Chores and Pocket Money

 |  Parenting

Isabel turns four next week and as such I’ve been slowly introducing her to the idea of pocket money. It is my hope that if I give her the opportunity to earn money from an early age (and really, we’re only talking about the odd 10 pence here, nothing significant because I’m not made of bloody money) that she will learn to save and be clever with her pennies.

As part of this I also want to involve her more in chores and taking responsibility for things – both in and relating to looking after herself and around the house too. She already gets asked to do the odd bit here and there but I want to get her doing 1 or 2 things specific to her more regularly.

However… I don’t really think that it’s a good idea to start paying her to DO chores. Partly because no bugger pays me to do household stuff and partly because everyone in the house has a duty to help keep it tidy etc – I’m not a maid and neither is Karl. It’s all about living co-operatively, or something like that anyway.

So now I’m faced with the dilemma: what chores do I give her, and how exactly I introduce pocket money. Thoughts?

Jem Turner jem@jemjabella.co.uk +44(0)7521056376

12 comments so far

  1. Sarah said:

    I have been thinking about this a lot lately as well. A is almost 3 and good God, does she make a helluva mess. I don’t think I’ll be handing out money to her anytime soon, again – she’s 3. But yeah. Her list includes picking up toys and putting her plates in the sink after meals. She’s shown a keen interest in laundry and sweeping, but none of her helping is actual help at this point. So, I’ve got nothing.

  2. Tanya said:

    What are the odd things she does now? The best thing would probably be to slowly build on them.

    Based purely on my experiences with Sam, chores that work well are putting away their own clothes, unpacking shopping, sweeping and sorting laundry. :)

  3. Chantal said:

    I have no children myself so I can’t help you with chores for a 4 year old but I love the idea of introducing pocket money at an early age. Not because they’ll get rich that way ;) but because it teaches kids the value of money.

  4. Laura said:

    This is interesting because I’ve been pondering this myself although it won’t be an issue for me for a few years yet. I like the idea of teaching children the satisfaction of earning money and how to be thrifty and clever with the money they do have. But I also feel like they should pull their weight around the house because it is the collective responsibility if the family to do so.

    In short, I am absolutely no bloody help in resolving your dilemma ;) but I do empathise.

  5. Dee said:

    I think it’s a hard decision to make when introducing money. Is the money a reward? Or a compensation? What am I rewarding or compensating for? When I was a student, my friends would get $20’s for getting A’s in class and I stood there wondering why they should get rewarded for things that is expected, so I never understood that concept. She might be four, but she could be old enough to try and teach the concept of compensation for hard work. Perhaps it could be helpful to ask her what her idea is?

  6. Meggan said:

    I’ve always heard they should be mostly independent, for the reasons you’ve listed. Tasks that are over-and-above normal household stuff (like cleaning the garage or something you wouldn’t ordinarily ask her to do) can have a monetary value, but not the daily stuff you expect her to do anyway (picking up toys, setting the table, etc).

    It does seem sort of funny to just… give them money? Without any strings attached? But it seems like that’s kind of the prevailing attitude toward it I’ve seen.

  7. Stephanie said:

    Your post reminded me of an interesting blog post I read a while back called “Do Your Children Own Anything?”. For me, it was thought-provoking because I had gifts taken away from me all the time as a child, but I suspect that you will think that the article is obvious.

    As a child, I never really got an allowance, and I also don’t have much money as an adult. My parents were very Asian in this regard – they bought me anything I wanted as long as they thought that I had “earned it”. I don’t think that this is the best way to do things, though.

  8. Chantelle said:

    I wouldn’t pay her anything for doing chores. Maybe that’s harsh, but adults are not paid for keeping their homes clean. Having a clean home is a reward in itself and she’s not doing you any favors by doing what she should. I was never awarded an allowance as a child and yet I’m financially responsible. Like Stephanie’s parents, mine just bought me what I wanted (within reason). I think it’s really hard to teach such young children about saving money, but it may be helpful if you physically show her the power of saving (get a clear jar and put like 10-25 cents in it every single for a couple months) to show how spending power increases over time. If you wait for Y amount of time you can have this, X amount of time you can have this or you have to wait until this much time passes befor you can get Z. Make it a game? You can also show her how you finance some things.

  9. Sam said:

    I don’t have kids but I remember what my mum did with me. Pocket money and chores weren’t linked at all. I had chores to do, I think I remember they were making my bed, keeping my room tidy and helping with the washing up when I was small. I might have been older than 4 then, I’m not too sure what 4 year olds can do. It wasn’t anything major anyway. Just little things that you’d expect someone that age to be able to manage on a regular basis.

