My Two Cents | A Child’s Allowance

Can anyone else relate to this little comic- or is it just me?! With out littlest Leman out of the house, Mrs. Uppington and I are having to call our 2nd oldest daughter that lives in town to help us fix our computers or turn on the TV. She now answers the phone, “Hello Tech Support.”

Anyways, Allowances.

Any of these sound familiar?

“I give Matt, our 14-year old, an allowance every week. But he’s always coming back to me the day after he receives the money asking for more money for something he’s just got to have it’s driving me crazy”

“We give all three of our kids- who are 12, 14, and 16 the same amount of allowances every week. But our 16-year old is constantly asking to borrow money for our 12-yera old… and getting it! Should we give more to the 16 year old because he’s older? Or be fair and keep the amount consistent?”

or

“Our 2 children, ages 11 and 13 are vastly different in personality. Jen, the oldest, is a hard worker. Always doing extra chores. Mark, our youngest, has to be prodded away from his Wii serval times in order to get his own chores done. I was raised in a home where everything was ‘even Steven’. But it always drove me crazy when I would do all the work and my little brother and I got the same amount of allowance. I don’t want to make Mark feel inferior by giving him less money, what should I do?”

Here’s my 2 cents on allowances:

Giving allowances is one of those areas that influence many other areas. Money a child has at his fingertips, how he has received that money, and how he views that money affect not only what he’s able to buy or save but how he feels about himself. In my view, an allowance is part of a family’s recreational budget. It’s one of the perks of being a family member. This is very different view than most of us grew up with. Remember, the chore list on the refrigerator? We all groaned about it, but we did it (unless we could get our little sister to do it for us!) because it was the only way to get paid.

Clean your room: 50 cents
Set the table: 10 cents
Take out the garbage: 20 cents

Doing those chores directly related to how much money we received in our allowance each week. But here’s what I am suggesting: every family member should automatically receive an allowance from the family’s recreational budget. Some family members, due to age and abilities, will have more work to do than others. For example, you wouldn’t expect a 6-year old to do the same kind of work that you would expect from a 14 year-old. But by the same token, the older child also has some perks that younger child doesn’t have- like a later bedtime and freedom to go out with friends.

I suggest that you start a child with an allowance around the age of 5. Give the child, say 5 quarters ($1.25 per week). Age 5 is also a good age at which to begin teaching the value of money. As a child gets older, increase their allowance with respect to her or his age.

Little Kayla, who is 8, is a saver. She puts every penny she received into her buy-a-horse-someday fund. But last year when she heard about a little girl who lost her home in a flood, she dipped into her allowance and sent that girl’s family a special gift- from her own heart and finances. Encourage your kids to think about how they could help other people with their savings.

Children need to know that when the money is spent, it’s spent. There’s no free lunch in life. If your child ask for more money because he/she used it up, say, “Well, payday isn’t until Saturday. I’m sure you’ll make something work.”

Children also need to know that upholding their end of the bargain as a family member is important. If they don’t there are consequences. Let’s say your son doesn’t mow the lawn like he is supposed to, instead of bickering what if you quietly hired another sibling to cut the lawn? What if the money it cost to hire someone else was taken out of your son’s allowance the following week? Do you think you’d get them message across?

Allowances teach children how to manage money- and they also teach children firsthand about consequences. If your child does not get around to a certain task, don’t cajole her, remind her , or lecture her. Simply hire someone else to do that task and take whatever you had to pay that person from your child’s allowance. No threats-no warnings- only action.

I go into even more detail about allowances in the book Have A New Kid By Friday. How do allowances work in your house? What works, what doesn’t? What will you take from this post? Comments, shares and tweets are welcomed and appreciated! Have a great week!

Comments

  1. I think each family’s and child’s situation is unique, Kevin. With my daughter, we’ve done it both ways–allowance tied to work and allowance just because. It’s been a somewhat difficult endeavor either way. The bottom line is that my 13-year-old daughter is in the midst of an allergy to work that began when she was very young. Right now, we have her allowance tied to the amount of work she does on a chores chart in order to try to teach her that–as an adult–income is tied to work. She’s stubborn, though, as she hasn’t done anything on the chores chart in over six months. Hence, she hasn’t had an allowance in six months. She seems to be one of those that is bent on learning about life the hard way…

    • God bless you, Randall, I feel your frustration, and know it’s not too late for your 13-year old. I know how hard it is to enforce rules and stick to your guns and endure the whining/complaining/angry outbursts. But we’re only hurting our kids if we don’t discipline them… and please remember that GIRLS NEED MUCH PRAISE FROM THEIR FATHERS or they’ll go searching for love in the wrong places (possibly the rest of their lives).

