Allowances: How to pay your kids


by TERRI GRUCA / KVUE News and photojournalist J.P. HARRINGTON

Posted on July 12, 2013 at 8:22 AM

CEDAR PARK, Texas -- When it comes to chores every move is carefully calculated in the Mauer home.

"They have to make their beds,” Christine Mauer, mother of four boys, said. “They have to pick up their laundry, and they have to at least wipe down their bathrooms."

Mauer doesn't give her boys cash for those expected tasks, but they can pick up money for performing extra chores around the house like cleaning the baseboards.

"A couple of bucks here, a couple of bucks there, and then they'll save up," she said.

According to a recent national study by a group of CPAs 61 percent of parents pay an allowance to their kids. Most start paying allowances by the time a child turns eight, and the average allowance is $65 a month or $780 a year.

"Often times kids expect handouts for nothing, and that's created this 'Me Generation,'" Lisa Fox, executive vice president and director of financial planning for South Texas Money Management, Ltd., said. .

Fox said an allowance should be based on a family's budget. A good rule of thumb many families use -- pay $1 for each year of the child's age. So an eight-year-old would get $8 a week, a 10-year-old would get $10 a week.

Fox said tying an allowance to a chore teaches children they have to work to earn money.         

"Learning how to save for something you really want rather than giving them money anytime they ask for it is a good thing," Fox said.

In this world of credit cards and virtual bank accounts, Fox said it also pays to give cash.

"They can see it. They can count it. They can tell when it's growing, and they can see when they've had money deducted,” she said.     

It's exactly what the Mauer family does.

"Unless it's birthday or Christmas, we don't buy toys; that includes video games," Mauer said.     

Mauer's boys now ask to do chores to save up for what they want. They’ve even pooled their money together to buy bigger items.

"They've figured out ways to manage their money, which I think is an important skill," she said.


If you chose to give your child an allowance here are some easy tips to help use it as a learning tool:

Set parameters - Make sure your children know what’s expected and how they can earn and lose the money.

Set goals - Rather than just letting them spend the money freely, set up a share, save, spend program (see information below). This teaches them how to budget, how to give back and the reward of saving.

Talk often - The more you engage your children in financial discussions, the more interested they will become, and the more they will make good money management a part of their daily life. If as a family are having to make tough decisions on where to cut, get your kids to weigh in.

Teaching your kids to save

That same national study found only one percent of children save any of their allowance. There are several good national programs that help you teach your children the benefit to saving, sharing and spending. You can do this yourself by creating three jars and labeling them “share,” “save,” “spend,” or putting pictures for items your children feel convey those words. Or check out some of the well known national programs below:

Share, Save, Spend

Three Jars

The Money Mammals

Dave Ramsey’s Junior Smart Saver Bank