Allowance Chart For Kids Chores

I admit it–I was wrong to create the allowance chart as the sole source of earning allowance money. Well, I was half wrong.  Several months ago I wrote about the elaborate commission-based allowance chart I had created for my kids whereby they would earn a bit of money for each chore completed.

The idea was inspired by Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Junior materials, and his reinforcement of the idea on various calls to his radio show.  However, the more I reflected on the idea, the more I didn’t like it the allowance chart we had in place.  So, I decided to change it, and created a combination comission system and allowance chart.  The plan is scheduled to start in October, and I think the kid are looking forward to the change.

The New Deal

Under the new allowance system, our kids will receive a base allowance based roughly on their age. To receive an allowance they must complete a basic set of household chores such as keeping their rooms clean, helping with the dishes when asked, putting away clean laundry, etc.  Of course, there will be some things they do as members of the family (put water down for the dog, help set the table, etc.) that will not be included in either the allowance system or the commission schedule.  After all, I don’t get paid to mow my own lawn!

Our kids will also have the opportunity to earn bonuses, or commissions, based on the completion of a variety of advanced chores and special projects.  This is not unlike most sales positions that offer a base salary plus commissions, with the base salary represented by the kids’ regular allowance.  Initially, they will be paid each week on Saturday (chore day) because I want the reward of receiving payment to happen soon after the bulk of the work is performed.  As they get older, we will likely increase this to a biweekly payment plan, and then possible monthly, as they improve their budgeting skills.

How Much to Pay for Kid’s Allowance?

This is the tough part.  There are lots of formulas floating about the web, particularly on kids and money sites and parenting blogs.  Instead of coming up with an age-based amount per allowance “pay period,” I worked backwards from a ballpark figure I had in mind that seemed a reasonable amount for each child.  For instance, my daughter is the oldest at eight, and $20 per month seems like a reasonable amount for an eight year-old to earn as a base allowance.  Subtracting a little for savings, and a little for giving, that is still enough to buy a CD, book, or something that she is wanting.  Remember, she can also do extra chores to boost that amount (more on that later).  $20 per month breaks down to about $5 per week, which is less than the recommended dollar per week per year of age plan.  That is by design.  $5 per week is plenty considering all her other needs are met, but is low enough to encourage her to work for extra money.

The Commission Schedule

Our kids can earn extra money by doing things like helping dad with light yard work, sweeping the back porch and garage, etc.

The commissions for each chore vary based on degree of difficulty, but most range from $0.25-$1.00.  Not a bad deal for a few extra minutes of work each week.  A commission schedule is posted on our refrigerator each Saturday afternoon after the previous week’s payments have been made.

As the kids complete the chores they check off the chore and add up their commissions earned each day (never too early to work on those math skills!).

A Kid-Sized Budget

Our only requirements for the money they earn are that they must divide them into three categories:  saving, giving, and spending.  I want our kids to be savers and givers (yes, the two can co-exist), so to reinforce that idea we tell them to toss their money into separate jars for that specific purpose.

My daughter has several opportunities throughout the year to participate in fund raising activities at her school, such as drives for the American Cancer Society, and other notable charities.  It is much more meaningful for her to put a dollar she earned into the collection jar, than to hand over one I’ve given her.

Do you pay your kids an allowance?  Is it based on their age, or some other factor?

Comments

  1. I like your concept. I will also have to look in the First National Bank of Dad. I do have a question though. My son is 5, and in kindergarten this year. I’ve been pondering giving him an allowance, but he doesn’t have the math skills yet. Should I wait until he has some math skills before starting in on money skills?

    • I have a barely 4 year old and a 6 year old. They both have required chores that they perform as part of this household. They do NOT get any money for these. After all, I am a stay at home mom and I do not get any payment for the myriad of chores/duties that I do on a daily basis. Then they can earn a commission of 1 star (which equals a quarter) to 4 stars for various other chores above and beyond the required duties. My four year old can count to 12 so when we are out and she wants to spend her money, I tell her the cost, including tax in a full dollar amount and quarter amount. For example, if the total is 12.56, she will need 12 dollars and 3 quarters. She can easily count that amount out. So I think your 5 year old would do well with that simple counting concept with allowance. My children are required to tithe 15%, save 20%, and spend the remainder. Some weeks, they only make a quarter or two because they choose not to do many commission chores. Other weeks they make $5 because they chose to do more chores.

  2. My son just turned two. He also goes to Montessori school. I have pondered the allowance thing. I have come to the conclusion that being opart of the familiy he needs to learn that chores are part of the familiy function. Monetary gain for being part of, and helping out, I feel is not right.

  3. I also have a hybrid approach. My son is 6.5 and We give him a dollar for spending and a dollar for savings each week. The third dollar is given when chores are done without complaining, etc. That goes in his spending envelope. While we don’t have a seperate envelope for giving, I intend to work with him using his money (spending and savings) to go to good causes.

