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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The Pocket Money Dilemma

I had an impromptu conversation with a couple of lovely mothers at my son's sports class this morning about pocket money. (Amongst other subjects - seriously, mothers are so used to rushing through everything...we can cover a whole range of topics in under fifteen minutes.)

The conversation was prompted by my reading Nicole's book Planning With Kids at the cafe table. (Sorry - I'm probably going to bang on about her book for a while to come yet, because I'm really picking up some great tips in Nicole's book. If you haven't purchased it yet...DO IT NOW.)

One of the mums asked me about the book, and when explaining the number of subjects Nicole covers, I happened to show her the list of age appropriate household chores that Nicole lists in the book, which took us on to the subject of chores and pocket money.

The first part of our conversation centered around what chores we pay pocket money for. One of the mothers has recently requested her child remove items from her school bag, place her lunch box in the kitchen, put clothes away etc and has agreed to pay her daughter a set amount each week to do this. Should her child misbehave, she plans to essentially create a fine system - the amount of the fine being deducted from her daughter's pocket money.

The other mother, in response to this, told us about a chat with a child psychologist she had once, who advised children should not be paid pocket money to do chores around the home. She believes (as do I) that certain chores around the home should be carried out regardless of whether money is attached to them or not.

Currently, we have a list of chores (although very vague, and not written up anywhere) that the kids are required to do, but not paid for (keep bedrooms tidy, take up plates/bowls etc after eating, put dirty clothes in the laundry basket etc) and we put in place a list of chores by which they could earn money. For example:

* The 4yo took on the responsibility of ensuring old toilet rolls were replaced in our two bathrooms when required.

* The 7yo was collecting the, er, dog's 'business'. (His suggestion, not ours!)

* The 9yo was responsible for ensuring all recycling was removed each week and placed in the recycling bin outside.

Depending on the job, a certain amount was paid. (It will probably come as no surprise to you that the dog's business was the highest paid job of all three.) And they were allowed to spend their pocket money on pretty much anything they liked, except food. (ie No lollies!)

Here's the problem: Not surprisingly, the 7yo tired from his extra paid job (can you blame him?), the 4yo got bored with stacking toilet paper and declared when told he wouldn't be paid, "I don't care!" and the 9yo had to be asked several times a week to remove the recycling - something I got terribly bored with doing.

I had always told the boys that if they didn't carry out their required jobs, they would not be paid for the other jobs they took on...and, as you can imagine, it all got rather confusing.

Suddenly, not only were they not carrying out their required jobs OR paid jobs consistently - having decided they didn't want to do them and were even willing to forgo the payment to not have to do any of their jobs - but every time I'd ask them to do something outside the list of chores, the first question out of their mouth was, "How much are you going to pay me to do that?"

Not good.

I don't want my boys to grow up with a sense that they don't have to do something if they don't get paid for it. But then again, there are some tasks I may ask my children to carry out that I think warrants some extra cash. As the mother who had spoken to the child psychologist said, "I don't think my child should have to wash my car. That should be a paid job." I agree.

As Nicole states in her book, some parents (like herself) pay their children a small amount of money, but then pay for things such as kids' trips out with friends and the occasional treat from the school canteen. Some parents choose to pay a higher amount, then have their child pay for such items themselves. (Nicole notes in her book that now her son is in secondary school, they may look at taking this second approach with him.)

The money that Nicole gives her children is not related to the chores her kids carry out around the home. As Nicole explains, she believes pocket money is a way to teach her kids the value of money, decision making, how to save etc, which is something I believe wholeheartedly in as well. (When I was old enough to receive some government funding for my schooling, I was required to pay for any school items out of that - it wasn't a cash bonus to use as I liked -  and as soon as I commenced working, I was required to pay my parents board - both of which I'm glad my parents made me do.)

So through reading Nicole's book, and in conjunction with my conversation with the other mothers this morning, I have decided to do the following:

1. Put together an actual list of age appropriate chores that my children will be required to carry out. 

2. I will pay them a small (also age appropriate) amount of pocket money, which will be unrelated to their chores. 

3. I will give them the opportunity to earn extra money from taking on additional chores should they wish to. For example, washing the dog, the car etc. (Which I also plan to make a list of to avoid being asked if I'll pay them money to, say, open the back door for the dog. Sheesh.)

4. If their chores are not carried out, then they will lose privileges. Like, for example, playing their Nintendo DS, the Wii, watching tv, having friends for play dates etc.

5. My school age children will be responsible for certain school fundraiser donations. As they go to a Catholic school, often there is some fundraiser for one thing or another planned by the kids that require a 'gold coin' donation etc. I have decided, when putting together what I feel is the appropriate amount of pocket money for each child (which I'll decide in conjunction with Hubby!), that they can allocate the minimal amount required of their own money towards these fundraisers, and will be given the option to take on additional chores to earn more money if they want to donate a higher amount - rather than ask me for it! (They have actually donated their own money in the past though, so I don't think this will be an issue at all.)

