A few weeks ago I put out the call on my Facebook profile: “How much allowance should one give a kindergartener.” My favorite responses included, “two graham crackers” and “hugs and kisses.” (You know who you are.) Others chimed in with suggestions like “$1 per year of age” or “10 cents per chore per week.”
After sifting through a wealth of information and opinions and examining our convictions, we decided upon the following: Cooper will get $2 per week, and Finley will get $1 per week. Honestly, $5 a week for Cooper just seemed like a lot. That’s $250 a year, a whole month of preschool tuition! Plus we aren’t requiring the boys to buy all their toys.
The allowance comes with some requirements, modeled after those instituted by the parents of 10-year-old twins. The boys can spend half of their allowance on toys and treats. They have to save 25% until they meet the required “reserve.” Cooper has to save $20 and then can spend anything above his $20 savings. For Finley, it’s $10 savings. Hopefully this will be the beginning of teaching about the importance of saving and interest once we open savings accounts.
The boys also have to donate 25%. We may reduce this amount over time (10% seems pretty reasonable), but right now it’s easier to dole out the allowance in quarters. Most of this money goes to church now, but I can picture saving up and matching funds to give Thanksgiving baskets, angel tree gifts at Christmas etc.
As for the age-old debate about tying allowance to chores, we decided against it. I want the boys to do chores because they are part of the family, and we all pitch in. That’s what being a part of the family means. I don’t cook dinner or clean dishes because someone hands me $20 every time I do it (though it would be nice!). Similarly, studies have shown offering children money for effort does improve their school performance. But again, I want my kids to be self-motivated to learn and do well in school rather than externally motivated. What happens when you stop paying them?
With that said, I’m not opposed to paying for extra chores (some day). When the boys are ready, I’m sure I can come up with some odd jobs to earn some cash. And perhaps we can undertake some entrepreneurial adventures, like the folks over at Shafer…Power!
So what do you think? How much allowance should a kindergartener get? Should it come with strings attached?