Child’s allowance & Chores – It’s the second most popular question we get from parents, just behind ‘How much pocket money should I give?’, and understandably so, it can be a sensitive subject that stirs up mixed emotions. Every household has a different approach, and ultimately it’s down to what you feel is right and and what works for your family. The good news is there’s no wrong way to do it, but there are pitfalls you can avoid. So we thought we’d take a moment to explore the different options in a bit more detail, and help you make your own mind up.
Other big questions that we often get on this subject are how to get into an allowance routine and what some age appropriate chores are, so we’ve tried to cover both those below too.
In this post:
- Should you give pocket money or allowance for chores?
- Arguments for paying for chores
- Arguments against paying for chores
- Different approaches to paying for chores?
- When should kids start to earn pocket money?
- How much pocket money or allowance should you give?
- Child’s allowance chores list: age appropriate chores
- Setting up allowance and chores routine
- Making your chores routine work for both of you
- Taking your chores routine to the next level
- Extra tips from our parents
1. Should you give pocket money or allowance for chores?
Well there’s no short answer (other than “it depends”). To an extent it’s about what you believe, but you also need to consider what’s going to work for you and your kids. We outline the main schools of thought, and different approaches later in this post, but here’s a quick overview of the general pros and cons:
2. Arguments for paying for chores
The main advantage of paying for chores is teaching kids that you have to ‘earn’ money, and that it doesn’t grow on trees. It’s a great lesson to prepare kids for the real world and can help instil a sense of pride and confidence if they manage to save a lot of money by working hard for it.
We hear tons of stories of how much more children appreciate their new toys, and look after them better, when they feel they’ve really earned them through weeks and weeks of dishwashing or raking the garden – and it’s great to see that sense of accomplishment. Ultimately, if you can make that connection between earning, saving and then spending, that’s a really powerful lesson.
There’s also the undeniable truth that kids (well all of us really) respond pretty well to incentives, so dangling the carrot of cash can genuinely help you get the chores done around the house a lot quicker, and potentially with a lot less nagging too!
3. Arguments against paying for chores
The key argument against paying for chores is that kids should do their chores around the house regardless. We, as adults, don’t get paid to hoover the house, so why should our kids, and it sets unrealistic expectations for later in life. Children should grow up knowing that wherever they live, they need to ‘pull their weight’ and do their bit for the upkeep of the house.
There’s also the potentially unfortunate side effect of instilling the idea that you only need to work if you’re being paid. We have heard stories of kids politely declining to take the bins out because they’ve already got enough money and don’t need to earn any more, thank you very much – definitely something to avoid!
Lastly, there’s the idea that the main purpose of pocket money or allowance is to give your children experience of managing money, not earning it. You’re giving the child money each week to give them hands-on experience of managing it, learning lessons about not spending it all at once, saving it up for a goal etc. So if you tie it to chores, and they end up with no money, you’re denying them the chance to practice managing it (See Ron Lieber’s argument here).
4. Different approaches to giving allowance for chores
These are the main schools of thought we’ve come across in talking to thousands of parents around the world:
Approach: “Children need to earn their money”
- ‘Pay-per-chore’, where you literally set a price per chore and pay once they’re done
- ‘Your chores unlock your allowance’, where chores don’t have an individual value, but they need to do all of them to unlock their allowance at the end of the week, or do a portion of them to unlock a portion of their allowance
Approach: “I shouldn’t have to pay my children to do their chores”
- ‘Citizen of the household’, the idea that as part of the household you need to do your chores regardless of monetary reward. The children may get pocket money on the side, but that’s not tied to their chores, it’s there so they can practice managing money and making decisions about spending, saving and giving.
Approach: Somewhere in the middle
- ‘Core jobs and extra jobs’, the idea that you do certain jobs as part of your responsibility within the household, and you have the opportunity to earn extra money via agreed extra jobs.
At RoosterMoney, we’ve designed our app to work with whichever system you choose!
5. When should kids start to earn pocket money?
We believe in starting young, so you start building those habits early. And it doesn’t always have to be with money, at the younger ages of 2 and 3 you can start with star charts, and let your kids earn stars that they can put towards rewards. Most kids on RoosterMoney start receiving an allowance between 4 and 7 years old, but it’s really up to what you feel comfortable with. Families with more than one child will often find the younger siblings wanting to catch up with their older brothers and sisters early, so you can see things change when one child starts earning an allowance.
