do you give your kids an allowance?

I mentioned last week that I was upping my kids’ chores for 2012, cause if I’m going to get anything done this year, someone else is going to have to line up the 25 pairs of shoes under the bench in the front hall every afternoon.

So far, it’s going pretty well. My kids are still finding some pride and novelty in loading the dishwasher and setting the table. But by February 1, I’m expecting that it will require 5 minutes of mom-wheedling for every fifteen seconds of kid labor, which is not really an equation I can live with. If I want the kids to keep pulling their weight without complaining, I’m probably going to have to use a little bit of green motivation.

Yesterday, Connor asked me when he would be getting his allowance for services rendered.

“Kids in my class get like twenty dollars a week,” he said.

I demurred.

“Well, I think some of them get something like that,” he hedged.

The photo at left– not of my child– shows a child holding a fistful of Benjamin Franklins.  Let’s start by assuming 1) this is not a kid from Connor’s class and 2) no prepubescent gets $500 a week.

But I have no idea what a reasonable allowance is for primary schoolers. Fifty cents a day? That seemed good to me, but the boys were insulted by that offer. “I do all that for FIFTY CENTS A DAY?” Seamus screamed. But then I think, seriously, what do they need any money for? They each just received about 14,000 Christmas presents, half of which are still in their sealed packaging. Their room and board is included in their Standard Child Package. They can’t go anywhere without me, and whenever we do go anywhere, I pay. I’d take that whole deal and make $3.50 a week, seems fair to me.

Do you give your kids an allowance? How old are they, how much do you give them, and what do you expect in return?

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Missy@Wonder, Friend January 10, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Let me know what you find out. We’re about to up the ante around here, too. For Harvey, anyway. I think he’s old enough for some allowance, but as his chores are minimal, I think the payout should be, too. Will be curious to see what kind of feedback you get.

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Anonymous January 13, 2012 at 7:16 pm

as you can see, so much interesting feedback! I’m doing a second post pulling all this together, for sure.

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Msisk January 10, 2012 at 6:49 pm

My DD gets $1 a week for picking up after herself, clearing her plate after dinner and emptying the bathroom trash into the main trash can (she is 5 1/2).  Also there is bonus money (another dollar) if she gets dressed in the morning (all week) and down to breakfast with a minimal amount of nagging.   She is suddenly crazy obsessed with money and is always demanding $100.00 (not that she’s ever gotten it).

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Anonymous January 13, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Can’t hurt a girl to ask.

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HillaryR January 10, 2012 at 6:56 pm

I don’t tie allowance to chores.  I kind of frame chores as part of the work you do as part of the family (nobody pays me to do my chores!).  For me, the reason to give kids an allowance is to help them learn how to handle money, to budget, to prioritize what they think they want, and to stop bugging me to buy them little things every time we go to Target.  I can say “well, that costs x amount of money–how long do you need to save to be able to buy that?”  My eight year old gets $4.50 a week (which I hear is low, but he hasn’t caught on to that yet), and he knows that he has to put some of that aside for charitable donations.

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Anonymous January 13, 2012 at 7:07 pm

I like your style Hillary. Interesting that $4.50 is low. That’s around where I was landing for my kids.

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The Tired Mother January 10, 2012 at 6:58 pm

My guys are 9, 7,  3 1/2, and 19 months.  They all do things.  The older two get a dollar a week, and the 3 year old gets .50cents.  10 cents is taken off for every time I get an attitude for asking for the chore to be done. And they do a lot-empty the bathroom garbage bins, clean up the living room of toys every night,  bring laundry downstairs, put their laundry away, water the plants, feed the cat, bring shoes from the front hallway to put away, vacuum  the dining room, and my oldest puts the dishes in the dishwasher.  I’ve told them that I don’t find schlepping them from playdate to activity fun either, so they might as well earn the priveledge of them.  Those things happen when I have time to do them, and if my time is being taken up by lining up shoes, then we might never do them.  And since I have four kids, we had better all pitch in or we’re likely to be buried by an avalanche of toys and paper on any given day.

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Anonymous January 13, 2012 at 7:15 pm

WOW. I like your style Tired Mother. That’s a great angle to work– that your “free” time to cart them around is predicated on your not having to pick up after them. I’m using that for sure.

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Kelly Dyer January 10, 2012 at 7:45 pm

I say go with the Chore Magnets.  Kids choose what they want to do and how much they want to earn.  Dave Ramsey approved.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/83249330/set-of-10-custom-chore-magnets-custom

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Anonymous January 13, 2012 at 7:14 pm

I don’t know who Dave Ramsey is but I like them!

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Vero429 January 10, 2012 at 9:27 pm

I give my eight year old daughter $2.00 a week for feeding the dog twice a day. I’d like her to do more but I find I weaken under her pushback: it’s not worth the hassle (like your mom-wheedling vs kid labor equation). Let us know how it works out.  Did you ever post any follow ups on the Time Timer you used to get your kids to be ready for school on time?

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Anonymous January 13, 2012 at 7:08 pm

The Time Timer! Oh my goodness I use it all. the. time. I love it. This is how long we have till we have to leave for school. This is how much longer you can play Club Penguin. This is how long you have to pick up your toys, or else no show tonight. It works like a charm! I’ll have to give it another shout out. Do you use one?

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Amykover January 11, 2012 at 1:13 am

I am super cheap. I give my daughter $1 per week if she sets the table every night. She negotiated weekends off (annoying,huh?) Been thinking about adding more work and upping the ante. She has recently expressed an interest in the new American Girl Doll. At her current earning rate, it’ll take her a year and a half. Makes me wonder: Am I being too cheap?

