Should Kids Get an Allowance for Chores?

There are generally two schools of thought on whether or not kids should get an allowance. Some families opt to give their children a basic spending allowance in exchange for chores, and others feel that an allowance dissuades from the idea that all members of a family should learn how to contribute to the household.

Like most things in life, there are pros and cons to each approach. On one hand children, at some point, will need to learn the value of money. Chores and allowances are a good way to show them how money is earned, saved and spent . On the other hand, children might develop the philosophy they can expect to be paid for things that don't call for earnings in life.

Here are a few other pros and cons of giving kids an allowance for chores:

Pros of Giving Kids an Allowance for Doing Chores

There are many benefits to allowances as it shows them how to earn, calculate and track money. It can also build and/or strengthen counting skills.

Relationship Between Work and Money: By offering children the opportunity to earn money around the house, this helps show the basic fundamental that money doesn't magically appear out of nowhere, it typically has to be earned. Chores are a great way to show them the relationship between work and earning money. Delegating chores in exchange for an allowance shows kids first-hand that to get money to buy or save up money for things, it typically takes hard work. This is the foundation for developing a strong work ethic. As they grow, they may look at other ways to grow their savings.

Lemonade Stand
Credit: Mary Bettini Blank/Pixabay CC0 Public Domain

Learn to Make Smart Choices: Allowances for chores help children learn how to make smart choices when it comes to spending money. When kids receive their own money for working, they'll begin to get the idea they have to decide when and where to spend it. They'll also quickly learn the money they've earned isn't going to buy every single thing they want and they'll have to choose.

Once kids realize how much work they had to do to get their allowance, they also likely won't be as quick to spend it. Instead, they'll begin to learn how to think carefully before handing money over to the cashier.

Build Counting and Math Skills: In addition, earning an allowance and managing money will help younger children learn how to count and gain basic math skills. For the older kids once who already have this knowledge, the allowance is a great way to teach them good practices in handling money. Establishing a piggy bank, money-box or savings account gives them the opportunity to see money accumulate and kids learn they don't have to spend money every time they receive it.

Teaching kids about money is an invaluable piece of knowledge to share and, if by connecting it to chores, many good life lessons can be learned.

piggy bank
Credit: Gaertringen/Pixabay CC0 Public Domain

Cons of Giving Kids an Allowance for Doing Chores

The other school of thought leans more on family and personal responsibility, things people don't get paid for in life.

Sends Mixed Messages for Supporting Family: If a child is offered to be paid for things that routinely need to be done in the home, this could send the wrong message. Kids may grow up thinking that they are entitled to be paid for helping and contributing to the family household. As a result, they may not learn the value of helping simply because they are a member of the family unit and the household is something every family member should help contribute to.

Don't Learn Personal Responsibility: Tying compensation to doing things they should learn to do anyway can also be a drawback to chores. If basic chores, such as cleaning up after themselves or keeping their personal space neat and tidy, are linked to an allowance they may grow up feeling they should be paid for everything they do. This could be the wrong lesson to teach them when they are young since as they grow older it'll be a hard lesson to learn that they actually have to pick up after themselves and take personal responsibility. 

Choose to Slack Off: Kids may get lazy and decide they don't want money in any given particular week because there is nothing pressing they want to buy. As a result, they may not do their expected share. This can also send the wrong message because when certain chores are linked to household activities they should be involved in anyway, they'll not participate. 

Although to combat some of these cons, a potential solution lies in the idea of "firing" a child from chores. In the real world bosses fire employees who do not pull their weight on a timely and regular basis and this could be an opportunity to teach a relevant life lesson.

No One-Size Fits All Answer

Both sides of the spectrum of whether or not children should receive an allowance for chores offer good reasons why kids should or should not earn money from chores. Perhaps there is some middle ground that may be found through assigning kids extra chores that fall outside the realm of the norm (i.e. picking up their own laundry and toys, or making a bed). Some ideas might be yard work, helping clean out the basement or attic, or some other out of the norm household chore that needs to be done.

Boy mowing the lawn
Credit: woodleywonderworks via Flickr/CC by 2.0

There is no right or wrong philosophy. However parents decide to teach, an important message to get across is to show them the direct relationship between working and earning money, and that money doesn't just appear out of nowhere. There will come a point and time where children grow into teens and young adults; they'll need to be responsible for themselves - and money. If those money skills aren't developed, they'll likely have financial troubles as they become mature adults because they haven't effectively learned the importance of financial responsibility. Especially in our digital society where credit cards and other buy now, pay later options are so common because it's easy to overspend if not careful.