I’ve tried many different allowance systems and allowance apps over the years with my four kids, but it wasn’t until I tried this new approach at the beginning of 2019 that I was able to stick with something for longer than a month. If you’re looking to start giving your kids allowance but are overwhelmed with the idea of having to track everything, I’d suggest giving my system a try. All you’ll need is one large index card and envelope per kid, and well, money.
Here’s how my allowance system works
We give our kids an allowance to help teach them how to handle money. It’s not directly connected to chores because we want them to learn that chores are just part of being a part of the household and not something extra special that they can do to earn money. However, that doesn’t mean our kids don’t do chores. We have a standing list of duties that our kids need to do throughout the week, along with doing their homework, keeping their living area mostly neat, and helping out when they are asked.
My suggestion when deciding on your kids’ weekly duties is to start with reasonable tasks that will set them up to be successful. Also, pick things you won’t mind reminding them about because that’s part of the job. Be prepared for the whining and the reminding. No one likes to do chores, even us.
In our home, our kids (ages 8, 10, 12, and 14) need to empty out their lunch boxes every day (and wash all the items in them), put their plates in the sink after dinner, walk the dogs after school (they rotate this duty), put their laundry away, help with the trash on our two trash days, and vacuum parts of the house. They’re required to chip in when we ask, which often means some kitchen prep, table setting, and dish washing, depending on what we have going on. My oldest daughter is required to clean her own bathroom (that she shares with her younger sisters).
Whatever you decide is up to you, but part of why this system has worked so well for me is that the kids are actually not doing too many chores all on their own (because we know that “all on their own” doesn’t happen that often). The chores are pretty easy to do and don’t take too long.
Related: How to make your kid a money genius
How much money do kids earn for allowance?
My kids get half their age. It’s been the easiest way to track, and they get automatic raises every year. My kids can also earn extra money by doing some of the photos and videos you see here on our site.
How I track my kids’ allowance
With all the apps and charts out there, I found that using a simple large index card with their names and all the pay dates worked best for me. Each child has a card and an envelope, hanging on our fridge, and every weekend, I remember to put the money in their envelope and check off the date. That’s it. Once it’s in the envelope, the money their responsibility.
We also use the card for IOUs, so if I borrow from them, or they borrow from me, I write it immediately on the card so there’s a record.
What do your kids use their money on?
Everything! Okay, pretty much anything they don’t need, they use their own money. If they want new clothes, and I’ve already purchased enough for the season, they use their own money. If they want to make an in-app purchase, they use their own money. If they want a Starbucks drink? Feel free to use your own money. The only thing I put a limit on is candy since we seem to have a penchant towards cavities in my house.
Since finding this system and sticking with it consistently, my kids have already learned about spending and saving, and understand what things cost (which to me was a huge lesson they needed to learn).