Which Is Better Chores or Allowance?

Updated on December 28, 2017
S.S. asks from Binghamton, NY
15 answers

My son is 9 and with the new year I would like to start giving him money but I have a deep down problem just giving away money however I also take issue with him doing chores just for the money. As of right now he mainly does chores on the weekend and a couple of times a week for example, he empties the dishwasher, cleans his room (mostly a weekend chore),and helps with the garbage. Its just he and I so really there isn't a lot that has to be done everyday. I just don't know how to navigate this subject. Thoughts? Also, do you have a sign up stating chores/ allowance?

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So What Happened?

I have thought about all the answers I got (Thank you All!!) and I came up with something that will work for us. He gets $50 a month, 1/2 of that goes to savings, $10 goes to a holiday fund, and $5 goes to a charity of his choice. I had him research some charities and he chose a food pantry :-) The allowance is not tied to any chores and as long as his grades do not plummet it will not be affected by grades either. My main focus with doing this is to help prepare him for becoming an adult and having to learn how to budget. So thank you to everyone who answered my question!!!

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answers from Boston on

I always tied allowance to chores. It teaches kids that you have to work for money; it isn't handed to me and it won't be handed to you. If they wanted to earn additional money they could do some more chores with the prices set ahead of time.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Washington DC on

most folks will probably state the chores and allowance are separate and shouldn't be linked. it's a good philosophy.

it's also not the end of the world if you jolt a kid going through a lazy phase by hitting him in the wallet.

it depends largely on what your overall parenting philosophy is, and you have to figure that out for yourself (and doubtless have after 9 years, one hopes.)

what underlies your instinctive reaction to 'giving away money'? i'd poke around that first before you even start trying to unpack how you want your son to view finance and budgeting. if you choose not to 'just give away money' or doing chores in exchange for allowance, what alternative method will you go with to teach him how to be fiscally responsible?

is he doing his chores now willingly and without being pushed?

are there occasional jobs you want him to do, for pay or not, outside his regular chores? how do you approach those with him?

we had a 'job jar' in which we put all the regular chores like doing the dishes and vacuuming, and we'd pull them at the beginning of each month and post them on the fridge as reminders. it was an imperfect system, mostly involving me being the whip. i'm sorry to say i never did hit on a great way of getting my boys to pitch in without a degree of fire under their asses. nonetheless they grew into responsible young men, and their women report that they pull their weight in the households.

i'd approach this less with a 'what does everyone else do?' angle than 'what works best in our tight dynamic, and what will best prepare my son for adulthood in that atmosphere?'


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answers from San Francisco on

My kids did reasonable chores and didn't need or care about money when they were little (as it should be, in my opinion.) When they got older and started wanting to buy things I would give them bigger jobs to do, like pulling weeds, cleaning out the car or garage, etc. They also babysat and took care of neighbors pets/mail while they were on vacation starting around age 11/12.
Unless your child is specifically asking for money I wouldn't worry about it yet, and if he IS asking for money then find some age appropriate ways for him to earn it.

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answers from Boston on

Chores and allowance are completely different concepts. Don't confuse or link the two. Chores are what every member of a household does to contribute to the upkeep of the household. This should include age-appropriate tasks that include cleaning up after oneself and cleaning up/maintaining shared spaces. You don't get paid for chores.

An allowance is a way for children to learn how to budget for their discretionary spending. Figure out what you spend on you child for non-essentials - a treat at the store, pocket money for going out with a friend, money for the movies or other outings, etc. Some parents include charity and savings in this as well. Anyway...figure out what that amount tends to be per month and divide that up into a frequency that works for you (e.g. weekly or semi-monthly) and then your child is in charge of spending or saving. If he spends it all on something stupid and then wants to go to a movie but is short the money, he'll learn to budget more wisely.

