Paid to be kids, The Allowance Question 

Like most kids, my girls want things. Lots of things. Lots of very expensive things. It was time, my wife and I decided, that if the girls were to get some of these things they were going to have to pay for it. Unfortunately, due to some child labor laws, getting a job at six years old wasn’t going to happen. This means that any money she was going to earn was going to come from us. Which raises the first question does she need money?

Until recently the answer was no she didn’t. She didn’t really ask for things, she was content with what we gave her. This is due partly to her being a pretty calm kid, and partly due to her having plenty of toys. We have been lucky in that both of  our girls have been pretty good about looking in stores and not throwing a fit about not coming home with a toy.

With her getting older, our luck with her not asking for things has come to an end. The current object of desire for her is the   American Girl Dolls. For anyone not familiar with the line, They are expensive dolls with expensive clothes and even more, expensive accessories. I am not a fan of the line, but she is and if she was going to purchase any of it, she was going to pay for it.

The decision was made for her to earn an allowance. We knew we wanted her to have to earn it, but past that we were at a bit of a loss. What should she be doing? How much should we pay her? Should we start her sister on the program as well? To answer this, we asked for advice from both friends and family.

Some told us to link it to school. If she did her homework and got good grades she got paid. We didn’t like this. We wanted her to do her school work because it benefited her not because she was paid. Next, we were told to give her a chore list. That way she could keep track and know what she needed to do. We opted to not have the chore list. She should help because she was part of the family not because she was paid.

Her allowance was going to be earned by being a part of the family. This meant she would have to help with all of the day to day tasks. It also gave us the opportunity to adjust as necessary. Being part of the family meant whatever we wanted it to mean. It could be cleaning or yard work. It could mean being nice to her sister, or good on a car ride. We could make that weeks jobs as easy or as difficult as needed. A second benefit was we could withhold money if she wasn’t living up to our expectations.

At the end of each week, she is given the cash to do with as she pleases, well almost. There are a few restrictions. A portion of what she earns had to be saved. For now that savings can be used to save for a toy, but in the future, I want it to go towards her college. I figure she can help pay that bill and also it will hopefully influence her decisions there if she had a hand in paying for it. A second portion is also withheld to give to charity. She must set it aside to be donated to those who need it. We hope this will teach her charity, and helping those less fortunate.

So far she has done well with her money. She is saving towards a doll and happily asking for more jobs to earn more towards the doll. I personally am waiting to see how well she manages her money when she doesn’t have that carrot right there to encourage her to save. She hasn’t been really presented with much temptation yet. Time will only tell how she responds.

Photo from Steven Depolo – Flickr.com – CC

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Bryan Alkire

Bryan is a Stay at Home Dad from Kalamazoo MI. Every day he is lucky enough to experience the joys and struggles of raising his two young girls. His older daughter, a brain tumor survivor, has just started school. His younger daughter is a ball of energy that always keeps him on his toes. He chronicles his adventures with his girls and beautiful wife on his blog www.kzoodad.com. When not watching the girls he plays golf (badly), enjoys craft beer, and working on that book he keeps promising to get done.

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