Allowance Vs. Paid for Chores

Updated on June 09, 2013
M.A. asks from San Francisco, CA
23 answers

Hi everyone,
I am hearing 2 different theories when it comes to allowance. The first is that you give them a set amount each week and they are expected to do chores around the house for free. The second is that they get paid for the chores that they do. I see both sides...just curious what people think of these 2 options. My 4 yo is starting to learn the value of money and saving his own money if he wants to buy a toy, etc. I want to start having him make his bed and other chores a 4 yo can do but not sure which route I'm going to go. Looking forward to some good opinions here!

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answers from San Francisco on

The problem with paying kids for chores is that they usually get bored after a while and no longer want to do the chores. Since they don't really NEED money it's not much of an incentive to keep going. Even if they want a special toy, well, saving for that often doesn't hold their interest long either.
My kids had regular, easy chores that were just expected: setting/clearing the table, feeding/watering pets and plants, stuff like that. I also expected them to clean up their own messes (toys, art supplies, games/puzzle pieces.)
I never did an allowance, and I don't think they ever asked (I guess they wouldn't ask about something they'd never heard of, right?)
When they got older and started wanting things that cost more (like video games) we would pay them to do bigger jobs, cleaning the car/garage, pulling weeds, etc. They also started babysitting and pet/plant sitting for neighbors.
I never had my kids make their own beds or fold their own laundry (until they were tween/teens) because I'm so particular about those things, but that's just me!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

My sons have chores they have to do whether they get paid or not. Each sunday we discuss how they did (if the chores were done well without complaint or fighting) and decide how much they earned, up to a dollar a day for the week.

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answers from San Francisco on

I think chores are part of being a family, not something to be paid for, and I think new toys are something you get on special occasions. Plus I just don't think preschoolers need to be burdened with the ideas of working and money management. Parents provide at this age, and kids learn and grow. No one pays YOU to do the dishes, or wash the clothes or mow the lawn, right? I think THAT's a more valuable lesson than saving for a toy he'll probably get bored with after a week anyway.
Our kids are materialistic enough as it is, instead of money and buying things I would try to focus on other things at this impressionable age.

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answers from Honolulu on

We don't pay for chores.
Chores is just something you do, as part of a family.
If I got paid for chores, I'd be a millionaire.

Allowance, we don't do that either.
But we do give our kids money here and there for exemplary behavior etc.
And it is not, a routine. Thus, my kids don't "expect" it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boise on

I never pay anyone to help clean the messes around the house that they help make. I will pay for things on a needed bases that don't fall under 'living in the house'. Things I pay for are yard work, cleaning the car, big things.

It's common courtesy to help clean up after yourselves. No one is going to pay you as an adult to clean up after yourself, why would I do it when they are children?

They also don't get money 'just because' they have to earn it. There is always something that needs to be done where they can earn money, that's if the want to.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

We do the first one. They get spending money, and are expected to do chores around the house. We call chores "family work," because part of being in a family is that everyone contributes.

Payday for the kids is the Saturday after I get paid. We give 50 cents per year of age per week. So a 4yo would get $2 per week. My 10yo gets $5 per week. They are required to put 20% of that into a savings account (we use an envelope that we keep put away), and 10% goes to tithe, which they bring to church on Sundays. The rest is theirs to spend or save as they wish.

We do take money away for "demerits." Being disrespectful, backtalk, having to be told to do a task more than once, etc., will cause the loss of 25 cents to $1, depending upon the severity of the infraction. And that payment comes out of their spending money.

We've had MUCH success with our method. I hope that you find a method that works out well for you.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

My kids are older, 17 (spec needs), 13 and 10. We don't pay for chores, everyone lives here so they all help out. We just moved last week and the house is WAY bigger than our old one so I'm going to kick it up a notch and add more chores more often and rotate them more often. I'm going to include setting the table, clearing the table, cooking, etc so they will have an overall knowledge and ability to do everything. We used to give them an allowance but then it was too hard to keep track of it and ended up stressing us out. Every time they got money, they wanted to spend it. It seemed like they took it for granted or something. We tend to buy them things randomly so they don't go without but it isn't expected. Like yesterday I spent $70 on a game for each of them since they have done so well adjusting to the move. We used to do something a little different and I may go back to it. We had 3 jars with each kids name on it and a jar with small rocks. Every time we caught one of them doing something "nice" we put a rock in their jar. Each rock was worth .10 and they could "cash" them in and spend as they wished. But that was getting hard to track too. Maybe I can get more organized or see what other responses you get. I wanted to find something to do to reward good behavior instead of always punishing for bad behavior. I hope you find something that works for you. Good luck!

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answers from Portland on

Here's how we do it:

Each week Kiddo receives two dollars in allowance. One dollar is to spend or save up for something, the second is saved for him; at the end of the year 50% will go to savings, 50% will go to charity.