If there are extra jobs to be done that you might hire out to someone, you can give your child first dibs on that kind of work and pay him for it but don't pay for routine chores. For example, it cost $125 for me to have leaves hauled away if I could rake up and get them to the curb. Instead of paying for that, my sons would bag and tarp up the leaves and load them on a trailer for me to bring to a disposal site. I paid them $25 each for the work (times 3 sons = $75). When they wanted to earn extra money, I would find jobs I hated and pay them for the work (washing walls or windows, ironing table linens and curtains, heavy-duty yard or pool work, etc.). That way if they needed to earn money quickly for something, I wasn't just handing it to them for no reason - but I wouldn't pay them to mow the lawn, shovel snow, dishes, laundry, vacuuming, mopping, etc.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

As a matter of philosophy, I prefer to get my kids thinking of money as something that is earned, not given. However, I don't do a "per chore" amount. I have a list of chores on it. Kids have to complete all the chores each week to get their "paycheck" at the end of the week. I have 2 kids, and the paycheck amount is different per kid, and the chore list is more difficult for the older kid.

To make it easy to track, I printed out the list and laminated it. They check off each chore when it's complete with a dry erase marker, and each Saturday we check it, then erase and start again.

At age 9, my kid's chores were:
load the dishwasher each day (his younger brother unloaded)
wash and dry his clothes (he doesn't fold though)
take out the trash when it's full

For this, he got a $5 per week paycheck.

I also sometimes add bonus things that aren't routine. For example, I might say "The garden needs to have weeds pulled. $5 to anyone who spends an hour pulling weeks this week." Then either or both kids can step up to earn extra if they want to.

My kids do have to help with other things that aren't on the list. For example, all laundry always goes in the hamper and on Saturday mornings we all clean the house together (vacuuming common rooms and bedrooms, wiping kitchen counters, each cleaning the bathroom that they use) because that's just part of being a member of our family.

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answers from Dallas on

Managing money is a life skill that children need to learn - SOOOO many don't learn it!

My kids get a monthly allowance on the first of the month. I do it that way rather than weekly so they feel "broke" longer if they spend all at once.

Their allowance isn't tied to chores or behavior really, I expect good grades, them to do what they're told, behave in general regardless of allowance or not allowance.

Kids that never get the opportunity to handle money, make decisions with it and feel the consequences when the stakes are low, have a hard time figuring it out when they're older...

My kids start allowance in kindergarten, and it's structured as such:
K-2 $25
3-5 $30
6-8 $40
9-12 $50

That said, my 8yo 3rd grader currently has over $200 saved to spend on a Disney cruise we are taking. No, that's not paying bills, but it's having a long term goal and resisting impulse purchases.

It's important to remember that we are raising adults, they won't be kids forever!

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answers from Honolulu on

First, I think that an allowance should only be considered if the child is basically responsible. A child who neglects personal property, whose attitude is poor, whose school performance is not acceptable, wouldn't be granted any special privileges. And an allowance is a privilege. But if your son is generally responsible, polite, and helpful, you might consider starting him on an allowance.

But before that happens, I would talk to him about money management. I'd help him open a little savings account in a bank, or get him a piggy bank kind of thing to keep at home. Establish good practices now. One part of the allowance is for savings. One is for charity, donations, sharing. One part is for spending. Say you give him $5 a week. $2 goes into savings, 50 cents for donating (the Salvation Army kettle, your church, buying a can of food for a food pantry, etc), and $2.50 is for him to spend as he wishes. Help him figure out what to save for. He can just build up some funds, or he can figure out how much that new bike costs and have a plan to save up for it. Make sure that the savings part doesn't get used for impulse spending. He should have a goal. It can be long-term (next Christmas, or a major purchase like an X box) or short-term (the awesome super-hero backpack that he wants but doesn't necessarily need).

Then, I would help him to understand that the allowance privilege is not tied to a particular chore, but is a general recognition of his being a helpful member of the household. Establish the chores he's responsible for, if he just doesn't simply pitch in. Tell him that school is his job for now, and he's responsible for doing his job well (turning in homework on time, getting his best grades that he can, having a good attitude at school). Explain to him that when adults work at a job, they usually don't get a certain amount of dollars for every little task they do. For example, a teacher gets paid, but it's for teaching effectively, being prompt, following the school's rules, etc. They don't get paid X amount for every paper they grade, or X amount for every bulletin board they decorate. In much the same way, your son can have an allowance which represents the privilege of being a positive contribution to the home. And if he refuses to be helpful, loses his backpack, speaks disrespectfully, and if his behavior at school requires you to be called into the school to have multiple teacher conferences to address your son's behavior, then he'll lose the privilege of having an allowance.

