Q&A: Giving children allowance money


We have three children and we are looking at any advice you can give us on how we should do money allowances in our household.

Answer: Some parents believe in paying a weekly allowance and some pay their children for individual chores. Others don’t pay anything, opting instead to give their children money for purchases based on their overall attitude and helpfulness. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach.

Whatever system you adopt, it’s important to remember that one of your major goals is to prepare your children to live in the “real world”—the world of work, taxes, charitable giving, and investments. In that world, nobody is going to pay them for making their beds or taking out the rubbish. Instead, they’ll be paid for things like managing a group of employees, tuning up somebody’s car or selling a pair of shoes to a demanding customer.

With that in mind, we would suggest that children perform certain tasks around the house simply because they are part of the family. This might include taking care of their own rooms, picking up their toys, helping prepare meals, washing their own dishes and, yes, even taking out the rubbish.

On the other hand, you might pay your children for chores that demand more time and energy—contributions to the life of the household that go beyond the call of duty. This might include sweeping the floor, folding clothes or, in the case of a responsible teenager, babysitting younger siblings for an entire Saturday afternoon.

Whether it’s a regular responsibility or a chore that earns a “pay check,” it’s important to communicate clearly what you’re looking for in terms of the time-frame and the level of quality you expect.

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