Allowance and Chores - Live Like a Mensch
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Allowance and Chores


Photo courtesy of Huckdavis


If you want to start a flame war on any parenting website, post a strong opinion about whether a kid's allowance should be tied to household chores. For some reason, this particular subject can get parents, experts, and passing trolls frothing at the mouth.

I've been thinking about this a little bit lately, even though LO is still too young for either end of the allowance/chore equation. You see, he's gotten to the age wherein he loves doing whatever I do. When I'm unloading the dishwasher, he hands me items to put away. When I make the bed, he pulls the covers to the side (and generally off the bed, but we're focusing on establishing the habit). When I'm folding clothes, he mashes some up and throws them in the laundry basket for me. In short, now--while he's enjoying himself with it--is a great time to start getting him used to doing some household chores.

In another year or so, I'm also going to start giving him an allowance.

I suspect that I will not connect these two things. My feeling is that we need to keep our house clean and tidy for intrinsic rather than extrinsic reasons.

But I don't know about tying cold hard cash to extra chores around the house. I'd love for him to take care of stuff like dusting (partially because I hate doing it myself), and I'd be willing to pay for the service (since I've considered paying a professional to do it anyway), but it gets back to the intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation.

So I thought I'd throw it out there to the Dollar Stretcher community. How do you handle allowances? How do you handle chores? Is there any possibility that I might raise a child who thinks that clothes wash themselves?

Any insight would be appreciated!



haverwench said:

Well, I'm not a parent, but just thought I'd put something on the table: Is there any rule that says you can't do both? I mean, give the kid a regular allowance that isn't tied to household chores, but also give him the opportunity to earn extra money by doing extra jobs (preferably the ones you really hate)?

For what it's worth, Amy Dacyczyn (of the Tightwad Gazette), who raised six kids, says that she always thought the then-prevailing advice to give kids a regular allowance (unrelated to chores) so that they would learn to manage money was flawed, because it left out the most important lesson about money: that it takes time and effort to earn. She wanted them, whenever they felt like spending a dollar, to think about how much work it took them to earn that dollar, and consider whether it was worth it. I think that's something a lot of adults could stand to think more about, too.

January 17, 2013 2:10 PM

Esaungikar said:

So here's how I solved this paradox.  My son gets an allowance.  He also has chores.  He is not getting paid to do his chores BUT, if he doesn't do them by the required time (e.g. clear the dinner dishes by 7 pm each day) he is de facto hiring me to do it.  My rate is much higher than his would be - I charge $1 per undone chore per occasion.  It's feasible that he could end up owing me money.  He is free to make deals with me or his Dad ahead of time if he wants, and we can agree or not.  I also give him opportunities to 'bid' on other jobs, e.g. rake the lawn, shovel the snow.  However the neighbour pays better than me, so after a snowfall he's out shovelling hers.

He has sometimes said that he should get paid more; I've offered to work it out to show him that he's actually getting paid $50/hr, but his room and board takes up most of that.  (he's 11)

January 21, 2013 3:33 PM

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