A weekly allowance gives a child a source of income that he or she can learn to make decisions about. There is a heated debate concerning allowance: whether this weekly money should be tied to chores.
Yes. Yes. Yes. If you just give your child an allowance because he or she is on the earth, you are supporting the concept of an entitlement program: I’m on the earth: therefore, I’m entitled to get what I want.
The only way you get money is to earn it, not to whine and nag for it. Speaking of nagging, someone actually conducted a study to determine the number of times kids say that they have to nag a parent before they will give in and buy them what they want. Guess how many times they have to nag? If you said nine: you guessed right. You want to teach your child the natural consequences of money. You get money by earning it. What you want this weekly sum to show your child is the relationship between work (chores) and money (allowance).
How It Works
My Work-For-Pay Allowance system is based on a specified series of chores that are over and above what is expected of your child as a contributing member of your household. Children should not be paid for any act that relates to personal hygiene or the development of personal responsibility.
The “Citizen Of The Household” chores will vary from family to family, but generally they are chores that everyone is expected to chip in and do. For instance, my kids had to keep their rooms free of breeding diseases, and they didn’t get paid for that.
The chores for allowance are over and above the Citizen Of The Household chores. You should assign weekly chores (jobs) for which each child will be responsible. To avoid falling into a sexist trap and assigning garbage duty to the boys and dusting to the girls, rotate chores each week. Remember, not only are you empowering your children to earn their own money, they are also learning the life skills that make a household run.
Like countries, households run on concepts of citizenship. We all share a planet, a country, a community…and a family. Good citizens pitch in and do their voluntary jobs to make things better for all.
You decide on the Citizen-Of-The-Household chores for each child and fill in the chart with the appropriate tasks. Here are some suggestions:
List of Citizen-Of-The Household Chores
• Brush teeth
• Get up on time
• Go to bed on time
• Put cloth reusable grocery bags in the proper place (could be a special closet or in the car)
• Put toys back after use
• Take a bath/shower
• Hang up your clothes or put them in the hamper
• Hang up wet towels after use
• Help out when asked!
Download and print off the “Citizen-of-the-Household Chart”
Print a different chart for each child.
• List the chores down the left side
• Explain each chore to your child
• Show them what is expected, explicitly, for each responsibility – actually model the behavior
Each day as your children complete their Citizen-Of-The-Household chores, allow them to tell you if they think they completed the chore appropriately. They can then check off the appropriate box.
Then you inspect what they’ve done and you decide if the chore was completed to your standards. If so, check off the “Job Well Done” box.
Younger kids love “star” stickers that you can also put on the chart to indicate a “job well done”!
Work- For-Pay Instructions:
Download and print off the “Work-For-Pay Allowance Chart” for each child.
Sample List of Age Appropriate Work-For-Pay Chores:
• Set the table (leaving off knives)
• Clean the table
• Load dishwasher
• Collect clothes and bring to washing machine
• Separate whites and colors
• Dust a room
• Vacuum a room
• Collect newspapers and bundle for recycling
• Feed you pets
• Water plants
• Sweep a room/walkway
• Rake leaves
• Bring in mail
Pick one day per week (I like Friday) to be Pay Day. Make sure you always have the proper change on hand so kids can divide their money into their proper budget jars.
No Work, No Pay
This is one of the household values your children should understand from an early age. That’s the way it works in the real world: you can’t do half your job and expect your employer to pay half your salary.
You’re not going to let your younger kids “sink or swim.” For them it’s a positive reinforcement. So, do the chores with them, let them check-off each job after it’s completed, and as discussed before, put a sticker on the chart to show “ A Job Well Done!” For the older ones, however, it’s “Three Strikes And You’re Out”. You will remind them to complete their chores only three times a week. If they don’t do them, and don’t do them properly, it’s “NO WORK, NO PAY.”
The days of 5-cent sodas and fifty-cent allowances are gone. If you pay your children too little, you are telling them that their work has no value and you take away their incentive to work.
I make it objective and if you can afford it, I suggest that you pay your child his or her age in a weekly allowance – a four year old earns $4.00 a week, a ten year old earns $10.00. I’m sure you’re gasping for air right now because this seems like a large amount. (When I was a kid, I tried to convince my parents to pay me my weight each week. It didn’t fly.) This is really not a huge amount when you see how your children will learn to budget and save and spend their money. Very soon your children will understand that indeed, “MONEY DOESN’T GROW ON TREES.”
The Four Jar Budget
Your kids have worked hard and earned money, now it’s time to learn to save, spend and share their money.
Get 4 clear plastic jars or pouches and label them:
10% Charity Jar
30% Quick-Cash Jar
30% Medium-Term Savings Jar
30% Long-Term Savings Jar
Hint: Make sure that you have rolls of coins and bills on hand so that you have the correct amounts for your kids to count out into the appropriate jars.
By the way – the old fashioned piggy bank really doesn’t do it. First of all, a budget creates a habit of “dividing” money into different categories, and a piggy bank commingles all of their money. Secondly, we want kids to see the joy of the budget, visually. You can’t see into a piggy bank.
Each Pay Day, help your child to count their earnings into the appropriate budget jar. Here are the brief explanations of each jar:
10% Charity Jar:
This money will go to charity. Help your child to decide which one is appropriate. For young children, it may be a religious organization, or a reflection of a passion of theirs. Do they love animals? A donation to the local animal shelter may be perfect. If they have been “rescuing” animals in the Green$treet App, a donation to an endangered animal cause could be great. Remember, giving money is only half of charity. Also, try to do some volunteer “giving” with your child, as well.
30% Quick Cash Jar:
This is instant gratification, that “guilt-free’ spending – or what we called, “mad money”. You set the overall parameters, if it’s no candy, no junk food, those are your rules, but beyond that, let your kids make their own Quick Cash spending decisions. Remind them to bring their quick cash on those shopping days. No more nagging. You now just say, “Did you bring your Quick Cash? You can buy that with your own money.”
30% Medium-Term Saving:
This teaches kids to push-off instant gratification and save for larger items. The young ones can only save for a week or two, because they forget what they are saving for (actually, we also forget). Let them learn to set a savings goal, an important lesson. They are also learning that in game play in the Green$treets App. They can draw a picture of their goal and put that on their jar as a reminder.
The older ones can set a larger medium-term savings goal, and save for a few months.
30% Long-Term Savings:
This is the money we set aside in a budget for a larger savings: college, or a car, for instance. It would be wonderful to also set-up a schedule where once-a-month you bring your child to the bank to have them deposit their money into savings account. After they understand why we use banks, you can make the money transfers on-line.
Remember, a budget is a habit – not an object of torture! Encourage your child to earn, save, spend and share and together, you’ll see the life log skills they are learning.