Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Kids and Allowances - Teaching the Value of a Dollar

This post was underwritten by BMO Harris Bank, which offers a matching $25 on a new savings account opened for your child through their Helpful Steps for Parents program. Learn more at bmoharris.com/parents.

I've been wanting to write about kids and allowances for awhile now so I was super excited to be asked by the Clever Girls to write about just that!

We came up with a plan to help our kids learn the value of a dollar and to realize that Mom is not the maid. We went back and forth about allowance for awhile because I feel strongly that kids should help around the house without getting paid for it. I really want my boys to learn what it means to help around the house to show that they value our home, our things and each other. But I also want to teach them about money. About saving and spending and everything in between!

We began giving our boys an allowance for more than just getting things around the house done. We are using allowance as a way to encourage responsibility and cooperativeness in the home, not just for taking the garbage out. Basically we watch for attitudes when we ask for a job to be done. If they do the job without whining or causing a problem, we take note.

Our oldest is almost eleven so we bascially just give him a flat rate at then end of the week based on his attitude when asked to help out and if he went above and beyond the chores we expect him to do. Our youngest two (eight and six years old) had a harder time making it the whole week so we started a marble system to keep track and spark daily interest. Every time they do a job the first time they are asked, without attitude, or do something above and beyond, etc, we put a marble in their jar. Each marble earns them ten cents. At the end of the week, we add the marbles up and that is their allowance. On a good week, they will make $1. We pay our oldest $2-3 per week because he does way more to help out around the house than our younger boys.

The jobs that are expected to be done without pay are things like taking the dog out, helping with the dishes and making their beds. The jobs that we pay for are doing laundry, vacuuming and cleaning the bathroom. (For example.) We also give marbles to our youngest two for basic cooperation and responsibility in taking care of things for themselves. If they get up and get ready for school and make their lunches without a fight, I will give them a marble. If it makes Momma's life easier? Money for everyone!

We are working on the art of teaching them about saving and giving a percentage of their allowances. They make very small amounts of money and at first we just let them spend it on silly things here and there to let them figure out how it feels to buy things with their own money. There have been "Ugh, why did you let me waste my money on this?!" tears and "I wish I would have saved my money because I would have had enough for this by now!" tears. All really great lessons about letting money burn a hole in your pocket. Now we need to move towards teaching how to manage what you save, spend and give.

We are Dave Ramsey fans and try to manage our money along the lines of what he teaches so we are steering the kids in that direction as well. We talk very openly with the boys about our budget, how much every day things like water and electricity cost, as well as make them aware of wastefulness (which costs money!). We model saving and giving by example. I think that really is the best way to teach kids life lessons.

I would love some advice about what percentages you have your kids give, save and spend. How do you handle allowance in your home?

I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. To learn more about BMO Harris Bank, visit their website http://bmoharris.com/parents.

*This is a sponsored post but all opinions and thoughts came from my very own brain! (Don't be afraid.)


  1. I'm the same way about needing to clean without getting paid but with hard work, and good attitudes kids should be rewarded.  Great idea about the marbles!

  2. I really like that you let them "burn it up" at first. Some parents I know give the kids the allowance but put it directly into a savings account or piggy bank. That's all very good, and having that money in the future will certainly be a blessing, but the fact that your boys have felt that "WHY?!" in terms of spending their money on a pointless thing will DEFINITELY help in the long run :)

  3. Thanks Meaghan! I love it when my kids feel the direct impact of their mistakes, especially with money! I'd much rather them feel the pain on the small things now than get a harsh dose of reality on the big things later!

  4. Thanks Elizabeth! Great minds think alike! :)

  5. Great article.  I love what BMO Harris Bank is doing and hope parents take advantage of it. 

  6. I have never really been a big fan of allowances but realize the importance  of teaching  our kids money matters.  So many kids get what they want when they want, and  do nothing to earn it. What a shock it is going to be to them when they get older and realize they are going to have to "work" for what they want. The best time to start teaching them is when they are young. I really like the marble idea, they actually get to see progress which encourages them. Good post!

  7. We now give a flat amount monthly (after trying other methods).  The amount increases with age.  However, I keep track of it in the "Bank of Mom". We started this when they would get actual cash and either misplace it completely, or forget if the cash on the living room table was theirs or a brother's, or maybe there really was some sneaking thievery.  I do not give interest. I do keep track of things they ask for at a store or requests for cash and deduct it from their 'Bank of Mom' total.  They also now each have a real bank account, too.

    We have a chore chart and the boys take turns weekly doing them (take out cans, set table, etc.). I also create extra lists occasionally, dividing special tasks equally (sweeping walkways, scrubbing sinks) and they finish these. The money is not tied to doing the work, it's just expected as being part of the household.  But, I will pay for extra jobs (like squirting out the trash can, or weeding) either in cash or in an extra favor I do for them in return. For example, my son wanted me to iron letters onto a shirt, and I did it in exchange for him cutting down my two now-dead tomato plants.  =Both of us happy:)!

    I think using money rewards (or deductions) for behavior does work, now, too!

  8. Yes, we've had the misplacing of money happen around here too. But after a few times of losing money, they've figured out how to stash it somewhere properly! Since we are in a tiny apartment right now there are very limited chores to do. I can't wait till we get a house and I get the chore charts back up and running and really make them earn that cash!

  9. RamblingsofatraumamamaNovember 9, 2011 at 2:12 PM

    Great post! We currently give a flat $1 per week and we are trying to teach the boys about tithing and then let them spend the rest. Typically, when they get larger amounts for their birthdays we have them put it in the bank. 

  10. I absolutely love how much thought and care you put into these decisions and how purposeful you're being about what you want your kids to learn.

    I also adore that you talk openly about budgeting because wowsa is that ever a necessary skill!

  11. We do let them spend their birthday money. It's the only time that they are ever given substantial amounts of money. We do not spend much on birthdays or give big birthday gifts so we let them buy something big that they have been wanting for their birthdays.

    What does everyone else do about birthday money?

  12. Thank you! It is a big lesson and I definitely want them to be prepared for real life!

  13. I was always against allowance until a year ago. I wanted my kids to learn that a family does chores together. After all I don't get paid to do the laundry, cook the meals and everything else I do. A year ago I finally gave in and started paying them an allowance because I wanted them to learn to tithe and save. They only get paid for extra chores. We pay them $8 a month, sometimes more if they work extra hard. They put aside their tithe money and savings and they keep the rest in a wallet I bought them. We do let them spend their birthday money however they choose. I am very happy with the responsibility they are learning. This year they wanted to earn money to fill two shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. They did extra chores around the house and worked for their grandparents. I love that they're learning to give and want to do it on their own.


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