Allowance: What Works for You?

by jessicaturner on January 16, 2013

Elias is four and a half. We’d like to do some sort of chore chart/allowance system for him.

I’m curious – what works for your family? Are there certain products that you love?

How much do you give your kids? I have no idea what the going rate is for allowances these days – especially for little kids.

Can’t wait to read the comments!



{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Shab January 16, 2013 at 5:58 am

We don’t do allowances right now. I am curious to see the results as well. I made a responsibility chart a couple years ago with dry-erase paper so it could be reused. We got lax about it, though. Recently, we started using the Melissa and Doug charts. I pulled the negative and unnecessary tiles from the boys’ charts 6 or so. They don’t need a tile that says “don’t use bad language” or “use your manners”. Our fellow Nashville area blogger Rowena has a great system. She makes a new chart each week with her daughter. she has as many responsibilities for the week as her age. these are things she can do in her own with no supervision. They sign a new contract each week and at the end of the week there is some sort of small treat such as eating dessert first, etc.

I need to be more consistent with it. Right now we try to limit screen time to the weekend but I’m debating allowing screen time the next day if charts are full.

At the beginning, the simple task of checking the box or adding the magnet is itself enough to keep my boys motivated.

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MamaBear January 16, 2013 at 6:50 am

I just wrote about this topic yesterday and how for once I don’t have to nag and we are getting WAY more quality time with our kids – and the house is even CLEAN!!!

http://campgroundcubs.blogspot.com/2013/01/eliminating-chore-of-chore-charts.html

I didn’t touch on how much we pay our kids though so here’s a quick run down:
25 cents a day and they have to do every chore to get paid. I’m sure that seems cheap but it works for us. On payday they get a handful of quarters and then can divide them between their three jars (Spend, Save, Give). I love to see them add extra to their give jar completely on their own! SOOOO much better than me digging in the bottom of my purse for change when the offering plate comes around. It is their hard earned money they are giving to the Lord and they are old enough to understand that now.

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Bekah January 16, 2013 at 7:16 am

Hi Jessica! I’m not a mom, so I’m sure I have no real right to comment, but I wanted to because when I was a kid, I think this was one of the BEST things my mom ever did for me…laid such a great foundation for me as I transitioned to a teen and then adult. Back then she gave me a dollar (so obviously that needs inflated!) but she gave it to me in dimes and then taught me to budget at the age of five. She had me do a craft project to make envelopes for categories; I could decorate them however I wanted. She taught me to tithe 10%, to put some in savings (and then when I had a good stash, we’d take a trip to the bank for deposit), to keep some to spend…to put some back for vacation…and to put some back for Christmas. When I started earning my own money in my teens, I did the same practice, and even as an adult, it’s taught me to divide my earnings, tithe regularly, save throughout the year for Christmas, and have other funds at the ready. I think she did a fantastic job teaching a life skill to a five year old and if I ever had kids of my own, I’d follow suit with that one.

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Heather Ferguson January 16, 2013 at 7:19 am

My kids are 6 and 11, and we’ve been doing weekly allowance and chores for years. I’d been recently feeling like we needed to revamp our system, though, right about the time when I read this blog post by Rita. I love her way of doing it with a monthly jar, and I think her post would give you some starting ideas.

http://www.thecoffeeshopblog.com/2012/12/dismayed-by-our-entitled-society-why.html

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Rosslyn Weigelt January 16, 2013 at 8:04 am

Hi Jessica!
I am so glad you asked this question. We implemented a plan 7 years ago with our daughter and you will not believe that it is still successful to this day (she turned 10 last week!). There is no question in my mind that the Dave Ramsey system works the best of any I have ever considered or used. He has a brilliant plan for adults too (should you be interested). I have to warn you though, success is a wonderful thing and will fuel your enthusiasm like nothing else. I have no dread when taking my daughter shopping, there is not begging for things at the store, there is always solid conversation and she understands completely when I say “that’s not something I would spend money on, but if you would like to purchase it, that is your decision.” Great preparation for real life and making wise choices. I have rambled too long. Clearly there is so much more to say, but most of all I hope you check out what Dave has, you will not be disappointed. He has fun games on his website for kids, the children’s book series is really good, and I think it is a really comprehensive system that provides early essential lessons for success in all areas of life. LOVE IT! If you have any questions, please don’t be afraid to ask me! http://www.daveramsey.com (for general information) and http://www.daveramsey.com/store/cYOUTH-p1.html (specifically kids products/programs in the store).