So, there's my plan. What do you think? Am I on the right track?

Do you pay your kids pocket money? Is it related to chores carried out? Got any great tips to share in relation to children's chores and/or pocket money?

Image: We Heart It


Kellie said...

My kids (3y & 10m) aren't old enough to understand the concept of earning pocket money just yet, but my eldest is in charge of putting her toys away, clothes in the laundry, plates in the sink etc. I don't think I should have to pick up after her as I am not her maid. When she is a bit older, probably school age, we will put a system in place where she is able to earn some money by doing things like putting dishes away, rubbish in the outside bin etc.
At the moment we put $10 in each piggy bank a week and in time the kids will have the opportunity to add to that, if they want to. I don't think we'll 'force' them to do things, but Im hoping they will be willing to help out and contribute in their own way to the running of the house.

My daughter was toilet trained using a reward system, so now every time she uses the toilet she asks for a lollipop! Haha.


Jane said...

My mum told us that she didn't want us growing up with the idea that housework was a paid job - she thought we should learn that it was something we had to do, regardless of whether or not we were paid. For this reason, my brother and I each received a small amount of pocket money each week, and it was totally unrelated to chores. We were expected to do chores anyway (tidy our bedrooms, unpack the dishwasher, set the table etc).

The kids I babysit (8yo & 9yo) have a similar system going. They each get $2 a week, regardless of the chores they do. They also have a checklist on the fridge of things they need to do each morning and arvo, like putting plates in sink, brushing hair, packing school bag etc.

Obviously, I can't comment from first hand parenting experience, but when I do have kids, I think I'll probably give them a small base amount each week and also have the expectation that they'll do basic chores around the house. If they go above and beyond, like cleaning up the dog poo (can't believe your 7yo put his hand up for that job!), I like the idea of using a reward system like a sticker chart (i.e. 10 stickers = a special treat or toy).

Pocket money is a tricky topic, and like anything, there are probably a million good ways of doing it xx

River said...

I never gave my kids pocket money, there just wasn't enough to do that, but they did all help with the housework anyway. I made sure they knew from an early age that houses don't run themselves, there's work involved and it's just easier all round if everyone chips in and helps. We did provide everything they needed with treats being birthday and christmas gifts.
Two of my grandchildren get pocket money, a small amount weekly when they were primary school age, to spend as they pleased on the clear understanding that there wouldn't be any extra until the next payday. Now they're in high school, it's a much larger monthly amount and they're expected to provide all their own extras from that, such as mobile phone credit, birthday cards and gifts for their friends, extra non-essential clothes and stuff. Both are now excellent money managers.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jodie,

I think your plans are well tought out and should deliver.

Our situation is:

50 cents pocket money for the younger kids/1 Eur for the older ones but it's dependant on behaviour and not chores. We have a chart, one cross (ie one bad day in a week is allowed - no one's perfect) 2 crosses means no money, 3 + crosses a fine (they pay me pocket money ;-))

The fine has rarely taken place, they cottoned on pretty quick.

I also think it's very important that they learn the value of money so they are specifically given little pocket money so they are always faced with the decision, do I really want that?

Chores. Some are obligatory and receive no reward whatsoever, those are centred around looking after your own things. For example take your dishes to the kitchen, tidy your room etc.

Delegation. Each week a child is given the role of delegate. The delegate must have certain jobs covered in the house. Namely that the table is cleared and the floor around it is wiped after lunch and dinner. The delegate allocates the 4 jobs,including one for themselves, and supervises that the others. Should the others not do the jobs properly the delegate is lumbered with doing the job themselves. The delegate is responsible that everyone brings down their dirty washing, and takes up their clean and puts it away.Also school stuff should be tidied away on Fridays. The delegate earns up to a euro for the weeks work, the others receive no reward. We also discuss how they could have improved ie ask in a nicer tone, check that the chairs were wiped etc.

I came up with the idea because was fed up of the mess at the table and I always seemed to be tidying it. But I thought it would be a good way for the kids to learn how to take responsibility and how to motivate others. And it gives each child every four weeks the opportunity to earn an extra euro. Even the 4yo loves doing it!!

On top of that we do a big clean once or twice a month. There the whole family cleans the house (I wrote an article 'Big clean' or something like that!) I give out the chores age appropriate and if the jobs done well they get a point. (Bonus points can also be given) Then each child receives money dependant on points.

The older girls receive a euro baker money for school once a week during term time and the eldest is given a monthly allowance 10 euro in case she wants to go out with friends etc (from 15).

