How to Structure Allowance?

Updated on June 07, 2009
B.T. asks from Hinsdale, IL
9 answers

I have a 4 year old daughter and would like to start giving her a weekly allowance. How much do you give a 4 year old? Should it just be given freely, or should it be given for doing chores? I've heard of more complex systems where children get a certain amount and then have to put a portion of it away for savings, keep a portion for spending, and set aside a portion for charity. But, I'm not sure that's practical when I was planning on giving her a pretty small allowance (maybe $1 a week??).
I would love to hear what other people do. Thanks!

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Chicago on

I have an 11,7 and 7 yr old girls. I do not give them an allowance. I have been considering it, just so they understand the value of money. I think this summer the girls can do the lemonade stand, and I want to do something with my older daughter like working on a business together. Maybe Avon, or a craft business at home.

I like the idea of paying for extra jobs like cutting the grass, washing walls or windows.

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answers from Chicago on

We started with allowance to be for doing chores, but it quickly advanced to "how much will you pay me" if we asked her to do extra chores (for example, company was coming). So we changed it to allowance is the "sharing" of the money coming in from daddy and mommy working. We all get our spending money for the week at the same time (me and hubby included) so she knows we all get money to spend.

If she doesn't want to do her chores, we tell her that she can't "share" in the family money because she isn't helping the family. We don't pay per chore and we let her know she is expected to help. We leave what she is expected to do "open" so that she has her basic chores but also we can add things on if we need help. She's older, so she understands we are a "family" and we help each other. Just changing that viewpoint has helped get rid the "how much will you pay me?" attitude. Instead of us being the boss and her being the worker and us holding the money over her to do her chores, we approach it as we all work together. I hope that makes sense!

I wouldn't make your 4-year old put money away just yet. At age 6 my daughter didn't understand that and it just led to disappointment that she couldn't keep her whole allowance. Once we finish studying money and banks, we'll start making her save. Until then she just thinks we're being mean.

Just my opinions, hope that helps!

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answers from Chicago on


We have not made any decisions on what to do with allowances for our 2 girls but one website I like on the subject is I've listened to Susan Beacham's podcast on the topic and tended to agree with her philosopy. She also sells a really cool piggy bank with 4 slots (save, spend, invest, donate). IMO, its the best piggy bank out there. It would be perfect for your 4 year old's $1.00 allowance (one quarter per slot!). And just for the record, I have no personal gain or connection with this website or S. Beacham...just a fan! Good luck

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

In our family our children get $1 per the grade they are in. In kindergarten they got 50 cents, $1 in first grade, $2 in secnd grade, etc...
We only give them their allowence if there room is clean.



answers from Chicago on

This is what my husband says on this subject. "I will not pay my son to be my child." We never gave allowance to our son any money he earned. I know to some parents it may sound a little harsh but he is now almost 19 years old and has been gone at school for a year and he knows not to call and ask for money unless it is an emergency. He has learned how to earn his own money. At age 16 he asked me to start a custodial account for him with Ameritrade. Another example is last summer when the price of metal went through the roof he cashed in on this by starting a summer business scrapping metal instead of working for someone else. He made enough money to pay for 1/2 of his first year in college.
My husband and I both feel very strongly that children should be told from early on that life is not a free ride and money has to earned and not wasted.
But please don't get me wrong. Our son had everything he needed and even went to private school for part of his elementary education. We just wanted him to know the money did not grow on trees.

Just my opinion,



answers from Chicago on

I personally don't give my kids $ just because..& especially not for basic chores. I feel that they are part of the household & they could help with basic chores by being part of the family. I have a business & I pay them to help me with my business. I also will pay them for extra stuff around the house. For instance, like washing down the walls, mouldings & doors all over the house, not for taking out the garbage, or making their beds, or dishes because I feel that's stuff they should be auto doing as a member of the family. I pay according to the task, but no more than $4 if a child is doing the entire wipedown of the house. My kids age range from 11, 10, 7, 20 months.



answers from Chicago on

My daughter is almost four and she gets an allowance. She actually gets $3 a week. She has two chores to do every day- she feeds the cat and wipes off the table after dinner every evening. We have a jar that we put her allowance in every Friday and she gets to do with it what she wants. Everyone said she was too young for allowance but she's counting and learning how to subtract and add and how to save and I think we are teaching her the value of money. She has saved for a Barbie VW Bug, the Barbie pool, and is saving now for a the Barbie horse.
We don't have her save some of her money for charity but we do donate money and have her participate in that and we do other things with her (like volunteering and such) to teach her about helping others. Someone we know just donated their hair to Locks of Love and we talked about it with my daughter and now she is waiting for her hair to get to her waist so she can donate hers too. (We've got about another 2 inches to go).
Anyway, I say go for it and good luck!



answers from Springfield on

Hi B.,
At our house we don't give our children an allowance because we feel as members of the household they should do "their share". We have a 10 year and he is now moving up the responsibility chain to helping clean the kitchen each night (unloading and loading the dishwasher) along with keeping his room clean and putting his laundry away. His 8 year old brother also must keep his room clean and keep their bathroom clean, along with his laundry. Their 3 year old sister helps clean her room and helps put her laundry away. We see that the needs are meet (love, food, shelter, etc) and they should learn to respect and help take care of those things. When they receive money (birthdays, helping other family members) half is put into savings right away and the other half is their choice. It seems to be working for us.
Best Wishes on your decision!



answers from Chicago on

I give my son a dollar for each year old he is. I have the "Savvy Pig" piggy bank and it has the sections of college, charity, spending and long term savings. He has to split up his allowance every week into these sections. My son is 8 and I do not have him to too much during the school year as far a chores because I think that going to school and doing his homework is his job. I do have him do small things like feed and let the dog out, clean the toilets and I make him keep his room clean. However, in the summer, I have him do more chores. Whenever he wants anything at the store I make him buy it with his allowance. He really wants an electric scooter but keeps spending his allowance on little things. I keep telling him that he will never have the money for the scooter if he continues to do that. He has now started to save for the scooter.

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