Should Allowance Be Tied To Chores?

According to this Kiplinger column, 40% of parents say they don’t link their kids’ allowances to the chores they do.

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  1. j-o-h-n says:

    Our son gets an allowance – partly to teach basic money skills and partly because to eliminate the “gimme”s in stores when he was younger. If he had the money he could buy what he wanted, if not, sorry, save up. I think it worked very well.

    He is expected to do his ‘chores’ regardless.

  2. I picked the later assuming we’re talking about normal, everyday chores like cleaning your room. You clean your room because you’re supposed to not because you’re getting paid.

    Pay for extra chores would make sense though.

  3. B says:

    @j-o-h-n: I agree that kids should have an allowance, but the allowance doesn’t need to be tied to chores. Having an allowance teaches them financial responsibility.

  4. Kornkob says:

    There’s a 3rd option here and this poll misses the middle ground. Monetize ‘extras’ but ‘normal’ chores are merely a part of being a good roommate, if nothing else.

  5. mopar_man says:

    I picked the first reason. I believe that’s part of why there’s so many kids running around these days with their hands out wanting money for nothing. Their parents started that by just giving them money when they asked for it and not having to do anything in return. I did chores around the house when I was younger and got paid for it. If I didn’t do them, I didn’t get paid, simple as that.

  6. jeffj-nj says:

    I was expected to clean the dishes or set the table (on alternating weeks with my sister) and mow the lawn every weekend. As I recall, I did those things for free.

    So, yeah, I chose the first choice. If I’m gonna be doing stuff, I’d like an allowance.

  7. xkaluv says:

    Dave Ramsey says yes… his logic is pretty good. When you grow up you don’t get anything for free and there is nothing wrong with teaching your children to be good working class citizens.

  8. B says:

    @xkaluv: So it’s important to teach kids that the only reason to do something is because they will get paid for it?

  9. enm4r says:

    I did chores around the house because that’s what you do. I’d have a hard time going on strike because my compensation wasn’t high enough…I’m sure my parents would have loved that.

    My parents tried to do an allowance thing, it was too much work, no benefit. So if I ever wanted something, my parents would decide if I should get it. Luckily for me (or maybe them) all I really wanted were some Legos and sports equipment. I think I knew my parents spent enough on all the sports leagues and equipment that I never really wanted anything else, and even if I did, I knew I wouldn’t have time.

    I guess I can only hope my kids don’t want all those worthless toys or care about having 17 similar pairs of shirts.

  10. DashTheHand says:

    When I was a kid, my parents basically bribed me to do chores and get high marks in school with the reward of an allowance, and special ‘hours’ of time that I could spend with them doing things like playing catch and etc. Too bad I learned that even though I did those things, they were tightwads on both sets of rewards. I’d probably care more about chores these days if they had kept their end of the deal.

  11. overbysara says:

    I agree with Kornkob. There should be more options in the poll.

    3rd: General chores are a shared responsibility just because you are part of the family, but ‘extra chores’ could result in an allowance. 4th: Allowance is given, not connected to chores, to teach financial responsibility. However, chores are shared and expected – not doing them could result in monetary or other form of punishment or grounding.

  12. raybury says:

    @B: The best lesson is when you don’t do stuff and don’t get paid.

  13. Virginia Consumer says:

    I think that this poll, as with many polls, is very misleading. The questions are loaded to favor the position of the author (the consumerist in this case). The question should have stuck to the point.

    1. Do you think children should receive an allowance for chores?
    a. Yes, allowance is based on performance of chores and other household duties.
    b. No, allowance is a privilege, chores are a separate responsibility.

    The extra comments about cash management and asking for money are complete separate issues. Cash management is tied to receiving an allowance in general which was not the point of the question. As for asking for money that is also tied to receiving allowance in general and could have been tied to either one. By tying the extra phrases the way that was done the consumerist was pandering to their own point of view rather than promoting an open discussion of the topic at hand.

