Allowance for Kids

We have started up allowances again.  And this time we are not tying it to chores.  The boys simply get an allowance each week.

I know a lot of folks probably think that’s crazy.  They think kids should be doing something to earn those dollars.  They feel that an unconditional allowance doesn’t reward for a ‘job well done’.  That they are getting something for nothing.  I can see that point too.

But, I did find many others who are also not tying money to chores.  Instead, the belief is that chores are simply expected regardless, as being a part of the family. You do chores whether you get an allowance or not.

That is the way we decided to go.  You eat off the dishes, so you help clean them.  You wear clothes and sleep on sheets and use towels, so you help wash them and put them away.  You drag out toys and books, so you help clean them up.

Allowance for chores wasn’t working in our house.  If the boys weren’t saving for something, they’d say they didn’t care about the money, and just refuse to do the chores.  When I then heard myself explaining that they would have to do them anyway, well, then it just seemed pointless to tie anything to chores in the first place if they were just going to be expected to do them anyway.

Plus, they would say they didn’t want the money, then would pitch a fit at the store because they didn’t have any money to buy something they wanted.  Ugh.

I did a lot of research on it as I was trying to decide what to do.  I found in this article, that about one-third of parents exchange allowance for household chores, though many experts recommend keeping the two separate. “Kids have chores to do because they’re part of the family,” says Sears. If chores are tied to an allowance, your child could expect to get paid any time he takes out the trash or carries a dish to the sink.

That last statement is particularly true in our house and it was definitely one of the reasons we decided to no longer tie an allowance to chores.  Big D is trying to save enough money to buy a Nintendo Switch + games, which I refuse to purchase.  So, every time he did something for me, he would ask if he could get paid for it.  Uh…no.  Then, the little brother would follow suit.  That got really old, and annoying, really fast.

Why Give An Allowance At All?

I had an allowance growing up. I used my allowance for things like going roller skating or buying records.  I feel it’s important for kids to have their own money and for them to learn what it feels like to both buy something on their own and to save up for something they really want.

We decided that allowance is to be treated like what is sometimes referred to as “pocket money”.  Money to have and use when you want something (even something small like a pack of gum) and it’s nowhere near your birthday or Christmas.  Are you wanting to buy an expensive something?  Well, better not spend all your pocket money on crap then.  Better save some of it and maybe even ask for extra chores that come with a paycheck.

We pay $25 to mow the lawn for example.  It’s a big job and one that I usually do.  But, I’m willing to pay a kid for it and it does help in teaching that extra work can pay off.  Big D has been mowing for the past few weeks.  He didn’t want to this past weekend so I mowed instead.  He lost out on $25 that would have been pretty handy for that Nintendo Switch he’s saving up for.  Oh well….

We decided that our allowance system will be used more as a way to teach personal finance.  Each child receives half their age in allowance each week.  Big D receives $5.50 (he’s 11) and Boo receives $4 (he’s 8).  They get a raise of fifty cents on their birthday.  They don’t have set chores, except maybe for emptying the dishwasher each day, but instead have to do whatever is asked of them around the house (clean up specific rooms, put clothes away, help put groceries away, etc).

Their allowance is a privilege that can be taken away or deducted from, just like screen time.  They each got $1 deducted last week because I had to ask them about 800 times to turn off their devices one afternoon.

One of the most valuable things that my parents did for me was to teach me about money.  My Mother was an accountant.  I had a savings account pretty young (with a pass book!) and when I started working in high school, I opened a checking account.  My Mom taught me early how to balance a checkbook and she always had me do my own taxes, starting with my very first job in high school.  The way she taught me to budget in college was totally brilliant, but that’s a different post.

Our boys will now have to start paying for little things that they want also, like gum when we are in the checkout line.  They already have to pay for any toys or gadgets they want outside of birthdays/Christmas, small souvenirs when we go on vacation, and any candy or treats they want from the little store down the street.

I see no point in making them pay for clothing or shoes.  I never had to and we don’t spend much on those items as it is.  Plus, they’d probably walk around in rags if I made them spend their money on that anyway.  There are no fashion slaves in our household.  If they want something designer, outside of what I plan to spend, or something unnecessary, that’s a different story.

I have a feeling that once Big D has saved up for that Nintendo Switch he wants, he is going to abandon caring about an allowance.  He will have achieved his goal and his new goal will be to play with it.  The value of earning money will decline and the value of screen time will skyrocket.  Until the next desire comes along.  Teaching about longer term savings will come later on.

But, he will still have to do chores, regardless.