      With a loving heart, we need to SAY what we mean… and then DO what we say we’ll do. Kids will rise to our expectations if they’re given the right discipline, opportunities, encouragement, praise and love. It isn’t easy… and we sure can’t do it on our own … but “We can do ALL THINGS through CHRIST who strengthens us!”

      I highly recommend all of kevin leman’s books/DVDs and also Dr Dobson’s THE STRONG-WILLED CHILD.

      If I were in your shoes…. I’d box up ALL of her cell phone/android, games, TV, computer, stereo, CDs, DVDs, ipod, ipad, kindle, books, etc, and hide them while she was gone… take them to your neighbors, or your workplace or a friend or relative…. or lock them in your car trunk and keep the keys with you at all times.
      Then write up a contract explaining that a family is a team and ALL members of the team are REQUIRED to do their FAIR SHARE of WORK around the house… or they lose their PRIVILEGES. Be sure to list her specific DAILY chores that must be completed by her ? “’9 pm bedtime”. The only day of rest should be Sunday.

      When she gets home, tell her that you’re calling a Family Meeting .. be sure to tell her you love her (often) and want to help her become the best person in life that she can be ….. and admit that you’ve made some mistakes by being too easy on her in the past, but you’re now determined to correct that because you care for her too much to let her become a user/taker/slacker adult.

      Explain that since she’s CHOSEN to refuse to help around the house for 6 months, TODAY, her Parents… The Authorities GOD placed over her and the home… have changed the Home Rules.

      Then tell her and show her in the contract that since you parents own your home and have AUTHORITY over everything IN IT, (whether items were gifts or not) …. you now chose to remove her ‘privileges’ from your home and the only way she’ll get any of them back is if she completes your list of DAILY CHORES for a whole week…
      … and then return 1 item a WEEK, not all at once or she’ll slip into her same old ways.
      … and INFORM HER that if she slacks off even 1 day, you’ll take away 1 of her items again for a whole MONTH … and so on.
      … If she refuses, take her makeup/fingerpolish, curling/flat iron and blow dryer as well…

      Track the events/progress in a notebook if necessary and Keep Stressing that it’s HER CHOICE…. she can either help and receive her privileged items back …. or … she can come home from school and sit in her quiet bedroom or kitchen or family room…. while you parents wear headphones if necessary to block out her whining.

      The Bible says if you don’t work, you … don’t eat… and in today’s world, we can now add
      … don’t eat (especially snacks/soda pops/etc) if you don’t help with the dishes
      … don’t have clean clothes to wear unless you help with laundry
      …don’t watch TV unless you vacuum the floors weekly
      …don’t listen to music/ipod/etc unless you take out the trash daily
      …don’t use a phone/cell phone unless you clean up your bedroom every Saturday
      …don’t use curling/flat iron or makeup/fingerpolish if you don’t clean the bathrooms 1x week
      ….etc

      But Randall, if there’s any psychological issues, please seek Christian family counselling.

  2. Heather Green says:

    I agree that we have problems with the concept of ages vs. allowance amount. How would you go about a change? I can foresee a problem if all of a sudden the 15 year old gets more money than the 10, 9, and 8 year olds, since in the past they have gotten equal amounts. Also, what purchases do you require the kids to make with their own money?

    • Can you just explain to them that when the 10 year old gets that age, she will also get more? Also explain that it also means more responsibility in the home. That’s what we do here and it works fine.

  3. My husband decided to never pay the kids for household help. They live here and must contribute to the working of their place. This has worked well for us. When too young to get a real job, we would decide with each one whether their purchase was a good one or not. Sometimes, depending on the child’s age and stage, we would let the child make the decision in the end, even if we thought the purchase was not the best (as long as the purchase was not harmful to their spiritual well being). And we would be the $ provider in such situations. When they received Birthday $, we still would be a part of their purchasing decisions, and not reluctantly. They liked getting our advice because over time they could see our wisdom in suggestions…And, we would allow them to purchase items they really wanted, sometimes proving satisfying, sometimes not… As they became older and they had more freedom, we were less and less a part of their decisions, but they really needed less help. My oldest is almost 21, the youngest 14 (I have 4). One of the BEST things to do with your children at a young age is to help them learn to pray about every purchase. A quick prayer in a store, out loud with your kid is a good thing. “Dear God, please help Jo know what to buy, if anything.” Seeing the results is an awesome and wonderfully satisfying thing!

