What Responsibilities Should I Require of My 5 Year Old--and How Much Allowance?

Updated on August 07, 2009
T.W. asks from Fort Worth, TX
16 answers

My son is 5 years old and we have decided to assign responsibilities for himself, as well as household duties--chores. What do you/ did you expect of a 5 year old? How should I "reward" or compensate him--allowance? We want to teach him that he has to save his money and spend it wisely, so that we don't end up buying toys all the time--or telling him no every time he asks. We want it to be something he works toward. I am also going to encourage a percentage to go to savings and to the offering at church. If I start him young, maybe he won't have the problems many of us have. Thanks for your help.

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answers from Dallas on

My sister made her kids pay 50% of their allowance to a savings account and 25% to "family taxes". The rest of the money was theirs to spend on what ever they wanted, even toys. Most young kids don't need a lot of money, but they liked being able to buy whatever they wanted and it also taught them to save for bigger items. When they collected enough in family taxes, they did a family activity, bowling, dinner, movies, etc.



answers from Dallas on

I've always heard $1 per year of age is the norm for kids in respect to allowance, so 5 years old would be $5. As for chores, my 4 year old can fill the dog's bowl every morning with dog food, make his bed (I smooth the sheets and he puts the pillows and animals on it), put his clothes in the hamper, pick up the dog poop in the backyard (he wanted this chore!), put the silverware on the table at dinner time, and wipe down the toilet in the bathroom with a disposable wipe (again, he wanted this one!). My 7 year old makes his bed, puts clothes in the hamper, puts water in the dog bowls, makes and puts out drinks for dinner, cleans the bathroom counter in his bathroom, cleans the backyard toys, and changes the calendar each day. In addition to those, they both are responsible for keeping their rooms clean and the playroom. Once school starts, I'll probably not make them make their beds, but it's worked this summer. I don't do a weekly allowance, but I made a chart on excel with their chores listed. If they do them, they get a star. Once the chart is filled, I'll pay them accordingly. I also give extra points for doing the chores without being reminded or anything additional like helping daddy in the garden or something.

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answers from Dallas on

My son gets an allowance to teach him how money works. His chores-bed making, picking up toys, cleaning play room, helping bring in groceries-are not tied to his allowance. Those are his responsibilites around the house, like my husband and I have, that we do not get paid for. He receives $5 every Monday and I never take away for misbehavior or not doing his chores. However, if I have to do a chore then he has to pay me as I would have to do with a housekeeper. I remind him of this when he doesn't want to make his bed or clean up and he has never "hired" me to do these things. I wish he would give some money to the church, but at his age he just doesn't want to, so we do not insist on it. Giving to a church or charity should come from the heart. No one should be made to give to these organizations, in our opinion. He is required to save some and he can spend some. He may spend $1, 2 or 3 each week and the rest goes into savings. It is his decision how much he spends on a toy or candy or pack of gum, but it can't be more than $3. If we go on a trip or somewhere special, then he can take $5-10 from savings to buy something from wherever we visit. He usually buys something small and always has money left over. There are lots of things I want to teach him about money, but at 5, I think keeping it simple is best and if I feel he is making a mistake, I try to keep quiet and let him make it. Better now than later. Good luck!!

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answers from Dallas on

My daughter is 6, and we give her $2/week. It doesn't sound like a lot, but she's managed to save to buy herself an iCarly nightshirt (at $14), a Razor scooter (at $24), and a toy guitar (at $36...she had some birthday money help with that one), and a KidsBop CD (at $9). She's very good about putting her money in her wallet and keeping it there until there's something she really wants. She's talked about spending it on things like ice cream and candy, but she ends up keeping it until she can afford something big. I would say to figure out what you guys can afford and how much you think your son needs to buy some things he'd want.

As for chores, we're still trying to figure out something that's just her own. I'm liking the vacuum idea. Right now, she's in charge of her room--keeping it picked up, making the bed, etc. She and her brother pick up toys, take their dishes to the sink, etc. However, those things relate more to picking up her own messes. We've discussed with her that she needs to contribute to family chores, too.



answers from Dallas on

In our home, allowance wasn't contigent upon chores. The chores were required, because they lived in the house and all household members are to participate. We taught our children 10-10-80, 10% to tithe, 10% to save, and 80% to spend. At 5 years of age, my children did chores such as clean bedroom, pick up playroom, take care of pets, set the table, help with dinner, help with yardwork.