    By the way we give allowance separate from chores since it builds financial responsibly and money management. Chores are also required to support the family and a necessary part of daily life. Not doing chores results in more swift and timely consequences.

  14. bluemeep says:

    I never had an allowance as a kid. Might be part of the reason I didn’t know the value of a dollar until far later than I should have.

  15. 6BilBeauties says:

    Our children are expected to do chores without monetary compensation. When they do “extra” jobs, we will reward them with money or something special. When they go above and beyond what is expected of them, then they are rewarded. Expected jobs are completed with the satisfaction of knowing that they are contributing to the family. We have a big family and everyone needs to pitch in to get the work done.

  16. B says:

    @raybury: Nah, if you don’t do the work, you get punished.

  17. enm4r says:

    @xkaluv: Ramsey’s logic is never good. I won’t disagree that he’s helped people out of debt, but it’s through motivation, not through logic.

  18. @j-o-h-n: I agree. I picked the 2nd one, but in my universe kids don’t ask for money, they receive age-appropriate allowances to teach money management. Not tied to chores. And when they turn 16 they get jobs if they want cash. :)

  19. Coder4Life says:

    how is this technology related or bitching about companies related?

    Come on Ben.. we want to hear more bitch stories about sprint or cingular or something.. those always get my work day going..

  20. Sudonum says:

    While growing up we were expected to do chores around the house, mowing the lawn, taking out the trash, etc, without any compensation. Whenever my mother had a special project then we got extra money. Now my kids are expected to do the same.

    The wife has also started giving bonuses for grades. One hundred bucks for every “A” you bring home. Shop and PE don’t count. An “F” cancels out ALL “A”‘s and one “D” cancels out one “A”. She stated this when the younger boy started middle school. He also looses “toys”. He got a “D” last quarter and lost his iPod until the next report card when he brought it up to a “C”.

  21. enm4r says:

    @Sudonum: The wife has also started giving bonuses for grades. One hundred bucks for every “A” you bring home. Shop and PE don’t count.

    Holy shit, I would have left high school filthy rich. I realize we all have different motivations, but I don’t see how offering money for grades really give that significant of an incentive. I’ve also noticed that the people getting good grades aren’t working for money, and those who have money on the table, don’t get good grades. Obviously there’s a disconnect.

    If you can’t find a reason to get your kids to care about themselves enough to get decent grades, you should probably find another approach. I realize I don’t have any kids, but I think the monetary incentive is all wrong. I didn’t get good grades because I wanted money, or because I had stuff threatened to take away, I did (my first non A came in college) because it was like a game, I couldn’t believe how little I could do and still be at the top of my class.

    Sure, that approach isn’t possible for everyone, but I would think there is some way to get through to your kid that what he’s learning, and what he can show for it at the end of high school will actually be important and can only make his life easier from there out.

  22. Suppafly says:

    If you want to give your kids an allowance, just give it to them. Chores should be an expected as being part of the family.

    If you tie the allowance to chores, eventually your kids will stop doing chores and just have no money or will get a job leaving you to do their share of the chores.

  23. ncboxer says:

    I think a good idea for teaching financial responsibility is to enroll kids in the kids program that most banks have. I’m not sure how it works nowadays, but when my parents did it, I had a savings account and put b-day, holiday, and “special” chore money in it. It taught me a lot about watching my finances. Most chores I did because I was expected to contribute, not to get extra money (not that my parents even had extra money to give).

    I personally do not give money to my son for chores, he is expected to clean up after himself and do some light work around the house. I usually buy things for him when he reaches goals- like doing good in school and staying out of trouble. I never succumb to the- “can I please have this” at the store. I say nope, and keep moving. Maybe as he gets older, I might monetize some bigger things like mowing the grass or scrubbing the floor.

  24. balagon says:

    Another vote for option 3 (chores are not tied to allowance, but an allowance is given to teach fiscal responsibility and eliminate the gimmes). I’d have voted for option 2 if the final sentence about “if kids want money, they can ask for it or start a lemonade stand” was left off, option 2 would fit nicely.