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lydia January 16, 2013 at 8:14 am

My kids are 7, 5, 4 and 8 months. Obviously the baby isn’t involved in chores yet but for the other kids we have a point system. They earn a certain number of points for each chore and at the end of the week they can trade their points for coins or a treat (like ice cream or a candybar). It has worked well for us. When they choose coins it goes right into their bank until the end of the month when it can come out for a trip to the store. My 5 year old has figured out the longer she saves the better stuff she can get. Its a great way to teach financial responsibility!

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Krista January 16, 2013 at 8:22 am

My oldest is 4 and she has a magnetic chore chart that I scored at Target’s 70% off sale last July. We go through it each night before bed. She gets a magnet for things like feeding the dog, picking up toys, getting ready for school, not whining, staying dry all day… we tend to just use things that she needs to work on for now. At the end of the week, for each “chore” that she did every day and was able to put a magnet on, she gets a piece of candy after lunch the next day. (think M&Ms or skittles.) We haven’t gotten into the money yet and I honestly don’t intend to for now. She has yet to get every item covered for the whole week, but if she does that we will get her a bigger prize…maybe a small toy or a trip out for ice cream.

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jessicaturner January 16, 2013 at 4:33 pm

I scored that same chart!! We were using it for awhile, but stopped. I think we need to hang it in a more prominent place.

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Sheila January 16, 2013 at 8:32 am

We tried a couple of different things – melissa & doug responsibility chart & more recently checks on a chalkboard and then adding them up at the end of the week for getting paid. And then once the jar gets full we divide spend, save, give. The last one worked much better but then we skipped weeks and it kind of fell apart. So I need to get back into it soon (kids = 7,4,18 mos). Right now I have just been asking them to do things & they do it but it would be great not to ask. Esp. the 4 year old with her daily routine (get dressed, make bed, brush teeth, etc… For the most part my kids are good at doing what they are asked. One problem I have it their toys aren’t very well organized so its hard for them to find places to put them away. Most of the toys for this age are bigger (barbie houses, cars, lego stands, etc…) so its hard to just make drawers for everything.
I’ll be stalking this post for more ideas!

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Michelle January 16, 2013 at 8:44 am

So glad you asked this! Looking forward to reading the others ideas. My kids are the same ages as yours and we’ve just started this week using Melissa & Doug’s Responsibility chart with the 4 year old. So far we like because the chores have pictures since she can’t read yet, but can see what she needs to do. Also it included behavior ‘chores’ which we’ve been trying to work on. Since we both work during the day, we focus on the evenings going through the chores. As soon as I put it up, she wanted to ‘check the list’ and see what to do next and earn ‘the sticker’. We plan on sharing with our caregiver what her behavior chores are for the week so she can report back if they have been followed through during the day. Our reward this week will be iPad time, but reading through the comments, I like the idea of special time with mom or dad that they get to pick. I don’t want to start the money thing now, because I want to teach early on that there are things you just don’t get paid for! Plus I think she’d rather have that special time doing something fun rather than just buying another toy. They seem to crave that since we are so busy working during the week.

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Martha January 16, 2013 at 9:16 am

I figured I would chime in. I have no kids but I can tell you what I had growing up. My mother said no one paid her or my dad for cleaning the house. We all take care of the house because we all live in the house and it is ours to take care of. (Note my mother worked full time). I had a list of chores I was expected to do. If I wanted to earn money I had extra chores I could ask for such as dusting. About using it to teach your children financial responsibility and tithing I think it is important. My mother is a banker and my father an accountant. There is no shortage of money talk at our family dinner table. I have had a bank account and saving account for forever and I had a debit card/checkbook at age 14 when I started babysitting. My parents provided me a firm foundation in finance without giving me X amount of money every week.

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Sally January 16, 2013 at 10:17 am

We also decided not to connect chores to allowence, since I believe it’s everyone’s responsibility to help take care of the house because we all live here. We did just start an allowence system that so far is working great. We downloaded an allowence app called iallowence onto our iPhone and iPad. It keeps track and automatically adds money at your designated intervals. You can set up different banks to fit your needs/values. We have a charity, save and spend banks, but you could add more if you want. It can keep trck of multiple kiddos. You can manually add money for extra chores and take out money they use. You have to be able to have the lump sum amount though when they are ready to spend. The best thing is that I don’t have to hunt around for lots of little bills/loose change each week!! The kids can also check their banks whenever they want We currently give our kids $1 per year old they are and divide tha out into the three banks. It has a chore chart too if you want to keep track of chores. Good luck.

