Parental question of the day: “Allowance” or “paycheck for chores?”

I remember with much positivity working to earn money from the age of 8 onward. I remember I would receive $1 for mowing the grass and since we lived in the country on acres of land, I learned to drive a John Deere. In hindsight, that was not a lot of money, but I liked the responsibility, learned to drive something with four wheels and saw the fruits of my labor. Because I so fondly remember earning money from chores, babysitting, painting barns – whatever was needed on the farm – as my daughter grows up, I wanted to ensure she experiences the same feeling of accomplishment and having her “own” money.

According to Youth Markets Alert, 62% of children under the age of 18 receive an allowance. Some folks recommend giving allowance in the amount matching the age of the child, but that varies greatly as you might imagine based on family incomes.

Ever since our daughter was at the potty training phase, we have tried to focus on positive reinforcement. We created a chart so that when she completed all of the steps, she was able to go to one of her favorite stores and “shop” for a small item (usually less than $5, but it was very motivational for her). As she got older, we moved to an allowance concept and it did not work well. The reason it did not work is that I did not tie actual activities to the money. Every Friday she would just receive $5 and it was not consistent or accurate.

So, as we started this school year with a 9-year-old, we decided to get more serious and accountable about her chores around the house and payment for those chores. We are three weeks into the school year and now the conversations on weekends are much more specific since she is tracking each day to her goals and the amount. Not all items on the list are traditional chores like making her bed, cleaning her room, helping unload groceries, etc. In fact, one item evolved from a nearly daily nagging argument – brushing teeth without being told several times. Now, if she does that morning and night without us saying a word she is paid. If we have to remind her, she does not get paid. That has helped the tonality in the mornings substantially for everyone–priceless.

How is the allowance topic handled in your family?

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One Response to Parental question of the day: “Allowance” or “paycheck for chores?”

  1. Jim Schwartz says:

    Great article. Children learn to associate that ‘money is not always something that is just given to them’ at an early age. Dave Ramsey said that the money from parents should be a ‘commission’ instead of an ‘allowance’. We do not have the time or energy to track every chore, but our kids know that if ‘no chores done during the week’, then no (or a lesser) commission (allowance) on the weekend. They do get occasional other money as needs arise. Not ‘all money’ for the child has to be ‘earned’. I work for WF.

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