    Allowance goes up each year. So does the number of chores. If a child wants to earn extra money, there is a list of chores that can be taken on for additional pay.

  25. mefinney says:

    Work = Get Paid
    Don’t Work = Don’t Get Paid

    Isn’t this how it works in the real world?

  26. B says:

    @mefinney: Except nobody pays you to do the dishes or clean your room.

  27. JayThree says:

    The problem with tying chores to allowance is if the child has saved money or is given money from other sources (like a birthday for example) they will feel like they can say no to chores and forego the allowance that week if they want to. Everyday chores should be done as part of being a good citizen of the family, Other chores can be done as part of a job for an allowance. Just make sure they are chores you are willing to do yourself if the child decides they don’t need the money.

  28. Scuba Steve says:

    I think chores are good, and I think allowances are good. I don’t think tying them together is good.

    1. Chores are not just about paying your children. They’re also about teaching them household activities so they aren’t slobs when they move out.

    2. Allowance can be about work, but it needs to be tied to chores that aren’t mandatory.

    The problem with tying the two together is that once the children get some sort of money outside of allowance the whole incentive for doing chores goes out the window.

    Kids are lazy, rich kids doubly so.

  29. @ncboxer: “Maybe as he gets older, I might monetize some bigger things like mowing the grass or scrubbing the floor.”

    I’m not sure if this is widespread or my personal familial weirdness, but my parents only paid me for big chores/major family responsibilities when there was an opportunity cost involved for me. That is, as the oldest of 4 I babysat my siblings a LOT for free, but when I had an offer for an actual outside babysitting job on a Friday night, my parents paid me to babysit. Less than the going rate, because babysitting was part of my family responsibilities, but something to recognize the opportunity cost there. (This also applied if they asked me to miss a major social event like a school dance or a concert or whatever.) I don’t know exactly how you could turn that to lawnmowing, though. :)

    @mefinney: “Work = Get Paid / Don’t Work = Don’t Get Paid”

    Except we’re talking about HOUSEWORK, and nobody gets paid to do their own housework. If a kid has a JOB, like a paper route or pet sitting or baby sitting or cleaning someone ELSE’S house, then they get paid. But I haven’t ever noticed anybody writing me a check for the sometimes-arduous labor of keeping a household going.

    Maybe if we’re trying to be realistic about “how things work,” kids should be paying mom and dad for all the housework the parents do for the kids. After all, it’s not like meals arrive on the table prepared and free in the real world.

  30. j-o-h-n says:

    @Sudonum: [money for grades]

    You might want to read up on internal vs. external motivation — it’s fairly generally held that paying for grades is a bad idea…

  31. RulesLawyer says:

    @JayThree: “if the child has saved money or is given money from other sources … they will feel like they can say no to chores”

    Hear hear. Even worse, imagine this situation:

    Dad: “Jenny, time to do the dishes.”

    Daughter: “You do it, dad. Here’s a buck.”

  32. Anitra says:

    I had an allowance as a kid, and two categories of housework. One was chores that I had to do, not connected to money in any way. These included cleaning my room, taking out the trash, and various cleaning chores. The second was extra work that I got paid for on top of my allowance, usually yard work like mowing the lawn or raking the leaves.

    The thing my parents didn’t count on was that I was very thrifty and sometimes valued my free time over the money I would get. Early on, this resulted in nagging, later they realized they needed to raise the price to make it worth my while. Even raising my “prices”, I was still cheaper than getting the neighborhood kids to do the work.

  33. Malethos says:

    Allowance and chores are two related, but seperate issues. A child should recieve a nominal allowance (age apropriate) to use for their basic spending/saving account. This will teach them basic budget and money managment skills.

    A child should also have a set of expected (simple and age appropriate) chores that they are expected to do, and apropriate punishments should be attached to non performance of these chores. Attaching money to them is a mistake IMHO — they should simply be expected to be done.

    If there are “extrordinary” chores that you wish done you may offer financial rewards for them, but they are an entirely seperate point.

  34. pestie says:

    Where’s the option for “don’t have kids and keep all the money for myself?”