answers from Dallas on

our 5 year old helps put away laundry, match socks, cleans his room, picks up the communal areas when asked, helps lugs garbage to the garage, and even helps with pets or yardwork some. are these all daily? no, but he's required to do what asked when asked. he gets about $5 a week and some of that we put aside for him automatically in savings. he then can use the savings for whatever (vacation spending money, christmas presents). the week to week money does sometimes get semi wasted on junk food, but not often. he ends up saving alot of that too!



answers from Amarillo on

When our child was 4 we started chores. She unloaded the clean silverware from the washer, took clothes to the laundry room, helped sort clothes, helped clean off the table after meals, etc. We don't give her an allowance for these chores. Our thoughts are that she uses the dishes and laundry and needs to help take responsibility in the house. We do give her coupons to reward positive behavior we want to re-enforce. Then she can use the coupons to buy stuff from her good girl box or from the store, etc. Whatever method you come up with, just feel comfortable with it and stick to it.


answers from Dallas on

In regards to Tf's response about her 14 year old daughter, I also was a varsity competitive cheerleader, regular church youth outings, theater and honors classes as well as worked a part time job 4 days a week and had a lot of daily chores as well as a full set of chores every Saturday, and we didn't get any allowance, but instead, our paychecks went to the family fund to pay for our extracurricular activities and we got a small percentage back to pay for our personal things as well as pay a 10% tithe to our church. I totally agree with her though, that when a kid sees their own money being used to purchase an item, it really teaches them how to be frugal and make better decisions!

For a 5 year old, we had a little piggy bank that had 3 compartments, one was for a tithe, the other for spending and the last for savings (about 50%). We had our own savings accounts (with our parents of course) and we tallied everything up in our little register book. It was a great way to learn to save our money and spend it on what we chose wisely.

I have never heard of the $1 per year of age guideline, but it makes since to me! Goodluck, I think your doing a great job!


answers from Dallas on


My daughter turned 6 last week and loves to do chores. I agree with the age the child is the amount they get per week and if they didnt do all their chores knock it down or if they exceeding them raise it a little. Here are some chores my daughter has been doing since she was four and a little newer ones:

Feed cat (wet and dry and water)
Sweep her bathroom and she does the kitchen for me
Fold her clothes and towels
Hang up her clothes
Brush teeth morn and night
Wash face morn and night
Make bed in morn
Make sure all toys are picked up throughout house
Take trash from both bathrooms and dump in big trash (every tues and fri)
Does some sort of reading and art activity on her own every day.
Rinses her dish before putting in sink to be washed (sometimes even helps if it is not breakable)
and things on this nature

Also she is a big help with making her own food and snacks. It was like she turned 4 and became a grown up. She makes her own PB sandwhiches, turkey & cheese, nukes her chicken nuggets, pizza rolls, bagel bites and mac n cheese in the micro cups. These are all lifesavers and are easy for her to do so I don't have to. And gets her own snack food in a cabinet at her level.





answers from Dallas on

My kids (5 & 7) have responsibility charts and chore charts. The responsibility charts are not tied to their allowance, they are expected to do those things because they are members of the family. We sign off on them daily, if they don't do them then they cannot participate when we have a family activity - walk to park, bowling, bike ride, board games, etc etc. Some of the responsibilities are: brush teeth, make bed, pick up toys, put laundry in hamper, bring hampers to laundry room, wipe counters after use, etc.

Chores are tied to allowance in our house. Their allowance is $1 per year of age and the amount they get paid for the chore depends on the difficulty and time required. They are required to do chores but are not allowed to do them before their responsibilities for the day are complete. some of their chores are: washing mirrors, dusting, sweep/vacuum, empty trash, put away laundry, pick up dog mess, etc.

So far it's working well. We have weekly printouts on the fridge, hubby & I sign off for each responsibility/chore when it's complete and the chore chart has a running tally so they can see how much they've earned per week.

