Sunday, April 27, 2008

Our Allowance System

To give or not to give: allowances are one of those perplexing parenting decisions. The simple system I'll describe below is what works for our family. Various parenting and financial programs do not necessarily endorse this type of system of payment; indeed, many do not recommend giving allowances at all. In our marriage, Randy came from an allowance-giving family. He liked it. I came from a non-allowance-family. I did not like that. It wasn't about the money for me; it was about having to ask for money and having to justify every purchase. Also, the Brady Bunch kids all got allowances. Sensibly, we decided early on that we'd give our children an allowance. That is the extent of our philosophy.

We start giving an allowance of a quarter at age 5. With this allowance comes the responsibility of making one's bed each morning. At this age, we are guiding the child with bed-making, and by 5 and a half, the child can make a decent bed. We raise the allowance at the half-year mark by a quarter. On every birthday, we raise the allowance again. I'm not really sure that we have a scientific pattern for this, but right now at age 7, Duncan gets $1/week, and at age 15, Jesse gets $5/week. Laurel is right in the middle with $2.75/week.

As they get older, the have more and more household responsibilities which are directly tied to their allowances. The older kids must have their rooms cleaned on a certain day of the week. (This day changes depending on what our schedule is like that particular year.) If they don't clean their room one week, they don't get their allowance. If they don't clean their room the second week, they must pay ME the amount of their allowance to clean the room for them. I believe this has only happened once per child. Other responsibilities include, upon request: setting the table, taking out the trash, feeding the dog, helping me clean house, clearing the dinner table, basic home maintenance, etc.

Our kids are motivated by receiving their allowances because they often have "big ticket" items for which they must save. For Duncan, a big ticket item might cost $5; but Laurel has saved enough to buy an American Girl doll, and Jesse has purchased clothes, an iPod, guitar amp, etc. Big ticket items usually include adding some of their birthday money from grandparents into the pot, but the kids are required to put a portion of their birthday money into their savings accounts.

We also have jobs for which we pay extra money. When Duncan was a preschooler, I would pay a sibling a quarter to play with him for 15 minutes so that I could do one-on-one schooling with the other child. Other jobs include: deep cleaning of a specific room, pulling weeds, mowing the lawn, painting, sweeping off the driveway, cleaning the car, etc. Prices vary on these jobs, from $5 for mowing the lawn to 50 cents for pulling a bucket of weeds.

I've heard some people say that their kids aren't motivated by money. If this is true, you may have kids that are totally not materialistic, or you may be buying them too much stuff yourself. Why should they be motivated to save money if they know that we will buy them whatever they want? My youngest always wanted to buy ridiculous things out of the gumball machines at grocery stores. I would occasionally give him a quarter to do so until I realized he was expecting that quarter. The past couple of years, I just remind him before we go to a store: "If you want to buy a gumball (or a tacky gold necklace), make sure you bring your own quarter." Amazing how this has cut down on the number of cheap plastic objects around our house.

Like I said, this is the system that works for our family. We're hoping that we raise children we will know how to manage money because they've had their own to manage since early childhood, and we also hope that they will value the responsibilities that come with being part of a family. Ask me again in 15 years how this all turns out...

Comments from former blog; scroll down to add a new one.

Sunday, April 27, 2008 - too funny
Posted by onfire (
must be something about youngest boys. while we were at your place, E wanted to buy a tacky necklace in the stuffmart gumball dispenser. He had his own stash of loose change, so he bought the desired thing ... only to realize that the chain it goes on was another $5 from the second machine. nice lesson learned.
I personally believe the tn flipflops were a better purchase. Too bad they ripped while he was being a gentleman and holding the door for someone.
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Monday, April 28, 2008 - Untitled Comment
Posted by sadie423 (
We need a well devised system....we randomly do allowance now, and I reward for a job well done, like when Rylan vacuums the entire house....I have one saver and one spender....Cale would spend all his money on trinkets and such if I let him....Rylan is much more conservative....but that travels over to almost everything they do....not just money
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Monday, April 28, 2008 - Good Plan!
Posted by lcourtneymom (
We also do allowance with a very similar system to what you described. Our dc have to divide allowance between spending, saving and giving, and they each have a savings account at the bank.

I think an allowance is very necessary in teaching money management.
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Sunday, May 4, 2008 - Untitled Comment
Posted by JHS (
Thanks for participating in this week's Carnival of Family Life hosted by Riley at All Rileyed Up! Be sure to drop by and check out the other wonderful submissions included in this week's Carnival!

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Sunday, May 4, 2008 - allowances
Posted by Riley (
Great tips! I've been thinkin of implementing an allowance with my son when he turns six because he's starting doing small tasks around the house with success. I had an allowance when I was growing up and it was a great way to teach me to save up to buy the things I wanted. Thanks for contributing to the carnival of family life!
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  1. After making the bed, what was the next few responsibilities required to receive their allowance?

  2. Next came cleaning their rooms weekly, then various things like setting the table, taking out trash, etc. Varied with each child!

  3. I love this idea thank you. My son is 8 years old (he'll be 9 on the 21st) and we are homeschooling as well. We have only one child and I never had an idea of how much we should give him for allowance. So we would say pick a hand lol and he could get between $1 or a $10 bill lol.

  4. Thanks for sharing! Love your philosophy about how you came up with the decision to give an allowance...not too deep, just perfect! :->

  5. Thank you so much for this...I have been racking my brain for a while to come up with a doable and good allowance system. I have so many people around me saying that I should pay my kids only for chores and jobs around the house and to not give them an allowance, that it has gotten confusing! I literally just watched an episode of the Brady Bunch today with my kids and thought, "we'll, the Brady Bunch kids get an allowance!" So thank you for that! Seems like a good plan..


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