After several attempts through the last couple of years at allowance, I think we finally have it figured out.
And I could not be more pleased with how it is going.
I am familiar with a lot of different ways that people handle allowance. And every single person's way has value for them, which is great.
I was reading in the Family Fun magazine yesterday about parents keeping a running tab of allowance so kids learn to budget kind of like a debit card works. It also helps with cash strapped parents. I even know someone personally who does this method and they believe it works well for them.
We tried allowance last year, but it never really worked and the kids weren't really all that it into it so it seemed futile.
With the new school year starting, it seemed like a good time to try it again. So about three weeks before school, I headed out to the store and bought "chore charts". Now, we have tried different kind of charts before, and they haven't lasted, so I wondered if it would happen again.
Here are some things we have changed:
Each child has four responsibilities each day, catered to the things that often bring challenges in the household.
Noah's are: homework, being ready for school by 7:30 without me nagging, picking up all clothes both in the morning and at bedtime, and school behavior. If he gets even one tally mark at school, he loses his sticker for the day.
Aaron's are: quiet at bedtime (the one that has cost him the most stickers), lining up all shoes at night, taking care of all clothes in morning and at night, and school behavior.
At bedtime (or shortly thereafter in Aaron's case) each item gets a sticker. On Saturday mornings after they clean their room, they get $ .50 for each day they got four stickers. The amounts have ranged everywhere from $1.00 to $3.50 each since we started this system. Also, anyone who cries for help cleaning their room on Saturday morning has to pay a "fee" of a quarter of their allowance money for help. Some weeks Noah decided it's worth it, and some weeks he doesn't. I think all of these decisions are good for him. It's one more way to think about the value of his money.
I strongly believe in giving them real money rather than a running tab. I think it's good at this age to see a concrete example of how much a certain amount of money is. Plus, when they spend it, they do it all themselves. Another way for them to see it come and go in a concrete way.
Here are the results of our first month of this system:
A. Both boys have saved for several weeks and purchased something that they wanted
B. Noah has become extremely in tune with how much tax something costs, and has started figuring out how much he needs on his own
C. I have not had to nag in the mornings
D. We are having a little less trouble with Aaron at bedtime
E. We are not tripping over shoes anymore
F. There is now more begging in the store for toys. "Can I have that?" is directly followed by "Do you have enough allowance?"
The biggest change is how Noah sees money now. It comes up all the time and has resulted in some great conversations. Everything he sees in the store, he evaluates the cost and puts in terms of his (potential) $3.50 each week. When we were at church last week, he was begging to print something out on the library computer (a big no-no since some kids-not Noah-wasted some ink a year or so ago). He said "But Mom, I'll buy more ink with my allowance" and then asked how much it cost. I told him and he realized it would be eight times more than what he already had in his piggy back. The conversation went off from there and we had a great dialogue.
Aaron isn't quite old enough to understand all of the ins and outs yet, or have the higher thinking about it all, but I think he will get there.
What happens if we're out without their cash and they want something? I buy it and they pay me back with their cash when we get home BEFORE I give it to them. It's not theirs until they pay for it.
We finally have a system that seems to work. Now I need to go run to the bank so I have cash for tomorrow morning.
Have a good weekend.