Allowance: Trying to KISS (Keep It Short and Simple)

Updated on April 07, 2013
K.K. asks from Mesa, AZ
28 answers

So I want to keep the allowance situation short and simple (kiss). I feel like I shouldn't have to pay my kids to do chores. They live in the house, we are family, we all contribute and they do so via age appropriate chores. If they want to do extra, say wash my car, pull weeds, I give them a modest amount -- not more than a buck or two per job.

What are your thoughts on allowances. My kids are old enough to walk in to a store and buy something and calculate the change, so I do think they should have some spending money, just not based on "basic chores" like garbage duty, folding clothes, making beds, emptying dishwasher, stuff like that.


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answers from St. Louis on

I never did allowances for chores, you live in this house, you have responsibilities. On the flip side, you are a child so you cannot hold a job so I paid for reasonable requests.

All very reasonable. :)

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I agree, don't attach it to regular chores. Give a set amount, and allow the opportunity to earn more by doing extra jobs. Teach them financial basics and have them save a 1/3, spend a 1/3, and donate a 1/3 to charity, it can be as basic as 3 separate envelopes.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

My understanding is that kids should do chores and help out around the house because it is what is expected of them and it is part of being a member of the family.

AND they should get an allowance to give them practice at managing money - how they spend it, how they save it, etc. A learning tool, if you will. I would not tie in allowance with chores, but perhaps you could end up paying them a little extra if they happen to help out with something above and beyond what is usually expected, and if they do it without complaining. They can also go around the neighborhood and offer to rake leaves, shovel snow, pet sit and baby sit, etc. for pay if they are at an age that they can take those kinds of tasks on.

My stepsons' mother tried to pay them to clean up around the house, but it ended up backfiring. They would rather NOT have to clean up than have the extra money. And Mom ended up buying them the things they wanted anyway, so it didn't even matter to them.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Rochester on

I think Jane is forgetting about volunteerism, as it a huge portion of our society. Yes, I DO go work and don't get paid for it, and I do it to be a contributing member of society. Unfortunately (at least in my experience, and in the town where I live) volunteerism seems to be dying out with the dying generation. Not saying younger people don't volunteer...but Jane's POV says it just how I hear it so often from the youngest adults..."If I'm not getting paid, it's just not worth it!"

SOOOooo...nope, my children don't get allowance. Granted, they're 8 and 2, but still, I expect them to help, do chores, etc. When they are old enough to get a job, they can learn the value of money that way...and sure, they save birthday money, Christmas money, and learn that way as well. We put all our pocket change in their piggy banks and they are allowed to spend it when they want (this mostly applies to the 8 year old).

What I DO insist on is that my children volunteer. Even my 2 year old goes to the senior center and walks around and "visits" the seniors.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

We do allowance similarly-- the basics (self-care, care of one's room and belongings, helping out when asked) are all a given. Since our son turned 5, we have been giving him one dollar a week for allowance, the purpose of which is to help him learn to save for what he wants and to become thoughtful about spending money. Above and beyond tasks (similar to what you describe-- helping wash the car, helping with bigger tasks) is a way for him to earn extra money. He is also excited about selling some toys he's grown out of.. we did that over the last two years in the summer, garage sales. Because he's young, we decided that when he turns 6 in a couple weeks, we'll give him $2 a week, one to save and one to spend.

We don't withhold allowance for not doing what's asked. There's an immediate consequence for that; usually it's "oh, well, you can't have dinner until the table is set" or "uh-oh! It's time to start your bedtime stories and your dirty clothes aren't in the washing and your legos are all over the floor. Guess we won't have so much story time tonight. Let's clean up now." We've arranged life so things generally don't progress until the jobs are done. :) I think that *not* withholding the allowance teaches him that he has to do it anyway, not because he gets paid for it, and so we eliminate one potential power struggle.