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answers from Miami on

How about having him do chores, because everyone at home should pitch in, and then only giving him an allowance if he is going out or needing to buy someone, like his mom, a birthday present? That way, the allowance isn't tied to chores, and the allowance is given only when it is needed, and requires him to save and budget the given amount so that the money will last him for more than one of his outings with a friend? Or you can give him an allowance for doing an out of the ordinary chore, like washing your car, helping you with a home improvement project, helping you plant some flowers and shrubs, etc. That way, he won't always expect money for every chore, or receive it for something as minor as emptying the dishwasher.

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answers from Washington DC on

My kids do chores to help the household, but they also get paid for their time.

I believe children need to learn how to manage money young. They started getting an allowance in Kindergarten. Both my kids have over $2K in their savings accounts. They have gone through times when they bought something REALLY expensive but didn't have the money for something else - yep the pitfalls of "bright shiny objects"

Teach them how to manage money.
Tell them they are part of the family and MUST contribute to its moving forward. That means they participate in doing things like running the laundry, walking the dog, emptying the dishwasher, setting the table, preparing a meal (they need to learn that as well).

We don't have a "sign up" sheet - we only have 2 kids. I know my girlfriend who has 8 kids has a chalk board in the kitchen with everyone's responsibilities on it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I think basic, daily (or weekly) chores are part of being a cooperative member of the family. That means taking care of the public spaces of your house, not just his room. So garbage and dishwasher are good starts. I'll bet, if you make a list of what YOU do all week long, though, you'll find a lot more that has to be done every day and you're just doing it! You're doing the laundry (washing/folding/putting away) and making the grocery lists and planning the meals and doing the cooking and hauling in the groceries from the car, right? You're pushing that vacuum and cleaning that toilet, right? You're looking at the sales in the grocery store circular and loading coupons/deals onto your card, right? You're cleaning out the car and shoveling the front walk, right? You're making the lunches and organizing the backpack, perhaps. So pick something (at least one and maybe 2) from that list that you give to him or at least have him work in tandem with you. You're building life skills. You're giving him a chance to excel and to feel in control of wha goes on around him. You're building confidence.

Kids who have some money (because Grandma gave them $25 for a birthday or because they just save it up) have no incentive to do chores for money, so you lose your leverage there if you tie them together. And you can have the opposite problem, which is them demanding to be paid for every little thing. "Please take out the garbage, honey." "Yeah? What's it worth to you?"

And while you didn't raise the issue, it comes up with others in his social circle (or it will). So, I am firmly against paying kids for good grades. Again, it sets up a comparison with kids who don't get good grades, and it allows kids to blow off the school work if they're flush financially. (I'm also against giving kids $10 from the tooth fairy or a mountain of gifts from Santa, because kids in more modest circumstances who get $1 and pajamas think they are somehow less deserving.)

I do agree with learning to manage money - to stop the begging at the checkout counter, to learn what it's like to defer gratification and make sound choices, to learn about impulse buying, and so on. I'm interested in the system below of giving kids money once a month. I'm not sure it works as well with younger kids (a full month is a long time to wait) but I see the issue in families with kids of different ages. I think Suz raises an interesting point about "just giving away money" that's worth some thought. I think, if you recognize that your child is probably asking you for stuff during a supermarket trip and that you're facing that decision frequently (do I "give away" money anyway by buying that candy bar or that not-so-healthy cereal for him?), you might find your way around this. Do you give to charity because people need it? Do you give to others who need a little help and who can't work? Isn't a child in the "can't work" category? So there are a few ways to think it through.

You might also set a separate monthly budget for bigger jobs that would be worth paying for but which don't exactly "need" doing: cleaning and sorting the Tupperware containers and matching the lids, cleaning the bathtub, going through old toys/clothes to donate, etc. Of course, this presumes that you have money set aside to pay out. Some people do a job jar. Some people do a "job trade" deal where special chores are listed on a bunch of cardboard strips and put in an envelope on the side of a big bin where all the kids' stuff gets put by the parents who have to pick it up: stray shoes, a backpack, those extra Lego pieces, the field trip permission slip, the laundry left on the floor...and the kid earns that item back by first picking a job from the envelope. The child may have a choice about which job to do, but not about whether to do something. I wish I'd done more of that with my son, giving more value to MY time and making him realize in a concrete way how his actions impacted me or the whole family's situation.