Daily chores and responsibilities are just part of life and being a family. If chores are not done, we don't withhold allowance. Instead, life just doesn't move forward or there is a logical consequence. By this, I mean that if you don't help with setting the table, you can't eat yet. If you don't do your homework, you miss out on your Lego time or the half-hour show you chose for the day...and it still has to get done. If his room isn't relatively picked up/clothes put in the wash, etc., then he might have to use some of his evening story time to get that job done because he didn't do it when was supposed to. We have solid routines in our house so that there are designated times to make sure all of our tasks are done; If you choose not to do it at those times, you may very well miss out on something else.

He also has 'extras' to help with where he does get money FOR that specific job. Once a week or so he is my 'assistant' for an hour while I get the house ready to vacuum and he gets paid for this. They're usually small jobs, like deadheading the dandelions; last week the celery from the store was terrible so I just paid him to chop it up for the composter. Or picking up the extra fallen cherries or picking the rocks out of the rock garden when I was re-doing it, stuff like that which saves me time. Our container drawer needs a clean out and I might pay him to empty it and re-sort/stack the like containers.

The reason for the extra jobs is to give him opportunities to earn money based on above-and-beyond work that is not related to self-help/self-care or being part of the family, per se. I want him to develop the good habits of picking up his room, doing his homework, helping with the recycling, etc for their own sake. I want those motivations for these tasks to be intrinsic, where he knows it's in his own best interest to do these tasks--not because I am holding back his allowance. My husband and I thought a lot about this aspect of it before we decided to do it. The extra jobs, I am clear, are for *my* convenience and do not benefit his personal development. Since he is wanting to buy some more expensive LEGO sets, if I give him opportunities to earn the money faster, he will do a better job at saving that money, rather than blowing it on something less expensive he doesn't like as much. He can always turn down the jobs I offer, too. Then, it's his decision to earn the extra money or not, which is important too.

AND he's having a toy sale this weekend, to help save for a $60 toy he wants. He's learning that sometimes it's nicer to let go of toys you don't play (and come closer to his goal) with than to hold onto them 'just because'. It's a win/win for all of us; I get back some space in the basement, too!

ETA: I will say this regarding the idea of it being a form of 'welfare'... listen, my son sees my husband and I are able to get things for ourselves that we want from time to time. We only buy him presents on his birthday and Christmas, but we do buy ourselves things more often than that; so I imagine it would stink to have no spending money at all. He's already learned that if you buy crappy cheap toys, they do fall apart, and I'd rather he learn to save up for that $60 lego set than feel like he can NEVER earn it or just passively wait for someone to buy it for him. Just my opinion.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

my kids got allowance as part of being a member of the family. it was not tied to chores. chores had to be done regardless of whether there was money in the budget for allowance (when my husband was laid off there was no allowance. there was no extra and my kids understood that.

we did pay for extra jobs. that were not regular household chores. as far as money went we gave them $1 for each grade they were in school so $1 for first grade etc. when they hit 16 they were still expected to do household help but they no longer got allowance as they were able to get real jobs.

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answers from San Francisco on

I think the answer is based on principles. Children need to know that they are entering full participation in the world. They Belong and fulfill themselves in contributing to the upkeep /nurturing of their environment and learn some valuable skills -organizing, creating beauty and order, etc. So "chores" (maybe call and reclaim the word "housework"!) are just part of their day.
Money- in the form of an allowance, is given to cover lunches, special treats and wants. Allowances can be divided into 3 jars: SPEND, SAVE, and GIVE. They will learn to save for cool extras, and maybe buy a sandwich for a homeless person someday. Children might get half their allowance just for existing (ie to pay for lunch or other needs); the other half is given in full when chores are complete. After chores are routine, allowance is consistent and part of the family's budget. It all works together. S. Murray, LCSW Oakland, CA

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answers from San Diego on

We don't do traditional allowance but we do give pocket money, which isn't a set amount and isn't an all the time thing.
There are basic chores that they are required to do, no discussions. It is their house as much as mine and I am not the hotel maid. Each of my 3 have age appropriate things they are required to do.
Pocket money is determined on both overall behaviour as well as keeping up with their required chores and any extras they help with. If they've been doing nothing but fighting with everyone and I had to do a larger share of the household jobs because they refused to they don't get to get something even if one or both of their siblings get something on a trip out.
How much pocket money sort of depends on where we are at, how our finances look at the time, what specifically it is they want etc.
The kids still understand the value of earning their money and that there are consequences if you don't do your work and behave but we don't hand over any cash to them at all.