I think it's very important for kids to learn that when they spend the two dollars on a junk toy (because it's burning a hole in their pocket), they get junk. Kiddo saved up $17 earlier this year to buy a Lego set he wanted (husband found it on eBay for less and passed the savings on). He's now saving up for a $60 item. The idea is working... and when he gets the 'savings' allowance increase, half will be savings and half will be for giving.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

I have two kids, a boy and a girl. The girls is 26 with her own kid, my son is a senior in high school.
I NEVER gave them an allowance based on doing things that should just be normally done.
I always had the thought in the back of my mind that once they moved out, no one was going to pay them for making their beds or doing their laundry or washing some dishes.
My kids made money by working for other people. My daughter babysat and cleaned houses, my son chopped wood and assisted in renovations for people that were flipping houses.
They got paid to work.
They both have very strong work ethics, by the way.

I don't think that paying kids for being part of a family and pitching in with chores is the best way to go.

Surely your children have everything they need.
If they want money, they should find a way to pet sit or walk dogs or mow someone else's lawn. It teaches them to be industrious. That can't hurt anything.

Just my opinion.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

We don't do allowances.
My husband and I never got allowances growing up.
Helping out is what everyone who lives here does - and no one pays you to clean your own toilet.
(It also avoids the whole 'well I don't care if you pay me so you shouldn't care if I do my chores' thing.)
Chores are not negotiable.

Learning how to buy/consume is always easy at any age.

Learning how hard money is to earn is something they need to learn before they learn how to spend it - that's the whole problem I have with the concept of allowances.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I did not have an allowance exactly it was kinda like a bonus system. My mom would place money in spots that were part of the clean up job but only if I was detailed in my work.

Ex: Sweep the garage floor: under the washer was a $10
Ex: Empty the dishwasher: in the food catch she paced a baggie with a single in it before she asked me to empty it.
Ex: Dust the shelves: a few dollars in a shelf under something to show that I moved stuff around.

There was not always money, but it did make doing the chores more fun because it was fun to try to find the prize!

As I got older there were "bonus chores" that I could do, I think partly because my Mom was working too many hours to hide the bonuses, but I had to do all the regular ones too!

I think teaching your children how to use money is important. I have a friend who set up a bank account for their child (but they are the bank) they add interest according to the banks in their area's average. In addition, they gave her "checks" that she can practice writing, she can make withdrawls, deposits etc like a standard bank it's just at home! They will also be giving her a pre paid card that she will have to use the funds from her account when she turns 13 so she can understand how they work too. Thier daughter should have a strong understanding of how cash, banks, checks and credit cards work by the time she leaves the house and goes on her own. Her funds come from a basic allowance and any money she is gifted.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I give my daughter $5 / week (she's 11) and it isn't tied to chores and it isn't used as a bribe or a punishment. Allowance is to learn how to deal with money. She can spend it on anything she wants, within reason. She does what I ask her to do for chores because she lives here.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


We see the chores as "jobs" so they get paid for doing their "jobs".

They get $5.00 a week - they take out the trash twice a week and gather the dirty laundry, separate and put it in the laundry room.

If they want to earn extra money - they can pick up the dog mess in the back yard. They can wash out the trash cans or clean out the cars (they make the mess anyway!).

their money is given to them weekly. They have to tithe (usually a $1) and put money in they get spending money from us when they need it. Both have a tidy savings account.

SOMETIMES they know the value of the dollar - other times - no concept. They are still kids so they are still learning...

They are 10 and 13.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

We give allowance in our house. It's not related to chores. Chores are "family work" that everyone has to do.

50 cents per year of age per week. So a 5 year old would get $2.50 per week. On payday, we sit down and put 10% in an envelope to take to church for tithe and 20% in an envelope for long term savings. The rest is theirs to spend or save as they choose.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My daughter gets $3 in allowance a week. She does not get any extra for chores. She is expected to help around the house because she is a member of the family. She just gets the money on Friday.

However, if she is mean to her brother or gives me a hard time about doing homework, for example, she needs to pay me back. This is painful for her.

It's important that kids are able to have a modest amount of money and learn the lessons of saving and spending. My daughter had $20 she was wanting to spend so we went to the toy store and she bought a toy for her $20. Turns out the toy was a big disappointment and didn't do what it said and wasn't nearly as cool as the commercials made it out to be (aren't most that way....). She learned that you have to really think about what you want because things aren't always what they are cracked up to be.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boise on

Never have I paid my kids for helping to clean up after their own messes. It's not their job, it's their responsibility. Nobody pays me to clean up after myself as an adult, why would I pay them?

