Thoughts on paying kids for jobs around the house? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 25 Old 07-27-2014, 01:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thoughts on paying kids for jobs around the house?

What are your thoughts on paying kids for jobs around the house? I have never done it, but am considering it. My kids are 13 and 10.

I do ask them to pick up their rooms and pick up their things around the house, put their dishes in the dishwasher, fold clothes and put them away and they sometimes help with other jobs around the house like vacuuming or cleaning the bathroom, but I'm not big on chore charts and micro-managing.

I also want them to learn about money, so we have given them an allowance for a few years now. They also make some money pet-sitting occasionally for neighbors. I don't think I want to tie the allowance to regular chores, because I think they should be helping out around the house anyway, but I am considering paying for some extra chores. I have a friend who has done the paying for extra chores occasionally.

I have another long-distance friend who has very serious health issues and can't really do housework. She makes sort of a chore jar and the kids can pull out a chore and earn a set amount (marked on the card they pull). If they don't want to do that one then they can put it back and get another one. They also don't have to do any of them, but they know their mom can't so there's that extra incentive.

If you pay your kids for doing something around the house can you tell me how your system works? Or if you're opposed to the idea I'd like to hear about your thinking on that, too. I'm not 100% sold on the idea (nobody pays me to vacuum), but have just been toying with it.

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#2 of 25 Old 07-27-2014, 02:38 PM
 
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I do it but only for what we consider "extra" chores. My kids are currently 3, 7, and almost 9. We have a very loose system right now although I may put it into structure later for now it's working.

The kids are each responsible for taking care of their own stuff. This includes picking up toys and anything they mess up. They also each fold their own clothes... well for the baby it might not be considered folding by most but she does something to them and lays them in the drawers.

They also help with family related chores like unloading groceries or taking turns taking the garbage to the bin or checking the mail. I give out "extra" chores to earn money. These are optional and the pay varies depending on size of job and amount of work. Usually the pay jobs are going to be items that would be mom or dad chores and the children will get paid for helping us. These are chores like dusting, picking up sticks in the yard, cleaning out the car, washing the car, etc.

I want them to do their part as a member of the family and I want them to help others without expecting something in return but I do feel that it's good for them to get a sense of accomplishment from earning their own money. I have also seen them be better financial planners when they have money of their own to work with. I think earning/spending money as kids is valuable so I have to allow them age appropriate ways to earn that money. We don't have a chart or anything right now although I've thought about it. I am afraid my kids would lose interest in the chart and then no longer want to do the things. I'm also concerned about them expecting to get paid every single time they do a certain activity if that activity was on a chart. Think of cleaning out the car here - if I just wanted the kids to help me detail the car from regular use then I'd see that as a mom chore and would pay them for helping me. If on the other hand the car was full of stuff and mess from a recent family road trip then the entire family needs to get out there and clean it - no pay given. This is one reason I don't want a chart. I don't want to have an argument when "cleaning out the car" from a road trip isn't paid because it's different than the weekly "cleaning out the car" from daily use that I paid them for, kwim?

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#3 of 25 Old 07-27-2014, 09:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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That makes sense crazyms. I'm thinking I might look at it like what I could hire out. If I had a housekeeper come to the house once a week, what would I want him or her to do? A housekeeper/maid is not in my future any time soon, but if my kids are up for making some money I think I could pay them for some housekeeping type tasks like cleaning the bathroom, etc. I'm thinking start with a base wage like 10 or 12 bucks an hour and then figure out how long it should take to clean the tub or wipe down the mirrors and counters and pay based on the task — maybe $.50 for wiping down the mirrors because that's a 2 minute job, but more for the tub because that's a big job.

Detailing the car would be another great one. We don't have much yard work (really wooded lot), but they could sweep the driveway or porch. I think I'm going to talk to DH about this. I'm really liking the idea.

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#4 of 25 Old 07-27-2014, 09:53 PM
 
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Exactly. I'm glad you understood my jumbled mess of thoughts I do use it much like hiring them for individual jobs that I would hire out for. It's been really good for us and the kids love it.