  4. My oldest child is 4 1/2 and I have really been struggling with this issue. I want to teach my kids about budgeting, saving and giving because I don’t feel like my husband and I were taught well in this area. Although I still feel like my oldest is young for a physical allowance (as he still thinks coins and bills are fun things to sort and make into musical instruments, etc.), I have decided that I am going to start a virtual allowance. Rather than allowing every trip to the store to be a small battle and randomly deciding whether or not to buy that toy, marker set, snack, I will “give” my son $3 a week. A real quarter will go in a bank; a real quarter will go in his Sunday school offering and a virtual $2.50 will go with us on our weekly outings. I am hoping I can start teaching him what saving up for something good is about when he decides that he wants to blow the wad on the rides at the mall or some cheap toy at Target. At least I’m hoping it will give him some owndership of his purchasing choices so the “not todays” will have a good reason behind them. We’ll see how it goes!

  5. I agree with both Rob and FrugalDad: I believe chores are part of being a family member and do not want to link allowance to this. I also believe kids need an opportunity to earn extra cash.

    I have an 18-month-old and a 5 year old (Michael). We give Michael an allowance to help with budgeting skills; we discussed it with him and asked what he thought was a good amount, he chose $0.25 per day. He is paid on Saturday. We told him this was an allowance he was receiving because he is part of the family.

    He has just a couple chores a week that are “his” and which he picked himself when asked what he could do to help out. When discussing this, we explained that we all help keep the house clean etc. because we are part of the family. This discussion was not linked to the allowance discussion.

    In addition to the allowance, he has the opportunity, though not so structured as FrugalDad’s, to do extra chores for a set fee. This I planned to expand as he grows older; the system you outline seems to be a good, simple one.

    I admit, my feelings about allowance and chores developed out of my experience as a child. I could see what other kids were getting paid for doing the same things I was required to do and felt the inequity keenly. For example, my allowance was $15 per week; mowing the lawn was just one of several chores I was required to do. I knew other kids who were making $20 per lawn or more as hired-help. This made me really resent my parents for taking advantage of me for underpriced labor.

    • I love your ideas of letting the kids choose things they feel they would like to do as well as an amount they think is agreeable. I know it’s been awhile since you posted this, but I did want to let you know how I felt and that it’s a great addition to my thoughts for my children.

  6. Out of curiosity, you say that you were wrong but now how you were wrong? Was it that the kids were not doing their chores? Or was one earning far more than the other and creating an “earnings imbalance”? I’d love to know.

    In my opinion, there is an appropriate age (or developmental level) that a child should be before they can earn money. Before this level, the appreciation by mommy and daddy should be enough to approve of a job well done. After this, start making it incentive-based. This should coincide with the child’s understanding of the concept of money and the understanding of waiting until later. If they don’t understand what money it, the results would be obvious. If they don’t understand the concept of later, then they won’t be able to save for something they really want. It is a delicate situation and should be based on what the parents see in the development of their child and perhaps not based strictly on age.

    One thing I can say is that this is totally different from how I grew up. I would be lucky if I received $20 to spend every six months (or longer). And chore incentives were of the type “do them or you’re punished”. $5 a week would’ve been striking it rich for me.

  7. One suggestion: For the “savings” portion of their portfolio, make sure they have a goal for the money they are saving. Otherwise, it just feels like you are taking money away. I have my three children on a commission system (they also have to do simple helpful things that they don’t get paid for like set and clear the table, quick pick ups, etc.. We are a busy household and, frankly, I need their help or I have to hire a cleaning service. I figure we ought to keep it in the family. When I pay them, we divide the money four ways: giving 10%; college 20%; savings 20% and spending 50%. I match what they put save for college and invest it in a 529. For savings, they have to set a goal and, once reached, can spend it. Spending money is to blow however they choose. They quickly learn that they can reach savings goals quicker by making sacrifices on their spending and adding more to their spending bank.

  8. Have you ever read “First National Bank of Dad.” He has an interesting approach to this whole idea, especially related to kids “saving” money during childhood.

  9. @DavidK: I was wrong to tie every single chore to a commission, rather than setting a base list of chores for which they would be responsible and rewarded with a base allowance. I started to feel like I was micromanaging my kids’ chores, and they were only eager to do things around the house to get paid for it.

    Mixing the basic set of chores with a few opportunities for bonuses (commissions) seems to be the best of both worlds for us.

    @Jamie: Excellent point on creating a savings goal. I imagine my oldest will have both long term and short term goals (a car when she turns 16, and a new Disney movie that comes out next month). This will definitely keep them motivated, because saving money just to have a cushion doesn’t sound like much fun when you are that young!

    @John: I have not read that one, but I saw it reviewed over at The Simple Dollar and it is in my queue to check out.

  10. I highly recommend the book The First National Bank of Dad by David Owen. He rails against chore requirements as a condition of allowance, as well as telling kids how they must allocate their money, e.g. 1/3 each for savings, spending, and charity. He ended up doing something of a commission schedule for “extra” jobs as well, but is quick to point out the expectations that parents place on a “for hire” job.

