Last summer we finally started an allowance system for our son, Conner, who was 13 at the time.
Oh, we've tried giving him an allowance before, but I was never very consistent about actually giving it to him (kind of a key point) and for many years it just never seemed very pressing or important for him to have his own spending money.
Looking back, I think we put off many of the money issues that parents face with their kids because we lived overseas for a few years, and kids just aren't inundated with the marketing tactics and the peer pressure that they face in this culture and in American schools in general.
I Had to Stop Micro Managing the Handouts
No sooner did we move back to the States and Conner became a teenager than did my sanity start screaming for something better than negotiating every single thing that my son seemed to think he needed: Can I get an iphone? Can I go to the movies? Can I get an iphone? Can I get a new [enter name brand] hoodie? Can I get an iphone? Can I have some money to buy my lunch at school? (Can I get an iphone?) Can I Can I Can I??
We Had No Personal Experience
When it comes to doling out allowances, I've always struggled with the concept of paying my kids to do chores around the house: I believe that they should do certain things as a matter of course simply because they are a member of this family. I never got an allowance, after all. (And neither did my husband.) So I really struggled to come up with a system that made sense that would not only relieve my sanity but would also avoid turning my son into a hired hand.
I Decided to Make Up My Own Allowance System
I ended up creating a system of my own — at least, I've never come across anything exactly like it anywhere else. (If anyone begs to differ, please let me know: I'm sincerely interested.) It's a combination of paying him to do chores, while still making his chores his responsibility and not something he can avoid simply because he “doesn't care” about getting his allowance. (HA! Until the minute he wants something, that is! Right?)
I typed this out, we discussed it, and I printed him out his own copy. Let us not underestimate the ability of a teenager to reinterpret events after they have happened.
The question that begged to be asked, of course: How Much?
We didn't want to start out too high — after all, it's much easier to raise an allowance than to lower one! We set $30 a month as a starting point, fully expecting to raise that before the year was out. You might be more surprised than we were to learn that, so far, $30 has been more than sufficient.
Conners Allowance Guidelines:
Chores are part of being part of a family and a household. You will not be compensated for everyday chores. You are expected to help around the house as asked and assigned.
Conner Budgets His Allowance For‚Ä¶
- Savings and Charity.
- Clothing and shoes.
- Entertainment (movies, etc.).
- Lunches bought at school.
- Snacks and drinks out and about.
- Electronics, etc., for yourself (including cell phone use).
- Other toys and wants, including souvenirs on vacation.
Parents Still Provide and Budget For‚Ä¶
- Groceries (including for lunches).
- Electronics for family.
- Eating out with whole family.
- Vacations with whole family (but not souvenirs).
- Music lessons and needed supplies.
- Sports, academics, and required school activities (not entertainment) and supplies within reason.
If you do not complete a chore you are assigned, you are required to pay the person who completed it for you. Prices and chores may change but start as follows:
- Mowing ‚Äî What you owe someone else if who does it for you: $20
- Other yard work ‚Äî What you owe someone else who does it for you: $5+
- Dishes, etc. ‚Äî What you owe someone else who does it for you: $5
- Dusting and cleaning your room: $5
- Other chores as assigned TBD (To Be Determined)
Parents have executive authority and the final say in any changes.
Jolyn is a mother to three, husband to one, and the financial CEO of her Air Force family that currently makes its home in Ohio. She and her husband recently paid off almost $20,000 in consumer debt in less than a year and are now looking at a game plan to tackle their mortgage(s). Her family ultimately intends to become (and stay!) debt-free while still enjoying the important things in life. She blogs about their daily financial gains and setbacks and the choices that we all make that affect our financial freedom over at Budgets are the New Black.
Andrea here: When I first heard about Jolyn's allowance system, I immediately wanted to know more since we offer allowance to our oldest son. I love her philosophy and can't wait to share the second post with you next week! Oh, and HELLO to paying off that much debt!!
Do you have an allowance or chore system for your kids?