My kids were in school, that was their job. Didn't pay for grades either, but they were never expected to pay for anything either. What I mean by that is, if they were in football. I paid, of course their grades had to be kept up. Track, prom, homecoming, all paid for if they kept their grades up.

If they wanted money beyond what I was willing to pay for there were jobs around the house that could be done. Weed pulling, I pay well for that one, it's a days worth of work if not more. Cleaning the cars, washing the dogs ( for the most part they're my dogs). Trust me there is plenty around here to earn some money with.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My kids have jobs to do around the house because they live here. Everyone contributes, and it isn't tied to an allowance. You get pocket money for being a part of the unit. When they are older, I may create jobs they can do for extra money, like washing my car.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

If you palan to KISS, don't connect allowance with normal chores.
Once you start, never stop. Be faithful. If you want to teach the power of saving then they have to have a way of regularly doing that to see money grow. Tithe, savings, spending money. 10 percent, 10 percent, 80 percent. Unless they are saving toward a goal, then let them figure how much more they want to save. When you are going somewhere special tell them to take their saved money. It cuts down on stupid souvineers, as they will worry about spending THEIR money!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I know I'm in the minority, but I never gave my kids allowance. I tried it once for a few weeks, and it didn't seem to do them much good, so I stopped.

I paid for their essentials, treated them to movies and the like, and I occasionally paid them for odd jobs. They were very inspired to get jobs as soon as they were able to. Necessity is the mother of invention.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New Orleans on

My son is 16. I have never given him an allowance - in that, I have never given him money for being a participatory member of our household. He has assigned chores and school; I have assigned chores and work.

He does the dishes, his own laundry, takes care of the dogs, cleans him room (well, sometimes) helps sweep/mop etc.

In the summer, I do pay him to mow the lawn - oh, much less than I would pay a lawn service, but I see this as a "seasonal" job for him - because I used to do it myself or pay someone to do it.

I do, however, give him spending money from time to time. Especially when he is in between Christmas and birthday cash. He worked last summer, earned a nice sum of money, and assiduously spent it over the last 11 months. He even paid for dog food and some household supplies for me.

I just do not like the idea of tying regular household chores into an allowance. Chores, learning how to do them, and completing them, is just part of life - he needs to know how to clean and do laundry etc. for when he is independent. So I just give him money - the change from a 20 when we are out shopping. A random 10 here and there.

It works for us.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I get paid for what I do. I get money to buy clothes, shoes, extras, all sorts of stuff that is money I can do what I want to do with it, my own money. That's what allowance is. Money that can be used for anything they want. If you give them an allowance you can tie it to something or just give it for nothing.

I'd rather teach a work ethic.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Remember that the reason anyone goes to work is for a pay check. They don't do it just to be contributing members of society. And if you don't pay for chores, then are you then just giving them money based on entitlement for spending? If it makes you feel better, make certain chores things that they are expected to do just because they are part of the family. I don't think it makes that big of a difference to be honest. But I think its important to give a child their own money so you can start teaching them about money.



answers from Chicago on

My kids got $1 per grade level as allowance. so 1st grader got $1 and so on. Once they hit an age where they could find a job they did not receive allowance anymore. we did not tie it into chores. as that gives them the ability to say I don't want to do the chores lol. we did pay extra for some big chores. mowing the lawn got $5 and so did snowblowing.


answers from Houston on

No allowance in our home. The kids get money from holidays and use that as they please. We don't really have any hard and fast rules on the kids earning money around here, never really needed them.



answers from Los Angeles on

I never got an allowance esp for chores that were the normal expectations like clearing your plate, load/unload dishwasher etc

I did, however, get money for good grades. It was a big incentive. It made me feel repsonsible for my own success.

Having said all that, I am tweaking this a bit. My sd gets an allowance & I agree w/it for regulary chores (dishes, laundry). Dad pays for any necessary things needed so she doesn't need too much money but if she wants/needs more she can do extra little things around the house to earn
it if she wants to.