  35. Sudonum says:

    @j-o-h-n: @enm4r:
    I didn’t say I agreed with it or if it was working. I just stated that was what my wife was using to try and motivate him. I find that having fewer distractions (ie iPod) is sufficient motivation.

    FWIW He did close out last school year with 2 “A”‘s and 2 high “B”‘s. He also brought a failing grade in Algebra up to a “C”. Tutoring in math also helped.

    And the monetary incentive is addition to all the other forms of motivation stated, such as caring about yourself and preparing yourself for your future, etc. That was one of the challenges with algebra, showing him how what he is learning there is applied to the real world.

  36. Do either of these teach kids good spending habits, or do they just teach kids to spend? To be responsible once they have their first credit card?

    I agree with option 3: extra $ for additional help, no extra $ for chores.

    Either way though: kids learn through watching just as much as through doing. Learning how to evaluate and resist superflous purchases is necessary to keep kids from going off the deep end once they get a credit card in college.

    For the record, while my spirit is with option 3 above, I would have gone with option 4 as described by Pestie: never have kids.

  37. Sudonum says:

    Also FWIW, he started getting low grades after Katrina, when he was in 3 different schools in in 2 states for that school year. He was also bugging about a way he could make some money. He was told his “job” was going to school and getting good grades.

  38. Sinflux says:

    I had a list of 100 chores, if I did all of them I got $5 a week, 80% $4 and so on. (I never got the $5).

    (I grew up in the 80s/90s just to put things in perspective)

    @Sudonum: Jesus christ. I got $5 per A and $10 per A if I got all A’s. I don’t even know what I would’ve done with that much money.

  39. bryus says:

    The problem with this discussion is its to black/white. There is gray in the middle. Scuba Steve makes a good point.

    Giving money for no work teaches dependence, not self-reliance. Tying all chore to money facilitates laziness.

    Unless you have a trust fund you will never get money for not doing anything in the real world. On the other hand if you never do anything without getting paid for it you will live in filth because no one will pay you to do the dishes or wash your clothes.

    My 10-year-old son gets an allowance per a book I read earlier this year. Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Financially Responsible Children by Neale S. Godfrey.

    She divides chores into two categories. There are mandatory chores not tied to allowance and there are chores that are tied to an allowance.

    My son has to do all his chores, he’s not allowed to skip any of them. If the allowance chores are done he gets his allowance. If they aren’t, he doesn’t. However, he still has to do chores like clean his room, a mandatory chore.

    I think it has, in the 15 weeks or so we have been doing it, shown him the value of money. He has learned that if he works, he will get paid for his work. He has also learned to save for what he wants and to make smart choices.

    He receives $10 a week which he divides as such:
    $1 charity envelope
    $3 short term savings envelope
    $3 long term savings envelope
    $3 disposable income

    Our first big success was the time he bought a “Choco Taco” from the ice cream truck. It was $3, his whole disposable income for the week, and he was disappointed with it. He came to the conclusion that he won’t buy anything from the ice cream truck until they cut their prices in half.

    He even puts some of his disposable income into the short term savings envelope to speed up his savings for that game he wants.

  40. bonzombiekitty says:

    Allowance? What is this allowance you speak of?

    I never got an actual allowance when I was growing up. Prior to being a teenager, I rarely did anything with friends that cost money, outside of the occasional movie or something. If I ever needed money to do something, my parents would give it to me. If they didn’t think I’d deserve it, they’d tell me. If they wanted me to do a chore and I refused, there would be some sort of punishment along the lines. But then again, me and my siblings were usually pretty well behaved.

    By the time I was a teenager, I got money for mowing my neighbor’s lawn. That was the bulk of my spending money, especially during the summer. After that I got an after school job.

    I didn’t have my parents give me all that much money to spend as I wanted. I think since I got my driver’s license, I’ve only asked my parents for money a few times.