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Marina D-K January 16, 2013 at 10:30 am

I haven’t set this up yet but for our almost 5yo Santa brought her the Responsibility System from fisher-kids.com. It helps them understand that there are some things that they do regularly and then there are other chore too. It also incorporates how to save, spend, and give. When we opened it up and were talking about it my daughter seemed excited. Well see how it goes in the next few weeks as the system is implemented.

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Miracle January 16, 2013 at 11:28 am

HI! We have a five year old and a two year old. We just started doing allowance this year and it’s been a wonderful way to help our daughter begin to understand money, the blessing of money AND the responsibility of money when you love God. We used three Mason jars and she decorated them with paint pens and stickers. They are truly a mess and she loves them. Each mason jar is designated for a different purpose. We have Save, Spend and Give. She recieves five dollars a week and is required to put whatever amount she wants in each jar. We chose five dollars carefully because we wanted to give her enough that she could put money in each jar and pretty quickly be able to get something. This way it would last and not fizzle. I feel like if we gave her quarters, then it would take two months to be able to buy a four dollar my little pony and she is just too young to have that resolve. She loves it. And what I love, is that she is young enough that she doesn’t feel yet worried about giving too much away or saving too much because she doesn’t really understand how much things cost. This will come over time and will be good. But for now, she is holding her money pretty lose and is really enjoying giving her money away. She gave and extra birthday surprise to our compassion child recently. The other thing we started to do alongside this is something that we call, “Diversity Dinner.” One friday a month we pick a country and we have a dinner all about that country. We ordered child appropriate books about the country (this is a bit hard and I can provide suggestions) as well as picture books about children who live in that country ( I have a list of books for each country that are great!). We then prepare a meal as a family with food from that country and talk about the kids that live there. For example: we studied The Congo recently and read the book, One Hen, a picture book about micro loans and hen farming. It was awesome. This has been fantastic for our family and has just reaffirmed the theme in our lives of giving to others and talking about how rich and blessed we are.

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Kelli January 16, 2013 at 12:42 pm

I know we don’t give our kids enough! We have 3$ for my 10 year old and 2$ for our 8 year old…we need to raise it but we don’t know when. We sat down with them when they were 7 and 5 and discussed what they could do to earn money. For their regular allowance they have a chore list and then if they want extra there are chores with a price list they can do if they’d like to. My daughter saved about 8 months plus she did extra chores and had some birthday money to buy an American GIrl Doll…it was a great way to teach her savings. Now we are trying to figure out and add the whole importance of tithing aspect…

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Cara January 16, 2013 at 1:08 pm

My daughter is a few weeks younger than Elias, and I was JUST pondering this the other night. Off to read the comments and get some good ideas!:)

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Sharon O January 16, 2013 at 1:35 pm

At age four and a half I think I would do a chore chart with stickers. If the stickers get put on and done correctly with good attitudes and willingness then it would be appropriate to give a dollar either per week and part of that has to go to a church tithe, sunday school or save it for something special and also they can save for a dollar store or another store ‘shopping day’. (toys are always fun) As a grandma of six and a mom who has raised two my hesitation in allowances this early is the scale in which one would have to go up as age decides. A chore chart and a special time out. Or a chore chart and a new book, It is all about incentive.
Living in a home doesn’t always warrant money given. Just my opinion.

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Amy D. January 16, 2013 at 2:41 pm

I have to second the recommendation for Dave Ramsey’s system for kids (and for adults too). It was very easy for our daughter to understand and several years later it’s stuck. You really can do it for any age. And she divides it between give, save, spend.

We set it up so that some chores she does for allowance, and some she has to do because she lives here and is part of the family. We wanted her to understand the ethic of earning, so that’s why we think it’s important that she get paid for some of her chores (or not get paid if she doesn’t do them). But she also has to understand that she has responsibilities in house that just need to get done. So she doesn’t get paid for cleaning her room or her bathroom (among other things), but she has to do it every week. She gets paid for things like scooping cat litter, emptying trash cans, setting the table, etc. She gets paid different amounts depending on the chore but most are .50/week. I have a feeling we’re on the cheap side. Her allowance increases as we add more chores. And as she gets older and takes on more complicated chores her allowance for the chore goes up. Sometimes she even asks to do extra chores if she’s wanting to earn extra money for something.

