CHORES AND ALLOWANCE
Kids Bank Accounts
There are a lot of opinions out there on chores and allowance, some are against tying allowance to chores as that is an expected part of family life. Others say yes, you should tie work to pay to teach the value of work, others say no allowance period, teach obedience. As parents, we can never do anything right. With such varied opinions put out to us about every minute detail of child rearing and all of it contradictory, at some point you have to just do what you think makes sense and not put so much weight onto every decision as if it's life or death and not worry what other people think. And If you realize you made a mistake, it's not a OK if you change your mind later...pray, live, learn, adjust.
In the attempt to give our kids some life skills, we wanted them to earn some money to learn how to save and manage it, to become aware of the cost of things. So our first approach came from the book Life Skills for Kids. I made a chart with different responsibilities for each child each day and they got $0.05 per item accomplished. At the end of the week it was added all up and my daughter, who was about 6 or 7, had the ability to earn up to $3.00 a week.
After a while, and a new baby, that system gradually went to the wayside and we didn't really do any allowance or tracking system for chores/responsibilities.
Then we picked it back up with a more casual plan, $5 a week allowance if you do your chores and school with a good attitude and have a clean room by end of week. If room wasn't clean by end of week, no allowance. But the chores were based on whatever I decided to ask them to do and while they did do what I asked, I wasn't consistently having them do things for me, I would forget. When life is busy, it's easy for me to get in the habit of doing everything myself and not even think to delegate certain jobs to the kids. I kept track of their allowance on my notes app on my iPhone and if they wanted to buy something with their allowance I would subtract from that but my husband grew frustrated with it as it felt haphazard to him and he felt like they maybe weren't learning enough with it, he felt like we were still just buying stuff for them even when I subtracted it out of their allowance. He also was worried that without a structure of knowing specific responsibilities they would start to expect their allowance without feeling like they needed to earn it and he's big on being a hard worker and not just expecting to have things given to you. So with his help we created a more structured approach that would give them consistent responsibilities and also teach them about banking and keeping track of their money.
My husband created 2 excel spread sheets. One with the list of chores for each child with the weeks marked out as far as we could go. The other excel page is a mock bank account, we decided we will be the bank. This simplifies things for us too right now from having to open bank accounts and then spend time making actual deposits and such when we can just do it on the excel sheet and be their bank. On their statement they can see deposits from the weeks they earned allowance as well as withdrawals, debits and their balance. If they are out with us and decide they want to use their allowance, I can purchase it for them but when we get home I just open the excel file and enter the transaction and it will adjust their balance. If they want some cash, they can ask me for that and I can give them cash and mark a withdrawal on their statement, adjusting their balance. We can print out their statement for them at anytime or show them on the computer.
So far the structure is feeling good and working well. And I'm really appreciating the more consistent help around the house! Even the little jobs make a difference. Our youngest who just turned 4 is so proud about doing chores, we were giving his older siblings their chores and he kept begging to know "what am I supposed to do? I want a chores!" When we gave him some chores, he was so thrilled! Lol I wonder how long that will last for but he is very excited to help right now so I'll take it :). And my oldest whose gotten some bigger jobs she has never done before like vacuuming the upstairs, even if she isn't as enthusiastic as her little brother about it, she still gets a sense of pride from doing it as I have been patient in training her how to do her chores and not overly critical, but trying to be encouraging and appreciative. I also didn't want to become the barking mom Sargent chore nazi!
Here is the system we have implemented with my husband being the excel, finance, management guy pretty much being the one who made the all work.
My husband made this Excel doc with their names and chores with the weeks posted so we can keep track for quite a few weeks without having to print out new charts all the time. If they earned their allowance that week, we check off the week and add their payment to their “bank account” in the other excel sheet. Only once have our kids not gotten their full allowance and once, our oldest got ½ because she had consistently did most of her chores but she let her room become a huge mess and after multiple reminders never took care of it.