  41. SaraAB87 says:

    I grew up in the 80s. I was basically bribed into getting good grades by getting paid for good grades, even through high school and college. It worked VERY well on me though and I consistantly had good grades and it was something my parents never had to worry about. I graduated high school with an average over 90%. I honestly didn’t get that much money though, because friends of mine got much more than I did for getting good grades.

    I was also given a bank account when I was very young, about 8 years old, and pretty much all my birthday and christmas and large monetary gifts were deposited in the account. This is another thing that worked very well for me as it taught me the value of a dollar and that saving money is good. It also taught me to be frugal and to not spend my money wildly. If I ever had kids I would get them a savings account and do the same right away, it really works wonders in teaching them about money. I feel this is the most important thing in teaching a kid how to save and manage money, give them a bank account!

    I don’t think my parents had a huge burden with me as in wanting toys because I am an only child. We had video games in the 80s but for some reason I didn’t desire them like other kids and like kids nowadays do. I guess I was pretty much happy with what I had. Believe me I had no shortage of toys either but it seems that 90% of the toys that I had got played with and I got use out of them, instead of tossing them into the corner for another toy like most kids nowadays do after 5 min of play with a newly-bought toy.

    Another really ironic thing is that my parents saved most of my old toys that were in good condition, I took them to ebay and sold them, and made around 1k of money, so even now that I am older I was STILL able to get something out of my old toys!

    Nowadays when kids get money for their birthdays or christmas it is spent right away on a trip to the toy store or on expensive video games that are left to rot after playing 1-2 times and there is no money whatsoever saved in the bank for when they get older. Eventually all these toys and video games are tossed aside for the next big thing and are left to rot in the bottom of the toy box. Then there is nothing left when the kid gets older and starts wanting things like… a car because it was all spent on things that they only liked for a short amount of time. This is when the parents kick in and start handing things to the kid, or make the kid get a job to pay for their own stuff. Parents at least recycle your kids old toys and video games by selling them on ebay and putting the money back into your kids, or starting a bank account for them and putting the money into there, so they can have something when they get older and start taking on real responsibility.

  42. anatak says:

    Yep! One of the best lessons you can teach right there.

    Unfortunately, there’s much more to Ramsey’s method than that. Such as:
    1> There are some chores that you do, because you are a member of the family, and don’t get paid for.
    2> Yes, “work = get paid :: don’t work = don’t get paid”, but also, “don’t work long enough and you’re in trouble”
    3> With the money you earn, you will spend, save, and give in appropriate ratios.
    4> Age appropriate chores/rewards/consequences. My 3 year old feeds the dogs for a quarter.

    It is a great method, and its more than just theory. I’d recommend reading his book, or listening to one of his “Kids and Money” theme hours. You’ll learn a lot.

  43. Sudonum says:

    He doesn’t do anything with it except save it. He won’t spend HIS money. He wants a safe to keep it in this year for his birthday. He’s got around $600 he’s saved for the last 5 years. I told him instead of a safe to put in a savings account. He’s thinking about that one.

    If we go to a store and he wants something he’ll ask me or the wife to buy it for him. Unless it’s school related, we’ll tell him to spend his own money, 9 times out of 10 he’ll decide it’s not worth it. I think he’s saving up hoping we’ll let him get a quad-runner when he’s got enough money.

  44. SaraAB87 says:

    Man 100$ per A, I would have been filthy rich with that type of reward, not to mention I am guessing I would have had no idea what to do with the money so it would have gone into the savings account. We had the honor system in school so I was basically tossed a 20$ bill if I hit 2nd honors and later I started hitting first honors (over 90%) so my parents got shocked and handed me a 50$ bill and told me to keep it up. It worked but was not an excessive amount of money. My one friend got paid a lot more than this, his parents were even offering him about 500-1000 if he got on the honor roll at his college.

    Chores around here are strange, my parents preferred to do all the work themselves so I never had any daily chores to do, beyond of course cleaning my own room, managing my own possessions and clothes, and just doing small amounts of general cleanup around the house.

