Mom vs. Dad: The allowance debate

You grew up in a home where you earned a weekly allowance. Your husband on the other hand? When he was growing up, being paid for chores was a foreign concept. He was told that he was earning his keep. And now you can’t agree on how to teach your kids the value of a dollar. So what to do? Read on for a list of the things your spouse should consider when debating if allowance is right for your child.

To pay or not to pay?

Amy Kosoff Smith, founder of TheMomTini Lounge and mother of three, says yes, parents should pay their children an allowance, but with strings attached. “I do believe in allowance, and I also believe in the approach of mandating that kids spend, save, and share.”

How an allowance teaches kids about money >>

How much should you pay?

Anton Simunovic, the founder of, an online money management resource for five- to 13-year-old kids and parents says, “Consider the age of your child, your expectations of what the allowance will be used for, and what your family budget can afford. Before high school, kids are often paid their age or half their age in dollars per week.”

How will allowance help establish healthy money patterns?

Simunovic suggests a system for establishing healthy money patterns, “Allot a portion of every dollar your child earns to three jars: one for saving, the other two for spending and sharing. Fifty percent to the save jar, 40 percent to the spend jar and 10 percent to the share jar is a good rule of thumb.”

Kosoff Smith disagrees slightly. “I’m very much in sync with Simunovic’s approach — my only difference is that I don’t like to mandate the percentages — I like to give the kids some control so they can start their money management skills early and feel empowered by their choices.”

Should allowance be tied to chores?

“Of the 13 million families in America that pay allowance, half believe allowance should be tied to chores. I’ve always been torn, and it appears I’m in line with the stats,” says Kosoff-Smith.

Deborah Gilboa, MD and mother of four, believes in allowance and believes in chores, but not necessarily together. “Chores are crucial to a child’s development. They teach life skills, good citizenship, build connectedness to the family unit. Allowance teaches money management, delayed gratification and is a way for parents to throw the ‘but I want it’ purchasing back at their children in a controlled way. However, the two do not have to be (and I believe shouldn’t be) linked.”

Gilboa continues, “In our house, you have chores and do them because that is how members of a family pitch in. You get allowance from your parents to learn how to handle money. If you are grounded and not getting allowance, you do still have to do your chores. If we are on vacation and you don’t have any chores that week, you still get your allowance. If you decide to blow off your chores you will get in trouble, but it won’t be by docking your allowance. Allowance is not payment for service.”

20 age-appropriate chores >>

Should chores be treated like a job?

Kosoff Smith believes that they should and makes these suggestions:

  • Give kids prestigious titles to the jobs. For example, our “veterinarian” is in charge of our dog (feeding, letting her out). Our “electrician” turns off lights when not in use. The “locksmith” makes sure doors are locked. Our “assistant chef” backs me up at mealtime. Our “tutor” helps a younger sibling with homework.
  • Give “promotions.” Even at a young age, children can participate in household chores. The chores should grow/increase with your children. For example, a younger child can be expected to set/clear the table, feed the dog, sort or put away laundry. An older child can do the dishes and vacuum.
  • Set expectations. “I developed a chore chart and an allowance reward chart to remind the kids of daily responsibilities, whether they are required behavior or chores.”

Preparing kids for their first job >>

More on allowance

Should money be a reward?
How should kids spend allowances?
Kids’ allowances: Expert-approved, real-world approaches