Parenting, Science/Math

Curious about money

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?

9 thoughts on “Curious about money”

  1. I think you have a great plan. I tried to do exactly this with my kids… but it didn’t work out quite as well as I’d hoped because a) they weren’t that interested in money somehow, and b) I broke my own rule when it came to making beds. They wouldn’t do it and it was driving me nuts. I finally said, you have to make your beds or I’m stopping your allowance and the response was unanimous – OK! I was unprepared for that 🙂 So I stopped their allowance and they didn’t make their beds. Epic fail! 🙂

    1. Tying allowance to chores is a tough decision. I think parents split 50-50. I just have a problem when everything has to be about external motivation instead of self discipline.

  2. My six-year-old has recently taken a real interest in money and specifically, he likes to make visits to the bank so we can deposit money in his account. Since he seemed motivated to earn some $, I decided to roll with the momentum and gave him a list of 4-5 things he must do every day. So far, he’s been very good at it but I’m anticipating some burnout and am already thinking of ways to change it up. I’m also a little apprehensive about allowance because I believe the kids should be contributing to the household and because allowance starts building the wage worker mentality. I’d love to hear more about how other parents are doing allowances and what sort of results they are seeing.

    1. I’m hoping others will chime in as well. Allowance certainly is a hot button issue in many households. I just doled out allowance today, and the boys are eager to see how close they are to buying the LEGO Marvel Superhero sets they’ve been eyeing.

  3. We get “allowance” for doing extra “school work” (Josie and I have K12 accounts where we take forgeign languages and also do extra math), but not chores. We get a slash/tally for each lesson we do. One slash is equal to $0.50. After some time, we get money and the slashes get scribbled out. Good luck on the allowance!

  4. Kirsten, That all sounds awesome! Growing up, I received money for report card grades and a small allowance encouraging independence when there was money to be had. We helped out at home because that is what you do in a family. I was also taught how to “balance my check book”. It’s a good skill to learn how to keep up with what goes in and out.
    I love to hear your process as we arent quite there yet.

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