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Kids, Allowance, and Chores, Oh My!

By: Cheryl Lynne Potter

It’s a topic that has been debated by moms and dads for years. Should they or shouldn’t they give their kids an allowance? Should an allowance be simply given or should it be based on the completion of certain chores.

Even experts disagree on what is the best way to handle kids when it comes to the debate of whether they should or should not have an allowance. Some experts say that an allowance helps to teach children financial responsibility. However, other experts disagree and say that there are better ways to teach kids money management skills. It’s important for parents, they say, to talk to their children about the skills needed to manage money. Kids need to have a solid foundation in personal finance.

Yet, giving children an allowance can be a valuable teaching tool. The earlier you teach kids how to manage money, the better off, experts say, they will be in the long run. An allowance is the best way, they say, to start youngsters off to eventual financial independence.

However, there are some parents who feel that they just can’t give their kids money for doing nothing. These parents decided long ago to tie their kids allowance with them doing chores.

Elk Township mom, Tracie Wolf, knows this concept all too well. Wolf gives her son Jack, 14, an allowance of $5.00 a week for a set number of chores that he has to do each week. Giving Jack an allowance, Wolf said, “gives him a sense of responsibility and accomplishment.” It’s also a great way, she said, to “help him learn life skills with a reward behind it.”

South Jersey mom, Chrissy Allen-Miller of Clayton, would probably agree with this concept of tying chores to a reward system for her kids. In her household, her children, Alexa, 8 and Abigail, 5, do such chores as taking turns unloading the dishwasher and helping to clean up the house. They also help to take their and their 2 year-old siblings, Michael and Mckenna, laundry upstairs to their respective bedrooms and then put it away. For all of their help with chores during the year, the Miller children have a choice of choosing either money or a big gift that they have been wanting all year. These special rewards are usually given during the month of November because as Allen-Miller explains, “it’s almost at the end of the year, but not right at Christmas.” Last year, both girls got gift cards to the American Girl Store in Virginia and even had a special overnight stay. This year. Alexa got a laptop that she had been asking for all year.

Yet, some South Jersey families take a unique spin on this concept of giving kids allowances by tying to chores and volunteerism. South Jersey grandma, Mary Snively, says her grandchildren, Jonathan, 9, and Christian, 6, of Vineland, not only do chores around the house, but they also volunteer at the Funny Farm, an animal rescue organization in Richland. Snively says her grandchildren do chores at the Funny Farm with a “reward system that’s not monetary.” At the farm, the boys do such chores as walking, brushing and feeding the animals. They also sometimes give tours of the facility to the public.  Volunteering at the farm helps to build-up the boy's self-confidence, as well as teaches them responsibility, said Snively. Her grandchildren also, she said, do chores at home, like cleaning-up after dinner, loading the washer machine with dirty clothes and folding-up clothes.

By having children to do specific chores for them to receive an allowance, helps them, some experts say, to gain a greater understanding of what it means to get paid for doing meaningful work. However, some experts say, parents should not link household chores to an allowance. Children, they say, should be expected to help out around the house because they are members of the family and not because they are getting paid.

South Jersey dad, Wayne Murschell, of Haddonfield, who is the father of two middle schoolers, agrees wholeheartedly with this concept. “Doing chores and such are expected to make a family work,” he said.

Yet, some parents have done away with giving their youngsters an allowance all together.

South Jersey mom, Angela Teti, of Elk Township, stopped giving her two sons, Angelo, 13, and Domenic, 11, allowances.  Teti said she stopped giving allowance because her sons “started to think they should only help around the house with chores if they are being paid.” She hopes, she said, that her boys will understand that “helping around the house entitles them to enjoy privileges, like having a phone, as well as helping mom and dad.”

Yet, no matter what your philosophy is about kids and allowance. It's obvious that the debate is not over and it will continue way into the future.


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