Good luck with working this out! First get your own priorities listed, and make your decisions from there.

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answers from Norfolk on

We've never done allowance.
We never grew up with them either.
No one pays you to clean your own toilet and the benefit of cleaning your toilet is - you get to use a clean toilet!
Everyone who lives here helps maintain it in what ever way they can.
No one person is the drudge who serves everyone else.
Many hands make light work and then everyone can have fun together!
If they do chores for money - what do you do if they decide they don't want the money?
The chores still need doing!

Also - I've often thought an allowance just trains up good little consumers - so they get hooked on spending spending spending - way before they have any idea who difficult it is to really EARN the money.
If you want to earn money - do chores for your neighbor - rake leaves, shovel snow, walk dogs - none of this has any bearing on the chores you do to help out at home.
If you've worked hard for something - you don't easily blow the cash on something stupid.

How many adults grew up with allowances who later got into trouble with credit card debt as adults?
Quite a few in my generation!

No sign up for chores - just things to do that are age appropriate and as they get older they can do more.
By 12 they can do their own laundry.
Some chores:
Take trash out to garbage can - take can out to curb on trash collection day.
Put dirty dishes in dish washer - put clean dishes away.
Help feed/water pets - take dogs for walks.
Dust/vacuum - not just their room but anywhere that needs it.
Make bed
Help with yard work.
Help with food prep for meals
Help putting away groceries.

Kids need to learn life skills!
Teach them!

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answers from Oklahoma City on

We do chores because we live here.

We get allowance simply because we want the kids to learn the value of a dollar.

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answers from Washington DC on

We didn’t do an allowance.
We expected our children to get good grades, volunteer at church and other places when asked, and to help when needed.
When they hit 6th grade they asked for an allowance. We told them that we could give them what we normally spent on clothing and entertainment for the year and they could budget it and not get one more red cent, or we could continue on the way we were doing it with us getting what they needed when they needed it.
They decided that they’d leave things as they were. We did teach them how to shop the sales, how to budget, how to save, and to appreciate the value of a dollar. They left home knowing that money doesn’t grow on trees, that unexpected bills come due, and that car insurance, rent, and taxes are expensive!

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answers from New York on

We never did allowance - I don't like the idea of paying my kids to contribute around the house. Everyone is expected to pitch in because we are a team, not because a paycheck was expected. Each kid had their own things they had to take care of (make bed, keep room clean, rinse their own dishes after use and place in the dishwasher), and then each had one "house" chore that was always the same, like one kid was always in charge of setting the table, one always did the lawn, one always did the shoveling, etc.

In return for their contributions, they got the occasional spending money for a movie or something like that and the rest of their spending came from birthdays and doing chores for non-family members (like shoveling the neighbors' walk, etc.).

I did pay my kids for extra help that solely benefited me. For example, older kids were obligated to watch younger kids so I could get something done, run to the store, etc. However, if hubby and I were going on date night, that was "extra" and they got paid. Also, if someone was looking to make a little extra money for an event that was outside their normal budget, they could come to me and take over a job that I would normally do for extra spending money OR if a sibling was gone and no one was doing that chore, they could take it on and get paid (but their still had to do their own house chore). Generally, though, I found that if my kids saw that I needed help, they helped without asking for extra money :)

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answers from New York on

I have a hard time supporting the idea of any child under 18 being allowed to spend money without parental oversight, and I think that "giving an allowance" can lead to that. I'm not suggesting that a child needs to spend money the way *you* would spend money, but I think that adults need to be in charge of generally overseeing money management and providing guidance. At a young age, "to learn about money"; and at a preteen/teen age, to also make sure that allowance is not being spent on cigarettes/drugs/etc. (I think "spending all of my birthday money on gum" is a totally fine learning experience, but parents should just be aware if that occurs.)

So, I tend to be more in favor of the system of "giving money when needed" ("here is $20 for your afternoon of movies and ice cream with your friends").

Chores are done because you are in charge of the house that your son lives in with you and you say what needs to be done in the common living areas, within the lines of whatever is reasonable for his age/strength. (When your son has his own apartment, if he chooses to not clean the bathroom for weeks that can be his choice.)

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