    I didn’t get the pocket money for the chores. I was just expected to do them, if I didn’t do them then I wouldn’t get any pocket money, but that wasn’t because of the chores, it was because I was naughty and disobeying. So it was a regular thing unless I was naughty in which case part of the punishment was no pocket money that week. I did sometimes get extra money for things but I don’t think that happened until I was a lot older. At which point I argued with my mum that I didn’t do it for the money, that she was family and family helped one another. She also used to give me money/treat for getting really good marks in school, though it wasn’t necessary. I wasn’t doing it for the treat, I was doing it to make her proud of me, though I guess her going as far as rewarding me was her way of showing that she was proud.

    I wasn’t given the money, instead it was put into a bank account my mum opened for me. I don’t think you can do that now, so a piggy bank might work until they are old enough to open a childs account. If I wanted to buy anything with my pocket money I had to ask my mum. She would tell me to wait a few days and see if I still wanted it. This taught me the value of restraint, and to this day it’s a practice I do, so I avoid wasting money on impulse purchases. The money was mine and if I insisted I still wanted whatever it was, even if she thought it was a waste, then she let me buy it and learn my lesson through experience. I only had a finite amount of money, so once I spent it and it was gone, I had to save up again.

    Now my mum did buy me treats occasionally of course, but if I wanted luxury items like magazines then I had to decide to buy them with my pocket money. I decided early on that disposable things like magazines and sweets were a waste of money, because they were soon gone and then I had nothing to show for my own money. I guess all these realisations or decisions of mine were my mums influence. I much prefer to save rather than spend, and then if I do spend it has to be on something with purpose and longevity. Combining years of pocket money/birthday/christmas money I bought my first camera like that. Though I was a bit sad afterwards, reading my bank statement and seeing the total had been wiped out. I don’t know if it was how my mum handled money with me from an early age but I’ve always been good with money. I’ve always saved and budgeted so I’ve always had the money that I needed. I know I’ve been extremely fortunate that I haven’t been forced to ever live beyond my means. I’ve never had to go cap in hand to my mum and ever ask for money, which a lot of my student friends had to do at uni when they blew their loans.

    Erm I probably wrote too much. I usually lurk on your blog. Feel free to ignore me.

  10. Mumblies said:

    How about earning pocket money for feeding Rosie and Flymo (obviously supervised) per week, that should teach her about taking care of her pet.

  11. Stephanie said:

    My mom never gave us an allowance for chores, or even really paid us for chores. She would ask us for help, and say if we did, we could do x afterwards. For example, if we helped dust and clean before company came, we could get a new book the next time we were at the book store. We were given a certain amount of money for lunch each week, and it was ours to spend as we wanted. We could make our own lunch in the morning and pocket it if we wanted. We could spend it on loads of snacks at lunchtime. But being part of the family meant keeping up the house, so we didn’t get anything for cleaning our rooms, doing laundry, helping with dishes, etc.

  12. Georgie said:

    Not sure if this is 100% relevant but your blog post reminded me of my cousin, nineteen and currently living with me, my parents and my brother. He’s been rather rude to my parents and has taken everyone for granted, not doing any chores and helping out as any responsible member of the family would. I know it’s a sweet idea to give a child pocket money for chores but I feel Isabel is still very young. With strict Asian parents I never got pocket money. When we ran out of bread, my parents would write a lunch order for me, and give me the exact money so I would not spend it on trash.

    Later in high school before I had a job, I would just ask my parents for money, but it would only be when I was going out with friends, or going on a school excursion, and even then it was only about $20. (I was lucky if I got $30!)

    The bad thing is that I did not learn anything about earning or about money, so when I did get a part-time job, I was so thrilled to have my own money that I just spent it on candy at the school canteen/tuckshop. Which really turned me into a big spender. I didn’t spend it ALL, but I knew I could have spend a heck of a lot less on candy.

    As Isabel is still young, I don’t think you should be giving her any money, and not exclusively for chores either. I DO think that you should teach her a thing or two about saving, because from my own experience, if my parents taught me a bit about money, rather than restricting me completely, I might have learned better. Perhaps you could get Isabel a cute piggy bank and show her that you will put money in there when she does something good, and on her birthday maybe you can take out what is in there and she can use the money to get what she wants.

    As for chores, I am sure you could find a few little things for her to do that would help you. Make sure she puts her dishes in the sink, maybe get her to do something like wipe down the kitchen bench, sweep the floor around the front door with a little dustpan if any leaves have gotten in… anything she will learn from. :)