When did you first start making your kids work for toys?

As the title reads, when did you start making your kids work for stuff they wanted to buy?

My son is going to be five in May. He recently saw something at Target he really, really wanted (a shiny pirate sword and an eye patch). I’m tired of buying him all kinds of crap that gets played with for five minutes and discarded, so I decided that if he really wants it, he can work for it and buy it himself. It’ll mean more to him and could help weed out those things he would really use versus stuff he wants to buy on a whim. Plus, I’d like to start teaching him a little bit about money.

So I’ve come up with several “major” chores over and above standard maintenance (which he’s already required to help with) that involve his stuff. One was organizing all his toys in the living room and deciding which ones go into storage. He did a beautiful job. Yesterday was organizing all his stuff in the dining room and discarding things that aren’t important to him. Tonight will probably be the same thing, only with the mountain of books in his bookshelf (he’ll give books he doesn’t want to the baby or decide which ones should go to goodwill).

The sword & eye patch are just $4, so about $4.50 tops with tax. Depending upon the amount of work he has to do, he’s getting up to $1 per chore. It’s more generous than I originally wanted to give, but I felt that since this is the first time and he’s not yet 5, allowing him to have slightly quicker gratification is probably better for his motivation.

So tell me - what are your experiences? And as a tangent (and probably almost a separate thread), how do you handle allowances for little kids?

In our house, allowances are just a set amount per week. I don’t pay for chores, partially because I don’t need the bookkeeping hassle, and partially because I don’t get paid for doing the G-D chores, so I don’t really see why anyone else should be either. The allowance breakdown is that 1/4 must go into savings, 1/4 goes into the “charity box” (usually we use this for buying a gift for a needy child at Christmas), and 1/2 is for whatever they want to do with it. Although usually that goes into savings also, because they’re little kids, what are they going to buy?

We haven’t really done the whole “if you want it, you pay for it” thing, but none of the kids have ever expressed a deep and burning desire for something that was 1) within their price range, and 2) something I wasn’t willing to get them for Christmas/their birthday/etc. anyway. If/when this comes up, I’ll just tell them to go ahead and use their money if they want, but we’re not increasing their allowance to help pay for it, so they’re going to have to use what’s there.

Yes, I am a big meanie-head.

I like the idea of allowance better than being paid for chores. That seems to instill the idea that chores should be paid work, but they should just be an expectation of being a member of the family. Just like I don’t think it’s a good idea to give money for good grades either. Because eventually chores will need doing or grades will need earning and you won’t be around anymore, and without the monetary incentive maybe they won’t see ANY incentive to do them. Make sense?

I don’t have kids. But I grew up doing chores and not getting paid for any of them. I didn’t start getting an allowance until I was in middle school (11 years old) and it was something small like $5 a week. Before that age, I had to ask for anything I wanted and I had to risk the likely possibility that my parents would say no (we didn’t have a lot of money for fripperies).

Maybe a better trade-off to your progression of “doing special chores-giving money-spending money on item” would be to do the planned special chores and then just buy him the item as a reward. I really do think it’s too early in your kid’s life to start assigning dollar signs to activities or items. It’s not a bad idea to try to teach your kids fiscal responsibility, but it should really wait until he’s (ballparking here) at least 8 or 9. A 4 year old will typically think quarters are the best money because they’re the biggest and heaviest, and won’t be capable of thinking in terms of multiplication. They just lack the intellectual maturity to be capable of learning money management so young.

I’m thinking with my son, we’ll probably have an allowance and basic chores that are required. Then, on top of that, there will be some jobs that are for-pay, that he’s not required to do, but if he wants cash, he’ll be able to do.

I don’t think I’m going to regulate my child’s allowance spending. The way I see it, if you make your kid save money, they won’t learn the value, since it’s something I made them do. I’d rather them get the money, and blow all of it on crap several times, and be disappointed and unable to buy what they want, so that the teachable moment comes up and I can explain the value of saving, and work with him to save some money to get what he wants.

I don’t think we’ve been very pragmatic in approaching this subject with a now 12 and 13 year old.

We don’t hand out an allowance, but will provide money for just about anything, in a reasonable manner of course. “You want to go to a movie? OK, here’s $20.” Next time the garbage cans need to be brought in, or their room needs tidying, we have a “remember that movie last weekend?” to use as collateral.

