Making Allowances

21375885 I’m almost nine years into this motherhood journey, and I have avoided the subject of paying allowances as long as possible.  A) Because it sounds like a lot of work, and B) because I’m tighter than the bark on a tree.  But the time has come, whether I’m ready or not.

Here is where I throw myself on your mercy.  You’re a smart bunch, and I am sure that many of you have systems in place that we could all learn from.  Please, would you consider sharing how your family has navigated the subject of allowances?  You can leave your ideas in my comment section, or write about it on your own blog (if you do, let me know, so I can come read about it!).  Some specific things Hubs and I are wrestling with:

    • In your home, are chores tied to allowances, or are they two unrelated entities?
    • How do you keep up with the kids’ chores?  Finely detailed charts seem a little overwhelming to me–how have you managed this? 
    • What’s a good age to begin paying kids allowances?
    • What is a reasonable amount of money for the various age groups?
    • Do you pay weekly or daily?
    • Any other thoughts…please share them!

Please, throw in your two cents’ worth (pun totally intended)!

As long as I’m shamelessly milking you for clever ideas, are you thinking about your post for Works-For-Me Wednesday?  Remember, if you participate, please come back here and let me know, so I can link to you!

38 thoughts on “Making Allowances

  1. Diane says:

    What a great topic! I think allowance is a great way to teach our children about budgeting! Whether or not it is tied to chores is an individual decision. We gave our children allowances from the time they were old enough to need money in the marketplace. We treated it as a business…in that, if they did a few chores (most chores we consider to be “part of our household”) type things) and when they consistently did a great job–we gave them a raise. If they were self-motivated, if they went above and beyond the call of duty…things like that would qualify a raise.
    Secondly–once they became teen-agers….we bumped up their allowance and they became responsible for their entertainment. We also had other opportunities for them to earn more money if they needed something special.
    It’s tough to outline this in an organized method…as it really is a family matter. However, I do believe if children have the opportunity to earn money, save money, and spend money–while in the safety net of their home–they won’t have such a tough transition once they leave the fold!
    Plus, it was such a delight to see the joy on their face when we went shopping to buy their Daddy a birthday gift…and they had their own money! It also taught them the value of a dollar when they bought their own new toy.
    It wasn’t a perfect arrangement–and yes, I (and their Dad) fudged from time to time. But it certainly allowed them the opportunity to handle money before they went away to college or out on their own.
    Good luck with your research! I’ll be stopping by to learn more myself–still have a 14 year old at home. BTW: he gets $14.00 a week–and this summer will be paid for mowing the lawn. Yes, we chose to give our children a weekly allowance equalling their age. Nothing creative about that…just keeping it simple!

  2. Tami says:

    Here’s what works for my family. I do not believe that children need alot of money, just enough to work with to teach them wise spending. I have four children and we give them $1 per month for each year they are alive. i.e. my 10 year old gets $10 per month. I now have a 16 year old and yes, we still only give her $16 per month, she finds ways to earn other monies that she might need. We are also open to assisting on special occassions or youth group activities. We do not start giving allowance until they learn to count and some basic math, so my 5 year just recently started receiving hers. She spends it all right away, but she is starting to the consequences of not waiting for something really special, or a much better deal when we yard sale. It works and the kids can’t fight about who gets more or less, they don’t even question it.

  3. jeana says:

    Good, many of the things I would have said have already been said.
    We start when they are 4 with 50 cents a week, and raise it by 50 cents each year. They tithe 10% and put 10% each in long term savings (never touch it) and short term savings (at their own discernment–I make them put it aside for a while, then the first time they see something a little more expensive than a pack of gum and I point out that they have enough in their savings to get it, then they are pleasantly surprised and get the message to not spend it all)
    Their “job” is to do their regular chores, which may change if I see fit, and to do anything extra I ask them to. I see it as a salary basis; I think when you tie it to specific chores they get all “That’s not my job” on you. Their allowance is enough that they learn to save up for things and manage money, but small enough that they will at some point ask for extra chores to earn more and then they get the connection between work and money.
    I don’t withhold allowance for not doing chores, although I have fined them. I think it’s more painful to have to go get the quarter out of their bank and give it to me than it is to say “You don’t get it a week from now.” and then they still have to go back and do the chore.
    Some people say this is not like real life, but in real life you can’t just decide not to do certain work and have your pay docked–you would get fired.
    We have chore charts on the wall, but they’re not complex. Just a list of chores–or pictures if they can’t read yet–so I can direct them to it instead of asking “Have you done _______ yet?” every day. We don’t do stickers or anything.
    They have definitley learned about wasting money on cheap toys and when they are asking in the store, “Why can’t you just buy me this?” and I say “Why don’t you buy it yourself?” (I don’t have enough money or It’s not worth that much, usually) then I say, “Yeah, same for me.” I don’t think they would have “gotten” that before they had some of their own money. They can really relate to our money struggles when they have a few of their own.
    Sorry so long, but you probably expected that on this topic!

  4. Laura says:

    In our house we have tried it both ways over the past 20 years of parenting. What works under my personal Big Top is that everyone has chores because this is our home, we are a large family (5 kids) and it takes all of us contributing to make our household work well. The kids receive money and but not for the work they do. They receive money when they need it for events, clothes, fun stuff or for extras. They are encouraged to save money for the things that are not essentials…like that 4th pair of Chuck Taylors because we “have” to have every color they make. We also encourage them to set aside a portion for themselves to save and an equal portion ofr God.
    This may not workfor other households, but it works for our little circus act.

  5. Laura says:

    I forgot to add that when they reach high school age, the age of nickel and diming mom and dad to death, we give them a monthly stipend. This stipend covers the needs of our teens: the extras for school like supplies, foods other than lunch and it is to cover entertainment or extra clothes and such. Again they are expected to tithe and tithe for themselves and the rest they must budget. if they run out of $ before the month is up then they can must do without. It can be painful for all involved given the drama of teenageers but they quickly learn to make and stick to a budget and to save for a rainy day.

  6. Diane Mc says:

    I am a lurker. I regularly read, but don’t usually have anything of import to say. Not so today. Do you really have to give an allowance? We never did. We never had the extra money. When my eldest was 13, all the kids got a paper route (ages 13, 11, 8, and 5) together to buy a new VCR. Ours was broken and we couldn’t afford another one. They pooled all their money and bought it (that was 9 years ago, BTW and we still have it). They so enjoyed the feeling, that over the years, they occasionally pooled resources again and bought, for example, our family sofa. The joy they got from actually earning and deciding how to spend money (they got the most joy out of spending money on gifts, but also started buying clothes, CDs and other things along with supporting missionaries and other tithing) was not to be replaced by our giving it to them. In fact, my eldest commented recently, that while my youngest still earns his own money for sports, gifts, etc. we provide more for him (I now work outside my home) that when she was younger. She thinks we are cheating him out of a great experience. I think that they have always worked since then, although my eldest is now heading for the mission field to teach children in Iraq. (Pray for me!!) The oldest has not had any help with college, except living at home the first 3 years. The second is in college and on his own already (still comes home for dinner once a week), and #3 has plans for college next year- paid with academic scholarships. It is certainly an option worth considering.

  7. Susannes says:

    My kids started to get allowance around 7 or 8 years old. Right now they each get $5/week paid each week. (They are 11, 14 & 16 years old). With it comes the understanding that their room is to be cleaned each weekend by Sunday night 7 p.m. for them to get their allowance. The sooner they’ve cleaned the sooner they can have their cash. *Important we found was to define clean specifically. Their definition is so different than mine.* And the only other chore that’s tied to it is the older ones trade off dishes each day & youngest sets the table each day.
    I ask them to do other “everyday” kinds of chores around the house at different times but these we never tied to money ’cause we wanted them to know it takes all of us pitching in to make the household run each day, especially since I also work full time.
    If they want to earn extra monies for something they are saving for we’d pay extra for doing not so everyday things like vacuuming the cars, or cleaning the storage room, cleaning cupboards, etc. We found this taught them that some things you want take extra savings and extra work. And it made them think how badly they really wanted that item.
    Our oldest kids also got a paper route when in grade 7, which was their choice.
    All in all, you have to find what works in each family.

