I admit it–I was wrong to create the allowance chart as the sole source of earning allowance money. Well, I was half wrong. Several months ago I wrote about the elaborate commission-based allowance chart I had created for my kids whereby they would earn a bit of money for each chore completed.
The idea was inspired by Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Junior materials, and his reinforcement of the idea on various calls to his radio show. However, the more I reflected on the idea, the more I didn’t like it the allowance chart we had in place. So, I decided to change it, and created a combination comission system and allowance chart. The plan is scheduled to start in October, and I think the kid are looking forward to the change.
The New Deal
Under the new allowance system, our kids will receive a base allowance based roughly on their age. To receive an allowance they must complete a basic set of household chores such as keeping their rooms clean, helping with the dishes when asked, putting away clean laundry, etc. Of course, there will be some things they do as members of the family (put water down for the dog, help set the table, etc.) that will not be included in either the allowance system or the commission schedule. After all, I don’t get paid to mow my own lawn!
Our kids will also have the opportunity to earn bonuses, or commissions, based on the completion of a variety of advanced chores and special projects. This is not unlike most sales positions that offer a base salary plus commissions, with the base salary represented by the kids’ regular allowance. Initially, they will be paid each week on Saturday (chore day) because I want the reward of receiving payment to happen soon after the bulk of the work is performed. As they get older, we will likely increase this to a biweekly payment plan, and then possible monthly, as they improve their budgeting skills.
How Much to Pay for Kid’s Allowance?
This is the tough part. There are lots of formulas floating about the web, particularly on kids and money sites and parenting blogs. Instead of coming up with an age-based amount per allowance “pay period,” I worked backwards from a ballpark figure I had in mind that seemed a reasonable amount for each child. For instance, my daughter is the oldest at eight, and $20 per month seems like a reasonable amount for an eight year-old to earn as a base allowance. Subtracting a little for savings, and a little for giving, that is still enough to buy a CD, book, or something that she is wanting. Remember, she can also do extra chores to boost that amount (more on that later). $20 per month breaks down to about $5 per week, which is less than the recommended dollar per week per year of age plan. That is by design. $5 per week is plenty considering all her other needs are met, but is low enough to encourage her to work for extra money.
Our kids can earn extra money by doing things like helping dad with light yard work, sweeping the back porch and garage, etc.
The commissions for each chore vary based on degree of difficulty, but most range from $0.25-$1.00. Not a bad deal for a few extra minutes of work each week. A commission schedule is posted on our refrigerator each Saturday afternoon after the previous week’s payments have been made.
As the kids complete the chores they check off the chore and add up their commissions earned each day (never too early to work on those math skills!).
A Kid-Sized Budget
Our only requirements for the money they earn are that they must divide them into three categories: saving, giving, and spending. I want our kids to be savers and givers (yes, the two can co-exist), so to reinforce that idea we tell them to toss their money into separate jars for that specific purpose.
My daughter has several opportunities throughout the year to participate in fund raising activities at her school, such as drives for the American Cancer Society, and other notable charities. It is much more meaningful for her to put a dollar she earned into the collection jar, than to hand over one I’ve given her.
Do you pay your kids an allowance? Is it based on their age, or some other factor?