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Should pocket money be linked to chores?

In previous blogs, I have written about why I believe all parents should, if able, give their kids some Pocket Money (also known as Allowance). I have also written about a useful framework to help families decide how much pocket money to give their kids.


In this blog, I look to address the popular question 'Should pocket money be linked to chores?'.

Pocket money management guide

Before I set out what we do as a family, I will cover some of the pros and cons of linking pocket money to chores.


When I refer to chores, I mean everyday chores like kids washing dishes, making their beds, tidying up their bedroom, i.e. ones which you wouldn't usually pay for someone else to do. This differs from chores which some people might actually pay someone else do, e.g. washing the car, gardening, deep clean of a certain part of the house.



Pros and cons of linking pocket money to chores


Pros of linking pocket money to chores


1. Value of money:


If kids have to do chores for their pocket money, then they might value that money more. The theory is that they will consider the time and effort they spent 'earning' their pocket money and therefore not want to waste it (compared to kids who are simply given pocket money without doing any work).


2. Reinforces good behaviour:


By rewarding your kids for completing chores, it can show that you value their help/contribution to the family.


3. Gets them ready for the 'real world':


When kids become adults, they aren't likely to be given money for 'free' (hopefully they don't end up on welfare). Therefore, by linking pocket money to chores, it can help kids appreciate that you have to work in order to earn money.



Cons of linking pocket money to chores


1. Only helping the family for money:


A funny story I heard during one of my workshops was about a family that gave pocket money based on chores. They told their son to do the dishes or he wouldn't get his pocket money. The son replied with:

'It’s ok. I don't need any pocket money this week, so I'd rather not do the dishes!'. 😧

As you can imagine, that wasn't exactly the behaviour the family was looking to harness and it led to a conflict they would have preferred not to have.


Many families believe that doing chores is something that kids should be doing as they are part of the family. They don't believe that helping the family should be transactional. Especially if this mindset goes beyond the family, i.e. they expect to be financially rewarded every time they help someone.


2. Lack of pride:


If kids are doing certain things for money, such as chores, it can take away their sense of pride from doing the work. Many parents want to encourage their kids to become intrinsically motivated to do certain tasks, rather than only doing them for money (this point is also very important when linking money to doing homework or getting good grades in an exam).


3. Negative mindset:


Some kids see doing chores as a punishment and this can lead to negative feelings about money, i.e. I only get money after my punishment. A negative mindset towards money can lead to them not wanting to learn about money or talk about money.



What do we do as a family when it comes to pocket money and chores?


As a family, we don't link pocket money to chores.


We are very mindful of the positive benefits (pros) listed above so are keen to ensure we can instil this in different ways. For example, we give our kids opportunities to 'earn' money by helping with things like gardening, washing the car or a deep clean out of a cupboard (which we could pay someone else to do). This helps them learn the value of money.


We have managed to get them to do some chores each week without paying them (not sure how but most credit goes to my wife for that!).


As my daughters get older (they are 8 and 10 at the time of writing), we will be expecting them to find other ways to earn money, such as starting their own business. This means as they grow up we will be passing more spending responsibilities to them but won’t be giving them pocket money for this.


For example, when they are 14 we might say ‘We are no longer going to pay for the snacks when you go to the cinema with your friends so you will need to use your existing pocket money or find other ways to earn money’. This helps them prepare for the real world, I.e. mummy and daddy aren’t paying for everything.



Summary - Should pocket money be linked to chores?


There are pros and cons to linking pocket money to chores. It is up to your family to decide what is best for you. Just consider the drawbacks of your choice and look to find other ways to address these.


Regardless of whether pocket money is linked to pocket money, the most important aspect is ensuring they are learning to manage the pocket money they receive. Remember, kids learn many of their adult money behaviours by the age of 7, so pocket money can be used to help them form some really positive habits which will last a lifetime. For example, using pocket money to follow The 3 Rules of Wealth.


What to read next? If you've not read my previous blogs on pocket money, you can find them here:

Thanks for reading,


Will


p.s. Pocket money is used by Gail, one of the main characters from my book, Grandpa's Fortune Fables, to help her start her money journey. Why not grab your kids a copy here?

book to help kids learn to manage their pocket money

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