  8. Janice says:

    I know I need to get organized and do this. It is so hard for me – cause I always get off schedule on things!! I ust forget what I am doing.
    But now that my son is four – I think I need to start. I had been using quarters as rewards, but hadn’t started a formal allowance yet.

  9. Kelly says:

    My husband and I decided that initially allowance would not be tied to specific chores for chores were to be done for the good of the family/community/etc. We started allowance for each of our children at different ages. I personally think that if they’re not getting penny, nickel, dime, quarter, dollar yet, then they won’t get the whole money thing. So we started each of them when they reached that point.
    With this in mind, each of the children receive a set amount and they put 20% in taxes (this money goes to any charity that they wish to donate son really likes shopping for the angel tree at Christmas), 20% in savings (for the inevitible broken window at the neighbors house from baseballs, etc.), and 60% in free spending. After they get used to this process we added Bonuses. Bonuses are attached to special tasks that we ask them to do…i.e. chores that are not on their regular chore list. We do not nag about these chores, they are simply assigned, and if accepted and completed by the child, they get their “bonus” at our family meeting. “Bonus” money is completely optional.
    Hope this helps!
    BTW…”Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees” by Neale S. Godfrey is a pretty good book on the subject. I didn’t follow everything he said exactly, but I have tried some of his techniques.

  10. Melissa says:

    We don’t have regular allowances at our home. Everyone works together to meet family daily goals. We want to teach our children how to joyfully serve without any thought of what they will receive for it. As parents, we have the priveledge of meeting their financial needs and they know they can always depend on us to do so. We also enjoy meeting some of their wants. They also know that they can always earn money through odd jobs around the house for most anything they want above and beyond that. We always have something the can do for pay – like help clean the garage, pick up sticks in the yard, shovel snow on the driveway. All they have to do is ask. Along with learning to serve, my husband wants to teach them that you get “stuff” through work. We do require them to tithe from their earnings. We use this method because we like the lessons about work and money it teaches.
    BTW, I love the works for me Wednesdays.

  11. From tammy says:

    i dont have kids, but my sister has 7!
    Her kids get a “fake allowance” or Bergmans Bucks (their last name)
    The kids get a # of these computer printed dollars each week for doing chores, additioanl jobs, etc…
    They can SPEND their money for real cash 1 time each month for .50 cents on the dollar
    use their bucks for…
    a certain amount of TV time, computer time, buy a soda or snack not usually permitted in the house, earn priviledges (staying up 15 minutes later)and etc.
    They can save up to go on outings with mom, or dad, or have a friend over.
    They can also get bucks taken away.
    this is really good because you are not always worrying about giving out real cash to different aged kids every week, but they are still learning about managing money.

  12. HolyMama! says:

    hi shannon!
    i have zilch to say on allowance, and yet i have lots to say, so here goes.
    i really adore your blog. i don’t think i’ve declared it publicly before, but i do. i just spent some time catching up here, and ooooh, i like it here!
    joseph = adorable. cheese, wrapping paper tubes, darling.
    i am already thinking Works for me Wednesday. Which should totally tell ya how much i like it and you, because i don’t plan ahead for blogs ever. THis topic is always so challenging though, that planning is necessary. can’t wait to read what everyone else has this week, too!
    my carpet? it IS crunchy.

  13. melissa stover says:

    i’m also glad you asked this question because i’ve been trying to work out a system myself.
    i don’t give an allowance. i tried and kept forgetting.
    i made a list of extra chores like scrub the grout with a toothbrush (50 cents) (i’m also cheap! but they’re young so they don’t realize it yet)…just a list of not so every day things they can do to earn money when they want that special thing that i don’t want to buy and their birthday is months away.
    each job has a price beside it so they can choose what they want to do and earn as much as they want. i list about 20 things on the paper.
    they really enjoy doing these things and often ask, “what can i do on the chart to earn money.”
    it may not be the best way to handle money with kids but for now it’s working for us.