  11. I equate allowance with the “blow money” my husband and I get each week as well – it isn’t much, but if I want to stop at Starbucks for a coffee once a month because that is a personal indulgence I enjoy, I can and I don’t have to feel guilty about “wasting” money.

    Our daughter is only a year old so we haven’t started an allowance system yet and when we do I’m not exactly sure how we’ll implement it but we’ll do something.

    My brother & sister in law have a neat plan in place for their kids that is working well for them, their kids didn’t like it at first but now they do and I think we will do the same thing for our child – any money their kids receive, allowance, gifts, payment for jobs they do for other people first they give tithes – 10% and offering – 5%, then half of what is left goes into their savings account the other half they can spend, give, or do whatever they want to with it. The kids receive quite a bit of cash from relatives and then do get money from Mom and Dad too – they are learning about giving, saving and spending. Also if there is a high dollar toy that the kids want their parents make them save at least half the price of the toy and then may give them the balance as a Christmas or Birthday gift so that they can then purchase the toy – the kids appreciate those toys a whole lot more than they did in the past.

  12. I have 4 children varying in age from 16 to 9. My older two recieve 15 dollars weekly(Two dollars daily with a one dollar bonus). My younger two recieve 5 dollars weekly. The way it works with the older two is they have set chores my son is in charge of kitchen cleanup(this includes wiping down stove and counters, sweeping and doing dishes daily and cleaning out the fridge and mopping floors weekly). My daughter is in charge of the laundry room.(This includes doing a daily load of laundry both washed, dried and put up as well as taking out trash and placing trash out for collection weekly). The older two know that if their obligations aren’t met one day that I dock money from thier allowance and they lose their bonus, additionally if I find that they have decided to gundeck(cheat a little) they lose thier allowance for the two week period(in essence they get fired). If they get “fired” they also find they are unable to do stuff like attend the all night skates or pool functions that are reserved for older child status. I hope this is imparting to them that being older does have its privileges but also responsibility. As for the youmger two I cut them a little slack because they are still settling into the routine. The eleven year old will get big kid status in a year and will know the drill, the youngest still has a bit to go. They know that “helping” is integral and if they want to do things then they have to pitch in.

  13. Although I don’t have kids, my dad had a great system for me (almost 12 years ago). At seventeen I received $20/week which covered my basic expenses, food at school and most of my gas for my little jetta.* In order to get my allowance for the next week I had to submit an expense log from my dad detailing every penny with attached receipts and we would discuss whether I was happy with my purchases and how to make adjustments in the future. It taught me great analysis skills early on.

    *Although I would’ve like to earn my own money at that age I was already in college and my parents were in the “school is your job” set.

    • I like the idea of an expense log – but at 17, I was employed at a job outside the home…and my parents did not give me any extra money beyond food, clothing (basics) and shelter. If I wanted something extra, I asked for the hours at work and earned the money myself.

  14. I have to say this information is very useful. There are chore a child should be responsible for without expecting pay such as cleaning your room, feeding/walking the dogs and cleaning off the table. I also have my oldest put away dishes. Now for other jobs such as helping out the younger two (ages 4&2) clean there room, clean their bathroom, actually do the dishes, vacuum, or maybe even clean windows i thing it would be a good idea to pay them to do it. I have 4 children and a to big for me house 2300 sq (maybe not so big for most but very overwhelming)so the extra help is very appreciated. Plus it shows them how to work for money and not get it just because. As far as allotting for spending, savings, etc I thing that at least make them save a portion. This way they will learn to save and not spend everything. I wish i would can been taught that growing up. Now if we have an emergency we are pretty much in a knot. But that is just my humble opinion.

  15. OK. I am way behind. My kids are 8-11. None of them get allowances. None get paid for chores. They collect money (gifts, tokens from Dad, etc); save most of it; don’t buy much of anything.

    We are opening savings accounts so there money can be safe. They don’t get piles of gift money. But they don’t spend much–and hence accumulate money (they do the same with candy).

    Strangely–they seem quite happy, contented, and OK.

  16. I’ve heard that “First National Bank of Dad” doesn’t support the “giving” category. However, I think that whether or not to require a “giving” category is highly personal, and depends largely on the parent’s own value system &/or religious beliefs, which (as a parent) I think is entirely my right to teach to my children. It is perfectly appropriate for parents to expect their kids to set aside a portion of their earnings for giving if it supports a core family value. BUT – the parents must also set the example of giving, or it sends a mixed message to the kids. :)

  17. My wife and just started the Dave Ramsey course and liked the idea of paying our daughter a commission instead of an allowance. She will be 13 in February and has no clue about what things cost. She has chores that she does not fully complete. We want her to start buying things she wants with her own allowance. I love the idea of a base allowance and then a bonus pay schedule. I also like the idea of making her save some and give some. Thanks for posting this. I will report back on will it is working.

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