Should An Allowance Be Connected To Chores?

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Like many boys right now my eldest is crazy about that blocky game Minecraft and anything to do with it. Of course this also means there are many Minecraft related items he wants his mom & I to buy for him, namely Minecraft Lego.

“Perfect” I think to myself – here’s an opportunity to teach him the value of hard work and monetary rewards. So we sit down and I say “ok sonny Jim, you’re old enough to start earning an allowance so you can buy those things you want”. Well, he wasn’t too excited when he realized he’d have to work for it, but thankfully he wants the Lego Minecraft and has connected the dots that work leads to money which leads to buying things.

How much should it be? This is tough as you don’t want to be paying too far above or below the market rate (also known as “what everyone else is getting”) so we followed a formula which seems to be about right. $1 for every year of age, so being 7 he can earn $7/week.

Now, I was feeling quite smug but then I remembered when I was getting an allowance growing up (or pocket money as it’s called in England) I started to expect that I should be paid for any little bit of work I did around the house. As my mother would attest I was a bit of a bugger growing up. After that recollection my wife and I have been discussing whether chores should be rewarded with pocket money.

We broke it down and there are 3 separate lessons here which we want to impart on our son:

1. We all have chores to do and have to help regardless.

2. Money management and saving for bigger things.

3. Earning money and not being given everything.

The tricky part is how to balance 1 & 3 so chores that are expected aren’t being “paid for”. We think we’ve worked out a fair system. The list of chores is split in 2 – the first part of the list are all the expected responsibilities such as tidying up toys, clearing dishes from the table and making the bed. The 2nd part of the list are the jobs he can do to earn his $7. This way he can’t be a lazy sod and do nothing and not earn any allowance as he still has to complete his basic chores like everyone else, but to earn his allowance he needs to take on some extra responsibility.

We’re hoping that he’ll have some understanding of saving for bigger purchases before he’s old enough to wash cars and mow lawns and starts rolling in the big bucks!

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