Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Nitty-Gritty of giving allowances...

After reading my entry about the value of giving allowances and doing chores, I got an email from my cousin that said:

"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, if she had questions, others will to, so I thought I would address this question today and tomorrow. Here is what I wrote back:

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 and we can talk about chores tomorrow.

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 his extra money on Packer's hats], new baseball/basketball, bell for bike, 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 the 9 year old, then you would scale down for the 6 year old, perhaps $4.00 per week [maybe less expensive presents, less spending, no dues, whatever].

Every birthday the amount is raised, but with more privileges there comes 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 spending money in a spending bank, and so forth. This helps them budget and limit their spending.

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: The Nitty-Gritty of chores.

Take care,

Kari 8th birthday-growing responsibilities

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