“Mommy, I did a lot of chores today and I earned my money.” I beamed at my 9-year-old son and looked at my sparkling clean kitchen. He had worked hard, doing the dishes and wiping off the sticky stuff on the counters. But even more gratifying than the clean kitchen was the fact that he had recognized and associated his hard work with the money I was about to deposit in his bank account. It was one of those parental moments where my feet did a little skip and I was shouting “all right” behind a big full faced smile. It also gave me an insight that I was taking steps in the right direction, helping my child understand that payment for services rendered is a simple fact of money matters.

Allowance is to Allow

The word “allow” as defined in Webster’s College Dictionary refers to “giving permission or to permit.” In essence when a parent uses the word “allowance” in association with money, it means that a parent is allowing or giving permission for a child to have and use a certain amount of money. While parents should set limits on allowances and teach wise spending habits, allowing a child to have money without working gives a false impression. They quickly learn that mom and dad’s wallet is the place to go for the green stuff that can make dreams and wishes come true. Earning a payment for hard work accomplished and using the word payment in association with chore assignments will teach your child that money and hard work go together.

Your Child’s Chores and Payment: How Much?

This issue seems to be of much concern to parents as no one wants to over spoil a child. Demanding, expectant children who are used to “having it all” will grow up with unrealistic attitudes. A reasonable payment that fits the family budget and lets your child practice making a personal budget is essential to family unity. Small children do not need a lot of money and are better off starting small with dollars and cents. A simplified system recommended by a “Mommy Expert” involves making a payment that equals half the child’s age. For example, if the child is three years old, the payment would be $1.50 for a certain amount of chores per week or per month, whatever can fit into the family budget. Remember, it is not critical to pay your child a lot of money, it’s just critical that they learn how to earn and manage the money. As a child grows, payment is increased to fit the amount and difficulty of chores they are able to perform.

Another option is to create a chore payment chart. Have the amounts of payment based on the difficulty and number of chores completed. Each chore is assigned a certain monetary value and as a child completes chore assignments, the amount of payment adds up. This is more of a “real world set-up” and can encourage children to look forward to growing up and doing bigger and better things. It will also challenge them to take on more difficult chores to earn more money.

Payment for a Job Well Done

Be sure to follow through on payment for a job well done. Set up a payment schedule and be consistent. No one likes to do work without getting paid and children are especially prone to disappointment when parents fail to follow through on their promises. Make payments regularly as the work is completed. Daily, weekly, or monthly, as long as it fits into the family budget. If a child in the family does not want to participate in chores, offer the work experience as an opportunity for another child in the family to earn money. This can help use peer pressure in a positive manner as the unwilling child will quickly recognize that someone else in the family is going to earn their money!

Throwing out the word allowance and teaching your child to associate good work with positive results, including money, can help them develop a positive work ethic. As a child grows older and develops skills learned from working in the home, they will be more comfortable with money and be able to tackle the real world on their own.

Be sure to check out these links to help your child learn more about money matters!

Play fun games and teach your kids about money with the Planet Orange website!

More help with your children’s allowance and chores

Childn’Parent’s guide to Children and Money Matters