Allowance: Do You Give It?

Along with many other areas of parenting that were simpler in the “old days,” allowance has become a trickier issue. Among the questions modern parents have to ask are: 1) Should you give kids allowance? 2) At what age should you begin giving kids allowance? 3) How much money should you give for allowance? 3) Should allowance be tied to doing chores? 4) Can kids buy anything they want with their allowance?

Of course, ultimately, it’s up to the parents to decide (and hopefully, both partners agree) the answers to these questions, but the experts also have some strong opinions.

In a recent column, Janet Bodnar, Editor from Kiplinger in Personal Finance, wrote about why allowance shouldn’t be tied to chores.

“The principle is that kids should do basic chores, such as cleaning their room or helping unload the groceries, because they’re asked to, not because they’re paid,” writes Bodnar, who suggests that children get the “the opportunity to earn money by doing extra jobs, such as taking out the trash or the recycling, vacuuming the family room, raking leaves, washing the car, or whatever you define as service above and beyond.”

Most parenting and financial experts agree with the idea that the goal of allowance should be to teach kids about how to budget and handle their money. The concept of chores and household responsibilities is a separate issue. But what happens when kids don’t do their chores? Do they still get allowance?

As far as how much to give, some parents give a dollar per year, so a 10 year-old gets $10 a week, for example. Others poll their friends to see what the going rate is. The best approach is to sit down and figure out how much you spend on your kid’s snacks and non-essential daily purchases (bubble gum, a small toy). If the idea is to teach them how to handle money, you should probably give them enough money so they can cover those expenses on their own.

Do you give your kids an allowance? How is that working out?