(click on image to make full screen)
Kids Bank Accounts
On the excel doc, even if you aren’t good at equations, you can just use a calculator to keep up the balance and enter it manually. But if you or your husband know how to use excel, then it's super easy.
What I love about our kids bank accounts is that first of all…no hassle of actual bank accounts but it does all the same stuff as a bank account…mom and dad are the bank, This is also nice because it was frustrating when we would be out and the kids would want to buy something with their allowance, yet did not have their allowance then I would have to buy it and keeping track of their allowance was harder. I kept a running tab on my notes on my phone but when my phone broke I lost all that and it was just not a very good system, they weren’t learning anything with it, as my husband would say, at then end of the day it still felt like we were just buying stuff for them. They now love seeing their bank statement. We will print it out for them before we go somewhere so they have it on them to look at when deciding if they want to buy an souvenir on a trip or whatever it is, they look at their statement and see what they have, they see how many weeks/deposits it took to earn a certain amount and are now thinking in terms of…”wow if I buy that, it’s like 3 weeks of chores!” And then will proceed to decide if it’s really worth that. And for big things they might wish for, it gives them a goal when they can think, well if I make this much every week and save for a whole year, then I’ll have this much and maybe get some birthday money, I can actually buy that. For example my son wants to buy a kid sized quad…he’s thinking if he saves his money and gets any extra he should be able to buy a good quality used on in 1-2 years and is very focused on that. My daughter is thinking she wants to get into photography and wants a nice camera, if she saves up for 1-2 years or more, she will be able to buy one and by then maybe actually be better able to learn photography.
Another thing, with allowance, the kids can get a raise each year on their birthdays by 1 dollar (at least so far it’s what we’ve done) and maybe the chores will change or a more thorough job will be expected. As the kids have gotten used to their new jobs, they have had their frustrations and complaints, especially if they sweep the floor or vaccum the stairs and say they are done but they missed a good amount obvious areas. The thing I have found to be key and remind my husband is to not exasperate them but just remind them they are still in training and it will take practice to know how to do the job right without us pointing out what they missed. I gently remind them it’s ok we don’t expect them to be perfect and we aren’t being mean or critiquing when we show them what needs to be redone but it’s part of the training phase. (mainly with my oldest who is more distractible and more easily frustrated) Sometimes when weeks are busy and they have a lot of their plate (especially our oldest with her gymnastics schedule) I will do her job with her, knowing she has a lot going on, I still want her to find the time and have the responsibility but I will casually work alongside her with another broom or visit with her while she’s putting her laundry away…it also helps her stay focused as she is more like me and can be starting a job and then get distracted. Or my son with cleaning out the van, I will take a garbage bag out there and be out there with him and help a bit as well but I’m not doing it for him.
The kids still complain about having to do chores some days but I guess I still complain about what I have to do some days too. I do remind them that I had to do chores as a kid and got no allowance for it, it was just part of being in the family and I think there is value to that as well and since we have started the kids being more responsible, they will help out with other things we ask them to do not on their list without feeling entitled to more allowance every time they have to lift a finger outside of the arranged work. It’s been like Charlotte Mason promised…
"a mother who instills good habits in her children ensures herself smooth and easy days."
Having the kids help out with these chores has been a game changer. They don’t make as big of messes now because they know they have to help clean it up, it gives all of us, including me, the structure to stay on top of housework and having them doing their chores makes me more conscious of my own work and if I’m keeping up on it or not. It has also taught them money management and banking and they are good about saving and spending responsibly as we print out and show them their statements with their deposits, purchases and withdrawals. And there has been a LOT less annoying conversations of the kids constantly asking me how much money they have or reminding me how much I owe them (Oh how that would get under my skin!) because they know they can just check their "bank statement". I am so thankful that my husband stepped in to help create a better structure for our chores and allowance, my brain is more abstract and sometimes I just don't think to break it down in the same way he would think to.