At your kid’s age, I would start simple and few. And if you decide to do allowance for chores I would start low – especially when money doesn’t yet have a real value to them. That gives you room to raise it. It’s also a great time to start teaching them about giving. Every year for the past five years my daughter has taken her give money and paid for all the items in her shoebox gift for Operation Christmas Child (okay, I put some in too). But she does it joyfully. It’s great.

She’s also learned she can’t have everything she wants if she doesn’t have the money to pay for it. She has saved for long periods of time (like a year or more) to get big items. And she’s learned to budget for spend items so she can treat herself on small things now and while she’s saving for big things. It’s a really great system. I highly, highly recommend it.

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Candy January 16, 2013 at 3:39 pm

I highly recommend Dave Ramsey and his payment for work done not an allowance. However, I have also been reading the book Cleaning House: a moms 12-month experiment to rid her home of youth entitlement by Kay wyma. She puts a jar with an allotted amount at the beginning of the month and takes $1 out everyday the chores are not done. Kids are not allowed to spend the money until the month ends. I haven’t tried this approach yet but the book is fantastic and I’m considering implementing the strategy. I have 2 boys ages 3 and 5.

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Em January 16, 2013 at 8:12 pm

Each child in our family is paid a monthly allowance equivalent to their age (ie. 5 year old gets $5, 8 year old gets $8). It works really well and helps symbolize increasing responsibility as they get older. Each child has different piggy banks that they distribute the money in for tithe, gifts, savings and spending. It works really well for us, and the amounts are usually sufficient for the spending needs of each child. At 13 years old the allowance system changes to incorporate an understanding of banking, income increases and becomes associated with work, and beginning to buy and or contribute to more purchases (eg. Paying part of clothes purchases, buying toiletries when needed, etc). The success of this method has been more than we could have hoped for.

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Nicole January 16, 2013 at 8:33 pm

Check out Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Junior. I love how he uses the term commission instead of allowance. At our house the kids do contributions (we don’t call them chores) because they live here and contribute to helping. But then there are special things they can do to earn money. When they complete that (such as doing dishes) they get paid immediately. It helps them connect the working with earning money. So far this works great. Work…get paid. Don’t work..don’t get paid. Pretty simple stuff!
Nicole

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Roseann January 16, 2013 at 8:55 pm

My boys are 10 and 12 and we have done allowances a few times, stopped either because we were inconsistent or due to not being able to afford it. We haven’t started up again and is something I am very torn over. I agree with and desire to teach my kids good habits with finances and the value of money. They do have the spend,save,share jars and we were good about that. My issue is with doing chores to earn an allowance. I know we work for our paychecks but when it comes to our home I feel differently. We have tried very hard to teach our boys that we are a family and this is everyone’s home. Every one of us needs to do a part to keep up with the house. Daily chores, taking care of the family dog, as well as getting ready or parties, holidays etc.
I due agree with them having money and having to buy their own toys, etc and not expecting us to buy them whatever they want and whenever they want it. We buy the necessities and if they want more or something more expensive than we would spend they need to pay for it.
Still torn on whether or not to start allowances again so looking forward to reading the posts.

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Jamie S January 16, 2013 at 10:45 pm

I have a five year old. We have a chore chart on the fridge. She has to clean her room everyday (put her toys away and make sure her clothes are in the hamper). She sweeps the floors Monday/Wednesday/Friday with the swiffer sweeper vac (living room, kitchen, dining room). She has to clean her desk three times a week (Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday) which includes a putting everything in its place- crayons in the box, pencils/markers in the zip pouch, coloring books an activity books put in the respective cubbies and then wiping down the surface with a Lysol wipe. She gets homework on Friday only so that is included in her chore list as well. It just has to be done before school but we usually try to get it done Friday so we have the weekend for fun. She gets paid $1 per week in her hand to do with as she pleases. We also put an additional $6 to her savings account.

