Parents get innovative in how they divvy up allowances, chores
By Kevin McClintock Globe Staff Writer
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Thanks to iPhones and video games such as "The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim," it's a bit more difficult for parents to teach their kids about banking, investing and the value of the all-mighty dollar bill. Kids, however, learn to understand money at a young age, particularly those receiving a weekly allowance. And many local parents are coming up with innovative ways to teach their children about finances that has little to do with a plastic piggy bank.
Webb City resident Heather Wade said her kids, Kayden Baker and Keaton Neil, receive a $1 for each year of their age.
"They get it weekly on Friday," she said. "They have to write their debits and credits in a check register."
The allowance, she added, isn't tied to completed chores, though they are expected to help around the house with minimal fussing.
"They can lose (dollars) for fighting or trouble they get into," she said. "But they have the opportunity to earn that lost money back."
Because of this unique system, Wade said her children save remarkably well. She said her son gets $10 a week and he is up to $395.
By the time Wade's kids are in their teenage years, they, as well as other children who learn to value their allowance money, should be well on their financial way.
In 2008, teens earned roughly $141 billion. One-third of that money came from gifts and the rest from their earnings. According to the American Bankers Association, spending and saving habits form in children between the ages of 5 and 7.
"It's extremely important that kids learn the importance of savings," said Catherine Pulley, spokeswoman for the American Bankers Association.
And for good reason. A 1995 National Bureau of Economic Research working paper showed that high school seniors employed 20 hours per week were expected to earn approximately 11 percent more down the road annually than their counterparts who did not work.
Rewards for chores?
We asked readers for their strategies on the Globe's Facebook page. The answers covered a variety of plans, including different beliefs about giving allowances based on chores.
John Lanza, a finance expert and creator of "Money Mammals," a book series that teaches kids about handling money, said tying allowance with chores isn't the most sensible way to set up an allowance system.
"By providing our children with an allowance that's unencumbered by chores, we are more likely to raise kids who become more comfortable with money," he said. "They'll be better equipped to understand that money is simply a means to an end and not an end in itself: a very important lesson."
How do parents feel about that?
According to Kelly VanBenthusen, no allowance is given to her children for family chores.
"It's (a) part of life no matter how old we get," she wrote on the Joplin Globe's Facebook page. However, "they do receive money here and there, and they are required to at least put half or more into their savings accounts."
Keri Van Dyk said her kids doesn't always receive money for doing chores or good deeds around the house, but rather they receive "a treat, like a night at the movies or something of the like. The allowance money my daughter gets, she saves up for things she really wants."
Amanda George said her allowance began the day she landed her first job -- which paid $2.50 per hour plus tips. "My parents don't believe that a child should be paid to help around the house or get good grades, behave, etc. -- I don't either."
Rebecca Ringstaff-Clymer feels the same way. Her kids receive birthday or Christmas money but receiving a monetary reward for regular chores sets a bad precedent, she said. Hard work, some parents say, is the best teaching lesson for their children, because the children will know they've earned that money through lots of sweaty work.
"Getting money for no reason doesn't teach them anything. Chores are chores -- we do them without being paid for them. If they want money they have to work for it by doing odd jobs for either me or their grandparents, and that's only if they really worked."
Stacey Pegoda Thompson said about her son, "Every family member is responsible for chores. It's life. No one pays me to clean house. He earns money doing odd jobs around the house, Christmas and birthday money. He saves pretty good. Usually when he spends any it's for someone else."
Kris Dunlap creates daily chore and behavior lists, she said. "If they do their list and have good behavior, they get a dollar for the day." That way, it allows them to keep their money and "save up for something special they have in mind."
Ryan Zaller says writing up a binding contract between parents and the kids is a good idea. "Make there compensation plan contingent to grades and give bonuses when grades and averages are higher than the minimum expectations. Deduct from the quarterly bonus for not doing chores, etc."
While Christin Reid Peterson allowances to her children are tied to the chores performed on a weekly basis, it's how her children divide up their earned money that's unique.
"We give our daughter $8 because she is 8 years old and my son $5 because he's five," Peterson said. "It goes up a dollar every birthday. They have three banks: one for saving, one for giving and one for spending."
Amy Boen Frieling has an innovative way to tie in allowance: each chore has an monetary amount tied to it, ranging from 15 cents to a $1.
"If they do the chore, they get the reward. Some weeks they do very little, some weeks they work hard. Every time they ask for something, I remind them they have to work for it and (to) buy it themselves."