I REALLY liked the idea of one set of responsibilities not tied to allowance, but if they don't do them and Mom has to they have to pay me - but hubby hated that idea so we broke the chores & responsibilities up.



answers from Dallas on

You are so smart ot start early.
Also ahve him save up his change and go to a coinstart every now and then.
Offerings are ok at like a dollar-no need to go crazy- thats huge for kids- I would alwasy tell my kids- think of what you want and how many hours you have to work to get it.-He can have his own bank account as well- incentive to work the drive thru canister and get the lollipop!
I think giving him those self help respnsibilites are good- put away his own clothes- match socks= take out garbage- dust - anything that you know he is capable of- charts go a long way- they love stickers and gold stars at that age
Inveting in some sort of stock and all at the young age is soemthing he wont get right now- but let it sit there for 10 years and at 15 he can appreciate it


answers from Dallas on

This is what we did. We gave a weekly allowance. Each child received their age. A five year old would receive $5 per week......but 10% went towards a charitable contribution of their choice. 30% went to savings account. 30% went towards saving for something special and 30% was mad money they could have any time they wanted it for whatever they wanted...within reason of course. I kept this in a notebook so that they could see it grow. If he saves his 10% for charity all year then he can adopt an Angel at christmas, etc... it can really be great and empowering.

The great thing about this is that you can actually save money. For example if you are in the grocery store and your son asks for something, then you can say "I don't want to spend my money on that, but you can spend your money." You will be amazed at what your son suddenly no longer needs to have when it isn't on your dime. He may run out of money in the beginning, but then he will see the value of holding off for what he really wants.

We did not equate the allowance to chores. At five, straightening up after himself, taking dishes to the sink....we were okay with that.

Best of Luck in what you decide,


answers from Dallas on

Kudos to you for teaching delayed gratification!!!

Our daughter is 14 now and in reality, never really had a " set chore system". She does get an allowance weekly. At this point, she has such a busy, tough schedule at school, her " job" is to focus at school and maintain her honors, orchestra and cheer.

With the $ we give her weekly.... She is in charge of buying her clothing. I'll say.... It is amazing at how frugal she becomes when the $$$ is coming out of her pocket vs mine!!! I was surprised at how many times she decided to spend her $ on clothes vs movies this summer!!

We do give a bonus, especially now, to get new school clothes, etc.

You are on the right track. No specific advice from me except let the children decide what is so important to themto have. Then when it comes time to pay out.... They ( at least mine) chooses to make a better decision.

Good job for starting the understanding of $$ early.



answers from Dallas on

I have a 6 year old and there are MANY things she can do - even putting clean sheets on her bed and vaccuum although those chores aren't every week. She gets $1 per day allowance (and we pay her daily IF her chores are done and she's been helpful, if they aren't done, no money that day). I always liked the $1 per year rule but paying daily just works so much better for us. Also, I encourage her to put some in save, some in spend, and some in give. I let her choose how much goes in each and it works really well. It gives her control while still teaching her to save and give. (BTW, I have given her incentives of offering her extra to do some jobs that she thinks are too hard - then once she sees that she can do them, it gives her a great sense of accomplishment and next time I don't have to pay her extra :-)) Good lulck!



answers from Dallas on

I found a great magnetic chore/responsibility chart from Melissa & Doug on line. Shop around for the best price on line. I have my 3 & 4 yr old doing chores such as...making their bed, brushing their teeth, cleaning off the table, picking up toys, and my favorite is Helping Momma (which can be just about anything from helping me sweep to putting away their clothes.)

I've set up 3 glass jars for each of them. A give, a save, and a spend. They are each saving for a special toy and my daughter has decided she wants some of the give money to go to an orphan we support. With the glass jars they can easily see their money "grow."

For your son's age I would suggest between 4-5$ a week if you can afford that. If not, do what you can afford. I go to the bank and get a pile of 1$ bills and quarters each month. If all of the chores are completed each week they get their full allowance, but if not, they loose about a quarter per responsibility missed.

It has been very encouraging for my children, as well as a great way to teach our children about our money beliefs. Especially as it concerns giving and saving. It really just opens alot of doors for conversations revolving around their earnings.



answers from Lubbock on

There are no set tasks a child can do. If he is capable of doing something then it can be set as a chore. A child can separate clothes and put away clothes. help with table and dishes. I have also seen 5 year old vaccuum and sweep. Also feeding pets is a good one. They can wipe off counters and even help with dinners. Your child is only limited by the limitations you place on him. ive him the chance he may surprise you. Ask him what chores he thinks he can do. When I was young I used to get $3.00 and my brother use to get $5.00. They are also good at watering and helping with outside chores.
The amount of chores they have depend on what they do. An important dule of thumb is to think of how much is required fo a simple treat. You need at least $1.00 and tax at the dollar store and you can't get a candy bar now days for under a dollar. So, take those things into consideration.

Hope this helps! BTW, it may not be a good idea to force a child to give in church unless they want to. it may foster a resentment. Just my opinon! Also, i think savings is a good idea...

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