Do you pay your children an allowance and notice that they never want to do anything extra to help around the house? Maybe you require them to do chores for their allowance or perhaps their mere existence earns them their allowance each week?
Have you ever thought about incentivizing them with a commission-based system instead? Let’s explore the differences between allowances and commission to determine what is best for you and your children.
When we were kids – if we were fortunate enough – we got an allowance, usually on a weekly basis. When our kids started growing we attempted the same concept with them. We required them to complete certain chores or tasks and in return, they’d be paid a small amount in the form of an allowance.
Sometimes this seemed like a positive experience and all was well but other times it was failing miserably. The kids wanted the money but not the responsibility so we’d terminate the program temporarily.
When we attended Financial Peace University, we heard Dave Ramsey speak about paying your children on a commission basis instead of an allowance and something clicked in my mom-brain.
I’ve never been afraid of hard work my parents so hard their whole lives and set a great example for us and I think there’s something about the word allowance that denotes entitlement and I do not want to raise entitled children.
I believe my main job as a parent is to raise my children to be healthy, happy, responsible, contributing members of society who can support themselves and are willing to work hard to achieve their dreams.
I do not believe it is my responsibility as a parent to throw money at them simply because they are here, because they are alive.
It IS, however, my responsibility to give our children love, safety, shelter, food, clothing, etc. but not spending money each week…that must be earned in our home.
Doing chores, picking up your own room and pitching in to keep your home clean is part of being in a family! No one pays me to clean my room (but that sure would be nice!) and we should not feel the need to pay our children for the same.
We are “loaning” them a beautiful room to live and sleep in and it is their job to take care of it while they are borrowing it! They are the stewards of their bedrooms and their belongings but ultimately they belong to their father and me.
It is also my responsibility to shape their views on money. To teach them and prepare them for that great big world outside our front door.
When we learned about the concept of paying kids commission instead of allowance we knew this system was in alignment with the values we wanted to teach our kids about money.
Why You Should Stop Paying Your Kids an Allowance for Chores
There are three major reasons why I believe you should stop paying your kids an allowance for chores and move to a commission-based system instead.
It’s Difficult to Set Parameters
Ok, maybe you require your child to complete certain chores to earn their allowance. What happens if the chores aren’t complete? What if they complete half of them? What if they complete their chores plus extra? What if they really go above and beyond?
It can often be confusing to kids because it can be difficult to cover all of the situations listed above and they may not understand why some weeks they are being paid an allowance and some weeks they are not, it may feel inconsistent to them.
It Breeds Entitlement
While we already touched on this I want to go a bit deeper. Handing over money each week simply for the sake of handing over money only shows your children that other people should give them money simply because they “deserve it”. Simply because they are them.
Of course, your child is a wonderful, amazing, special beings but that doesn’t mean they should be showered with money for no reason. This can cause your child to be selfish, lack gratitude and have a poor work ethic! They may underperform at their jobs because they believe they deserve their paycheck simply because they have a job!
They Don’t Feel Accomplished
Receiving an allowance if it is not attached to specific tasks or duties will not do anything to boost their self-esteem or give them a feeling of satisfaction or accomplishment.
We must look for opportunities to set our children up for success. Earning specific amounts of money for specific tasks with the freedom to choose whether or not they want to complete those tasks will also help them see the financial consequences of their choices. It can also teach them that their earning power is exponential as long as they are willing to work for it!
If this seems too harsh or strict to you, please do whatever feels right for your family but I’d like to share exactly how we run our kid commission system in our house.
How to Pay Your Kids Commission for Chores
We require our children to clean their rooms each week. They have to tidy, dust and vacuum (I must admit they don’t do a great job, but they do it). Our children are older so obviously this may not be a good task for young children.
They also must clean their bathroom and unload the dishwasher when asked (most times). They actually do this together so they’re technically only unloading half the dishwasher.
These are the things that must be done simply because they are part of a family who pitches in to care for our home together. Tasks above and beyond that are completed will earn them a commission. They get paid once a week on a Tuesday, this is considered their “paycheck”.
Different duties earn a different amount of money and they are elective. If they do not want to earn any commission that is their prerogative!
We offer them different amounts of commission depending on the chore they choose to do. For example, vacuuming the living room may only earn them $1.00 but helping me weed the flower beds may earn them $3.00.
We try to make the commission amount match the difficulty of the chore plus the amount of time it takes to complete.
The kids then markdown which chores they complete each week on our dry erase board that hangs in our laundry room, which also serves as our command center.
They get paid each week for their total earnings. They can count on that “paycheck” each week which means I need to be consistent and be sure I have cash on hand to pay them. If I don’t pay them when promised each week they will lose their motivation to want to work to earn money.
Giving the kid commission system a try in your own family will help prepare your children for having a job someday and teach them that money comes from work.
Kristin Stones is the owner of Cents + Purpose, an online community dedicated to sharing practical personal finance content. Her mission is to equip women with the necessary tools and knowledge to take back control of their money and live a more purposeful life. She creates actionable content to help her audience achieve financial wellness using her simple approach to managing money - all learned through her personal experience of paying off almost $55,000 of debt in under two years.