Personal Finance 

Teach Kids Money: Tying Chores & Allowances

Coins in a JarThis is a guest post by Danny Kofke, a special education teacher and author of How to Survive (and Perhaps Thrive) on a Teacher’s Salary. Danny and I have been emailing back and forth for the better part of the last month or two, working on a guest post about children and allowances. I asked Danny to write this post because it involves a hotly debated topic in parenting – should you tie your kid’s allowance to their chores? Or should they do chores “for free” because they are part of the family? Here’s his take.

My wife, Tracy, is a stay-at-home mom to my two young daughters – Ava, age 5 and Ella, 2. We don’t make a large salary so we have to be frugal with our money. We are trying to pass on our values to our children. Ava gets an allowance every week for the chores she does. We check each chore off on a daily basis and at the end of the week Ava gets paid for doing these chores.

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Do You Need An Adult Allowance?

When you hear the word budget – how does it make you feel? For some of us, budgeting is a welcome concept we employ with great success in our financial lives. But what about you? Do you feel constrained by the idea of budgeting – like it does not allow you to have any fun? Do you hear the word budget and inwardly cringe, and feel sorry for those who live by their budget? Is budgeting a four letter word in your life? If so, an adult allowance might be the answer for you.

The idea of an allowance is one that most of us have been familiar with since childhood, but not in a necessarily positive way. An allowance is the way that someone else in authority exercised control over us and our spending, by allowing us (hence, allowance) a sum of money per week or month from their coffers that we could use as we wished.

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 The Home 

Chores For Computer Time, Not Allowance

Here’s a clever idea I never thought about (mostly because I don’t have kids): Children perform chores in return for computer or video game time, not allowances. That’s the idea behind an article in the New York Times today in which children earn “screen time” as opposed to dollars and cents for good behavior.

I really like this idea because it’s a lot like carbon credits (please bear with me). So a company does something bad for the environment, like pumping more CO2 into the air, in order to offset that they can do something good, like planing more trees. Well, this is the same idea as earning “screen time” because playing video games is “bad” whereas studying, reading a book, doing chores, is “good.” You can even throw in wrinkles like trading your chores for screen time with siblings, sort of like a secondary market for screen time!

Now, some parents might say that chores should be part of one’s duties and children shouldn’t feel like they should be rewarded for the things they should be doing. It’s the same argument as not tying allowances with chores but if you can get over that then this is a pretty solid idea. It’ll be a few more years before we’ll have a chance to implement it but it’s always good to be prepared. 🙂

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