It’s one of the great debates of kids and allowance – do you make it a payment for specific chores? Or do you give them an allowance not based on chores at all?
There are strong arguments, and lots of passion, on both sides of the debate. Today I’m going to cover both perspectives and ask you to chime in with your perspective in the comments or on social media.
Paying For Chores – The Arguments For
The most typical case for paying your kids to do chores is so they learn that the receipt of money is tied to work.
As a child under the age of sixteen, their options for earning money outside of the family are limited. Yes, they could start a babysitting business (which would likely require a parent with time to drive them there), a lemonade stand, a newspaper route, or some other endeavor. If you’re looking for ideas on businesses kids can start I recommend you check out the book “How To Turn $100 Into $1,000,000“, which my kids enjoyed (affiliate link).
But not every child is so motivated, so paying for chores is seen as an easy way to help kids learn important money lessons like saving for something they want, and budgeting limited funds.
It also teaches them a valuable life lesson – you only receive money when you work for it. Even so-called passive income is typically obtained by first working hard for seed money to invest, money to start a business, or work to set up a rental property.
No one in the real world will be handing you money in exchange simply for existing. Well, unless you’re a trust fund recipient, I suppose.
Not Paying For Chores – The Arguments For
Most parents that go the path of not paying money in exchange for chores feel strongly that kids should do chores in exchange for living in the house – not for money.
You see, part of being a member of the family is helping that family run smoothly and well. Kids are also well-known for being the reason for much of the dirt, grime, mess, laundry, dishes. and so on. Given that so much work results from them being a member of the family – isn’t it only fair that they are responsible for helping with related chores?
Perhaps they wanted to get a dog, and swore up and down that they would feed it, water it, take it for walks and clean up the dog fur everywhere. Those are chores, but you could argue they should be done for free. Why? Because the kid made a commitment, and they need to follow-through.
Besides, when you’re an adult, no one’s paying for you to clean your house and do your own laundry. Although if someone’s offering, I’m not turning them down. Learning to do chores for zero reward is sadly one of those things that we all have to do as adults, lest we end up starring in an episode of Hoarders.
A Hybrid Approach
On top of those two black and white approaches to making allowance contingent on chores, there is a more grey, or hybrid approach.
Under this approach you have a set of chores that’s done just because you’re a member of the family, and another set where you pay your kids to do them. This might be a set dollar amount for a standard set of chores, or different payments for different chores.
How might this work? For example, you might require the kids to keep their rooms clean, put laundry in the hamper, and help neaten the living room weekly for free, but they get $5 a week for taking out the trash every night and taking the dog outside.
Another way this might work is that the kids help with washing and drying the dishes, setting the table, and giving the cat water for no payment, but then there are additional chores where they can earn money, like $2 for helping weed the garden.
What About You?
I’d love to know if you think people should always base allowances on performance of chores, if you think that teaches the wrong lessons, or if you take a hybrid approach, in the comments and on social media.
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