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#5 of 25 Old 08-01-2014, 10:47 PM
 
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My mom worked ft when I was a kid and paid me from the age of 8 or so to cook dinner ever night. She thought it was beyond normal household chores. I planned and cooked the meal and I didn't have to clean up! And I didn't have to cook anything I didn't like. She paid me a few dollars a meal depending on complexity, which of course led to lots of experimenting and good meals. My large family ate well when I was home and I learned to cook well. I still love to cook and my older sister, who took a retail job instead, never learned. I just thought I would share because there is a lot of value in giving a kid a role and opportunity.
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#6 of 25 Old 08-02-2014, 02:53 AM
 
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Day-to-day cleaning they are expected to share depending on age/skills, but I do pay for special jobs. Every few months I'll realize that we need to do a day-long overhaul on living areas, basement, toolshed, etc., for example. Sometimes I'll pay dd12 to clean and organize her pack-rat little sister's room because she is SO much better at organizing than I am, and better at ruthless decluttering!

This year we're planning on getting all our firewood in one giant haul so we will pay dd12 and her teen cousins to help chop and stack; a job that's usually part of her regular chores.
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#7 of 25 Old 08-02-2014, 07:58 AM
 
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I don't pay my kids to do chores. They are expected to clean after themselves, make their beds and help with meals - well, mostly ds, as dd is too little. They do get an allowance - ds' s is big enough that he can buy his own clothes.
I had my first paid job at 22 when I graduated and I had no problem managing my money. I don't plan to encourage my kids to get jobs just to make money.

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#8 of 25 Old 08-04-2014, 02:33 PM
 
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DS is 8, and we have been paying for chores for a year. He has chores that he is required to do (because he is part of the family). There is a chore chart on the fridge with optional chores that he marks off as he does them. The chores are paid by difficulty level & time it takes. There are also "special chores" that are only done seasonally that may or may not be paid - we clean & organize the pantry every summer in prep for hurricane season - this is not paid as it is a family chore, however helping me clean the windows on the porch & reseal the front door is paid. We re-eval the list at least every year to decide what should be added to his non-paid chores and if there are additional chores he could be paid to do.

It has worked very well for us. If he does not do chores, he does not get paid. He also now has to use his own money for incidental spending.

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#9 of 25 Old 08-04-2014, 04:04 PM
 
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every kid i know who associates money with housework starts to ask "how much will get for this?" or "what will my reward be?" when asked to do ANYTHING around the house. so we try our best not to do that, but we do allow Gramma to pay them $1 for raking her lawn every week, which they love. instead of tying allowance to chores, we have started to coach our 7-year-old (oldest) to start his own business in order to make extra cash. he makes paper airplanes and then sells them at the local trading post (like a farmers market) for $1/each, and he loves feeling like a businessman. i've seen a big change in his personality from this little change, and he checks kids business books out from the library, watches kids biz videos on youtube, etc. so so so cute! and i love the life skill it's teaching him. already he's thinking like a business owner/entrepreneur instead of like an employee. oh yeah!
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#10 of 25 Old 08-04-2014, 08:00 PM
 
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DH and I have approached it this way (which I think is very appropriate):

1- You should do basic chores, appropriate to your age, simply because you live here. (But above-and-beyond chores, like mowing the lawn, should be worth some money - though not as much as we'd pay a professional with his own equipment!)

2- We should give you some money to manage on your own (approx. $1 per year of age, per week), simply because we're raising you.

3- We're not PAYING you for doing chores, but if you aren't reliable - or don't have a halfway reasonable attitude - about your basic responsibilities, don't expect us to be reliable/reasonable about forking over your allowance.

N-E-V-E-R-T-H-E-L-E-S-S, I think our kids (now teens) have always looked past all the verbiage and felt they were getting paid for doing chores. It never helped that we're a blended family (DH and I both have custody of our kids, from before) and each non-custodial parent gives their kid money that makes DH's and my proffered allowances seem like a joke. In the end, we typically only get them to do chores by telling them they can't get together with friends until they finish.

