What Should You Pay Your Child For?
parent, you must decide what ways you deem appropriate for your
child to earn money. There are many different ways to pay your
children, and it depends on their personalities, habits,
attitudes, and the choices they make on a daily basis.
I’ll use my
children as an example. Both my kids can earn $14.00 a week base
pay. Do they? NEVER! Nevertheless, they could earn this amount
if they did everything I am willing to pay for.
beginning, I was never able to get out of the house in the
morning on time. Someone was always in a bad mood, upset, and
late for school. I was frustrated every day before 8:00 am. I
sat my kids down and said, “Okay, the deal is that I will pay
you a dollar every morning if you:
get up on time(10 cents)
take a shower (10 cents)
brush and floss your teeth (25 cents)
brush your hair (10 cents)
get dressed (10 cents)
eat breakfast (10 cents)
put your homework in your backpacks (10
put your lunch or lunch money in your
backpacks (10 cents)
and if you’re ready to walk out the door at
8:00 am (5 cents).”
both extremely excited, and we made a deal. I wrote it on a
piece of paper, and daily, they would do what was on the list to
earn that dollar. I must say it was the best dollar I ever
it became a habit for both of them, and I never had to ask my
kids to do their morning routine. It took awhile to get into the
habit, but both of my children knew the reward that would be
waiting for them.
it was not the money as much as it was the reward and benefit of
accountability that my kids were learning. And that is how the
Allowance Chart - It’s Only a Dollar… Until You Add to It!
I made up
samples and had all my friends try it out – many against their
wills – but when I explained the benefits, they were willing to
try it. And they ended up loving it!
kids are older, and the chores have changed. Once my kids get in
the habit of consistently doing what is asked, I move on to
something else. At 10 and 12, my kids know how to vacuum, clean
bathrooms, wash windows, and do the laundry. My son says he’s
probably the only one of his friends who can do his own laundry
and keep the house clean. I told him his future wife will be
thanking me for years.
your children to be independent and self-sufficient will build
their confidence and self-esteem, which is every parent’s goal
How to Pay an Allowance
has its own income bracket, and every family spends a certain
amount on the needs and wants of the children in the household.
What I’m proposing will not cost you any more money, but it will
teach a valuable lesson to your child and actually save you
money now and in the future.
example, imagine that you bought your child a music CD ($20),
candy throughout the month ($5), a blockbuster video or DVD
($8), a T-shirt your child had to have ($17), plus $50 on other
items your child didn’t need but wanted. This is not including
lunch money, school activities, food, and the 100 other things
you spend money on throughout the month.
$50 by 4 weeks = $12.50
$12.50 by 7 days = $1.78
you allow your child to earn the $50 a month or $12.50 a week,
$1.78 a-day, and have your child spend this money on the items
you normally buy for them anyway.
spend this $50 monthly, your children are influencing you about
how you spend YOUR money. When they earn this $50 instead, they
learn to decide how they will spend THEIR money. This will have
an invaluable impact on your children. They will learn the value
of money and the effect of the choices they make with their
How Do You Decide What to Pay For?
parents reward their children for “extra chores,” and some
parents reward their children for “behavior.” Other parents want
their children to earn outside the home. I will touch on each
area and break it down.
can be set up in
this fashion: In the beginning, if you haven’t set up a list of
certain chores, it’s best to start small and build up to the
expect you to keep your room clean daily and set the table
nightly without reward because this helps the family unit and
keeps it running smoothly. I will pay you to clean the bathroom,
do the laundry, and empty the dishwasher on these specific days,
and this is the amount you will earn for doing so. Also, from
this point forward, items like candy, CDs, and other incidentals
will be purchased from the money you have earned.
busy life we all have, make sure your child will have the time
between homework and activities to do what you ask. Both of my
kids participate in sports, and I schedule small amounts of
chores on these days. You don’t want to set your child up for
out and your child asks you to buy them something, simply say,
“Yes, you can have that, but you need to use your own money.”
You most likely will get a reaction like, “But, I don’t want to
waste my money.” Just say, “I understand, but I really don’t
like wasting my money either. If you really want it, though, you
can have it.” I must say the first time I got this reaction from
my children, it was very rewarding. They both looked at me in
shock. I said yes, but they had to use their money. They were
speechless because they didn’t have a comeback.
also teach your child the valuable lesson of choice. We all have
choices in how we spend our money, and the sooner your child
makes these choices on their own, the better. It’s like failing
forward. When your child makes financial mistakes early on, they
learn to make better choices later. Imagine if your child never
handled money, then moved out, bought a car, but couldn’t afford
it. This financial mistake will last a long, long time.
This is a
delicate subject. Should you pay for behavior? Psychologists say
no. But when you have a child that misbehaves, you will do
anything to rectify the situation. I will say that my son is
more behavior-based, and my daughter is more chore-based. I like
to say that I am breaking a habit versus a behavior, but they
are basically the same thing.
If you have
two kids who antagonize each other, that is a behavior, but it’s
also a habit which has become natural to them. I decided one day
to pay my kids a dollar if they didn’t fight the whole day.
Guess what? It worked! And it worked better than anything else I
had tried in the past. What I did was reward them for acting in
a different way. They thought about how their reaction to each
other would hurt their reward, so they made a better choice.
It’s similar to the person who talks negatively all the time.
After awhile, they don’t even hear the negativity in their words
because it has become a habit.
reward your child for breaking bad habits. If your child has the
habit of never picking up dirty clothes and putting them in the
laundry basket, you can pay them a certain amount to change this
habit. Once your child has become accustomed to putting their
clothes away consistently, you can stop paying them for that
chore and move on to another bad habit. A word of advice, though
– don’t try to correct too many bad habits at one time.
