A Guide to Children and Allowances

Getting an allowance is part of the image of childhood. It’s been a part of the childhood image for decades and is expressed in books and on the screen. Yet, what is the rule to giving an allowance? What is the right way? Is there a right way? How much? How often? There are so many questions swirling around children and their allowances. Here is a guide that can help you determine the right allowance for your family.

How Early is too Early?

There is no hard set age that a child begins getting an allowance. This completely depends on you and your child. Even within your own family, there should not be a set age. Remember that every child is different.

Some parents feel that children can begin receiving allowances as soon as they are able to do basic things such as pick up their shoes and put them up. If that is case, think of payment. Is money the right payment method here? If they are too young to even begin to understand the concept of money, use something different such as a treat or a special television show.

If your child is old enough to understand the value of money, then it might be the right time. This is the chance for you to teach them how to handle it wisely and for them to show you that they understand.

A two year old doesn’t need an allowance of money. A seven year old probably could. Base on your child’s ability to understand what you are teaching them about earning money and using it.

How Much is the Right Amount?

Once again, there is no flat answer that will be perfect for everyone. It varies on several factors.

1. What the Parent Can Afford

Go no further until you figure this piece out. Can you afford to pay your child $5 a week? Yes? Great! No? Then don’t pay them that. Make it affordable on your part and not outrageously too high for you to meet the obligation. They need to see you keep your word and see you handle your own money right.

2. The Age of the Child

Does your five year old need $10 a week? To them a quarter could be riches. But fifty cents a week to your fifteen year old is insulting. Who is doing more work? The teenager does, or at least you can hope so. As the child gets older, they are going to need more allowance to do the things they want and buy the things they want. $5 just doesn’t cut it in today’s world for a teen. At least $20 is what they will be looking for as long as they do what they need to do to earn it.

3. The Jobs Needed to Get the Allowance

You might want to consider how nasty or hard the jobs you give your children are in earning their allowance. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Should the child who picks up the floor and does the dishes be getting the same as the child who willingly scoops the litter box and scrubs the toilet?
  • Would you do it for that pay as a child?

If you have a child who will do a large amount of chores and do the nasty ones, then consider if their pay should reflect that. After all, you would consider that in the real world.

Valuing Chores?

Do you pay your child $20 a week if they get most of their chores done? Or do you consider paying them based on what they actually do? If they miss a chore, do they not get paid for that one chore? What makes sense?

This is another one that has no concrete answer. It is a matter of trial and error. Will your child be one to skip chores that don’t bring him the money he wants and just focus on high dollar valued chores? That could pose a problem. This goes against everything you’re trying to teach him.

There are so many advantages and disadvantages to paying by the chore and to give a flat allowance. Maybe you could do something in between. Make all chores equal in value or “charge” them for any undone chores.

This will depend greatly on you. How much time do you have tracking individual chores? Which method works the best for your individual child? Experiment. You can always start one way and switch to another until you find the right one for you.

Give a Bonus

When you do a good job at work, you might get a bonus. Consider that with your children. Did they do an exceptional job on a new chore that they had never done before? Did they go above and beyond this week? How about keeping those grades up? There are so many reasons that your children can get a bonus and keep them inspired to do their chores. Show them you are proud of them. It doesn’t even have to be with money. An extra hour of TV could be just the ticket. Have fun with allowances and use them as a means of teaching your children good stewardship of their money.

A stay-at-home mom, Amy gave up an eight year teaching career to look after her husband and their two children. Now Amy is an editor of Livesnet and blogging at parenting tips and baby product reviews. Visit Livesnet and read her hot reviews on Joovy double stroller and top rated convertible car seats.


  1. 1
    Betty Baez says:

    Me and hubby have had tons of talks about this and I’m glad we’re on the same page we will be giving allowance based on what chores they have completed everything will be on a chart with alternating tasks for our 3 boys

  2. 2
    LaceyL (DailyWoman) says:

    We do not give allowance yet, we may when the kids get older but right now I feel that they are just contributing to the household. I explained that they live here just as I do and I don’t get paid to clean up. This is our home and we need to take care of it.

  3. 3
    Jennifer Young says:

    Hmmm… we haven’t tried allowances yet, but my oldest daughter will be turning 5 next month and I think it’s something that we might try. She puts all of her money into her piggy bank for it will be contributing to her savings anyway!

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