W/my child, I think I will give an allowance when he's of an older age for
doing household chores like dishes, laundry, mowing, wash the cars etc.

Then if for some reason he needed to make extra money, I would dream up something extra for him that was age apporpriated.

I think all kids should have to do certain things as a given that are just
being part of a family (dishes, laundry, clean their room, put things away) but feel they can earn extra money after a certain age for specific
chores aound the house (mowing, painting, gardening, pulling weeds,
stacking wood, selling their no longer wanted toys/items at our garage sale, paper route etc).

So I try to create a balance btwn contributing to the household as a member of the household AND how to earn/control & spend money responsbily for items wanted outside of the realm of what we will ordinarily pay for. This creates responsbility w/money & savings.


answers from Williamsport on

I was wondering this too for when my kids are that age. I got an allowance when I was young for the chores I did but it was mainly so I could start budgeting and buying my own things-not that chores were optional or anything. I always had to do them. I didn't start getting paid until I was old enough to shop for myself for some basics and any extras. This also served as a way to make me "pay" for carelessness like wasting electricity etc, I had to cough up some allowance which hurt once I learned I needed to buy my own stuff with it.

By the time I was old enough to start to bargain for extra work and money, I was also mowing lawns and babysitting so I didn't really have to bargain from my parents, and I started bagging groceries and dishwashing in a restaurant at 13/14 so my parents never had to pay me much after a basic allowance which they pretty much stopped paying as I got real jobs...

I'll probably use allowance the same way-to start financial responsibility. My kids do chores for free now because they're too young to buy their own stuff.



answers from Green Bay on

I never got a specific "allowance", but always felt free to ask my parents if there was something I wanted or needed. They then chose if it was something I could have right then and there or if it was something I needed to "save" my money for. Then, if it was something to "save" for, they would find odd jobs for me around the house - usually outside of what I was expected to do - like taking all the dishes out of the cupboard and wiping out the cupboard or straightening/refolding the linen closet. "Spring Cleaning" type things my mom never wanted to do - dusting the floor molding, etc.

I think when my son gets to be that age, there will be "non-negotiables", things we will expect him to do because he is a member of our family - make his bed, put his clothes away, pick up his toys, keep his room neat, helping to set/clear the table, etc. If he wants to "earn" some money, I would gladly give up other jobs that I do (cleaning bathroom, dusting, dishes, etc.) and let him "earn" some extra. I will also explain to him that jobs need to be done satisfactorily or else he doesn't get paid. Kind of an extension of how we go grocery shopping. If we go during a "calmer" time of day, it is his job to push a little cart. But, if he acts up or doesn't listen or is a "bad driver", he "loses his job".



answers from Nashville on

Don't give allowance after a required chore, give it to them when they don't expect it, that way they don't confuse the idea of having responsibility versus being rewarded for something above and beyond.

I believe kids can be rewarded for something extra, but not be paid do have responsibility.



answers from New York on

I never had a set weekly allowance.. there were things I was expected to do, clean my room/put my clothes away, make my bed... but then if I helped with a bigger job I would get a few bucks here and there.. like if I helped my dad clean out the garage or helped my mom vacuum the house, stuff like that



answers from San Francisco on

Don't get your tag line at all.


answers from San Diego on

We do not give a set upon allowance for anything.
But, the kids get what we call "Pocket money". It's not a set amount and it's not always given. If they have been doing the chores that are expected of them as a member of the household and they behave reasonably well we allow them to buy a toy or book or whatever while we are out. If they've gone above and beyond for something special then we might make a special trip just to let them pick out an item.
They don't need to spend pocket money on basics like clothes or the like. None of my kids are into needing to have some particular brand etc that we wouldn't otherwise buy for them that they would need to save an allowance for. When we go somewhere special we bake in their pocket money so they don't need to be given money to buy a treat or souvenir. We plan for that and allow them to pick it out etc.
I really like it better this way honestly. They know about saving for something still, they know about the value of a dollar, they understand that they still have to earn their pocket money, if they have not been doing as expected they don't get something while their sibling might, and all of that. We just don't have cash lying around the house to do it.

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