finance

Should kids be paid to do chores?

My son and I sat down for a serious discussion a few weeks back. He wanted to start getting a weekly allowance. I happily agreed but explained that he’d have to do jobs around the house to earn it. I rattled off a few ideas and he excitedly agreed and was a busy little bee that afternoon.

A few weeks later the novelty wore off and I was faced with a tough choice – should I keep giving him his allowance and spend countless minutes nagging him to do his chores or should I simply withhold his allowance because they haven’t been done?

I never wanted to be a parent who was too tough on her children but to me, his relationship with money is being set now and will affect him for the rest of his life. I am in a unique position to teach him to value money, even the random 5c pieces he sometimes finds on the floor.

I had no awareness of money when I was young. We didn’t have any apparently but I didn’t notice. We were never offered an allowance and the chores we did around the house were done for nothing. We lived there too so we had to contribute.

I eventually decided to stop paying him his allowance but I decided not to make it a punishment. I calmly explained that he hadn’t helped out around the house so he wouldn’t be getting it this week but as soon as he started to help out again I would pay him his allowance. I left him to digest the news and with no nagging required he quietly tidied his room and picked up the papers that had fallen out of our recycle bin.

We eventually decided to start up again properly. I downloaded an app that tracks his chore, the dollar value of them and how much he needs to save towards a goal. There are a few apps to choose from but PayPig is my favourite. Firstly kids love pigs and secondly it allows children to remain focused on just why they are doing chores. So Philip’s jobs in his app are – feed the cat $2, tidy his room $5, polish the furniture in the lounge room and set the table for dinner and help clean up $5.

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There’s no way he’s doing these every week but each day or two he chooses a couple. On Fridays we sit down and calculate how much he’s earned and he can see on the app how close he is to his goal. He’s saving for an X-Box. He’s very excited and it helps me too because it gives me time to get the money together to buy it for him! Plus, he doesn’t waste all the money at the school canteen.

But this also brings up the point. Should I be paying him to help out around the house or, as a member of our household, should he just start contributing like the rest of us? It’s a tough one because at the end of the day I do want him to start learning that we all have to work for our money and if he wants to be able to have special things, he has to contribute. He is in control of his money and how he manages it.

According to the Westpac Kids and Money Report, 61 per cent of parents believe children aged between four and 18 should receive pocket money when they do chores. 16 per cent think children should receive pocket money for doing nothing and 5 per cent only give their kids money when they ask for it. But half of Aussie parents want their kids to do more chores around the house. Wouldn't that be nice?

I won’t know if I’ve successfully taught him to have a realistic and healthy relationship with money until he’s grown. Will he get an after school job or will he take money out of my purse when I’m not looking? I’ll ignore that right-of-passage for the moment. If he gets a little job after school and shows an ability to save, I’ll consider him a success. Then the rest is up to him.

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