Allowance and Chores

Question

My wife and I have been having a disagreement about how deal with allowances and chores.  She believes that allowances should not be tied to chores and I think that they should.  What do you think?

Answer

I’ve sat in on many heated discussions between spouses regarding allowances and chores.  At the end of the day it all comes down to how you define them, how you use them and what you hope to accomplish in the lives of your kids.

No parent wants to raise entitled children who believe that the world owes them a living.  Every parent would agree that it’s important for children to learn at an early age that they can’t spend money they don’t have and that the best way to get money is to work for it.  It’s also important to learn that being a family and maintaining a household takes time, money and teamwork.  This is where the wise use of allowances and chores come in.

The most effective use of an allowance is when it is linked to kids being responsible for, depending on their age, purchasing their own snacks, refreshments, entertainment and as they get older buying their own school clothes and perhaps taking care of their own cell-phone bills.

In this way the allowance doesn’t become a handout but a kind of  “down payment” in helping them learn the benefits of budgeting and saving, the value of delayed gratification, how to weigh the value of one item or activity over another and the consequences of thoughtless spending.  Having money creates choices and I’m convinced that the best place for kids to learn how to make wise choices is while they are still at home.

The most effective ways to use chores is to divide them into two categories.  The first category are “Family Chores” that involve a few tasks that they do simply because they are a part of the family.  This helps them learn what it takes to be a family and run a home, gives them a sense of participation, accomplishment and ownership.  It also increases their accountability since if they don’t do their share of the chores the whole family is impacted and holds them accountable.

The second category are “Work-For-Pay Chores” that they can do to earn extra money on a job-by-job basis.  These may be things like shoveling snow, sweeping the garage, washing windows or things that we might end up paying someone else to do such as washing the car or mowing the lawns.  This helps strengthen their work ethic and gain an even greater appreciation for the value of money.

I agree with Jon Gallo who writes that, “Allowances help children learn to manage money and control the need for instant gratification. Family chores help children learn to develop a work ethic.”  I’d encourage you a to sit down together as a couple and prayerfully consider what your goals are for your kids and then decide on the approach that might work best for you.

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