Recently, a friend asked a group of us how we approached chores and allowance in our homes. I shared how we did ours, and I decided perhaps I should share it on the blog, in case anyone else was at the stage of setting up a chore/allowance system.
The first step when setting up a chore and allowance system is to ask yourself a big question: What do we want to achieve? For us, we were at first hesitant to link chores to allowance because we wanted to make sure our children knew that some chores were just part of being a family, and were a basic responsibility. At the same time, we wanted to implement a sense of money management and a knowledge of the fact that money doesn't just come for free - you have to work for it. We also wanted to avoid all the special charts and magnets and boards and... well, you know how it is. The magnets get lost or they forget to be moved, etc. We really wanted to keep it simple and straight forward - for us and our daughter!
In the end, we came to a happy compromise that met all of our objectives. As her regular family job, our daughter was responsible for keeping her own room clean and putting away her own laundry. To meet out money management system, she is given an allowance (monthly, with dollars equal to her age) that is separate from her family responsibility.
What makes our system really work is the next step - everyday, after she has made sure her room is clean and her laundry is put away, she has the opportunity to add to her monthly allowance. We have small "jobs" that she can do (like help unload the dishwasher, put away her sisters laundry, or vacuum her room) for small amounts like a quarter or fifty cents.
When she completes an extra task, I simply scribble the amount and initial a post it flag. Then, she sticks it on that day on her calendar in her room. At the end of the month, she sticks them in her "bank tracker" where she records her balance from the last month, allowance, extra earnings, and spending, and then finds her new balance for the end of the month. Recording all of this helps her learn about money and to know money doesn't come from an unlimited source. (I write the outline every month, but she fills in the numbers herself using her calculator... I drew these numbers in with PicMonkey since I didn't think the world needed to know the details of my daughters banking!) To make it even simpler for us, we transfer money to her bank account using an online transfer, and when she wants to "withdraw" money, we give her our cash and then transfer it out of her account, again, online.
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So that is how we do chores and allowances in our house. It might not work for everyone, but it works great for us, and if you are looking for a new way to introduce chores or money management skills with your kids, you can give it a try. If you do, let me know how it goes - I'd love to help you find something that works for you!