Save. Spend. Splurge.

Parenting: Why I do not give an allowance for chores, or good grades

There is an age-old debate of whether to give money to children or not. Some say “YES” while others “NO”. I am in the “NO” camp but with a twist.

Household tasks are what members of the family do

Are you part of the family and this household? Then you have tasks. Daddy cooks, Mommy cleans, Little Bun folds laundry and does cutlery, while helping Mommy clean and Daddy mix things in the kitchen.

Our other duties include things like the parents having to work, and Little Bun has his schoolwork to complete.

If you are part of this family, you have to work for the whole / good of the family. As he gets older and taller, he will start washing dishes and I can dry them (or vice versa), and vacuuming, etc. Right now he is a little short, and I am afraid if he tries to do the washing, he could tumble into the washer, so he needs to be a certain height first.

Allowance as a reward for behaviour, chores or good grades is not a great idea

At least, not in my opinion. It tells the kid – you should expect X for when you do Y – but in life, you don’t get rewarded as an adult for making your bed, or doing your household chores. You do them because you have to, because it is part of your life and living like an adult.

I believe that when children get money for things like good grades, or chores, they are not as inclined to do it… without the incentive of money, when in fact, NOT getting money for those things, means they will work towards those good grades and do their chores because they simply have to. And want to.

The key is motivating them to want to do it for themselves. I refuse to be that parent who pays for them to do their homework or get a good grade; they should be the ones thinking that THEY want to improve. I will run myself ragged and exhausted if I have to be behind Little Bun 24/7 for the rest of his life because we set a precedent of paying him for results he should expect for himself.

We will pay for tutors, extra books, outings, whatever it takes. But we will not pay Little Bun for getting a good grade, that is his personal responsibility.


We don’t do gifts or money at events either like Christmas, Easter, birthdays. We simply do a special meal and make a cake to eat altogether. I know this sounds Scrooge-like, but it is actually because we don’t want to tie gifting or things he needs, to the events in a year. I feel like that pushes a consumerist attitude to – hey let’s ask for a BIG THING on Christmas!

I also want to detach the event from getting a gift. There is something that always gets out of control in my head when I see this happen. If he asks when he is older and also wants a special birthday gift, we will give him one and start doing that if he asks for it. So far, he hasn’t, but maybe peers will pressure him, and we won’t mind giving in, in that situation. Just one gift or two as a surprise.

Getting money without any strings

Instead, what we do is buy him whatever he wants when he wants it, within reason.

Need a new snow sled? We will buy one.

Need a Rubik’s cube? Here.

So far, he has only asked for books, a chess set, Rubik’s cube, Uno cards, and other games to play at home. He doesn’t ask for toys, for anything really. He does not (right now) seem to be a shopper who wants everything in a toy catalog (not that we even have one), but I suspect it is partly his nature, but also that he is not exposed to other children (yet) who talk about things they have, nor is he exposed to advertisements.

MONEY lessons come from a GIVEN budget

So where he will handle money is when we give him a set budget for something, like back to school or shopping for things for a trip (?). I was thinking that once that situation arose, we would say – here’s $$$. You have to make a list of what you need, estimate the cost of each item, and keep track as you spend, to make choices between .. I don’t know, a nicer pair of shoes versus a jacket you really want.

Ever so often, maybe even going to get clothes, we can give him a budget and let him choose / decide what he wants. Whatever it is, I want to give him money to manage, but not necessarily an allowance every week.


As a side note – I grew up like this. My parents were CHEAP with a capital “C” but then my mother would turn around and binge shop. I picked up this rather confusing attitude, and could not reconcile between being frugal rather than cheap, it has been a long time and I am still working on it, as sometimes the instinct or impulse to shop to make myself feel better, flares up.

I am working on mindless shopping as a hobby and do not want to pass it on to him. Luckily, that seems to have skipped him because a tutor once asked him – What do you like to shop for?

(I mean I feel like it is kind of telling when an adult is thinking this is a safe question to ask children as ALL children like to shop for things)

Little Bun: I don’t know. I don’t really shop.

He was totally confused by the question, and she seemed surprised, but I was gratified to realize my parenting was effective in this regard, in an effort to disassociate shopping with it being a pastime or a hobby. He seems to have no propensity towards it, so that’s great. He’s just a tiny little Hoarder, but I suspect all children are….. You touch one little unused piece of paper, or a toy they had never seen in weeks and suddenly it’s THE MOST IMPORTANT PAPER and toy in the world.

This happened once, when his father tossed a shoebox full of tiny scrap (?) papers and Little Bun was wailing about how important they were. I just looked at him, and asked him – was there anything important in there to you that you could not let go? I will go fish it out of the recycling bin, if so.

He paused, a realization dawned upon him that no, he could not think of a single thing, and he stopped wailing and let it go.

All of us adults sometimes do this, so I am totally in sympathy with him on this!

Anyway.. that is what we do for this “Allowance” discussion.

Thoughts? Refinements? Open to suggestions or ideas.


  • Sam fisher

    Personally, I don’t agree. I haven’t had kids yet, but I would give them an allowance for chores. You are correct in the sense that we should want our kids to WANT to do schoolwork, but have we? We don’t want to do anything without benefit. You don’t need to get paid for making your bed, but if you’re cleaning, vacuuming, mowing the lawn? That’s closer to labor, and should be paid as such in my opinion

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Hmmm. Disagree, still. I see your point but those are chores as being part of a family. I don’t get paid to clean, or do things for the family’s benefit like run errands and make sure things are stocked. Everyone contributes as a member, and that is part of it. That said, when it comes time to buy things – whatever they want, I just buy it, not waiting for an event like Christmas to do so. If he wants a bike now, he gets one, or if he asks for some toy, we will assess it together to see if he really would play with it or he just wants it because we are in the store. If yes, I buy it. As he gets older, he will get a small budget for things like Back to School, and he works out what to spend on what. A nicer backpack means he has to budget somewhere else for it, etc.

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