A lot of parents struggle to decide how to give their children an allowance. How much is too much? Should they have to earn it? We developed an allowance system that works for us and my son now keeps his own accounts in a ledger!
A few months ago we decided to give Kiddo a way to earn some money. He was constantly asking for stuff and being The Tyrant I am, the answer was always, "No." I know there are different schools of thought on allowances, but I am not keen on giving kids an allowance for "just being part of the family" nor am I interested in paying him for things he should be doing anyway as a member of said family, like helping clean up, etc. So instead we decided that he could earn money by helping with the family pet.
Each day Kiddo has two opportunities to help his dad feed Zeke. If he does, he earns 25 cents. So the most he can earn in a week is $3.50. He has three jars: Save, Give and Spend. He is required to put the first 2 quarters in Save, the next quarter in Give and the rest of the cash is his to divvy up how he likes. Mostly it goes in Spend, but he does sometimes put extra in the other two jars. (We also keep tzedakah boxes to teach the kids about giving to charity.)
As an added incentive to Save his money, his Dad and I match whatever he puts in that jar. Sort of like a 401(k) plan for 5 year olds. With a really good return rate.
He doesn't always take the opportunity to earn money. Sometimes he doesn't want to interrupt his current activity to help out, and we never pressure him. We want him to see the rewards when he takes responsibility for his "job" and the consequences if he doesn't. There is no punishment if he doesn't feed the cat, he simply doesn't get paid.
For a while he was really jazzed and never missed the opportunity to help, but that faded and he was only "coming in to work" sporadically. I realized that part of this was that I was getting a little slack about paying him at the end of every week. So instead I made a chart of the weeks so far, listed the number of times he worked and together Kiddo and I set about counting the change and adding up his totals. He liked putting the quarters in stacks of 4 to exchange for dollars and then counting how much was in each jar.
After seeing the piles of quarters he returned to his earlier enthusiasm for working. But he has already shown hot and cold periods, which how I expect things to continue. I am curious to see how things shake up once he has made his first purchase. He hasn't spent any money yet. He is saving up for a penguin game which costs $20.
How do you deal with allowances and spending money?
Now that he has an allowance, he keeps track of his accounting my keeping a ledger!
Raising a Happy Child says
Very interesting approach! Interestingly, daughter is not very much into wanting things... yet, but we discussed allowance a few times. My husband is more in favor of unconditional allowance, but I like the idea of earning extra on top of it. I also like the idea of "forced savings", while my husband disagrees and thinks that she has to learn what happens when she is broke. In other words - we are still working on it 🙂
My daughter is too young for an allowance yet so we haven't had to decide what to do yet. I look forward to teaching her about money. It's one of my favorite math concepts!
We use Chore Wars. I really like your blog. Been looking around and enjoying myself.
We pay for chores and even as young as three a child can understand the concept of earning, saving and spending. I do think with young children the more visual the better so there is some prep on parent's part to have coins available when the chore is acomplished. Keeping a chart is great too. It helps to keep a long term track of the money and what chores have been done. Also you can reassign chores. Be flexible and have fun and there are tons of lessons to learn. We blogged about how we use this concept in our homeschool store. Check it out at waddleeahcaa, it was a past post on Aug. 17,2010. 🙂
Fanny Harville says
I am really intrigued by your approach to allowance/spending money, etc. We haven't come up with an approach to this yet ourselves, though I am sure we will need to soon.
I like the way your system uses both guidance and non-compulsory elements.
Mom and Kiddo says
I debated about whether or not to make save/give a requirement but I realized that being reminded of the other uses of money (besides just buying what strikes the fancy of a 5 year old) would be good in the long run. Plus as adults, while we are not required to give away our money, we are required to save it, or suffer some pretty severe consequences.
Like most things in parenting, we can only hope we make the right decisions.
Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog says
I love that you have a chart to keep track, and that he has a goal in mind with the penguin game. Learning to manage money is a terrific life-skill. Well done!!
Joyful Learner says
I like the idea of the chart also and waiting a week delays the gratification. So far, we've just been paying her for laundry help. I wrote a post about this some time back. Thanks for linking!
Even in Australia says
We give $1/week, which is unconditional, but I do, in desperation, occasionally "charge" my daughter for bad behavior or for making me do something she could do herself (like finding an item that is in plain sight - drives me nuts!). We started it in September of 1st grade and so far she has purchased one item, a stuffed animal. We also encourage her to put some in her tzedakah (charity) box but do not require it.
Is the penguin game Pengolos? It looks good but I am too cheap to buy it. Did he ever buy it?
Sheila @ Pennies of Time says
Love the ledger! Going to start one this week. Thanks!