However, we have a little one (age 6) who just started a responsibility chart. He earns smiley-faces for various self-care tasks and chores. If he amasses enough smileys in a week, he gets a treat (within reason) that he chooses in advance (so he has a specific motivator). He has recently asked about getting paid to do his chores. I told him we'll talk about it, after we see how he does with the responsibility chart for a few weeks.

Since the little one has married parents (i.e., there's no outside authority to undermine DH and me), I'll be interested to see if HE can latch onto our idea that chores and allowance should be separate, yet interdependent. Time will tell.

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#11 of 25 Old 08-05-2014, 01:16 AM
 
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I guess I should've mentioned that they do get an allowance (weekly or monthly, their choice) that is not tied to chores at all. Chores are because we all live here and make messes here and because they will need these skills as adults; allowance is to give experience at managing money (and finding deals) and to drive home the reality of how little stuff adds up so they don't nickel and dime my budget to death!

The paid jobs are usually optional and I'm usually willing to come up with some on request if someone wants to earn extra. This doesn't happen too often though; dd12 is the only one old enough to want expensive stuff and she has several paying jobs & business ventures of her own to cover them.
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#12 of 25 Old 08-05-2014, 12:19 PM
 
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First, give your kids positive feedback for helping out. But it has to be sincere appreciation at that age. You say they should be helping out. What does that really mean? Do it mean you are going to take it for granted when they do help out? Say taking out the trash. What does that represent? Helping the family, taking responsibility, being fair because it's fair that all to help out, showing initiative when you do it without prompting, caring for others in the family but not putting the load on others. There is lots to admire. Lots of good character traits are shown in taking out the trash. Notice this. Notice this whether you pay them or not. But you need to think about what helping out means to you an express it sincerely.

There are three options:

1. Show lots of appreciation.
2. Show lots of appreciation and provide some short term tangible rewards and then fade out the tangible rewards. This is useful to get a behavior going, creating a habit.
The book Everyday Parenting is a good source on how to do this.
3. Show lots of appreciation and pay a regular wage for some chores.

I think 3 is OK for mundane family chores. Probably better to use 1 or 2 for keeping their room in order, but that should probably start earlier than 10, and maybe you should limit it to things that infringe on the family like leaving wet towels on the floor.

Earning money from neighbors is probably a good way to learn about the real world of money.
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#13 of 25 Old 08-06-2014, 12:09 PM
 
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i am considering this too.

havent figured it out myself though.

i find as dd grows older (almost 12) she needs money to buy stuff which is not a necessity - stuff that she necessarily does not want my input in buying. things like clothes, makeup. i certainly have guidelines, but she gets stuff on her own.

i am not doing this so she can understand money. i want to do this because she does not have a regular sources of income. she sometimes does tasks for neighbors and even tutors kids during school time.

i want to create a source of income because i see she would like to have some autonomy around her spending.

being just dd and me i've never been hard on the chore. she has the choice. she does not have to do it. ever. she didnt when she was younger on a regular basis but she always helped. dont know if its a single family thing or not, but its just the two of us and we've always worked as a team.

once she turned 10 things changed quite a bit. its almost she took on the role of being 'my mother'. she loves taking over and doing stuff coz she feels she does better than me

but i still feel uncomfortable linking chores to money. however my philosophy too is if i was going to hire the job out then i would pay dd to do it. which is one reason i had her work with a friend who is a house cleaner so she learnt from the pros. she didnt really know how to clean a bathroom properly. i would pay her as much as i would pay professionally as she would do as good a job as them.

two years ago she was paid $20 to rake the leaves (lots of them) from a large backyard. she deserved every penny of it, and did as good a job as a professional would have. it just took her more time.

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#14 of 25 Old 08-07-2014, 11:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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however my philosophy too is if i was going to hire the job out then i would pay dd to do it.
This. I think I am going to do it.

