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How Can Kids Earn an Allowance?

Ways you can implement an allowance for your kids, with or without chores, to teach them money management skills. 

The purpose of an allowance is to help children learn about money. Giving your kids an allowance can teach money management skills such as earning, saving, spending, and budgeting. There are several topics you and your co-parent should discuss and decide on before implementing an allowance in your households.

What's the right amount to pay for allowance? How early should you start giving your kids an allowance? Should compensation be tied to chores around the house? Should your child’s allowance be taken away as punishment?

The decision to pay an allowance and how your kids should earn it is very personal and varies by family, however, we have a few tips to help you get started:

No matter what you decide, researchers have determined that chores are good for kids

If you and your co-parent decide to let your children earn an allowance, household chores may be a great option. Here are some chores your kids can start with:

  • Dusting
  • Sweeping
  • Loading and unloading dishwasher
  • Folding laundry
  • Making the bed
  • Cleaning the toilet or sink
  • Putting clothes in the closet
  • Keeping toys put away in the toy box
  • Feeding a pet
  • Cleaning up after a pet
  • Pulling weeds
  • Watering flowers
  • Put away groceries
  • Make lunch or breakfast
  • Mop floors
  • Taking a pet for a walk
  • Do laundry

Check out our blog post on How Chores Are an Essential Part of Childhood to learn more about The Harvard Grant Study and its conclusion that one of the best predictors of professional success comes from doing chores as a child.

Requiring Chores to Earn Money

For other parents, however, household chores are something that you do because you are part of the family, not because you get paid. If this is the agreement you and your co-parent have come to, there are some other things that go beyond regular household chores that your child can do to earn an allowance:

  • Babysitting a younger sibling or neighbor
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Giving the dog a bath
  • Cleaning the windows
  • Washing the car
  • Helping prepare a family meal
  • Tying allowance to grades received at school

When Chores Aren't Necessary for An Allowance

There is a third school of thought that frequently shows up in discussions about allowance, in which parents simply give children a set amount of money each week. There is no work or chore required. In this case, the allowance is offered strictly to help kids learn about financial management, with the goal of teaching them how to budget what they are given. If you and your co-parent decide to go this route, the key is to set parameters around how your children must allocate their allowance.

When your kids are younger, this might mean telling them that a set amount of money must go to charity and savings, while the rest can be spent however they please. As your kids get older, the responsibilities for managing this allowance increase. For example, you and your co-parent may require your teen to use some of the money to pay for gas, school sports, or other extracurricular activities. Advocates of this approach say that it teaches children how to budget and think carefully about how to spend their money over a longer period.

No matter which approach you decide to take, it’s important to be on the same page

Before implementing an allowance, you and your co-parent should discuss which route you want to go and make it consistent. It will be easier for your children to form healthy money management and financial planning skills if they are getting the same teachings in both homes.

TalkingParents offers several tools to help co-parents communicate about topics like this. You can discuss allowance plans and document parameters through features like Secure Messaging, Accountable Calling, and the Info Library.

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