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Work It, Kid (Or Not)

Categories: Fighting the Stereotype


“Is this chore for allowance?”

That’s the question of the day, lately. (Sometimes, several times a day.)

“What would Caroline Ingalls say to that?” is my usual reply. I figure chores are part of being a family, part of contributing to a household. In a single-parent household with four pets, the kids need to step it up even more.

There are exceptions. Here at Chez Mom, the answer is usually no to cash for chores unless it’s a BIG chore that goes the extra mile, i.e., cleaning up the winter’s fossilized dog poo during the muck of the spring thaw, or a massive purge of old clothes and toys to give away. I tend to cave when the big jobs are done willingly and with a smile.

But my older one pointed out that I’m hopeless about providing a regular allowance. “If it’s not for chores— which, okay, I understand—then how do I earn money regularly? No offense, Mom, but you, like, NEVER give us allowance. You never have cash. You always forget.”

She’s right. I’m lousy at the allowance thing. And I can’t remember how Mary and Laura Ingalls earned their pennies to use at the Olsen’s store for a piece of candy once in a while. My gals hanker less for candy than they do for the occasional app or Kindle book, and at 8 and almost 11, they’re not getting gigs as mother’s helpers too often.

“Mom. You didn’t answer me.”

“Give me a week. I’m thinking about it,” I say. “This is confusing stuff for grownups. What does your dad do?”

“He forgets, like you.”


I stumbled across an article about allowance over at Scholastic. The article, like others I’ve read, suggests that linking allowance to chores or grades or behavior is a bad move. The article also suggests that if parents aren’t consistent with allowance, the kids don’t get a chance to learn how to budget.

At the same time, I’m pretty sure my allowance was conditional on chores, and I don’t think it did me any long-lasting harm (although I’m not exactly a star performer at household budgeting, it’s true).

What’s your take on kids and money? How do you handle allowance with your kids?

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3 comments so far...

  • My 9- and 12-year-old girls have chores and get a small allowance. They have to be “reminded” daily to do their chores, and they don’t do them very well. They still get an allowance at the end of the month, though. (If you’re interested, they get $10 each per week, and they each have three or four chores to do every day.) I think I should make them do a better job, but I just don’t have the time or patience to follow through. Plus, their allowance isn’t much, and they really look forward to that money. We don’t have a lot and don’t spend frivolously, so it’s their one chance to buy whatever they want…

    Good luck with that! ;)

    Keryn  |  March 26th, 2012 at 3:45 pm

  • We are starting to give our son (soon to be 4) an allowance for some chores around the house.

    I believe, like you, that being part of a functioning household means doing some of the work…but I also want him to have spending money…so we rotate which chores are worth allowance every so often.

    Double win as it gives him the opportunity to learn new skills (putting dishes in the dishwasher, sorting clothes to go in the washer, putting away clothes, whatever) and gives him the opportunity to start learning about money, while ensuring he understands that keeping house is a responsibility whether there is money at the end of the chore or not.

    Now if I could just be more consistent about remembering to mark the chore chart and pay him! haha!

    Mel  |  March 29th, 2012 at 1:01 pm

  • Paying my daughter’s allowance got a lot easier once I started an allowance stash: I get $20 in ones from the bank and save them specifically for allowances. It also helps that she’s more aware of the days of the week and will remind me it’s allowance day.

    Right now my daughter gets $1 a week of pure spending money. It is not tied to chores. Once she’s a bit older I’d like to give her more but also pass on some savings responsibilities and also give her some expenses to be responsible for. The challenge is we live in a rural area and spending opportunities are few and far between. The plus side is she doesn’t need a big allowance. The down side is she doesn’t get much experience in spending and resisting temptation.

    Jenn  |  April 1st, 2012 at 11:00 am