Should parents pay their kids for making their bed, taking out the trash and emptying the dishwasher? OR are those things considered part of being in the family?
Should pocket money be tied to chores?
Parents and money experts have been debating this for many years.
So who’s right?
Everyone has an opinion and of course, everyone believes their way is the right way.
Here’s my two cents…there isn’t a one size fits all solution. You just have to weigh the pros and cons of each and do what works best for you and your family.
What are some of those pros and cons? I’ll be discussing these along with what we chose to do, in this post.
Just remember one important thing as you’re reading this. Whether allowance is tied to chores or not, your kids having the opportunity to manage their own money, and all the wins and mistakes that come with it, is what’s important.
Giving an allowance to my kids wasn’t something I’d ever thought about, since I never had one myself. None of my friends had an allowance either, so it wasn’t a big deal.
But my 6 year old wanted a new tablet. His one was getting slow and the screen was cracked from when he dropped it the previous year (there’s a whole other story waiting to be shared on this!), so we agreed to get him a new one.
But, we (OK, mostly me!) had a couple of conditions:
- He had to wait till we found a good one that was on sale
- He needed to contribute towards buying it, to feel some responsibility.
So what should we do? Link it to chores or not link it to chores?
Option 1: Allowance linked to chores
A survey by the AICPA showed that 89% of parents linked allowance to chores. Their kids do age appropriate chores around the house to earn their money.
It’s simple. If they don’t do the chores, they don’t get the money.
This method teaches kids to learn the link between working and earning money.
It’s a valuable lesson and a huge reason why giving kids their own money to manage is so important.
But here’s where things might get a bit tricky.
In his book, The Opposite of Spoiled, Ron Lieber raises this point:
“What happens if they decide they don’t want or need the money? Chances are, we’ll make them do the chores anyway. So why pay them in the first place if these chores are ultimately mandatory in any event?”
What if your kid gets a job or they just decide that doing the chores isn’t worth the money?
Do they no longer have to do those chores as part of living in the house?
Tying basic household chores to an allowance, could make kids feel like they have a choice.
Can they opt out of basic responsibilities when things get difficult or they get bored?
My guess is you’ll want them to do these things regardless of whether or not they get paid.
Option 2: Allowance NOT linked to chores
Some parents choose to give an allowance with no strings attached.
They use the allowance purely as a teaching tool.
On the flip side, you might argue that this might feel like a handout and it might lead to entitlement.
That is, if it is a handout and there aren’t any lessons or consequences to be had.
It really depends on how parents approach this method.
Do the kids get an allowance and sit on their butts all day playing video games without helping around the house because they get money regardless of chores?
Then yes, they might feel entitled.
Do they get an allowance, but no one ever explains what they should do with the money, or help them identify and learn from their mistakes?
Then yes, they might feel entitled.
This leads me to…
Option 3: The hybrid approach to allowance
When we first started talking about giving our 6 year old an allowance, I strongly considered option 1. The allowance linked to chores method.
I was ready to dive right into a goldmine of Pinterest pins to find the best allowance chore charts. But my husband stopped me in my tracks.
With hectic weeknight schedules, would we be able to fully commit to filling out a chores chart consistently? It was nice in theory, but realistically it wouldn’t last long in our house!
I knew I wanted to use this as an opportunity to teach my kids about money, values and essential life skills that would serve them for many years to come.
I also felt that dinging my 6 year olds allowance for not doing chores, could create anxiety around money and not being able to save up for his tablet.
That it might feel more like a punishment instead of a learning opportunity.
So we chose the hybrid approach to get the best of both methods. We’re not the only ones who take this approach and so far we’re all happy with it!
We give our kids an allowance without working for it. But there are rules around that money.
They split their money into Spend, Save and Donate jars. They have saving goals and if they want to buy something we don’t approve of because it’s not age appropriate, then they can’t buy it.
They are also expected to do things around the house, but we don’t call them chores.
They are just things that need to get done, that they need to form a habit of doing without expecting anything in return and without having money taken away.
Sometimes we get push back and when that happens they get punished with less screen time or something else that feels relevant at the time.
We also strongly agree that working to earn money is a very important lesson. One that I cover in the very first episode of my podcast: What is money and why do we work
There are many age appropriate opportunities where kids can earn money for doing things that aren’t required as part of being in the family.
What’s known as above and beyond chores.
That’s why I’m more than happy to pay my kids for things like cleaning my car.
The fact that they’re the ones who made it so gross in the first place is not lost on me! But this is still a great (and very common) example of work that kids can do to earn money.
They could do the classic lemonade stand, or sell some of their old toys at a garage sale or (with your help if they’re too young) sell them through an app.
What will you do?
Like I said at the beginning of the post, it’s up to you how you decide to put money in your kids hands.
I’m sure that if you searched, there would be equally compelling reasons to tie allowances to chores as there are to not tie them to chores.
As with a lot of things about parenting, if you’re undecided about which side of the fence you are on, you might just need to let trial and error take its course.
If one way doesn’t work, keep tweaking it till something fits. One of the great things about starting this while kids are young, is that they’re very forgiving.
If something isn’t working out for you, they’re more flexible than a teenager might be.
They’re just grateful to have the opportunity to learn about (and spend!) money.
Choose what works for you and your family. The important thing is to keep the conversation going and don’t give up.
You’ve got this!!!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. If you already give your kids an allowance, what method is working for your family?
Let me know in the comments!
You may also be interested in: