UCB Parents Advice

Allowance Survey

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Back to Allowance
This is a summary of responses from recent discussions on the UCB Parents mailing list.

Most parents started allowance at about first grade age. They said, before that, their children didn't understand what money was for. Most said there were no specific chores tied to allowance, although most also said their children were expected to perform certain tasks such as keeping their rooms neat, picking up their toys, getting ready for school on time, helping with dinner. Many parents said their kids had ways to get money besides allowance (and in some cases, instead of allowance) such as birthday gifts & report cards, and by doing extra chores like cutting the grass, babysitting, washing the car, etc. Many parents said their children save all or part of their allowance, and some had rules about saving a part of allowance and money gifts. Most parents had no restrictions on how allowance could be spent as long as it complied with existing family rules about sweets, war toys, and so on. Allowance amounts seem to increase substantially for children over 10.

The responses are below, sorted by ages; in some cases you will see repeats from the parents who have more than one child. Here is a breakdown:

age amount/wk
3-5 0 or $.25-$1
6-7 0 or $1-$3
8-10 0 or $1-$4
11-12 0 or $2-$5
13-14 0 or $5-$7
15 & older $10

Parents' responses:

3-5 yrs | 6-7 yrs | 8-10 yrs | 11-12 yrs | 13-14 yrs | 15 yrs +

General Advice


3-5 yrs

From: Fran (8/98)

We started giving our son $1.50/week allowance when he was nearly 5. No work is expected in exchange for it. He can spend it on anything he wants, but the understanding is that he has to buy his own toys except for birthdays and Christmas. Twice he has saved it up for a few months and bought a large toy; once he spent an entire week's allowance for a small toy. We still buy him art supplies and other things we feel he reasonably needs.


Date: Tue, 1 Oct 1996 10:34:04 -0700
From: Sharon

I have a 5 year old boy who loves collecting money but has no concept of its value.

He doesn't get a regular allowance, but often times he will ask if he can have the change in my pocket or at the register. He loves collecting things. He also doesn't have regular chores. This year we will start our son on regular chores and we will begin the $1.00 per week.

Date: Tue, 01 Oct 1996 10:39:38 -0700
From: Tilmann

We just recently started giving allowance to our children. They receive a more symbolic amount of 25 Cents each Sunday and we make no difference between the ages concerning the amount. Our kids are 3, 5 and 7 and they usually save their money in their piggy bank. We have no certain restrictions on how they spend their money, except for war toys, guns and "power ranger" like things. The boys prefer to spend their money in tools at ACE hardware.

Tilmann

Date: Thu, 3 Oct 96 15:10:05 EDT
From: Beth

My 4.5 year old gets $1 per week. (Her 15 month old brother gets nothing.) She is starting to have chores, but they are not connected to allowance. With a different child I would consider requiring that some fraction of it be saved, but with her we have to keep reminding her that she won't get any pleasure from the money unless she spends it on something. So far, she's used it to buy candy and small toys that she has really wanted but that I didn't like enough to buy for her. She has only been getting an allowance for a few months. Over the course of the next year I plan to increase her allowance to about $3 per week so that she can reasonably be expected to pay for things like birthday and holiday presents for friends and family, Scholastic Book orders, toys, etc.

From: Mari Date: Thu, 03 Oct 96 12:07:46 PST

I started my five-year old when she was 5-1/2, at a dollar a week. It's neat because she is getting used to saving up, and we use her money if there's something small and special that she wants, like gum or stickers, just so she doesn't get stuck on the idea that Mother or Father is an undepletable source of money! She uses it for milk money at school if I'm out of quarters that day, and it's so sweet to see her actually counting and neatly folding the new bill into her folded stash every week.


6-7 yrs

From: Melinda (8/98)

I started giving my daughter a dollar a week in 1st grade, she got $2/week in second & will get $3/week in third. She can spend it any way she wants, though I gently remind her now & then that if she saves it up she could buy something more interesting (& permanent!) than candy. It is definitely *not* tied to chores, everyone does chores as part of the family, it's expected. I also give her 25 cents any morning that she's ready & waiting by the door before me (getting out of the house on time has been a major problem.) From: Kay Date: Thu, 03 Oct 1996 13:14:22 -0700

We give our 6 yr old son $3.00/week. He has to put one dollar into a savings "bank" for long term savings. We had been giving him 25 cents every time he helped us around the house with chores. After reading on this list some of the allowance "philosophies", we switched to the allowance system and like it much more. He rarely asks us to buy toys anymore as our response is "use your own money" which he is reluctant to do (this happened after I advanced him money to buy a toy and he had to repay me for the next two weeks). He still does chores around the house since we all live in it and therefore share in the responsibilities of maintaining it. BTW we still buy him toys but this system seems to have stopped the asking/begging for toys so typical of young kids.

Date: Thu, 3 Oct 96 13:08:43 PDT
From: Tamara

The 7-1/2-year-old gets $3 per week, and this is tied to chores. She sweeps the outside walkways once a week, feeds the cat every other day or so, makes the bed once or twice a week, is required to clean up any mess she makes herself, clear her own dishes from the table, and a few other things I can't remember now. We don't monitor it closely or check things off a list as we did with the older one when she was the same age. As long as we have the basic feeling that she's contributing and not balking when reminded to do things, we feel she's keeping up with what she needs to accomplish in exchange for the allowance. She started her allowance at age 5 -- it was $1/week.

Both children are good savers, and manage to accumulate $20-$30 for a CD or stuffed animal on a regular basis. They both have bank accounts and are expected to deposit 1/2 of whatever they receive in checks from relatives, etc.

Date: Thu, 3 Oct 1996 12:29:53 -0700
From: Tamra

I have 2 boys, one who will be 16 next week (yikes!) and the other who's 7 and a half. I just started giving the younger one an allowance this school year, because I wanted to wait until he could read well enough and calculate well enough to deal with money. He gets $4/month (his choice, rather than weekly), and so far (2 months' worth) he is saving it. I haven't tied his allowance to chores or behavior. I expect everyone to do basic chores as part of being a family. I will pay them to do special jobs. Both boys have savings accts.

Tamra

Date: Tue, 01 Oct 1996 11:51:25 -0700
From: Patrick

re: allowances:

- how much $$ and how often you pay allowance

$2 for the 7-year old, $4 for the 10-year old, $6 for the 13-year old, but all are due for raises.

- age(s) of your child(ren) 7, 10, 13

- terms & conditions

Paid the start of every other weekend when they are with me, but they get a similar amount from their mom on their weekends with her. No explicit connection to chores, but basic chores are expected such as cleaning their rooms & any mess they make elsewhere, clearing the table, sweeping & vacuuming throughout the house, and anything else they are asked. Extra work such as cleaning the bathroom, mowing the lawn, washing the car, etc. is an opportunity to make extra money.

- any constraints on what they can spend it on? No, but blowing it on nothing is discouraged with varying degrees of success. The younger two save well for specific large things they want, the eldest never did.

Date: Thu, 3 Oct 1996 13:07:03 -0700 (PDT)
From: Gary

Our "allowance-aged kids" are 8 and 7. We don't pay an allowance. The 8-yr old boy is SED and is not ready, and the 7-yr old girl is simply not interested yet...

Gary

Date: Tue, 1 Oct 1996 13:09:20 -0700 (PDT)
From: Jo Anne

we started giving our 7 yr old daughter an allowance when she started asking for it, i.e. about 5.5 or 6 yrs old. I do not believe that it is wise to make it conditional: she has regular chores she is responsible for (making bed, helping make her lunch in the morning, helping clean her room and desk, putting her dirty clothes in the laundry basket.....chores pretty commeserate (sp?) with her age). the allowance is independent of that: it allows her to have some money to spend on what she wants (usually some kind of toy or stickers at Mr. Mopps, or books that she really wants and doesn't just want to check them out at the library). The allowance is helping her understand what stuff costs, and makes her really think about what she wants. oh, she gets $1.00 a week now. hope this helps. Jo Anne

Date: Fri, 26 Jul 1996 13:22:45 -0700
From: Dianna

My son is 6 and a half and I have been giving him $1 a week for the last few months. Actually, he hardly ever gets a whole $1, because I subtract for what I consider critically bad behavior (like making us late in the morning). Still, it has been a good experience and he is starting to learn the value of things in terms of how much money you have to spend. Now when he says he wants a particular toy, which I am not particularly willing to buy, I can just say, "Well, save up your allowance and you can buy it." Recently we went to an A's game and he wanted one of the very nice woolen baseball caps they were selling for $10. I was willing to spend up to $5 for a cap (it was kind of a special occasion, after all), but not $10. But he has brought his savings of $5, so we pooled our money and bought him the cap.

He has also gotten into the habit of buying gum or candy or a soda from the vending machines when we do the laundry once a week. I allow this as long as it doesn't interfere with dinner or lunch. I think he is starting to get the idea, however, that if he uses up all his money this way he won't have any left for special, bigger purchases.

All in all I'm pretty happy with this system. He does get the idea sometimes that he should be paid for everything he does around the house. I strongly discourage this however. The chores I require are pretty simple: he has to clear his place after breakfast and dinner, make sure he is ready (clothed, teeth brushed, etc.) to walk out the door on time on weekday mornings, and he has to take a bath when it's time to do so without whining incessantly.

Date: Mon, 29 Jul 1996 09:50:55 -0700
From: Beverly

I give my kids 10 cents per year of age per week, so the 7-year-old gets $.70 and the 9-year-old gets $.90. They also get money gifts for special occasions from relatives. We don't go shopping as a family much, so they don't need heavy-duty shopping money.

My kids splurge with small amounts of their money, but they also tend to save substantial amounts. Then if there's something really special that they want that I won't buy, they get it with their own money. Sometimes I kick in half the cost and they pay the other half.

I don't set rules for what they can spend it on, but non-money rules sometimes apply to what they buy. For instance, we have rules against eating sweets without permission, so they need permission to buy sweets. I think it's important to let them choose for themselves what they want to buy, even if it's junky, just so long as their purchases meet the family's health and safety rules. I find that over time, my children are giving a lot of thought to their purchases, and are exercising increasingly good judgement about the things they choose to buy.

About chores versus allowance: the books say that chores and allowances should be kept separate and not linked, and I agree.

Date: Tue, 1 Oct 1996 10:34:04 -0700
From: Sharon

I have a 7.5 year old daughter who loves to have money and earn it, but rarely spends.

In first grade (ages 6-7), my daughter learned the denominations of the coins, and the class had a store where the kids could buy toys that other kids had donated, a toy recycling store. The kids earned pennies for doing the classroom chores and then saved up to buy store items. They learned how to earn, save, and spend. The first grade teacher reccommended allowances be given, she suggested $1.60 per week.

We now give my daughter an allowance of $1.00 per week with the understanding that she keep her room neat. She can also earn extra money for other chores around the house. For example, when she chooses to water the vegetable garden, flower bed, succulent strip, and strawberry patch we give her $1.00. If she dresses herself in the morning without our pestering her, that's $.25. The money we give her, she puts directly into her bank container. She has about $20 in it now, after we opened a savings account with her first $100.

Date: Tue, 01 Oct 1996 10:39:38 -0700
From: Tilmann

we just recently started giving allowance to our children. They receive a more symbolic amount of 25 Cents each Sunday and we make no difference between the ages concerning the amount. Our kids are 3, 5 and 7 and they usually save their money in their piggy bank. We have no certain restrictions on how they spend their money, except for war toys, guns and "power ranger" like things. The boys prefer to spend their money in tools at ACE hardware.

Tilmann


8-10 yrs

Date: Thu, 3 Oct 1996 13:07:46 -0700
From: Barbara

My 9 year-old gets $3. The $3 went up from $1 this year and I don't buy hot-dog lunches--that's up to her.

Chores are expected, but not tied to allowances. They're docked only to replace something lost or broken through extreme carelessness.

They don't HAVE to save some in the bank, though the 9 year-old does. Otherwise, they just save it up to buy something bigger.

I don't think they need more because extra jobs are available to earn money and they don't too often take advantage of it.

Date: Thu, 3 Oct 1996 13:07:03 -0700 (PDT)
From: Gary

Our "allowance-aged kids" are 8 and 7. We don't pay an allowance. The 8-yr old boy is SED and is not ready, and the 7-yr old girl is simply not interested yet...

Gary

Date: Tue, 01 Oct 1996 11:51:25 -0700
From: Patrick

- how much $$ and how often you pay allowance $2 for the 7-year old, $4 for the 10-year old, $6 for the 13-year old, but all are due for raises.

- age(s) of your child(ren) 7, 10, 13

- terms & conditions Paid the start of every other weekend when they are with me, but they get a similar amount from their mom on their weekends with her. No explicit connection to chores, but basic chores are expected such as cleaning their rooms & any mess they make elsewhere, clearing the table, sweeping & vacuuming throughout the house, and anything else they are asked. Extra work such as cleaning the bathroom, mowing the lawn, washing the car, etc. is an opportunity to make extra money.

- any constraints on what they can spend it on? No, but blowing it on nothing is discouraged with varying degrees of success. The younger two save well for specific large things they want, the eldest never did.

From: Roger
Date: Tue, 1 Oct 1996 11:25:24 -0700

When my 5th grader's class was surveyed about allowances, fully 1/3 of them said they get NO allowance at all. Another 40% get less than 5 dollars a week, with the remaining 30% getting something more than that. This class is at Head-Royce school, a private school in Oakland, with some very heads-up parents.

As for us, we don't give allowances. The kids' job is getting good grades in school, and we pay them on report card day. A "C" is not rewarded. Bs are rewarded with a specific dollar amount each and As are worth twice that. The k-3 grades of public schools are often graded S,G,E (satisfactory, good, and excellent) or some equivalent, which we rewarded 0,x and 2x.

Our kids spend so much time on school work, music lessons, gymnastics, scouts and church that they rarely have any use for money. They use their own money for church offerings and buying presents for friends' birthday parties, and Christmas. Mostly we encourage saving and have just started introducing our 13 year old to stock market investing.

The amount needs to be large enough to be of value. I have a 10 year old girl and I asked her what she thought she should receive. She decided on $15/month. I was actually prepared to pay her more. I do not attach chores to the allowance - a certain amount of chores are to be expected by any member of the family (I certainly don't get paid for all of my labor at home!).

She uses the money for buying books or music typically. She doesn't have free range at the candy counter - not because I restrict it but because 1) minimal access and 2) she knows the value of her money. I don't make her use her allowance for shoes or clothing or other daily needs - those are my responsibility. That attitude may change in time.

A few years ago I also started a savings account for her at the USE Credit Union. $20 per month goes directly into that account. I consider that the savings part of her allowance. She knows that she can access that money for a special purchase should she desire - but at present she just enjoys watching the balance grow!

I pay her by the month - like a payday. It is easier for me to remember and it gives her a sense of a larger sum of money to manage. She did negotiate once to get a month's advance because of vacation plans and I gave her $30 and noted not to pay her the next month.

This has been working just fine for us.

Date: Sun, 28 Jul 1996 14:23:01 -0700
From: Susan

We have given our daughter, who just became eight years old, one dollar a week for the past couple of years and do not link it to her chores. She is probably due for a raise. She generally gets to spend her allowance for anything she wants (even though I cringe sometimes). Together we keep a running total of the money she has available to spend.

Date: Mon, 29 Jul 1996 09:50:55 -0700
From: Beverly

I give my kids 10 cents per year of age per week, so the 7-year-old gets $.70 and the 9-year-old gets $.90. They also get money gifts for special occasions from relatives. We don't go shopping as a family much, so they don't need heavy-duty shopping money.

My kids splurge with small amounts of their money, but they also tend to save substantial amounts. Then if there's something really special that they want that I won't buy, they get it with their own money. Sometimes I kick in half the cost and they pay the other half.

I don't set rules for what they can spend it on, but non-money rules sometimes apply to what they buy. For instance, we have rules against eating sweets without permission, so they need permission to buy sweets. I think it's important to let them choose for themselves what they want to buy, even if it's junky, just so long as their purchases meet the family's health and safety rules. I find that over time, my children are giving a lot of thought to their purchases, and are exercising increasingly good judgement about the things they choose to buy.

About chores versus allowance: the books say that chores and allowances should be kept separate and not linked, and I agree.


11-12

Date: Thu, 3 Oct 1996 12:53:54 -0700
From: Karen

We started giving our eleven year old an allowance, ($10/mo) after his grandparents starting doing so in exchange for chores he performed while visiting them on the East Coast. I had my doubts about what he did for them, (Smiles) but he loved "getting paid". He started itemizing what various chores were worth some time ago, as a means of earning money; but that never evolved into a real allowance until he asked for such last Spring.

At our house he gathers the trash on pick up day, puts papers in for recycling (I have to stack them), "supposedly" vacuums once a week, and brings big trash container in after pick up. These are extra chores and beyond making the his bed, keeping his room and tub clean, and doing his homework, which are his "responsibilities". I recently started him unloading the dishwasher to which he quickly asked for a "raise" of $1.00.

We're trying to work on a budget; without much luck. He buys little odds and ends and treats for himself. I tell him when his money is gone there will be no more. I stress getting the most for his money and shopping thrift stores, garage sale and discount. Sometimes he gets the message, sometimes not. I hope it all sinks in one day. He will save or work extra for special ($$$) items.

Any ideas on helping a preteen understand the need for a budget would be a big help or maybe someone knows of some software that is age appropriate; that will get him started.

Karen

Date: Tue, 1 Oct 1996 10:28:22 -0700
From: Dawn

We pay $5/week to our 11 (almost 12) year old daughter.

The allowance is not tied to chores, but can be revoked as a consequence of certain undesirable behaviors (such as lying about whether or not she did her homework).

Out of this allowance are supposed to come things like movie admissions (when she goes with friends, not with the family), CD's, doll-clothes, toys. Also coming out of the allowance are things like long-distance phone charges for calls made during the peak hours when she wasn't supposed to....

In theory, she's saving to spend it on a sky-chair (about $80). While she's saving for something, she's supposed to consider that first, but we often have to remind her, or enforce the savings by not actually handing the money over. Otherwise, it gets frittered away (so easy to do, even for adults!).

We've also considered a rule about snacks (such as no more than one per week, or something), but her adolescent concern about her weight took care of that before we had to make the rule about the allowance. We did have her save all her junk food packages for a month last year, and total up how much that cost, just to illustrate what she COULD have bought if she'd saved it! But just saving the packages caused her to cut back from her previous level. So the result was what we wanted (less junk food purchased), although the lesson was not as clear.

Dawn

Date: Mon, 29 Jul 1996
From: Ginger

My kids (11 and 13) get $5 a week. There are no chores tied to the allowance, although they are expected to help around the house (pick up their stuff, set and clear, help with garbage, laundry, cooking, which they do with a pretty large nag factor). They can earn extra money for big jobs like cutting the grass ($5), washing the car ($5), washing windows (50 cents per). The older son also makes money babysitting. I sometimes make $1 deductions from allowance for cursing or hitting/kicking each other, which they say isn't fair. They use allowance for comic books, toys, junk food, cds, etc. They are both big enough to walk down to the candy/toy store with friends so this is where they spend most of their cash. Also, I have a maximum that I will spend on clothing so if they want an expensive pair of shoes that are popular, they have to pay the difference and they both seem to be able to save for things like this.

BTW: a couple of years ago they complained they didn't get enough, so I had them survey their friends. This was very enlightening for them and for me and I highly recommend it!


13-14

Date: Thu, 3 Oct 1996 13:07:46 -0700
From: Barbara

My 13 year-old gets $7/week.

Chores are expected, but not tied to allowances. They're docked only to replace something lost or broken through extreme carelessness. Actually, I increased the 13-year old's allowance in order to fine him for infractions, but we've found other consequences as things have come up.

They don't HAVE to save some in the bank, though the 9 year-old does. Otherwise, they just save it up to buy something bigger.

I don't think they need more because extra jobs are available to earn money and they don't too often take advantage of it.

Date: Tue, 01 Oct 1996 11:51:25 -0700
From: Patrick

- how much $$ and how often you pay allowance $2 for the 7-year old, $4 for the 10-year old, $6 for the 13-year old, but all are due for raises.

- age(s) of your child(ren) 7, 10, 13

- terms & conditions Paid the start of every other weekend when they are with me, but they get a similar amount from their mom on their weekends with her. No explicit connection to chores, but basic chores are expected such as cleaning their rooms & any mess they make elsewhere, clearing the table, sweeping & vacuuming throughout the house, and anything else they are asked. Extra work such as cleaning the bathroom, mowing the lawn, washing the car, etc. is an opportunity to make extra money.

- any constraints on what they can spend it on? No, but blowing it on nothing is discouraged with varying degrees of success. The younger two save well for specific large things they want, the eldest never did.

Patrick

From: Roger
Date: Tue, 1 Oct 1996 11:25:24 -0700

As for us, we don't give allowances. The kids' job is getting good grades in school, and we pay them on report card day. A "C" is not rewarded. Bs are rewarded with a specific dollar amount each and As are worth twice that. The k-3 grades of public schools are often graded S,G,E (satisfactory, good, and excellent) or some equivalent, which we rewarded 0,x and 2x.

Our kids spend so much time on school work, music lessons, gymnastics, scouts and church that they rarely have any use for money. They use their own money for church offerings and buying presents for friends' birthday parties, and Christmas. Mostly we encourage saving and have just started introducing our 13 year old to stock market investing.

Date: Mon, 29 Jul 1996
From: Ginger

My kids (11 and 13) get $5 a week. There are no chores tied to the allowance, although they are expected to help around the house (pick up their stuff, set and clear, help with garbage, laundry, cooking, which they do with a pretty large nag factor). They can earn extra money for big jobs like cutting the grass ($5), washing the car ($5), washing windows (50 cents per). The older son also makes money babysitting. I sometimes make $1 deductions from allowance for cursing or hitting/kicking each other, which they say isn't fair. They use allowance for comic books, toys, junk food, cds, etc. They are both big enough to walk down to the candy/toy store with friends so this is where they spend most of their cash. Also, I have a maximum that I will spend on clothing so if they want an expensive pair of shoes that are popular, they have to pay the difference and they both seem to be able to save for things like this.

BTW: a couple of years ago they complained they didn't get enough, so I had them survey their friends. This was very enlightening for them and for me and I highly recommend it!


15 and up

Date: Thu, 3 Oct 96 13:08:43 PDT
From: Tamara

My 16-year-old receives $10 per week. This is strictly "extra" money because we pay separately for her bus pass, car pool to school, meals, clothing, etc. In addition, she has two very part-time jobs (clerical and regular babysitting), with which she supports her own telephone, pager and AOL time. She does regular chores which are expected in spite of, or regardless of, the allowance. Before she was ten years old, we expected chores to be done for allowance, but during the teen years, it seemed more realistic to simply expect her to do "family work" unconnected to money. She does the dishes every night, cleans the bathroom every weekend, makes dinner two-three times per week, etc. When asked, as in the instance of upcoming Columbus Day, she'll be taking care of her 7-1/2 year-old sister all day (the little one's school is closed for a teacher in-service) -- for this we take $3.50/hour -- we compensate her because we feel it's fair since she's losing an entire day off with her friends and we would probably pay for daycare or trade with another parent anyway.

Both children are good savers, and manage to accumulate $20-$30 for a CD or stuffed animal on a regular basis. They both have bank accounts and are expected to deposit 1/2 of whatever they receive in checks from relatives, etc.

Date: Thu, 3 Oct 1996 12:29:53 -0700
From: Tamra

I have 2 boys, one who will be 16 next week (yikes!) and the other who's 7 and a half. The elder now gets $10/week (his choice--I offered to give him $40/month). He saves almost all of it in order to pay for or help pay for big-ticket items (so, in a way, paying him his allowance functions as an indirect savings plan for me). It's his choice to be an aggressive saver--my only request is that he not spend much of his allowance on food and soda. I no longer tie his allowance to behavior, but when he was in 7th and 8th grade he had a base allowance of $10/month guaranteed, with an additional $10/month that could be "docked" for behavioral things or lack of cooperation with chores, etc. I expect everyone to do basic chores as part of being a family. I will pay them to do special jobs. Both boys have savings accts. Tamra


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