  4. Kevin, we have four kids at home, 5 (in a couple weeks), 10, 7 and 11. We have been discussing this very topic A LOT lately! Esp. since witnessing the youngest stealing from the older three because he `doesn`t have any monies`. We have decided to focus more on teaching money handling skills, and focus less on the work for pay concept. My husband works seasonally, so, we live 5-6 months of the year on half the income, and spend the other 6-7 months preparing for layoff. We have decided that a dollar per year of age will be reasonable, however as we live by a strict budget, and have half as much during winter months, they too will have half as much. We will guide them in tithing, saving, and planned spending. They will also have some responsibility to pay for certain things, such as, if you wear out your shoes by being silly and using them as brakes (rather than the ones installed onyour bike), you will be responsible to pay for the next pair. That said, we have also considered a list of extra chores that can be done to earn pay, things over and above their responsibility to the family; such as, they can pull weeds for a couple bucks an hour, or they can clean the bathrooms (something that is normally mom`s job) and so on. Pray for us, as today will be the beginning of our journey (and their first payday!)!

  5. My parents have always tied allowance amount to the amount of work that I did. The reason they did so was that my mother felt it important that I didn’t learn that I would get money for doing nothing. She didn’t want me to grow up someday, go to work for a paycheck, and sit around all day. Rather, she wanted me to invest time in the work I did in order to receive money. I’m personally glad my parents did it this way. They made sure to teach me the value of money. When I wanted something for the store, they insisted that if it was not near my birthday or Christmas, I would have to save money to purchase it. Now, as a college student, I find it natural to save money rather than spend it and use it to invest in the lives of others. I’m really glad my parents taught me about money when I was very young.

    On the other hand, I was also an only child, so the difficulty of giving some children more money than others was not a problem. Now, I will occasionally work for my mothers business and am paid hourly rather than “by the chore” as I was when I was very little.

  6. I followed your advice and am happy I did! My son started out with allowance at five years old. I had trouble being consistent because I never had cash, so I set up a bank account for him with an automatic weekly transfer from my account to his. He learned to use the bank for his money. Watching his money grow was fun. He also learned he needed to think ahead if he wanted to use his money to buy something. No spontaneous purchases at Target or Walmart. At that time he had an ATM card but not a debit card. We could go to the ATM to withdraw money for a purchase, but he refused to pay the fee so we would have to wait to get money when the bank was open. Most of the time he decided he didn’t really need that game or toy after all. It was a great lesson in delayed gratification. Friends and family thought I was crazy because they felt I was giving him something for nothing and that he would learn he didn’t have to work to get paid. He also had chores that had to be done but they were not associated with money. It was understood that as a member of the family you have responsibility to help out. You don’t get PAID to do chores. Really! I don’t get paid to do chores so he didn’t either. In the end, this was a great experiment on my part and it worked. Today, my son is 20-years old with a college scholarship that doesn’t cover the cost of books or other expenses. The scholarship also does not allow for tuition increases. To date, I have not paid a penny for him to attend college. He has a job and earns money, he still helps out around the house, and he has a sizable savings account – more that me! He knows how to save for college, vacations, and his vehicle expenses, and he’s pretty miserly too. I am happy to report that my experiment and your advice worked beautifully. Thank you!

  7. Heidi Hagen says:

    I believe I couldnt have done it more wrong! My exhusband and the father of our two daughters (now 15,17) promised them nice cars when they were 16. Even bought corvettes with intent to give them to them. How has that worked, you say? He is out of a job,the cars were sold, he is living in another state, hasnt seen the girls in 2 years and hasnt sent chld support in the last year!
    I bought my eldest a used Honda, I make her pay her own gas. She has a job but is super busy with her school and preparing for college. My 15 year old busy with sports and school. Both get good grades. I give them spending money when they need it but both are very aware of our reduced finaces. They pitch in when needed but nothing set.
    So I havent followed any rules especially, but we go with the flow and somehow it has worked. I didnt do the financial classes or read Dr Lemans books til it was too late!

