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If you give a child an allowance ...

Ten tips for teaching kids how money makes the world go round.

By Brad Munson

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Do chores count?

The controversy continues after untold generations: Should you tie chores directly to an allowance? The experts are still split, but problems always crop up when — inevitably — kids don’t do the required work around the house. If you withhold payment, they’ll certainly learn one kind of lesson, but the larger concepts of saving, sharing, and planning for the future will be lost in the process. What’s more, some kids will use the “chores for cash” arrangement to bargain with you.

“If a child does not need their allowance that week," says financial advisor David McCurrach of Kids' Money, "is it acceptable not to do the chores? Do you want your children to ask ‘How much?’ every time you ask them to do something around the house?” Many experts say it’s more beneficial (and far less complicated) to consider the allowance as a benefit of being part of the family, while handling work and behavior issues separately.

Brad Munson is a freelancer writer, father, and sex educator based in Pasadena, Calif.

Comments from readers

"My son is 10 and my daughter is 5. I give both of my kid allowance on the weekend only if. During the school day, my son and my daughter have to do their school work and check by us, after he don with his homework and get. Heck by us, of course if there is a spare time, (still early) , he can do extra allowance like helping his little sister with her school learner inappropriate way, he will be earn 25 cents. Otherwise he and his sister watch the discovery and get allowance by write one page of what he learn from the discovery tv and make a good explanation. By the weekend he and his sister do chores to earn their allowance, each chore cost 25 cents. Also, he allow rouse their money and start to paid for all their need,like clothes, food ect. 25 cents seem very little by if they willing to do it, add up a lots, my son make $3 every day for helping his sister and do report for his discovery tv. Conclusion. He had been learn to response for his money management, and lear! n independence daughter is very little so she earn her allowance by cooperative with her brother on his guidance and help around the chore on with if her brother need help. He learn to wash her very own dishes and do very well job. Her saving money is for her use to buy food. Both of my kids allow to buy one toys if they bring home a straight A report (they only pay 50% of the cost and we pay another 50% ) as a reward for their straight A progress. "
"This is great information. I've been giving my 4 and 6 year olds an allowance for a few months, but I have been holding onto it for them. I'll try giving them the cash so that they can be responsible for it. I've been giving them each $3 per week for toys and entertainment items. It is not to buy food or clothing, unless they want something that I feel is unnecessary (e.g. my daughter really wants that pink, hello kitty dress but already has plenty of dresses). My question is how much do other people give their kids this age? And do they give children of different ages the same amount?"
"So, if you do not deny them dues for not doing their chores and behaving, what messages does that send? ('I can do what I want and still get paid?) I say teach them what the workforce is like - if you don't do your job, then you get fired and you don't get paid!"
"false and true"
"This article gave me some good advice as far as how and when it is okay to give a child an allowance. Thank you!"
"I highly recommend paying kids for each 'A' on their report card. Worked on me. After getting accustomed to learning and going prepared to classes, I didn't have to be paid because these pleasures were eventually a part of my life."
"My husband and I have a chore list of 5 items. Beds made (semi clean room), on time to school, take out trash once a week, throw ball for dog, swiffer floor, homework on time. I have a 8 and 11 year old daughters, they receive $5 a week. BUT if their chores are not done they get a deduction of a dollar for every chore not done. If they miss that chore once they only lose that dollar. And I stick to it, if I default on not taking the dollar they think they can get away with it soooo, stick to it. My kids rarely miss a chore and they buy their own toys IF they truly truly want it. If they know they have to pay for it, sometimes they decide its not worth it and put it back, thats terrific! I love my girls and they are becoming so responsible,its working out so fantastic, love it! And they do more around the house, more than their 'chore list', and I don't even ask them. I am very lucky to have such great girls! They love to save up for special items, too."
"I really like the idea of giving an allowance. I would disagree with the concern over kids bargaining. I want my kids to learn how to bargain and makes deals. I don't want them getting an allowance 'Just for being a part of the family.' I think that teaches them that they are entitled to something for nothing. They should have to complete their chores. In life we earn money."
"I started giving my child an allowance at 5, and he has to do all his chores correctly, before he earns that money. I also disagree with this, 'don’t withhold allowance as punishment for bad behavior or poor grades.' An allowance is to be earned, not a given. I have withheld an allowance for sloppy work when cleaning, and explained why I was doing it. My child knows about saving his money. He on his own, has started putting money aside to pay for this toy he wants. He told me, that some money was for his toy, the other money was for his Disneyland spending. I also do believe in giving a money reward for good grades. I went to school with kids that had that deal with their parents. It certainly kept them motivated."