I’ve always had mixed feelings about giving kids an allowance. On the one hand, I like the idea of teaching them the value of money, the concept of saving, and the satisfaction of being able to purchase something they really want… and the occasional post-purchase regret when they realize maybe they didn’t really want that thing after all. On the other hand, I don’t like the idea of paying my children to do household chores. I’d rather everyone in the family help out around the house simply because that is part of being a family and sharing a home.

Katherine is seven now and she has several friends who earn an allowance. We’ve also been having some trouble getting her to help out around the house without a fair amount of whining (her) and nagging (us). So we decided to come up with a compromise. Katherine now has a list of chores she has to do each week that she doesn’t get paid for – basic things like clearing the table after dinner, laying out her school clothes, packing her lunch, etc. If she is able to complete those without the whining or nagging, then she can opt to do several additional chores in order to earn an allowance. She has a nice little picture chart on the fridge and she moves magnets onto the tasks she’s completed. At the end of the week we can see what she’s done.


In case you can't read it, that last one is “Make Pancakes.” One morning Katherine woke up early and made pancake batter (popping into our bedroom to ask us for the exact measurements along the way). We decided to see if we could get that to happen on a weekly basis.

Katherine was so excited by the prospect of having her own money that she made a list of things she planned to buy before we even began the first week of chores. At the top of the list was an American Doll, followed by a Rainbow Loom. To give her a little perspective, we stopped in the toy store to price these items, and then figured out how long she would have to save her allowance in order to buy them (allotting for 1/3 that will go into her long-term savings and 1/3 that will go to help someone in need). She’s decided she’d rather let Santa bring her an American Doll (we’ll burst that bubble another time), and she’ll save for the Rainbow rubber bands and forgo the actual loom. She should be getting her rubber bands around mid-May.