6. How much allowance should you give?
At RoosterMoney we are firm believers in the idea that it’s not how much you give, it’s the act of giving it regularly that’s important. Whether it’s 20p or £10 a week, the lessons the children will learn are the same. Having said that, there are certain trends we’ve seen amongst our users, so this table showing the average allowance per age should be a helpful guide.
Average child’s allowance per week:
- 4 year olds – $4.18
- 5 year olds – $4.79
- 6 year olds – $5.82
- 7 year olds – $7.42
- 8 year olds – $8.01
- 9 year olds – $8.71
- 10 year olds – $9.49
- 11 year olds – $10.43
- 12 year olds – $11.91
- 13 year olds – $12.62
- 14 year olds – $13.87
There is also the other approach of ‘paying-per-chore’, in which case you can sit down with your kids and agree a price for each job enabling them to earn different amounts each week depending on what chores they do. It’s important they feel involved in the initial process so that they understand why they’re doing what they’re doing and why the value is different.
7. Allowance chores list: age appropriate chores
This is another question we get asked a lot. The answers can be quite varied – We have kids on the app doing everything from shovelling snow off the drive, to waxing surfboards. Having said that, we’ve pulled together the most common chores per age, to help you kick start some ideas…
- Cleaning their bedroom
- Doing the laundry
- Tidying up their toys
- Making their bed
- Looking after pets
- Clearing the table
- Taking out the bins
- Setting the table
- Reading a book
- Emptying the dishwasher
- Taking out the recycling
- Folding laundry
- Cleaning the bathroom
- Putting groceries away
- Doing the laundry
- Cleaning the kitchen
- Watering the plants
- Washing the car
- Making dinner
- Cleaning the living room
- Walking the dog
8. Setting up an allowance and chores routine
Whether you plan on using an online allowance tracker to help you or not, getting into a chores routine can be difficult at first, but will help your whole family in the long run. Every household is different and you need to design a routine that works for you, but here are some of our top tips to get you started.
9. Making your chores routine work for both you and your kids
Your kids may not think it but chore routines can actually be fun. And as every parent knows – if it’s fun for the kids, it will make it easier for you. You’ll be getting jobs done quicker around the house (and maybe even save some time and money), and your children will enjoy earning money whilst learning some valuable lessons. If you don’t feel it’s working in that way, consider changing up your system to another one of the routines mentioned above.
10. Taking your chores routine to the next level
Once you’ve got your allowance system or chores routine sorted, here are some things you can try to take it to the next level:
- New ways to earn – Encourage your kids to suggest new ways they can earn money. This should get the entrepreneurial spirit flowing, and be fun for the kids. It will also give you an idea of the value they put on certain tasks. Will they wash the neighbors’ cars? Will they put on a garage sale? Or make sure the house is sparkling from the attic to the basement?
- Entrepreneurship – why not encourage them to get some more hands-on earning experience by running their own ventures, like a lemonade stand it’s a really good way of teaching kids about budgeting and value too, when you’re planning what you need to buy, and how much you’re going to sell it for. Another great lesson, is selling their old toys in a car boot sale, pricing things and seeing how much people are willing to pay.
- Job auctions – if you have more than one child in the house, you can set out all the chores that need to be done that week (with a cost or number of star against each one), and let your children decide which ones they want to complete. It can be a great insight into their attitudes to money, or maybe just competitive spirit!
11. Extra tips from RoosterMoney parents
Here are some other useful words of wisdom from other parents we’ve spoken to along the way:
Let them have a go – when you’re deciding what chores to give them, don’t assume they can’t do certain things, let them try it and see how they get on. You’ll often be pleasantly surprised at what they can achieve.
Stay organised – they are tools out there that can help with your chore routine (like, ahem, RoosterMoney), but there’s no getting around the fact you will need to be organised to make the routine work. The good news is, once you’re in a routine, you won’t look back.
Our app – RoosterMoney, can help you stay organised with your chores, but also make it educational for your kids, find out more here – RoosterMoney chore tracker.
Our chore charts – if you want to start with a good old fashioned printable chore chart to stick on the fridge, we think that’s a great idea too, and we’ve got a customisable one you can use right here. Customisable chore chart.
And last, but not least – have fun.
We hope the allowance chores list above and other snippets of advice have been useful. If you have any questions, or recommendations on tips to add please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got any ideas or suggestions for what we cover next? Let us know at email@example.com and it might get featured in a future blog!