  14. GiBee says:

    There is a Cool “Bank” that I have purchased as a gift for the kids at church… it looks like a store front with a store, a bank, and a church … this way, the child can learn to tithe, save, and still have spending money. I think it teaches the child to split 10% for church, 10% for savings, and the rest for spending.
    It’s very cool!

  15. Molly says:

    We’ve struggled with this topic, too and recently came up with something that works for us.
    I totally agree with those who have said, “We’re a family. Families work together and don’t need to be paid to help out.”
    On the other hand, my son wrote in a school assignment that he’d like to earn some money. I see the value in teaching him to save, tithe and spend.
    I thought about what he could do that would really make a difference in my workload. For me it was our basement (the toy/family room). It’s a sore spot when I go down to do laundry and it’s a disaster. So, his new area of responsibility is that room for $3/wk. He is in charge of making sure it gets straightened each night whether it’s doing it himself, or deligating the person responsible to take care of their mess. He hasn’t mishandled this responsibility and for the most part it’s gone well. There are times we’ve been terribly busy and it hasn’t gotten done, but that’s helped me work on having realistic expectations, too.

  16. JKS says:

    I know your kids aren’t in high school yet, but when I was, I LOVED how my parents handled money with us. As a Freshman, we each opened a checking account. They paid us $60 a week in the mid ’90s. This money had nothing to do with the chores we had to do each week. We had to pay for EVERYTHING we wanted except a winter coat. This included hot lunch tickets, clothes, etc. EVERYTHING. If we ran out, there were no loans. We tithed (that was required) from not only this $60, but from the checks from our jobs as well. We all had jobs in HS. It was so nice because we learned our own method of handling money and we learned the consequences of handling it poorly. We also weren’t stuck begging our parents for money all the time. Money was never an issue of tension in our house. I took great pride in stewarding my resources well!

  17. Michelle- This One's For the Girls says:

    Around here– allowances are totally unrelated to chores. Chores are just a necessary part of family life and everyone is expected to do his/her share. For example, every child has a specific kitchen chore after meals. Abigail is to load the dishwasher, Truett is to wipe down all of the counters and the table, Titus is to sweep the kitchen and dining room floor and Anna is to clear the table. Jane just sits in her high chair and looks cute. 🙂 A lot of our chores are broken down like that.
    We give the older kids $20 and the younger kids $10 on the 1st of every month. They are to tithe on that and then save the rest for GIFTS for their family. (Christmas and birthday.) It’s just a little money to help them learn money management. Our little system pales in comparison to those families who have true family enterprises and the kids all know about wholesale and retail and balancing a checkbook, but it’s a start. At least we’re trying to help them understand the value of a dollar, even if it’s a small effort.
    Looking forward to reading all of the other comments.

  18. Sarah says:

    I have been on the bandwagon/ philosophy that children (and adults) should do chores simply b/c they are a member of the family and that’s what it takes to make it run, but Dave Ramsey pointed out that you’re missing a teaching opportunity. We don’t make allowances for our kids, but they do earn commission for some jobs (some jobs they just have to do). And, yes, they can be fined. Payday is once a week and yes, it’s a pain for me to remember and have the cash on hand to do. But, with that, also, I have to be able to give guidance in money decisions with their very own money (oh, and yes, we tithe and save).
    Obviously, there are a bazillion philosophies and a bazillion things will work for you. I want to be able to walk through money decisions with my kids before they have mortgages and car insurance to deal with.

  19. JKS says:

    My two cents on tying the chores and the allowance comes from a motivation standpoint. Sure, if they are paid for their chores, and given raises for good work, it is a good lesson on how life is when you’re working. BUT, being an employee is not the same as being a family member. God has given children roles and responsibilities within their family. He has also said in Eph. 2:10 and Eph. 6:5-8 that we has prepared works for us and that we should work “as to the Lord.” If our children are working hard for the money, I think their motivation is in the wrong place. I think they need to be focused on working hard to please the Lord (and their parents). This sounds silly because “Yeah right! I can’t get my kid to work hard for anything!” But I feel it is really an issue of the heart. The work given to us is from the Lord and should be done well and with a good attitude regardless of the material gain.