When the girls babysit they receive hours - 5 hours is a small gift - magazine/nail polish etc, and 10 hours is a larger gift. They collect their hours in a book and can choose each time if they want to go for a smaller more immediate gift or a larger one.

Naomi said...

My kids get pocket money. They also have set things to do each day, as well as other things they are asked to do, make beds, put away clothes etc.

Because they are older, they often want expensive toys/clothes, so now they have to save their pocket money for these items. They also choose a charity to donate to.

I want them to learn the value of money, and also that some times you have to wait for things... that money doesn't grow on trees!

Miss Pink said...

My kids are still very young, 2 and 5, and we have ALWAYS had chores. From the start. It starts small like "pack your toys away when you're not playing with them" and then slowly more are added on, clothes in hamper, making bed, putting rubbish in the bin and dirty plates/cups in the sink. Then there are chores they ask to do, like load the washing machine, which i happily let them do. If i ask for help with something i expect them to try to help me. The way i see it, no one pays me to do this stuff, why should they get paid? It's about teaching them to help others out, and then they will help you when you need it, and work first, play later.

But i agree big jobs like say mowing the lawns, or washing the car, when they are older and able to do it themselves i would offer a small payment. We have savings accounts for each of them that we put money into, and we give them our spare change for their money boxes (which gets emptied into their savings account) and we pay for everything for them, including treats on occasion, so i figure they don't need pocket money right now.

Aspiring Millionaire said...

I was raised in a house where jobs each had their own $$ worth. I remember at one point I got virtually all the pocket money since my siblings did not want to do the chores and I would for the extra cash. I don't remember what dad did to solve that issue.

I tend to think that doing pocket money that way does make kids associate chores with money and they will stop helping out so much.

My 3yr old loves to be my big helper most of the time, so we are not onto the pocket money or set chores thing yet.

Anonymous said...

My daughter does chores (but) not for pocket money we have always given her $$ as to her age so she is going to be 12 on Monday thus she will get from sunday each week $12 she always puts it away in her bank (she has saved up for her ipod and we are going together to get this (hence) also i get my new iphone 4 LOL...

Jodie Ansted said...

Sarsm - I kinda like that idea of a Delegate. I might introduce that later on when the 4yo is a bit bigger.

Aspiring Millionaire - no surprise it was YOU who took on the extra jobs! ;) However, I agree - if the chores carry the $ amounts like we did, the kids start to not do them. Besides, they get money from family in Perth for b'days and Christmas, so they rely on that money. I'm mostly ditching that idea, and just giving a few set jobs that they can earn extra cash from if they want. Maybe when they're older, their weekly money will increase and some of those jobs will be allocated to them as standard chores they must do on occasion (eg washing car).

Thanks all!

Anonymous said...

The pocket money my kids get is age based. They get their age minus $1. So the 9 yo gets $8, of that 1/2 is automatic savings, 1/4 is charity and 1/4 is spend or save 'kids choice'. We have used this system for years and it works for us (the maths lessons are an added bonus!) My favourite part of this is the kids learning about giving, when they beg to open the charity money box to buy gifts for the wishing tree at Christmas or more recently to donate to charities supporting families in Japan after the earthquakes.

Mum's gone 2 Aus said...

We started giving our eldest son pocket money this year to coincide with starting school, he gets $2 a week and either spends it on lollies at the weekend, or saves for something REALLY big like a hot-wheels car!
I like your plans (have taken note!). I think it’s good to differentiate between daily chores that just have to be done like doing the dishes, putting the rubbish out and putting clothes in the laundry; and other chores, that might be weekly, like washing the car, doing the ironing, or the dusting. Daily chores shouldn’t be paid because it’s about forming good habits, but those who volunteer to help Mum and Dad with the weekly chores get extra $$s.

Jodi Gibson said...

I agree that kids shouldn't be 'paid' to do everyday chores. This teaches them responsibilities and courtesy.

I am at the point of re-evaluating our pocket money for the older kids so your suggestions are really helpful.

As for the younger ones (3 & 5) we have a marble jar. They still do their normal chores, making beds, cleaning rooms, picking up after them (as best they can for their age) and every time the ask and offer to do a job outside of their chores e.g. feed the cat, put the bin out, bring the washing basket down, wipe down the table after dinner etc. they get a marble. They don't get a marble if they are asked to do an 'extra' job. Once the jar is full they get a reward. Miss 5 can choose from $10 to spend (not on lollies), to have a friend over, go to the indoor playground, movies etc... Miss 3 gets to go to the shops and pick out a small toy.
So far so good. Miss 3 is still not completely 'getting it' but is understanding that if she helps she gets a marble.
Miss 5 is really getting it and was so excited to fill her jar.
I think it will work for a little while, but with everything may be reassessed as they grow.