My kids do earn a little money pet-sitting. (I don't think either one is the baby-sitting type.) It'll be a few years before they can or will want to get a summer job, so I think some experience with actually EARNING money will be helpful to them. I agree that some kids can do fine learning about money with their own real first job, but especially dd1 is really challenged organizationally and that includes money. She's going to need all the practice she can get.

I'll let y'all know how it works out.

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#15 of 25 Old 08-09-2014, 08:57 PM
 
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I've struggled with this as well. I like both the idea that chores are because you're part of the family and that money is earned. For a while we had a chart with chores (required and free) and jobs (optional and paid). But it kind of fizzled out because they have so much trouble picking up after themselves and I was pregnant.


After reading Alfie Kohn, I'm more inclined not to pay, though I do think it could be appropriate if it were something you were willing to hire outside help for. I just know that in my house (my older kids are currently 7 and 4) I still hear a lot of "what will you give me if I do it?" kind of talk.
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#16 of 25 Old 08-09-2014, 09:36 PM
 
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I'm at a weird place with this. A big part of me feels that giving kids small sums of money to save or spend at will while they are provided for by parents is really not helpful in terms of helping kids learn money management. I know this is a pretty widely held view but I doesn't make much sense to me.

We don't do money for chores and I don't imagine an allowance for DC ever, although I would consider it if she wanted to explore that route. I fear it wouldn't work for us though because we already share about as much with her as we can.

There are times when DC helps me make money by watching her sister while I work. In an effort to honor the work of child care, I split what I earn with my DC 50/50. I don't get to do this work often but when I do it pays well, especially for a 12 year old!

Another reason I don't/won't pay DC for extra help around the house is because a lot of what she earns outside of home creates a lot of work for me. She's overnight dog sitting on Sunday and that means that I have to stay with her. That's enough of a commitment. ;-) When I have to put in a lot of effort for DC's jobs, she puts 100% of her money into her savings fund for a trip she wants to go on in a couple of years (that DH and I are also paying off monthly).

If she earns money without any effort on my part I don't mention it but she often gives it to me for her savings or for an event - a big improvement over about 6 months ago when she was eager to have a lot of "spending money" and she and I were sometimes at odds about that.

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#17 of 25 Old 08-09-2014, 11:16 PM
 
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Nope, the allowance was just to learn to save and/ or spend. Everyone who lives in the my house contributes to its care, except the cat!

Most of the kids we know who have allowance tied to chores find its not worth the bother after while. But who payed me all those years when I was the homemaker? No one. Tying everything in life to a "reward" I think is quite troublesome. Some stuff just HAS to be done. We don't have to like it but it gets done.
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#18 of 25 Old 08-10-2014, 01:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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But who payed me all those years when I was the homemaker? No one. Tying everything in life to a "reward" I think is quite troublesome. Some stuff just HAS to be done. We don't have to like it but it gets done.
But some families PAY someone outside the home to do it, too. I don't know anyone who has a live-in maid or cook, but I do know folks who have a service come to their home and clean once a week. It seems like a luxury, but there definitely are times when I have fantasized about it. I don't foresee going down that road myself (just don't like strangers in my house messin' with my mess), but I know many folks do pay someone to come to their home and clean, or mow the yard, etc. We do struggle to stay on top of things here and if I can find some house cleaners in my own family that might be a win-win for us. Worst case, they won't be interested and I'm out no money. They still are responsible for cleaning up after themselves and occasionally cooking us dinner, but if they are willing to do the kind of work that an average cleaning service would do and earn a little money doing it and we get a cleaner house then I think I am okay with that. It's a departure from what I grew up with, but I think it can work. My dd2 right now (the more organized of the two) is more interested. I just put up an envelope some jobs yesterday and she hasn't started on any, but they did just have a dog-sitting gig that ended yesterday, too. She has looked at them several times. Dd1 doesn't seem that interested, but she has been working on excavating her room all weekend, so that's huge for her.

Ha, and now dd2 is vacuuming the den. Hooray!