answers from Kansas City on

We have always told our kids that you live here, so you have to help out, that is part of being in this family. Period. Then, when they do things that aren't the norm, like mowing (we have a huge huge yard, and they have to weed eat the yard, and sometimes rake and pull weeds), or if we have any hauling to do, or cleaning out the garage, or washing the cars, etc, they get paid money for it. It has worked out nice for our family, and my kids are good helpers. My kids also ask if there is anything "extra" they can do to earn money. That's when I have them do the spring cleaning type stuff, and they earn extra then too.



answers from Augusta on

for those that just get an allowance what's it for? I mean is this just free money? Free money doesn't teach them anything except they get free money every week. How is that teaching them the value of money? isn't it more valuable if they have to work for it?



answers from Detroit on

My daughter will be turning 6 in a couple of months and I've only just started introducing her to the concept of an allowance. Everyone does things differently, but in my mind, chores and helping out around the house are just something you need to do because you are part of the family. Nobody pays ME for cleaning up, cooking meals, etc. My husbands ex tried paying her sons for doing chores around the house - vacuuming, cleaning the bathrooms, etc. - but it didn't work. They just "opted out" of doing the work and didn't care about the money.

I am giving DD an allowance so that it can be a learning tool on how to manage money - at this stage it is very simple. She gets 2 dollars a week - 1 goes into a savings jar, and the other is for spending on for whatever she decides to use it for. She's already decided she wants to save up for a mermaid costume for her doll and she knows it's 12 dollars. And she's already figured out if she doesn't spend all her spending money, but decides to save it instead, she'll get there that much sooner!



answers from Houston on

I think an allowance is good.



answers from San Francisco on

Like several others have commented already, there's really more choices than A (allowance) or B (pay for chores).

In our family, we all do some of the chores. Before a child understands the forms of money, how to make change and to add and subtract, money is given on an as-needed basis. With maturity and better handling of responsibility, a child begins to have opportunities to earn money by doing chores which are essentially "optional" AND which none of us particularly likes to do. (Example: ironing, repotting plants, cleaning the driveway).

As amounts earned increase beyond a buck or two here or there, ideas for handling money beyond spend & save are introduced (donate, invest, buy gifts) but not mandated.

In this way, money sense grows organically as the child grows.



answers from Beaumont on

At our home chores are just part of family life. Everyone contributes BUT we pay "commission" for "work" like washing a car, wiping down baseboards, cleaning ceiling fans, the harder, more labor intensive things. I also give bonuses for good attitude and attention to details.



answers from Washington DC on

I say that it depends on how often the chore needs to be done.
taking out the trash or cleaning up your room, on a 'each time' basis can get expensive.


answers from Norfolk on

We do chores because everyone living here chips in to help.
We don't do an allowance - it only teaches how to spend before they have any idea how hard it is to earn money.
You have a MUCH better feeling for being careful about spending when it took a long time to work and save up your cash.
If our son wants more money than he's collected through birthday and holiday gifts, he can muck out stalls and shovel manure for our neighbor down the street.
An allowance is just informal personal familial welfare - and some kids really feel entitled to it.



answers from Columbus on

Reading 123Magic and I like their suggestion. They get an allowance, but if a chore goes undone and you end up having to do it for them, they must pay you out of that allowance.



answers from San Francisco on

I have another thought I'd like to share. There has also been talk that if we teach our children that the way to make money around the house is by doing chores; will they only help out when being paid? When dad says; "hey son, come help me fix the bike, " will the son then expect to get paid or won't help. It can change the way children look at their responsibilities in the family; I work all the time in the apartment even with my childrens help and no one pays me to do it. My kids help out (ages 3 and 6) because they enjoy it. My 3 yr old chops vegetables and they both put away their laundry and and take it out of the dryer; they both like to clean the windows; polish the furniture; sweep or vaccum but I would never think of paying them to do this.

Maybe just giving your child an amount of money to learn how to take care of money is enough without connection to chores. I feel my kids should help out becuase we are a family and we need to help take care of our home. My aunt used to give my cousins 50 cents a week when they were 3 or 4 yrs old to save and use for things they wanted at the grocery rather than whining for something. I don't want my kids to save money to buy toys; we already have so many things here that I want less rather than more.

Maybe this is a good opportunity to teach our children about the less fortunate and ways to help those in need.

Just my thoughts; would be interested in hearing others.



answers from Chicago on

We are an allowance for no reason family. Members of the household get to participate in its overall economy. This means there is work to be done, and there is money to share.

I do not use an rewards with my kids. Internal motivation is the best kind of motivation, and I wang them to decide for themselves the reasons for doing things. Reasons tied to material possessions are usually shallow and not as motivational as internal.



answers from Tampa on

I have seen a mix

Everyone has set "chores" which means a set "allowance" meaning - dirty clothes to laundry room, making your own bed, picking up your stuff, etc...

If they want extra money they have a list of "jobs" with a set "price" meaning - pulling weeds $X, mowing lawn $Y, etc...

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