My Kids Don't Need an Allowance for Doing Chores

My children used to earn allowances. The 8-year-old got $2 per week, and my 6-year-old got a dollar. For a while the biggest challenge was finding the cash (this is the same problem we always face when the Tooth Fairy's presence is required), then I found myself wondering why I was just blindly handing out money each week when the recipients weren't exactly holding up their end of the deal.

I don't do allowances anymore. This may change in the future, but here's what I ended up thinking: my kids shouldn't get paid for helping out around the house. Especially if they're continually doing a crappy job at it.


It seems to me that parents have two basic options for managing allowances: you either tie the allowance to chores (and thus hold onto the cash if the work doesn't get done), or you unconditionally pay out the amount each week regardless of behavior or work ethic.

I was getting fed up with the fact that I had to nag and nag and NAG to get my kids to do basic things like picking up their toys or feeding the cat, and plenty of weeks went by when they didn't get paid. I considered the no-strings approach to allowance, but ... well, what do my kids really need money for? All they wanted to do with it was buy more toys. Which would invariably end up as clutter on the living room floor, and they'd be asked to pick them up in order to ... earn more money? Does anyone else have a certain Lion King song in their head right now?

Anyway, I ended up deciding the whole concept of giving my kids money when I already buy all their stuff was pretty much bullshit. Plus, I was fed up with having a reward system for things I just expect them to do. For instance: you live in my house, you make your bed in the morning. Full stop. You don't get paid for doing so, and if you don't do it -- see, there IS no "not doing it." Not doing it isn't an option. Not doing it doesn't mean you don't get your $2, it means you get sent back to your room to do it.

God knows I have to repeatedly REMIND my kids to pick up their messes throughout the day, but this is part of parenthood. I don't think money needs to get involved with teaching them these basic responsibilities.

I can see going back to allowances when they're older, but here's something interesting: some experts recommend that parents skip the age-old custom of handing money over to kids on a weekly basis. This educator and early proponent of teaching kids about money in the classroom says that kids who don’t get an allowance are forced to talk with their parents about finances more frequently -- and these discussions are some of the best ways a child or teen can learn about money management. Others says allowance systems are most effective when they continually trigger conversations about finances within the family, like why and how families make the financial decisions they do.

For now, I've started using a dry-erase board to write a list of things my kids need to do (which includes chores, reading, and creative play) before they can even open their mouths to ask for screen time -- and let me tell you, this works like a CHARM. Screw money, it turns out the biggest motivator of all is Phineas & Ferb.

What's your approach to allowances? Have you ever stopped them altogether?

Image via Hobbies on a Budget/Flickr

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