I started giving my daughter an allowance when she was 2 years old. It was small … $1 per week. She learned early on how to save up for the things she wants. At 4 years old she was saving her dollars and asking to do extra chores for a $9 mirror.
Somewhere along the way, her allowance was traded in for an occasional job offer. $5 to wash a car, $2 to vacuum her great-grandmother’s home, we even had a neighbor that wanted to pay her $5 per week for light housework, but she didn’t feel right taking money from a feeble old lady.
Last month, my little girl hit double-digits and decided it’s time she get herself a job. She has a guinea pig to raise and expensive taste in clothes and electronics. But where can a 10 year old find steady work?
We will watch for small jobs outside of the home. But I want to make sure that my daughter’s top priorities are her school and her family. So I have decided it’s time I start paying a little for good grades and for when she is willing to do extra chores around the house. Here is what I have come up with – I am making a publicly visible written record and will update in a few months to let y’all know how it is going. (in case anybody else wonders how well this will work)
How much to pay?
I always thought that 50 cents – $1 per year old was a good weekly allowance. So, I will make sure my 10 year old has an opportunity to earn between $5 and $10 per week average. About $4 of this is expected to go toward guinea pig food and bedding.
Pay for good grades
Kids spend 35 hours or more per week at school. And it is hard work! I have decided to base my little girl’s going to school pay on her grade level. Each report card she will get:
- 2 cents per C (and a lecture / talk about how to bring that grade up)
- $2.50 per B (half her grade level)
- $5 per A (her grade level)
- $10 per high A (Bonus for getting 98, 99, or 100%!)
What I have not decided yet is how music and PE fall in this plan. I mean, it is hard to get anything less than a 100 in these classes. So should she have a guaranteed $20 per 6 weeks? If so, should I require that she put half or all of this in her savings account?
Pay for chores
I have broken some of our household chores into chunks that I expect to take about 30 minutes of actual work each. As she gets older and more efficient, she will still just get $2 per chore chunk. But she should be able to do them more quickly, so it will be as if she is getting a per hour raise.
- Load of laundry – washed, dried, folded, and put away. (2 loads per average week)
- Carpets – pick up any items left on the floor, vacuum living room, bedrooms, and hallway.
- Kitchen – sweep and mop linoleum. Also do the area by front door.
- Bathroom – sweep and mop floor, clean toilet and sink. (I do the tub/shower.)
- Dust the living room and clean windows & mirrors.
After some of the private comments I have received on this topic, I feel the need to let y’all know that we live in a small apartment. Laundry is the only chore on this list that can’t be done in less than 15 minutes.
Chores are something that you do because you are a member of the household. I don’t mind paying my daughter a few dollars to go above and beyond her fair share. But she is still expected to do some things, free of charge, without complaining and without being told multiple times. These include:
- Dishes washed and put in the drain rack.
- Wipe down the counter and stove.
- Take out the trash and put in a new bag.
- Help bring in stuff from shopping.
- And of course, taking care of her guinea pig. (Although, I have put myself in charge of baths, haircuts, and nail trimming until she is a little older.)
It has been over 2 years. Although I still believe the above plan was good, it did not stick as well as I expected. Plans that we ran into included:
- Me not always able to pay for good report cards. (Car troubles, missed child support payments .. It became confusing for my daughter when I had to delay payments up to a month.)
- Outside “help”. I don’t want my child overwhelmed with too much work, but I also don’t want to pay her for a chore that someone else did. My child came with an unusually good work ethic. Do not encourage her to slack off!
- Jobs done poorly. … Turns out overlooking small mistakes can lead to a kid trying to see how many corners they can cut.
I plan on trying this again when she is a teenager. I need to become a little more financially stable. I will need to have a few serious talks with well-intentioned friends and family members about not teaching her how to get away with not doing her best. And I will need to make some clear guidelines about how she is to manage her money. Help her come up with some financial goals, figure out how to achieve them, and come up with a plan to balance the desire to enjoy her money now with the future benefits of having money saved up.