    Clothing was obviously bought for me but again, I never asked for excessive amounts of clothing, I basically only got clothes when current clothes wore out or when I outgrew them. Going to a catholic school and wearing a uniform helped with this A LOT. Plus this also helped because I did not need to have that many clothes since a uniform was worn every day. My mother is a very frugal shopper and still is, and she taught me well and to not overpay for something just because you think you need to have it now. I am eternally grateful

  45. superlayne says:

    My parents pay me my age for cleaning the bathrooms. I still have to clean my room and crap, but I get ‘paid’ for cleaning the bathrooms every Sunday.

    The trick is, my parents don ‘t give me any cash or anything. So, if they’re broke, I’m broke.

    If I didn’t get paid I would flat out not do my chores, punishments be damned. I have no other way to get any income, and my parents reasonably don’t like to splurge on me.

    My friend, though, gets no allowance at all. The only money he earns is from his part-part-part time job, yet he probably has to do 10 times as much as me on a given day. He’s pretty much brainwashed, though.

  46. traezer says:

    Well, I never got an allowance. :( So, once I got my first job I horded every penny, and I still do.

  47. Gloria says:

    I’m pretty sure my parents didn’t get paid for doing their chores … e.g. changing my diapers, rocking me to sleep when I wouldn’t stop screaming my head off, taking me to school, and cooking my dinners.

    So why the hell should I get paid for doing mine? There are jobs, and then there are responsibilities.

    I also didn’t get paid for my grades. What do you with kids who get Cs? Charge them $100? At what point do you go from teaching financial responsibility to relying on your wallet to do your parenting for you?

  48. Promethean says:

    I think kids should either get an allowance or ask for the money. There should still be chores, but I’d be reluctant to tie it directly to the chores. Daily maintenance, keeping things somewhat clean & organized, these are facts of life. To pay kids for it ingrains too much of an attitude there’s a quid-pro-quo for everything in life. I’ve seen kids who have this attitude: “How much if I eat all my dinner? What about my homework? How about walking the dog?”

    I don’t go in for that. Don’t eat your dinner? You’ll get hungry. Don’t do your homework? Embarrass yourself in front of your class and repeat a grade. Don’t walk the dog? You have to sleep with the smell after it shits in your bedroom. Your “payment” for doing that stuff is not having to deal with the intrinsic consequences.

  49. mac-phisto says:

    there was an absolutely awesome article related to this in new york magazine a couple years back:


    i guess what made it so interesting is the subjects: uber-rich private school preppies on the upper west side.

    the most striking example was a billionaire’s mooch heiress who bums money off all her friends b/c her parents only giver her $20/week.

    i think this is from the january 2005 issue which also had some other great articles on “the politics of allowance”.

  50. LAGirl says:

    hell yes! back in my day, i had to do chores to get my allowance. kids today need to be taught responsibility.

    did i mention that i also had to walk to school. 10 miles in the snow. both ways. barefoot.

  51. rbdfoxes says:

    I got paid to do chores when I was little. But now my husband doesn’t pay me, so I don’t do chores. My parents clearly wanted to teach me about the value of money, but it was at the expense of teaching me the value of cleaning shit up. That sorta backfired.

  52. ElizabethD says:

    Why should parents have to pay their kids to do normal maintenance work around the house? That’s crazy talk! Kiddos, you do the work, period. Nobody’s paying ME, aka Mom, to cook those meals every night.

    You get the allowance, no strings attached, until you’re old enough to land a real paying job. At which point you *still* have to pitch in around the house. I strenuously object to any system that teaches kids that they must be bribed (in effect) by parents to do their share of the housework.

  53. TVarmy says:

    I said yes, but my stance is a bit more complicated. I feel chores are the kid’s “civic duty” to the household. If an adult gets summoned for jury duty and does not go or offer an excuse, the adult is fined and/or otherwise penalized. Likewise, a kid should have his or her allowance docked and possibly also face grounding for not doing chores. Doing chores should not earn extra money; allowance should be based on other factors.

  54. synergy says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: IAWTC Once you grow up, no one is going to pay you for doing your chores.