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#19 of 25 Old 08-14-2014, 11:42 AM
 
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I'm at a weird place with this. A big part of me feels that giving kids small sums of money to save or spend at will while they are provided for by parents is really not helpful in terms of helping kids learn money management. I know this is a pretty widely held view but I doesn't make much sense to me.

This makes a lot of sense to me. If we're providing for them, then it's just spending money. There may be some value in saving for a large item, but it's nothing like an adult needs to manage money.


How would you feel about a parent providing a clothing allowance or a monthly lunch fund. Do you think that would be a helpful way to learn? At what age range?


On the flip side, I think it's also unfair to expect your kids to provide for themselves without a way to fund it. When I was about 12, I was expected to pay for gifts for my friends birthday parties. Since I've always been a saver and the gifts were small, it wasn't so much of a problem, but I didn't receive any money at home, so I was essentially buying other people gifts with my own gift money.
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#20 of 25 Old 08-14-2014, 12:08 PM
 
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We're new to this too. I think I felt a lot of external pressure to allow for opportunity for my DC to have money for her to manage on her own. We experimented with that and it just didn't work at the time. One big reason it didn't work is that I was always factoring DC's needs/wants into the family budget. To be terribly honest, it hurt my feelings that I was stretching the budget (sometimes going without myself) for my DC when she had this "other money". It felt like, "What's mine is yours and what yours is yours."

We moved away from that and I slowly shared more of our financial situation with DC. I would tell her times when saving in one place meant more money for something else. That's working.

I think what was going on for me was that I wanted to protect my DC from financial concerns. We are not broke but we have to be very frugal. DC has a few friends whose families suffered financially in recent years. I worried that she would worry too much if I gave her too much information. I posted here and got a lot of help. Turns out DC is plenty able to deal with the realities of having to budget and live frugally.

I have no idea if this will prepare her for a future of budgeting and financial success. Right now it feels more holistic and authentic than giving her a few dollars to play with.

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On the flip side, I think it's also unfair to expect your kids to provide for themselves without a way to fund it.
A note about this, I wou. ld say we're doing the opposite. There is never going to be a time in DC's childhood that she spends more of her own money on herself than we do as parents. If there is ever a time where her money will need to go to providing basics for herself or her family, that will be our reality and she will have to live with it. If it never comes to that (and I am optimistic that it won't), we will continue to budget DC's needs into our family budget.

What I'm anticipating will be the challenge (and what we already see to some extent) are those times that the way DH and I want to budget is different than how DC wants to budget. I'm sure it will be interesting as problems arise.

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#21 of 25 Old 08-15-2014, 08:23 PM
 
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A note about this, I wou. ld say we're doing the opposite. There is never going to be a time in DC's childhood that she spends more of her own money on herself than we do as parents.

I in no way meant to imply that you were expecting DC to provide for herself. I'm not sure if it came across that way, but I want to apologize just in case. It was just something from my past that I thought about on the topic. And as you point out, my parents were obviously spending a lot more on me than I was on a friend's birthday present, which wasn't a need. It really wasn't a big deal at the time, but there is something about it that I would like to avoid this time around.
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#22 of 25 Old 08-16-2014, 06:43 AM
 
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Originally Posted by llwr View Post
I in no way meant to imply that you were expecting DC to provide for herself. I'm not sure if it came across that way, but I want to apologize just in case. It was just something from my past that I thought about on the topic. And as you point out, my parents were obviously spending a lot more on me than I was on a friend's birthday present, which wasn't a need. It really wasn't a big deal at the time, but there is something about it that I would like to avoid this time around.
Oh, I didn't think you did! And, I agree with you. One thing that may come out of this at some point is that we will decided to switch over to a situation where DC has money to do with as she pleases if there comes a time when we can't find consensual ways to budget as a family. So far, though, budgeting together has been great. In fact, we had a great discussion over budgeting for school supplies just yesterday. It was hard but productive.

