Mothering

The Value of A Dollar

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Or the one where I realize it’s time for an allowance for my kids.

The other day my daughter and I had a little date. We hit up Chipotle and when I asked her what she wanted to do, she said she wanted to buy her sister a present. I gave her two stores options and limit of anything under $10. Excited, she brainstormed ideas of what to get her sister which eventually snowballed into what to get her sister and herself. No problem but there’s still a $10 budget, I reminded.

I should mention this concept of a budget and not spoiling my girls rotten is the complete opposite of how I was raised. I was an only child being raised by my grandfather who only ever had sons. I was his little girl and I got anything I ever wanted. Spoiled, yes. Brat, no. My biggest fear with my children is their being spoiled, ungrateful little shits. Pardon my French. This is what all my limits are rooted in. Back to the story.

We get to the store and her eyes glaze over with all the toy options. I point her in the direction of the smaller toys. She shows me two toys she thinks will be perfect and perfectly out of our budget. I reminder her of what we discussed in the car. She insists, telling  me she knows what her sister will like. I remind her again. She stands firm, does not throw a fit and very calmly tells me the gift is from her so she gets to choose. We go back and forth for longer than I should have allowed. Clearly, the stubborn apple does not fall far from the tree.

End of the story: I buy her what she wants but I’m equal parts pissed she ignored our original terms for shopping and proud of how firmly she stood her ground without throwing a tantrum. My iron mama will was weakened in light of how poised my daughter was in standing her ground. I was thrown off.

I did what any grown up would do in this situation and drove home in a huff. She sat in the back seat in a huff in response to my huff. Some time and deep breaths later we had a truly grown up talk about the situation. I explained I was disappointed she didn’t listen to me but I was very proud she stood by her opinion. We smiled. We hugged. We apologized. Her sister came home and all was well with the world.

This incident made me realize it’s time for an allowance for my kids. I would gladly buy my girls the world but I don’t believe they learn anything that way. It’s hard for me to teach my daughters the value of a dollar when the dollar’s never theirs to begin with. I never had an allowance growing up so this is extremely foreign territory for me. I’ve got a few ideas so far on how it might work for us:

  • The allowance base is equivalent to their age. Anything above that they have to earn.
  • They must divide the money into spend now, spend later and do good money.
  • I like the idea of coming up with “jobs” they could do to earn money. But I’m having a hard time figuring out what those jobs are since I don’t want to pay them to do things necessary to keep a household running smoothly.

Now I’d like to pick your brains on having an allowance for kid. What age is good to start? If I start with my 5 year old, do I have to do it with my 3 year old? Do I give them one weekly or monthly? I’m not a fan of paying my kids to do chores or to do things expected of any family member so what other options do I have for figuring out how much to pay them? I’m a bundle of questions. I’m open to any and all suggestions.

How do you make an allowance for kids work? Give it to me.

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7 Comments

  1. So we started a program this year where we took all of the tasks around the house that the kids could and should do and assigned values to them ($.50, $75, $1 mostly). These are all on magnets on the fridge. The kids each have their own name signs and every time they do something, they drop a magnet below their names. Once a week, we pay them out. The second part of this is that we bought the system from Moonjar and they each have a little bank that is divided in three portions – Save, Spend, Share. They chose the % in advance and they break their earnings into the slots. Now when they want to buy something, it’s their money. When the Save builds up, I take it to the bank. When they see a charity they want to support, they have money set aside. There are books, and games and it has really fostered conversations about money, and how we get things that we want. Really, really want.

  2. We don’t do allowances for the boys. I feel like we should probably start to do this soon. We have chores that they can definitely do around the house, I feel like being rewarded is probably a good thing. xo

  3. Chores for which I refuse to pay allowance: making beds, cleaning their room, clearing the table, cleaning up after playtime, vacuuming. Chores I feel deserve extra pay: washing a car, watering and weeding the vegetable garden, raking (possibly), shoveling (possibly).. Anything in that realm. I would also pay anyone to take the trash bags out to the barrels and the barrels out, and then back in on trash day, as I refuse to touch trash… However, my husband would probably say no to paying for trash duty.

    As for amounts, II read somewhere that a dollar per year of age per week is reasonable. But I really believe that whatever is right for one family might seem outrageous to another. So scale down or up as it makes you comfortable. Same as with the tooth fairy, whatever works for you, right?

  4. I always wondered what was considered a good age to start. My kids are young but it’d be nice to have a plan. 🙂 I agree though that each family handles it differently. 🙂

  5. I want to start giving my kids an allowance, but I’m not sure how to go about it either. I don’t really want to hand over money to them, but I don’t want them to not do something because they don’t “need” the money. It’s a tough call.

  6. In Addie’s first year of life, we collected change for her. Starting the week she turns 1, she will get $1 a week- that I will deposit (literally, I will go to the bank and deposit it) and mark down in a savings book. When she turns2, she will get $2 per week, I will do the same. Dave and I plan on keeping with a dollar a year until she is 5. We will explain the power of the dollar and weigh lots of options- including her in conversations about gas (rounding the cost of a gallon), food, eating out, feeding the dog, etc.

    We plan on doing magnets for chores, as well, which will be money that she can spend, whereas allowance is something that will be put into savings and needs to be withdrawn from her bank account during TD Bank’s hours. There is no debit card for her account, so if she can’t get the money, she can’t buy with it. It sounds more grown up than we mean it to be, but we mostly want to curb impulse buying (as mama has an impulse problem)!

  7. We don’t do allowances, yet. Mainly because I don’t want the hassle of keeping up with it. We’ve discussed it time and again so I know what we’ll do.

    First, they have base chores that are a part of being a family member. The base allowance will be for completing their base chores w/o complaining or being reminded. Allowance will be paid once a week. Then, they can earn extra money for extra chores – mowing grass, raking leaves, vacuuming the van, etc.

    All money will be divided into 3 pots: giving, saving, spending. Even when it’s “their” money, they won’t have complete control until they are older teens. Until then we have final veto power.

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