Don’t Forget Who is the Adult
your child can be involved with picking the chores, it’s
ultimately your decision as to what chores are tied to
allowance. Your child cannot decide to boycott or tell you they
don’t want to do a certain chore because they don’t get paid for
it. Allowing your child to earn money is a privilege and is not
You may be
wondering what happens if I ask my children to do something, and
they turn around and ask me how much I will pay them for it. I
am a big believer in encouraging children to ask for things. I
believe it sets them up for when they must ask for a job, a
date, or a pay raise. But in this situation, I just calmly say,
“Actually, this is not on the list of items I agreed to pay you
for.” If your children consistently nag you, ask them if they’d
like to lose their allowance altogether. That will certainly do
The sooner your child learns
how money is earned, the better off your child will be in
dealing with the real world. Few people in the working world
receive money for nothing.
Security, according to
General Douglass McArthur, comes down to your ability to
produce. Any other kind of security is an illusion. The sooner
your children realize that they have complete control over their
income, the better prepared they will be for real life.
How Often Should You Pay an Allowance?
beginning, I suggest you pay your children daily until they get
in the habit of consistently doing their chores. This will bring
the cause and effect lesson into play. Consistency and
remembering is a big problem, and this will be rectified when
you pay them daily. As your children get older, you can move to
the weekly pay day.
will also show your children what rewards they did not receive.
If you have agreed to pay your child for a certain chore and
they decided not to do that chore, then it will be a loss they
At What Age Should I Pay an Allowance?
on the child, but I know my kids could walk into a room at age
two and total it in a matter of three seconds. If a child knows
how to pull toys out of the toy box, then they know how to put
toys back in the toy box. If a child can pull pillows off the
bed, then a child can put the pillows back on the bed. If a
child can take off their clothes, then a child can put those
clothes in the laundry basket.
can earn little amounts of money starting at age two. You will
need to show them how to do it and be with them as they perform
their chores, but you’re with them all the time at that age
anyway. Your children will see the positive reaction from you
and from the money being put in their piggy bank. This will
motivate them to do more of the same in order to get this
child gets older, encourage more chores for more money. Your
children will have learned to be fully self-sufficient by the
time they move out of your house. Their future days could be
paid for, and you will know you have raised a financially savvy,
self-sufficient young adult.
How to use Chore Charts
mentioned earlier, determine how much money you’re currently
spending on your child per month for “non-necessities” – things
like candy, toys, games, videos, CDs, etc. Think of these as
WANTS rather than NEEDS. Start with that amount of money, and
allow your child to EARN IT!
you spend $25 per month on “WANTS.” Start with what you are
already spending ($25) and divide that by 4 weeks. You get
$6.25. Now, divide that by 7 days – you get $0.89. Round it off,
and let your child earn 90 cents per day.
the list of chores already included in the allowance chart, or
make up your own. You decide which chores are appropriate for
your child’s age and situation. The chores, money, chore pieces
stick on and peel off, just like the old Color Forms did when we
were kids, and the pieces can be used over again.
and your child have agreed on the chores they will do for the
week, make sure it will fit into your weekly activities
schedule. You don’t want to give your child a list of chores on
a day they can’t accomplish their duties. If you do, both of you
will be upset.
value of money to each chore, task, or job. You have 5¢…10¢…25¢
and $1.00 pieces to choose from. For example, you might
determine that taking out the trash is worth 25¢, while cleaning
out the cat box is worth 50¢. Just remember that the goal is to
give your child a chance to earn an income.
your child this is the list of chores and the amount you will
pay each day. If they don’t do the chores on the list, they
won’t receive their payment. Explain that they’re able to earn
money for the items they want, but if they choose not to earn
the money, then they won’t have the money for what they want.
Tell them that the choice is theirs.
have your child add up the amount and total it in the space
provided. This will also teach your child how to count money and
see how it all adds up. In the beginning, you may want to pay
your child daily, until both parties get used to the routine.
positive reinforcement, and your child should look forward to
completing the chores on the list each day without even being
asked. This encourages personal responsibility. You might decide
that it’s okay to give one reminder or none at all. The goal is
for each chore to be completed each day. Any chore that is not
completed gets a sad face (provided.) This shows your children
that you’re sad they chose to do part of the work for FREE.
has an area for goals, dreams, and desires. With the pen
provided, have your children write their goals for the week,
something they’re dreaming about, or an item that they desire.
There may be a special toy they’ve been thinking about, or they
desire to get an A on their next test, or maybe your child is
dreaming about earning a certain amount of money. Review this
list with your children frequently so that they will see the
value in setting and accomplishing goals.
At the end
of each week or each day, you and your child should add up how
much money was earned. This shows how money GROWS (and easily
demonstrates why It’s Only a Dollar…Until You Add to It!)
shopping, when your children ask for something, have them spend
the money they have earned to purchase the items they want. This
quickly teaches the value of money by clearly showing the
connection between earned money and spent money! Your children
will place greater value on the items bought with their own
money, and think twice before spending foolishly!
Fold/put away laundry
Clean off dishes
Bring trashcans inside
Set dinner table
Clear dinner table
Help put groceries away
Put away outside toys
Wake up on time
Have backpack/homework ready
Put toys away
Put dirty clothes away
Get out clothes for next day
Complete monthly book reports
Read a book
Clean out lunchbox/backpack
Clean out car
Clean pet droppings
Walk the dog
Clean pet’s cage
Help make dinner
Get ready for bed
Go to sleep when told
Do something without being asked
Stop when asked
Exhibit good manners
No fighting with sibling