Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Allowances, the Nitty-gritty...

After reading my posts on kids, chores and allowances, I got this email from my cousin:

"Hi Jill,

"Thanks for telling me about your blog. It's great!! I look forward to reading each entry. "I'd like to draw on your 125 years of parenting and ask you a question. "I didn't have an allowance growing up and I didn't have chores. Let me clarify that I wasn't lazy and always helped my Mom and Dad. If money was ever needed for something, they would pay for it. If I ever got money (gifts), I would save it. Till this day I don't like spending money (I don't even like to shop!). My question is, how should I implement chores and allowance with my kids (9, 6, and 3). They do some things around the house, but I feel like they should be doing more. Since I don't have past experience with it, I'm lost. "Thanks for your help Bluegrass Mom!"

I thought others might be interested in this as well, so today and tomorrow I will speak to her questions:

Glad to hear from you. I sure don't want you to think that everyone has to have an allowance and chores to be successful--I mean, you are doing all right :), but I really do think it teaches so many things like responsibility, self worth, management, team work and so much more. So, here goes my suggestions--take what fits, toss what doesn't.

And, I don't like to shop either!

Well, first things first--and there are really two issues here. Allowance and chores. I guess I will start with allowance. For a three year old, maybe none. I think we usually started with allowance at about 4, but you can use your own judgment. Let me give an example for your nine year old. Take a few days to write down everything you pay for for your nine year old now.

Let me offer some suggestions:

  • Gifts: birthday gifts and Christmas gifts for family members. Let's estimate $5.00 for each gift, times number of family members to buy for times 2 [how many gifts each]. So, for a family with 3 kids and 2 parents, this would be $5x4x2=$40 per year. Divide that by how many times you give allowance. In this example, let's say you give allowance every 2 weeks. 40/26=about $1.50.
  • Church offering and dues to any activities: like scouts, etc. Let's say $2.50 every 2 weeks. Perhaps you don't have dues in the summer, if so, figure that in. [An alternative is things like dues could be taken out of a family "dues" can. Mom and Dad could fund with change, so that child can take dues out of it. The can could be for milk/lunch money too, if you do that.Whatever seems to work for your family is fine.
  • Spending money: Figure what you normally hand out--candy bars, little toys when you are at Wal-Mart, garage sale money, soda--think through what you buy for the kids and how much your normally spend for this type of thing. Let's say $1.00 every two weeks.
  • Money to save: Do your kids save up for bigger things like a team hat [Scotty used to spend almost all extra money on Packer's hats], new baseball, craft items, etc.? If so, add that amount so they actually have some money to save to buy bigger things. Let's say $1.00 each payday.
Anything else you can think of. I can't think of anything else, so let's add it up.

Every two weeks:
$1.50+$2.50+$1.00+$1.00=$6.00 [if you don't have a dues can]. If this sounds about right, then that would be for one child, let's say the 9 year old, then you would scale down for the 6 year old, perhaps $4.00 per week.

Every birthday the amount is raised, more privileges, more responsibility.

The other thing is you don't just hand this money over. You can use the envelope method or the three bank method, or whatever works, but you help your child to distribute the money in the category it is for. So, the gift money goes in a gift envelope to accumulate, the spend money in a spend bank, and so forth. This helps them budget and limit their spending.

[Kari, 8th birthday, growing in responsibility]
I know when Scotty started getting his clothing allowance monthly [he was about ten or eleven] he could not use the money without getting approval-otherwise it would have all gone for hats. We had to set a limit of 2 hats a year with clothes money. So, make adjustments as you see fit.

Tomorrow I will speak to the question of how to figure out and assign chores.

Take care,


  1. I've learned not to count on allowances if you really want to raise a responsible child. Or rather, I mean that allowances should not be given in exchange for chores.

    Why, you may ask? Because the child learns that when they do chores, they get money, and quickly figure out that they shouldn't have to help around the home if they don't get something in return.

    Maintaining the home should be a family effort, and the reward should be the satisfaction of living in a clean, organized home.

    If you want to give your children some spending money, go ahead and give it, but please don't let it be in exchange for jobs that are expected from children regardless of the money.

  2. Good point, Laura and think we actually agree on many points. HOwever I do think all children should learn how to manage money from a young age, but in my previous allowance post I said,

    "Our kids didn't get paid for chores. They had to do their chores. Period. They couldnt' say, "I don't want to wash the dishes, so don't pay me as much." They had to do their chores, and we gave them an allowance because they were part of our family, and family members get an allowance."