his blanket on his bed then he himself has to put an X on the board, and then he still has to do it right. I do that because I believe that he needs to understand he can't just decide one day to NOT do something. I used to tell him if he doesn't do that chore then he wouldn't get paid, he would way the consequences and would sometimes choose to not get paid. So I stopped that.
When he gets paid I give it to him in coins, He has 2 piggy banks and a wallet. Or actually they are old cans that he was able to paint. One is for God, he has to put at least 10%, and if he wants to put more he can. One is for savings that he has to put at least 1/3 in. And then he can put the rest in his wallet.
If he wants a bigger toy and it's not say his birthday or Christmas and he doesn't have enough money, he can do extra chores to earn extra money.
I do believe in not GIVING him an allowance, but allowing him to earn it himself.
We also have like sick days or vacation days. If he's sick or is gone with family then he will still get a check for the chore.

I really like that idea about using poker chips. I think when you do a chore chart or poker chips, or rocks it is a good visual, something tangeable and makes them feel real accomplished.


answers from Pittsburgh on

Parents Magazine had an article able this in their most recent issue - it was in line with what we plan: starting around 7-8yo when they can comprehend saving/spending/budgeting, giving an amount of half their age (7yo would get $3.50), and only giving allowance for extra things they do by earning in (washing car, yard work, thinga that are above and beyond their chores). We won't give allowance for chores, since everyone has to do things to help the family.

Good luck! (From my BB phone)



answers from Minneapolis on

My kids each get a monthly allowance that is not tied to chores. BUT, they do have chores that they are expected to do just to be a responsible members of the household. They have to clean up after themselves, take turns feeding the dog and cleaning up dog poop in the yard. Sometimes they help with other cleaning projects like bathrooms or windows. They have responsibility to keep track of their own things, I do not search for or replace lost items. My older daughter also has to clean her rat cage once a week, put away her laundry, and gather all her dirty laundry for the one day a week I do laundry. This is the first year my younger daughter is actually dressing for school without complete and total meltdowns regarding the fit, comfort, and type of clothes available, so I'm cutting her a little more slack in helping to get her dirty/clean clothes in the right place. One step at a time.



answers from Pittsburgh on

We just recently started giving my girls an allowance. It is a set amount which they receive on payday (when Dad gets paid they get paid). They are expected to do chores in return.

I bought a board but I do not use it at this point because right now it is whatever chore I need done at the time and it is basically the same chores daily. We started their allowance out low and will increase it as their responsibilities increase. Right now we are getting things underway. I don't keep track because they fulfill their chores when asked and that is sufficient.

When they are paid we have a set amount that they must save, spend, and share (give to charity).

I recently decided to give an incentive/bonus for perfect tests. I did this as a way to encourage my oldest child to go back and check her work and catch her mistakes before she turns in the test. In order to balance things out with my preschooler she is rewarded when she gets 'smileys' on her behavior sheet sent home from preschool.



answers from Missoula on

My son is only 3, so we haven't really had to deal with this yet, but when the time comes we will give him a weekly allowance that is not tied to chores. I believe that as a member of our family our son will be responsible for certain household chores. We will not pay him for doing these. However, I think that learning to manage money is an important lesson for kids, so he will get a certain amount so that he can learn for himself. If he wants to earn extra money he can do extra chores, for which he could be paid.



answers from Dallas on

We plan on giving allowance based on chores that aren't expected from them and that will change with age. We expect bed making, picking up toys, and basic house maintainence and will not get allowance. However, when they are little and they want to help dust, than that's extra and they get allowance, same goes for mowing the lawn. But when they are older, they will become expected chores and allowance will be based on other criteria. I don't know what we plan for allowance as far as money goes. But I liked that my sister made her kids put half of their allowance in the bank, 10% to taxes and got to keep the rest. The tax money was then collected and used for a family activity. She has 4 kids from 22-16 and they all have a great concept of money and don't have a sense of entitlement for things that many kids have these days. We'll see what works in my house.