  20. Undercover Angel says:

    1. In our home, chores are tied to allowances with the exception of Tiger. Tiger has behaviour problems at school, so $1 per day is for being good at school, and he gets an additional $5 on allowance day if he’s done all of his chores. He’s very helpful at home so he winds up doing more than his share of chores voluntarily. The other children all get there money based on chores – but they loose money fast if they don’t do their chores.
    2. I used to put a weekly chore list up on the fridge but that wasn’t working out. Now, I make up a new list each day with whatever looks like it needs to be done. It takes me all of 2 minutes to write out which chores I want everyone to do.
    3. I started my children on allowances at 5 years of age.
    4. I don’t know what’s reasonable really. My oldest two children (aged 13 and 11) get $20 every 2 weeks ($10 per week). Tiger who is 8 gets $15 every two weeks ($7.50 per week). Duck who is 6 gets $10 every 2 weeks ($5 per week).
    5. I pay every 2 weeks on payday. It’s easier that way, and that’s how it will probably be when they have a job anyway.
    6. We tried having “Chore Free Day” where I would put names in a hat and draw for a free day for one of the children. That didn’t work out so good as everybody stopped doing their chores. Now, we have Chore Wars. After supper if a chore is not done, I offer it up and whoever wants to do it yells Chore War! The person who does the chore gets paid, the other person who had the chore but didn’t do it loses money. That seems to be working.

  21. meredith says:

    I am not there yet, but thinking about giving allowance, I would do it weekly, but not on a per chore basis. We are not organized enough to have complicated charts, there’s just stuff to do and people to do it. If no one was helping out, the threat of allowance reduction could be possible.

  22. Carol says:

    Lots of comments here already and I haven’t read them all. So, forgive me if I’m repeating something already said.
    We give allowance apart from chores. Allowance is age-based and given because that person is a member of the family. It helps us teach good stewardship and gives the kids some discretionary income to buy the stuff we won’t buy for them. They have to save half of what they get.
    Chores are done because they are a part of the family. Families live together and must work together. We share the house, the food, the etc., so we must also share the workload.
    Sometimes we do bribe…er…hire the kids to do extra-tough things like cleaning out the garage. We’ll pay extra for that, but the same savings rules apply.
    Hope that doesn’t confuse things even more. Let us know how you wind up handling it.

  23. Beth says:

    1st – I want to go live with Molly’s parents…$60 a WEEK!!! Yikes!
    2nd – growing up I didnt have an allowance and the only money I ever got that wasnt earned myself was gas money. We had a quarter horse farm and I worked, HARD. Feeding, cleaning stalls, working horses, giving lessons and the only money I ever earned was 40% of the lessons that I taught. the other 60% of the lesson money went back to my parents because they owned the horses and had to pay to keep them. Money I won in competitions was put into bank accounts and I was given a certain amount to spend each month. But that was money I earned.
    Even though I dont have kids, I dont really believe in getting nothing for free and that chores in the household are because you live there. Special projects to earn money would be great and I love the idea of the “Bergman Bucks”, but not a regular “I can count on this allowance”.
    Good luck!

  24. Sandra says:

    Shannon I’m glad you posted this. I’ve just recently started thinking about the whole allowance issue.
    My children are 7 and 3 years old and until now I didn’t think they were old enough to be doing chores or getting allowances.
    I still think the 3 year old is too young, so I’m waiting on him a little longer before starting.
    With Jasmine, my 7 year old, we sat down with her and asked her which chores she felt comfortable doing and she was actually excited to be part of the household and helping out. Her allowance will be separate from her chores, she will get $14 every two weeks, $7 dollars a week for every year she is old.
    When it comes to the chores, she gets rewards for those. If she gets them all done every day and with no fighting about it etc, then at the end of that week she gets either one of these:
    Pick a movie to rent
    Go to the playground
    Afternoon of games, she gets to pick the ones we play
    Etc….it goes according to what we know she enjoys.
    Hope this helps a bit, there’s so much good info here today, I am just loving it 🙂

  25. Pieces says:

    Great topic! I posted my response on my blog. I blogged what we do before reading the comments here. It was refreshing to see that other people think the same that I do about some of these issues.