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Nanette R January 17, 2013 at 12:06 pm

I echo the suggestion for Dave Ramsey’s children’s materials. My son is 17 and a graduating senior in high school and we started using Dave’s system of saving, giving and spending with him at age 6. It also had (and I assume still has) a system of charging fines for behavioral issues (parents can choose what those would be) that was the most effective form of discipline we ever used with our son. Evidently money talks to our kid! Along with the now-required personal finance class that he had to take at school, I am confident that my son will be much better equipped to be responsible financially when he leaves the nest and I owe it in huge part to the Dave Ramsey materials.

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amy January 17, 2013 at 10:15 pm

I have kids ages 8, 4 and 2. My friends and I had talked about starting allowances when my oldest was in kindergarten. All of us basically never followed through consistently. My 8 year old now can do certain chores for extra money, like vacuum, rake leaves. I do not feel certain chores should be paid, like cleaning their bedroom, cleaning up toys, cleaning up crafts, putting her clean clothes away, etc. At the beginning of summer 2012 I made her a craft stick chore bucket. Chores written on a craft stick with the amount earned. She could pick a craft stick and earn that money. That was nice.

The 8 and 4 year old help with the table at meal time and clear their plates any time they eat at the table. They both do a good job when asked of cleaning up toys and their rooms.

Back to my 4.5 year old. I don’t know what to do with him. He constantly asks for us to buy him things but they are always spendy. I really don’t want to buy a $50 lego set for him every month and I don’t think he should get $50 of allowance a month to buy something. That is too much money for his age in my opinion. I’ve given in at times and bought him smaller, less expensive toys but he still asks to buy more expensive toys. I’ve thought about making a calendar and putting a star on the occasions that we can buy bigger items, or any item including going out to eat, but it is hard to wait 100 days for the $60 lego set when you are 4 1/2.

I have heard to give allowance per week (or maybe per month) for their age. So he would get $4 and when he turns 5, $5.

In my opinion, at 4 and 5 there is no harm in teaching him/her the value of working, which can be play to them, and still enjoy it with no pay. If you start now you will be paying your child in some form for the next 18 years. No thanks. I will delay that as much as possible! ; ) Also, starting at this age I think there is higher potential for a child who may expect to get paid for any chore when he/she gets older.

that was a lot, and random! It will be fun to hear what you decided.

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Anita January 18, 2013 at 7:04 pm

We do not give an automatic allowance. They do their chores regularly just to be part of the family. We do pay them for special projects that fall outside of the regular chores like clearing out the garage for example. They are eager to take part when these opportunities arise! Then we emphasize saving up, giving and spending cautiously. They do not get bought anything by us but necessities outside of Christmas and birthdays. I highly recommend the Rich Dad Poor Dad Cash Flow Game for kids for teaching them the importance of money management.

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Michelle May 14, 2014 at 9:32 pm

I bought an inexpensive picture frame, found a cute weekly online chore chart printable, and filled it in with her chores. We use a fine point sharpie to check off her chores each day and then it can be erased with a little alcohol at the end of each week. We have extra lines so if we need to add a chore to the chart I can easily take it out of the frame update it. It hangs on her door with 3M picture hangers (love those!) and we complete it at the end of each day. She is five and her chores include: assisting in making her bed, helping load and unload the dishwasher, setting the table, using a kiddie broom to sweep under the table after dinner, feeding our pets, and helping put away her laundry. We have special weekend chores and I put bonus chores some weeks (ie. sight word flash cards nightly for a week or reading a book nightly). She get $5 at the end of each week if she has completed her chores (bonus chores are usually worth an additional dollar). We then save ten percent and put ten percent in her tithe jar. We do not buy anything for her except gifts, if she wants something she must use her own money. We also encourage her to think carefully before buying (we do not want to encourage the accumulation of stuff over more important priorities.)

We feel we are showing her that work has value, but more importantly we are teaching her about saving and tithing. We are also teaching delayed gratification as she often has to save for something she wants. She has learned how to count money and make change. We have a penalty jar on our kitchen counter, at the end of each night we do a round up of belongings throughout the house that go into a box if someone wants it back they have to pay 25 cents. We also pay a penalty for certain rules if they are broken (ie. daddy sometimes says words that we are not supposed to use like “stupid”) these cost a quarter. We designate this money every three months for a particular cause or a family activity. We feel it is never too early to teach the value of work, money management, and charitable giving.

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