Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Chores and Money Make Strange Bedfellows!

Children and money.  To give or not to give.  If to give, how much?  And what can parents expect in exchange for the money given?

I think this is 2 issues.  Chores should be every family member’s responsibility.  Our family loves us, provides for us, and is the securest place we will likely ever know.  Citizens have responsibility to contribute to the public good and our very first citizenship experience is in our families.

So what can kids contribute?  Chores!!!

Children over age 4 should have regular chores.  The 4 year old can set the table.  The 5 and 6 year old can make their beds and clear the table.  The 7 and 8 year old can do the dishes and clean the bathroom.  The 9 and 10 year old can vacuum and mop the floor.  Whatever you assign, don’t make the mistake of rotating chores among the kids.  First of all, they will blame the other person in the rotation if it doesn’t get done (“I thought it was his turn”).  Secondly, they won’t have the pride of ownership.  If you want to rotate jobs so that everyone learns how the house operates, then do it every 6 months or so.  By regular chores, I don’t mean occasionally setting the table.  I mean it is their responsibility every night – no one else does it (sure family pitches in if someone is sick, but you get the picture).

And how much should you pay them for these chores? 

Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.
Chores are THEIR contribution for the privilege of living in their loving, secure and safe family.  It is what they can do to assure that their family continues to be the best it can be for all members.

Allowance is another topic altogether.  Allowance is a key way to learn about money.  How to count it, what its value is, how to save it, how to budget it.  It amazes me that parents expect children to reach age 18 equipped to handle money when they have never done it.  It takes practice, folks!!!!!  When I volunteer in our local 2nd grade, I see many kids who have no idea what a dime, nickel, quarter or half dollar are – they shouldn’t have to learn this in school!  So regular allowance is a necessity!  And as the point is to learn the HUGE life lesson of handling money, it should not be tied to behavior (unless of course, you find your teen using allowance to buy pot, but that is another story!)

Start your kids at about age 5 with a regular allowance.  As they get older, increase it and by age 8 begin to make them cover some of their expenses from it.  As teens, they should have a large enough allowance to cover more and more of their expenses (school supplies, entertainment, clothes) – this will give them experiential learning in budgeting and money management.

I know it is tempting to tie allowance to good behavior.  But there are so many other ways to manage behavior and the money lessons are too important.  You will be SO glad you gave your kids this learning opportunity when at 19 or 20 year they can handle their own money issues!

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