answers from York on

My husband and I have been doing the "pay as you go" way. We find that it puts an emphasis on having to work for something if you want it. That way if a chore is not done, rather than getting on the child for it, they just don't get paid. I also have a Paige box (prize box). There are various different items in the Paige box. Nothing is more than $1. If Paige wants something out of the box, she has to have the money for it. And she pays what we paid for the item, so that she understands that these things really do cost money. Now I usually pick things up at yardsales, so it really is pretty cheap. Once we started doing this we noticed a big improvement in her attitude, she wanted to help. Her friends even want to do chores and get paid to buy stuff! I always feel guilty about that, but the other parents love the idea.
What you pay for each chore is really up to you. There are certain responsibilities that Paige has. Cleaning her room is a responsibility, wiping up toothpaste from the sink etc. But wiping down the table after dinner, or setting the table, feeding the cats etc. Those are all chores she will get paid for. We usually pay based on how long it takes her to do something. And she gets paid MORE if we don't have to ask her to do it. If she takes the initiative to do something on her own we usually add .10 more to her chore.



answers from Harrisburg on

Our kids are 11 & 14...they have chores + they get an allowance - but the two are not related. The chores are b/c they are part of a family, and the allowance is to teach them how to handle $$. They get $1/per year so the 11 year old gets $11 per week and the 14 year old gets $14 per week. Chores are NOT optional...they have to learn responsibility. There are 4 in our house...and 4 bathrooms, so each week, each of us has a bathroom to clean. Other chores alternated weekly between the kids are folding laundry, emptying the dishwasher, vacuuming, dusting etc. The 14 year old does receive extra when he mows the lawn in the summer. The allowance is split...10% to charity (today my 11 year old took her charity $$ to the grocery store and picked out items for the food drive at her school)...they choose their charities...and we get the $$ to them. 40% goes into savings...and they get to it them for big ticket items they want (my daughter just bought a camera with some and my son recently bought a rifle with his), and the other 50% is for them to spend on i-tunes, trading cards, whatever they want.



answers from Chicago on

I was dead set against allowence as we were brought up to do things because we were part of the family. However, I did compromise with my husband on this and we started doing an allowence for our 7 year old. Partly to teach her about how to save and budget her money, and to be responsible.

We have a list of Jobs and a list of chores that she can pick from. Each Sunday she has to pick one from each list and we put it on a dry erase board with the days so she can check them off when done. She gets paid $2 a week if she does them every day. If she doesn't do her job on one day then she forfiets the allowence. If she doesn't do a chore then she gets a punishment of no Wii for that week.

We also make her put half into savings & Charity (a jar kept in our room). She can use her other money on what she wants like a toy or ice cream from school or the ice cream truck.

Some of things on our list include: clean the bathroom, help with laundry, pick up sticks in the yard(sucks because we have a lot), help with groceries, set the table, etc.

Now there are some things that she has to do no matter what as part of the family, such as keep her room clean, pick up her toys and keep her stuff off the living room floor because of the baby, help when asked etc. Those are unpaid and expected of her.

So far it has gone well and I can see she is learning how to save her money for something she really wants to get, and how to budget what she has, and how to earn more. We have only not paid her for 2 weeks so far, and she has not needed to have the Wii taken away yet.



answers from Scranton on

We use a chart with all their chores listed on each day. They get a + if they do it, 0 if they do not. I pay then 25 cents/chores regardless of the chore. At the end of the week we add it up and I pay them. I also fine them if they break the rules (fighting with each other, playing instead of getting dressed for school, etc.) I will give then a warning - if you keep doing X you will be fined $. That usually gets them moving. Some times I make them pay me immediately, sometimes I deduct it from their "pay." There have been weeks they owe me money because they've has do many fines and have to dig into their wallets to pay me. Seems to be working well, we've been doing it for 6 months. When we went to the beach, they had to spend their money on souvineers, they bought themselves iPOD touches, also. Now they have to buy their own games and music for the iPODs, which has kept them motivated to work and avoid fines. If they want extra money, they will offer to make our bed, do extra clean up.

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