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  • Dave Kinzer

Should You Give Your Kids An Allowance?

Like it or not, one responsibility of parents is to teach their kids about money. However, it’s hard to teach them about money if they don’t have any because they are too young to earn it with a traditional job.

So, a lot of parents decide to give their kids an allowance.

If that’s what you’re doing, I’d encourage you to stop giving your child an allowance. Instead, give him a commission.

What’s the difference?

An allowance is essentially free money for your kid. He doesn’t have to do anything for it except bound up to you every Saturday morning at too-early o’clock with his open hand pointed in your direction, saying, “Time for my allowance!”

A commission, on the other hand, rewards your kids with money when they earn it through working a few chores around the house each week.

I started my daughter on a weekly commission when she turned five years old. She had three chores to complete each week: refill the liquid soap dispensers in the bathroom and at the kitchen sink, organize all of her books in one of our bookshelves, and refill the cat’s drinking water as needed.

The chores were age-appropriate and easily completed with minimal help from me.

The deal I made with her was simple. If she completed her chores each week, she received her just reward: a commission of exactly one dollar. If she didn’t do her chores, she received no money.

I wasn’t entirely sure how she’d react to the commission program, but it turned out to be a huge success. She learned some lessons in being responsible and somewhat independent, contributed to the good of the household, and earned her first “paycheck”.

She loved it. And never mind that she was only paid one dollar. She was happy with it and I didn’t see any reason for a five year old to make much more than that.

If you’d like to try the commission system with your kids, go for it! Be ready for some pushback from your kids, though, if you’re making major changes.

Your fifteen year old who’s been getting $15/week without lifting a finger will not be happy if he suddenly has to do several chores to get the same amount of money.

It doesn’t mean you can’t make the change though. You’ll just need to sit down with your kids and explain exactly how it works: what jobs they need to do and when, how they will be paid and on what day.

What happens if they simply decide not to do their chores one week? Or what if they do two out of three chores? Is the commission all or nothing, or would you pay them 66% of their commission?

Will they have the same chores for the foreseeable future, or will they change every week? Can they do extra chores for a bonus?

Those are all questions you’ll need to have the answers for before you begin.

Finding age-appropriate chores for kids is pretty easy. Young kids can restock bathrooms with toilet paper, refill the napkin holder on the kitchen table, pick up sticks in the yard, or scoop some food into your pet’s food dish.

Older kids can load the dishwasher, rake leaves, vacuum, mow the grass, or even cook a meal. Basically, any job that contributes to the good of the household can be a chore, and will relieve you of some work.

Figuring out how much to pay for a commission can be tricky. I’ve heard you should pay one dollar a week times your child’s age. So in other words, a seven year old would be paid $7, while an eleven year old would be paid $11 each week.

Really, the amount just needs to be something you’re comfortable with, and enough money that your child can learn how to give, save, and spend money effectively.

So instead of giving your kids an allowance, pay them a commission. Your kids will still learn about money and the value of working hard, and they’ll free up some of your time by doing more chores.

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