How much allowance should you pay your child?
It’s a complicated question without a clear answer. Allowances are a personal decision based on many factors.
One report shows the average allowance amount for kids between the ages of 4 and 14 is $9.59 per week. Broken down by age, 4-year-olds averaged $4.18 per week while 14-year-olds averaged $13.87 weekly.
Age is one factor, but it’s not the only one. Allowance may depend mainly on your financial situation. Many parents also factor in chores and what kids have to do to earn the allowance.
We’ve put together a guide with different factors to help you determine your child’s allowance amount.
General Guidelines Based on Age
Many parents use age as a deciding factor in the allowance amount. A general recommendation is $1 for every year. A 6-year-old would get $6 per week, while a 10-year-old would get $10.
Some parents go slightly higher or slightly lower. You might go with 50 cents per year, giving your 6-year-old $3 and your 10-year-old $5. Or you might go higher at $2 per year.
The idea behind this is to give your children an increasing amount of money to manage as they get older and better at handling finances. They also tend to have more expensive items they want to buy as they get older.
Some parents pay their kids a flat rate every week, no matter what. It’s not tied to any specific chores. They just automatically get paid each week.
Even though it’s an automatic payment, you may have some expectations for your child associated with the allowance. They might have basic chores they’re expected to complete anyway, such as clearing their plates after dinner or keeping their bedrooms tidy.
This method is the easiest option because you don’t have to do any calculations each week. Your kids get the same amount automatically each week.
Some parents don’t like this method because they feel their kids need to do something to earn money. They feel it teaches kids that they don’t have to work for their money.
Another route is to base allowance strictly on the chores your child completes. With this method, you assign dollar amounts to different tasks. When a child does the chore, they earn the associated dollar amount.
Just like a flat-rate allowance, a chore-based system depends mainly on your financial situation and personal preference when it comes to setting the prices.
The general idea is to set the amounts based on the complexity of the job. Mowing the lawn should naturally earn more than taking out the trash. Mowing takes a lot more time and effort than walking a bag of trash outside.
Post a list of chores and dollar amounts so your kids understand what they can earn. Doing this can be motivating to them when they have something they’re saving to buy.
The chore-based method takes a little more work on your part. You’ll have to set the prices for the different chores.
You’ll also need a tracking system to record which chores each child completes. You may also want to verify that the work was done to your standards before paying.
If you’re counting on your kids to do those chores, you could end up with tasks not getting done. If your kids aren’t motivated by earning more money, they may decide it’s better not to do the chores. You save money, but you also have more tasks that aren’t getting done.
Hybrid Allowance Option
If you’re not sold on either option, consider combining the two.
With a hybrid allowance system, you start with a base amount for each child. This is the amount they get no matter what. There could be some basic requirements to get it, such as making their bed or cleaning up after themselves.
They also have the potential to earn extra money for doing chores above and beyond the basics you expect them to do. They might make an additional $5 for raking leaves or $1 for loading the dishwasher.
Set dollar amounts for various chores so they know what they can earn. You can do a flat rate for each chore or set the price based on the difficulty of the job.
Goals for Allowance
Another factor to consider is what goals you want to achieve. This can help you decide how much to give and how you handle allowance.
If you’re trying to instill a strong work ethic, you might tie the allowance to chores with the opportunity to make more for additional work, much like a regular job. Take it a step further by giving them a pay stub for their allowance each week. Use a sample pay stub as a guide for creating one for your child.
If you want to teach them to give generously, you might give them a little more allowance but expect them to donate part of that money.
Keep your goals in mind as you work through the details of the allowance system.
Talk to your child about those goals, too. Don’t just assume they’ll pick up on the financial lessons you’re trying to teach. Talking about spending and saving openly can help your kids develop stronger money management skills.
Uses for the Money
You should also take into consideration how your child will use the money. That can affect how much you give them.
Decide what they need to use their allowance for and what you’ll pay for. If you expect your child to buy gifts, their clothes, or other potentially expensive items with the money, giving them a higher allowance makes sense.
If the allowance is just a little extra spending money and you buy them most things with your own money, the allowance amount might be a little lower.
Once you decide on an allowance strategy, be consistent with it. Apply the same rules to all of your kids to make the system fair.
It’s also important to be consistent with giving the allowance. If you miss a few weeks here and there, it becomes less motivating.
Avoid taking away allowance as a punishment. Not paying a child who doesn’t do assigned chores is one thing. But denying allowance if your child misbehaves makes allowance a negative thing.
Set Your Child’s Allowance
There’s not a hard and fast rule about allowance amounts. Creating a solid system based on your family’s needs helps you come to a fair amount.
Are you looking for more parenting tips? Check out our parenting archives.