21 September 2012

On Chores and Allowances

Like many parents, Nate and I have the philosophy that our kids need to learn how to work hard and clean up after themselves. We've been "training" Benny for awhile. He has been responsible for clearing his dishes off of the table after every meal for about a year. Now he does it without being reminded. We now ask that he puts his dishes in the dishwasher. Benny must also help pick up toys and messes.

Since Benny started kindergarten, we've been requiring him to tackle new daily tasks, including making his bed, brushing his own teeth and putting his pajamas away. If he finishes everything successfully, he earns a quarter. Nate decided on the amount of the allowance. I thought it was too much, but he pointed out that it's less than $2/week. Plus, we often forget to give him allowance at all.

We're still working out the details of how Benny may spend his allowance. I think he should save a percentage to give to a "cause" he supports (which is still a pretty abstract concept for him) and for a savings account. Certainly he can use some for a toy that he wants, but I want him to understand the importance of saving and giving as well. Nate thinks I'm being to ambitious for a five-year-old.

So, I'm wondering, for all of you parents who have pre-schoolers and young children, do you require chores? Do you also "pay" for those tasks? And how may your children spend their allowances?


Ann Wyse said...

We really haven't tackled this successfully yet. I think the reason is that Noah still doesn't really have a good grasp of money (or numbers or amounts).

However, some friends of ours who have been more successful have been better at tying the allowance to tangible things/rewards: for example, their 4 year old started receiving quarters because he loved to put quarters in the pool table at Enzo's and then 'play pool'. Then, each quarter he received took on meaning (playing 'pool' at Enzo's).

I've also debated allowing N to give money to people on the street corner when we're waiting at a traffic light, because it's just such a IMMEDIATE AND TANGIBLE way of giving. But then, of course, I have reservations... We at least always buy the Voice, which I think is an equally tangible activity - but it's a little convoluted to explain the giving aspect to (even) a 5 year old. And to make N buy the paper for himself - hmmm.

I think there's a kid-only bank somewhere in Denver. Can't recall the name, but maybe they have some better ideas. ?

Carissa L. said...

I don't have any children yet, so I don't have any direct experience on this topic. But I once learned of a family where the child had 3 piggybanks: one for saving, one for giving, and one for spending right now. And they divided the money equally into those banks. I like the simplicity of that system and also the very tangible pots of money to teach that you need to do all three simultaneously. But I'm sure the devil is still in the details (when do you get to spend your savings? On a Play Station 3 or college in 13 years). Good luck. Sounds like you are well-on your way to teaching generosity and financial responsibility!

Sara Struckman said...

Carissa, thanks for the refresher! I've actually seen piggy banks split into 3 just like you've mentioned. Yes, we'll definitely have to work out the details.

Ann, on a related note, I volunteer with the VOICE. Great organization! I think you've just given me an idea (they do small fundraisers with school groups and then invite school groups to their vendor office).

Thanks to both of you for chiming in!