  8. We don’t just make our kids pay for recreational things we give them the money in the form of an allowance for everything and they have to budget it. So it’s not just they don’t miss a movie they may not get lunch, or not have new ballet shoes when they get snug, Every year they get more money but they also get a longer list of things they must use that money for.

  9. Our kids must use part of their pocket money to pay for things they have been recles with or broken on purpose. Eg. At the start of the school year and at the start of every term they get all they will need of pencils erasers and so on. If before the end of the school term they pull their eraser to tiny pieces just because, then they use some of their pocket money to buy a replacement from me at cost ( i buy cheap in bulk)

  10. In our family, each chore has an amount of “C(our last name) Cash” earned for completion. The chore chart is grouped by room and has an estimated time column and a chore completed column where they initial that they completed it. Each of the 4 kids (ages 7-17) has a certain amount of required chores. The 7 yr old has to do 3, the 10 year old does 5, and the older two split what’s left. Starting with the youngest, they take turns choosing thier jobs so everyone gets a fair chance to pick and no one gets stuck with all the worst jobs. After the required chores are done, the younger kids can choose to do additional chores to earn additional “C-Cash”. Each week we tally up how much each child has earned and they receive the cash. That cash can be traded for real cash (with an exchange rate that starts at 7 C-Cash = $1 and the more you save, the better exchange rate you get on it), little school supplies or toys, special individual activities with their choice of family member, shopping sprees and passes to get out of chores for a week. It’s been great to see them save and consider their purchases. Only one of the kids refuses to do chores most of the time and doesn’t care if she doesn’t earn the money from it. She’s always been more strong-willed. I think becoming an adult and having to deal with the reality of earning her way in life is going to come as a bit of a harsh surprise for her.

  11. I don’t feel children should be paid to clean up after themselves (keep their possessions in their rooms & their rooms REASONABLY tidy, etc.) However, Allowances (50c per year of age) were to be paid weekly after their TWO extra chores were completed. My husband grew up with his mother cleaning up after 5 kids & a husband. Unfortunately our two 16 year olds have chosen his example, & they have not received allowance since 2005. Neither have they learned any work ethic at all – their rooms are usually 2′ deep! One MAY graduate from Grade 12 next year but the other is currently attempting to quit school (with Grade 9 & NO Drivers License) & leave home at 16 because he is “so STRESSED!” :-(

  12. I agree each child & each families circumstances are different so no one thing works for every family. Our view on alliance has changed over the years as our family has grown & our financial circumstances changed. When I was a full time mum & money limited everyone helped out around the house with no allowance for the benefit of the whole family. On special occasions such as show day the kids would be given a budget & then it was up to them how & what they spent it on. Now the older kids out of the home( I have 4 aged 7-17) & still do chores for no pay, but benefit from family holidays & outings. It’s all about teaching them to balance school, work, sport, social & family life as well. After all that’s what real life is about! They are all doing well at school & generally do extra jobs around the house when asked!

  13. Typo – older kids work part time out of the house.

  14. This helps greatly. I have a son who is seven and my husband and I have been wondering what to do about allowances. He is wanting to save for a particular toy that is rather expensive and now I have a way to allow him to earn that money and that toy. Thank you so much!!

  15. Maree L Meehan says:

    Just finished new you by Friday. Practical and simple ways to change myself. This book was a great read. I hope to continue on the journey of change. The format was and is practical. Thank you for the help. The book helped me to see where change is needed thanks again. Sincerely, Maree L Meehan

  16. My first reaction is…you say allowances should come out of the family’s recreation budget (not tied to chores), but then you say if a child doesn’t do his chore, hire someone else and take it out of his allowance (ties it to chores)…that seems contradictory to me. I say if a child doesn’t do his chores, he should pay the consequences, but it shouldn’t be tied to his allowance. Loss of privileges is usually effective.
    When my three girls were growing up, they had their chores and they were disciplined in some way if they didn’t do them. Their allowance, on the other hand, was given with no strings attached…it gave them spending money so they weren’t always coming to me asking for money. The amount of allowance was based on their age…the 8 yr old got $8, the $11 yr old got $11, and the 13 yr old got $13. They looked forward to their birthday because they knew they would get a raise in their allowance. They also learned to save for special things and learned to tithe 10% to the church.