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Anonymous January 13, 2012 at 7:14 pm

no. American Girl is being too expensive.

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Katy @ ExperiencedBadMom January 11, 2012 at 1:52 pm

My now 8-year-old had a long string of making $2 a week. He had to make his bed everyday and brush and floss his teeth every night. This lasted for months and seemed to be a good incentive. Then his birthday came and he got a zillion dollars from family members and seemed smart enough to realize that he didn’t have to comply with me for my piddly 2 bucks a week but he just had to wait for birthdays and major holidays to cash in! So we’ve fallen off the allowance bandwagon. Someday I’ll get back on. Someday.

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Anonymous January 13, 2012 at 7:14 pm

That’s hilarious. Connor is still waving around his First Communion money at me when he doesn’t feel like pulling his weight: “that’s okay Mom, I don’t care, I have my First Communion money.” from 7 months ago.

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Melaniem January 11, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Agree with HilaryR: we don’t tie allowance to chores. Daily and weekly chores are what we ALL do to get our family and home in a semblance of working order. If they do *extra* work, then we negotiate payment. I learned a lot when I heard Nathan Dungan speak about kids and money, and then more from his book, “Prodigals Sons and Material Girls: How Not to be Your Child’s ATM.” We did what he and others advocated: give them half their age. I started when daughter was 5 with $2.50/week. But she had to save 10% (put a quarter in a jar at first, then move on to something more formal), and give 10% to charity/church. She was pretty stoked with her $2.00 in spending money. Each year, the allowance rises a bit more. Now that one of them is driving/older, we’ve had to revisit a lot of this, but it certainly has worked for us up until age 15-16.

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Anonymous January 13, 2012 at 7:13 pm

That book sounds interesting. I’m very interested in how many people, like you, don’t think kids should view chores as worthy of financial rewards- they’re part of living in a family. I’m going to follow up on that next week, I think it’s worth further discussion.

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I am a daddy at home January 13, 2012 at 2:56 pm

no allowances where i come from 🙂

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LisaB January 13, 2012 at 3:07 pm

I expect the kids to contribute around the house with age apropriate chores (they are 7 &9) without being paid. They are pretty good about it. Lately though, I have found myself nagging about them doing their part to keep the house running smoothly, so I came up with a system where they earn time on the Wii (which was taken away for poor behaviour and poor attituteds). Every time they do their part or go above and beyond they get a wii card. When I get snarked at or have to nag at them to do their bit, they loose ppints. Win / win I’m hoping…

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Anonymous January 13, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Wii cards! What a great idea. Did you make real cards on the computer? You should sell em on Etsy, I’d buy some. We actually don’t have a Wii here– it’s at the grandparents’ house– but I think we’re going to have to cave soon. That would be major currency.

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Helene Wallace January 16, 2012 at 4:21 pm

My kids (ages 7,5 and 2) have a few chores that they are expected to do no matter what – clear their dishes after every meal/snack, clean up their toys at the end of the day, put dirty clothes in the hamper, and put away clean laundry.  Then they have a few jobs that they can choose to do to earn some money.  My 7 year old came up with the jobs and the pay
Feeding the fish – 1 cent
Watering plants – 1 cent
Setting the table – 1 cent
Emptying waste baskets – 2 cents per can
Loading the dishwasher – 10 cents
Put their brother’s books back on his bookshelf – 1 cent per book max of 25. 

Also I don’t let my kids eat a lot of candy but they are allowed a piece (or pack if it’s something like m&ms) on Saturdays.  If they choose to skip the treat they get a 25 cent bonus. 

Altogether it doesn’t add up to much but at this point that’s fine.  I’m sure eventually they’ll want to increase the rates but for now I think they just like getting money to put in their piggy banks : )

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WendyP January 18, 2012 at 6:08 pm

My son is too young for an allowance (he’s only 14 months), but I plan to do something when he’s’ in kindergarten like my mother did for me: I earned three dollars for duties as-assigned each week, and if I didn’t meet expectations, my mom would withhold for the week. It kinda kept me on my toes not knowing what she may want me to do, but it also helped with “chore fatigue” – requests were always different. (She also got help with the things she needed help with most).

She’d have me put one dollar in the “gifts” envelope so I could buy presents for people at the holidays, one dollar in the “vacation” envelope so I’d have spending money where ever we went that year, and the last dollar went to spending money that I could use whenever. Watching my money add up in the gifts and vacation envelopes made me realize that I needed to take on the same practice voluntarily with my spending money envelope.  A big cool thing was way better than a bunch of small throwaway things.

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Laura Vanderkam January 20, 2012 at 10:24 pm

I did some research into this topic and found that tying allowances to chores — or not giving an allowance at all and making kids ask you for money — are the best bets. Giving an allowance not tied to chores is associated with less financial savvy later on. No idea on the right number though. I’d like to get my kids doing more chores, but they’re too little to go anywhere without a paying adult and, like yours, the toy needs have been met by Christmas into the next millennium.

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Vicky Mason March 13, 2012 at 5:01 pm

We have a chore chart for our 3 and 6 yr. old.  They each have to set the table at dinner, pick up toys daily, feed the dog, dress and put their clothes away as well as brush teeth and wash their face. All without being told to do so.  If they complete a week they get treat- something really small.  A whole month of good behavior is a trip to the $ store.  The 6 yr old does get an allowance, something we started for doing the same things as on the chore chart about a yr ago. It is a $1.50 and now she has to help with the dishes and laundry too.

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Caprice July 13, 2012 at 9:12 pm

I think $8.00 a Week for my son is fair

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