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#23 of 25 Old 08-17-2014, 03:26 PM
 
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I'm at a weird place with this. A big part of me feels that giving kids small sums of money to save or spend at will while they are provided for by parents is really not helpful in terms of helping kids learn money management. I know this is a pretty widely held view but I doesn't make much sense to me.
It depends on the household, I think. In households where parents buy the kids anything they ask for when it's asked for, I agree on not seeing the point. Of course, there I think buying someone everything they ask for is the bigger problem than the allowance.

But in households where that doesn't happen, kids can still learn money management because if they want something, they have to manage their money to get it. For example, because it's back to school time- you can either give your kids a budget ("I'm willing to spend $X on clothes and school supplies, if you want the fancier ones- you have to use your own money. If you can manage to get them cheaper, you can keep the rest") or say that if they want something more expensive than you're willing to buy, they have to pay the difference (basically a budget, but on individual items). I would start warning the kids about back to school and that this is what's going to happen a few months in advance so that they know, and also steel yourself to stick to what you said. You could also use it as a chance to teach them about coupons and sales.

Personally, I'm very opposed to a kid saying "I'll pay you back with my allowance for the next few weeks!" when abig expense comes up. It's too easy to do that in the modern world and you can get in trouble FAST with debt. There may be times when an advance on allowance is okay, but it would have to be something very special. I'd much rather that kids learn they should always have some money saved up just in case. You can, however, work out a compromise- my dad would pay for half when it was a really big expense. I'd still have to save up for months (constantly having to decide if a smaller expense was worth the set-back to saving up) to get it. It also let me learn that if I saved up my allowance rather than spending it every week, then when I came across a big expense- I could either get it right then or wouldn't have to save up for nearly as long.

My partner, as a kid, got an allowance and when there was a big expense coming up- my partner would ask FIL to save the allowance for them so they wouldn't be tempted to spend it. Meaning they never had to learn real self-restraint. Fortunately they're not so irresponsible as to ignore necessary expenses, but if it were up to my partner I don't think we'd have much of anything in savings. As an adult, they got into a bad habit of spending their weekly allowance before they even got it- made me so mad. Since we stopped doing allowance because we were in a bad financial situation, they'll still try to spend money on frivolous things.

I got a weekly allowance and there were quite a few times that I saved up for weeks or even months to buy something I really wanted, as well as one time that I did a lemonade stand to earn money for something.

Frankly, wants and needs are different. An allowance means that you can focus on the needs and let your child have responsibility for their own wants. It's a very important lesson. I'm certainly not opposed to ever giving a kid something they want- but I don't think it's a good idea to go without for a child's wants, either.

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#24 of 25 Old 08-17-2014, 05:07 PM
 
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But in households where that doesn't happen, kids can still learn money management because if they want something, they have to manage their money to get it.
What you describe from your childhood, I think, is the ideal of how allowances would work. For us, it hasn't worked out that way.

DC is absolutely not a child who gets everything she wants. Just this week she asked me if she thought it would be possible to have new shoes instead of second hand. That's our life.

For us, it's really more about a very limited budget and working together. I think in a family where all members have "play money" an allowance can work well because the child sees the parent budgeting for personals.

This is not to say that we are all necessity based but that budgeting is already being taught as a conscious thing from the perspective of a joint family budget. If DC wanted something special that needed to be saved for, we would save for it.

Right now DC would like to get her ears pierced. All of the money she earned this summer has already been put into her savings for a trip so she has no money. I told her that I would look into whether we had money in the budget for her ears if she were willing to do a little research on cost. I also told her that I would not do the ear thing until the house was in order for school starting. In the end, this probably doesn't look much different than if I offered to pay her $20 to help around the house this week. And it isn't.

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#25 of 25 Old 08-17-2014, 05:21 PM
 
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Frankly, wants and needs are different. An allowance means that you can focus on the needs and let your child have responsibility for their own wants.
I just saw this part. Did your parents provide for basic needs and provide an allowance for you to budget for all your wants? I think that's a pretty cool idea. It's not one that my DC is ready for but it's interesting for sure.

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