  26. veronica says:

    When I was in jr high and high school our allowance was the cost of school lunches for a two week period. If we packed our own lunches at home, we kept the money. If we didn’t, we used it for lunch. It taught us to plan ahead and to budget.

  27. RW says:

    This is the first time I have looked at your blog. I found it on Tateschool’s. I think you are a great writer and I love your entries! My kids are young, 5 and 3. So I am not a seasoned pro at all! But we follow Larry Burkett’s ideas. We started allowance at 4. We look at allowance as more of a tool to teach them about money and management than anything else. We don’t really even tie their money to chores and don’t discipline by taking their allowance away. But the 5 yr old’s chores consist of:
    making bed and helping brother make his, putting all dirty clothes in hamper and all hampers in laundry room, helping to load the dishwasher, set the table, helping to sweep, water outdoor plants and flowers, unload groceries, and lay out clothes and get dressed and help brother do the same. He and little brother are also responsible for keeping the back of the mini van clean and cleaning up their toys. I always hold the right to ask for more help, but usually this is all that we expect. I hope you figure out what is best for your family!

  28. edj says:

    How weird…we are just discussing giving an allowance. We have an almost 11 y/o and 9 y/o twins. But we don’t think it should be tied to chores. I don’t get paid for doing their laundry; Donn doesn’t get paid for picking them up from school. It’s just part of being a family. We don’t do charts either; we have 3 main chores that we rotate each week. They always know whose turn it is to do dishes or sweep the floor, believe me! We do pay for extra jobs–weeding, washing the car, etc. They are theoretically responsible for cleaning their rooms and making their beds, but it usually doesn’t happen. I tried paying them for that but it didn’t really work. I’m too flakey, and so are they! Well this is my 2 cents…I enjoyed reading everyone else’s posts too. Let us know what you decide to do!

  29. Stacey says:

    Looks like I’m a little late since you’ve already had so many comments. My post is up on my blog. Come check it out. I’ve even got pictures : )

  30. Cmommy says:

    It’s on my blog! (but, tomorrow, I’ll be making a cup of tea and sitting down to scroll through this awesome comment list!) Chrissy

  31. Anne Glamore says:

    Chores are not related to allowance for same reason others have stated– part of being a family. The upside is that if something needs doing at any time of day I just ask nearest kid, and I don’t get “Will I get paid?” or “But that’s not my chore” in response. I’ve made a big deal of teaching each kid all of these chores (set/clear table, separate laundry, feed dog, clean rooms, make beds, empty trash, etc)
    I have a stack of index cards with big unpleasant jobs ((clean out van, sweep off deck, etc) that kids as a punishment.
    Allowance is weekly, 1/2 of kids’ age. It is HARD to remember.

  32. chilihead says:

    This is one of the things we are gong to buckle down on this summer. I’ve really enjoyed reading everyone’s view on this.
    Another great topic!

  33. Jammn says:

    I hope I’m not too late but I’d like to add my two cents if I may. I do pay for chores but not in the form of money. I have a 8B, a 6G and a 4B, and am a married “single” mom (my husband works 24/7.)
    Each child has a chart made individually for them consisting of daily musts ie. getting dressed, eating, drinking water, homework, etc. For everything they do they get a check mark or an “X” if they don’t do. At the end of the week the checks are added up and the “X’s” are subtracated from the checks. I go through each chart individually with each one and discuss with them where they did well and where they need to improve. The total checks are paid in colour coded tickets (each has their own ticket colour[you can buy raffle tickets at the $1 store in different colours].) I’ve set up a “store” in my house with things that I’ve bought for them that they would like or have asked me for ie toys, candy/choc, games, restaurant cert., movies, books etc. (I usually pick up really good items in 2nd hand stores.) These items have ticket values and they are allowed to “buy” whatever they want or they can save for bigger items.
    This works great for us b/c they learn the value of their chores when they get their tickets and the value of saving.
    If I may…ask a question of you? Does anyone have chores for their husbands? and what are they?

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