Thing is, I know if I gave them, say, $5 a week it would just get blown, and then they’d still need emergency money for movies, clothes, games, etc.
I know, very early on we should have been more regimental in our approach. Now we provide a reasonable amount of fun money in exchange for a reasonable amount of effort around the house. It’s not a perfect system; I’m not sure if any are.

My feeling about the enforced savings is that I want to instill the habit early on, regardless of any impulse control issues. I never got an allowance as a kid and was never really taught anything about savings, and I sort of wish I had been; I think there’s some value in having it drilled into your head from an early age, “No matter what, you put some of your income back for savings.” When they get older, of course, this may all go completely out the window, but at least I’ll have tried.

My kids are 9, 7, and 3, by the way. (The 3-year-old doesn’t get an allowance yet.)

I think that’s completely reasonable. And I don’t think you’re a meanie head. :slight_smile:

We also don’t pay for standard chores - putting your clothes away when they’re washed is a requirement, and he already knows how to do his laundry, though we usually do it - he mostly likes pushing the buttons. He also helps clean the kitchen after he eats and helps clean the bathroom with my help, among other things.

We settled on the idea of payment for truly larger, more involved chores because my son is incredibly acquisitive. He’s not bratty about it (usually), but if he sees something shiny or interesting or that looks remotely like candy (the kid once chose tic-tacs when I let him pick some candy at the drug store - he doesn’t get much at home, so doesn’t know the difference), chances are he’s going to want it. He accepts no for an answer when I refuse to buy him something, but he has an excellent memory and loves large amounts of cheap stuff.

So we decided that we’d try this method instead of an allowance to give him the power to decide what he’ll buy, but at the same time limit the volume of stuff he gets. For birthdays and Christmas, of course, we’ll get him what he asks (within reason) without an expectation of chores.

If this doesn’t work out, we might move toward an allowance. Heck, we’ll probably tack on an allowance at some point anyway, but we thought this might be a good place to start. I don’t really care where he spends his money as long as it’s not on hookers and blow, but I do want expand on his sense of delayed gratification and also want to give him a little more power over what he gets and when.

The idea of enforced savings is interesting. I think I’m going to tuck that away as a possible idea for when he does get an allowance.

When I was little, I had chores that I had to do - things for the family or that were my own stuff - make the bed, clean my room, clean the playroom, wash the dog - all that “family members help out” stuff.

I didn’t get an allowance of any kind - I always had to ask for (and defend) any ideas of mine which involved spending money. Usually I didn’t succeed in those defenses.

However, there was also a set of “jobs” that I could ask to do, and get paid for. Stuff that fell in that category would be things I didn’t normally do, like sort and fold and deliver ALL the family laundry to where it belongs (instead of just my own part) or doing maintenance in the garden, garage, or yard. I was also encouraged to hire myself out for jobs in the neighborhood (and I have a feeling that the elderly neighbors were encouraged to accomodate me if possible) and my parents would match whatever I earned for others.

At the time, I thought this was *monumentally unfair *compared to some of my cousins or friends with huge (to me) allowances and NO CHORES that they had to do, but now, I think it worked out pretty well.

I learned that money doesn’t come naturally for just existing, you have to do something for it.

I learned that chores are things that everyone does to keep the family space usable, and not really something worth griping over, and that you don’t get paid for things that you have to do for yourself.

I learned to pitch myself to people for jobs, and to negotiate over wages and work.

I learned to pitch an IDEA about money spending to people for acceptance, with back-up facts, salesmanship, and reasoned arguments rather than whining (that one took a while, as I recall.)

As a kid tho, man, my parents were just evil. I couldn’t believe how mean and stingy they were about money. :smiley:

Our 7 year old son *loves *toy race cars. He gets a few for his birthday and Christmas, naturally. But if he wants one any other time he must work for it.

A couple weeks ago I cut down a bunch of trees in the back 40, and he helped me haul the branches away for a few hours. Afterwards I bought him a collector-grade 1:24 NASCAR car. He loves it. He now asks to help me whenever I am outside working. :stuck_out_tongue:

Our kids get an allowance (a couple bucks a week). It is presumably for doing chores (like keeping their rooms tidy, getting themselves ready in the mornings) since they can get their allowances docked for egregiously not doing so.

We buy them nothing that is not a need (needs include enough clothing and appropriate clothing for the weather and the food they eat). If they want something, they either need to save up their own money or convince someone else to get it for them.

The reason we have it set up this way is so that they get an idea of the value of money. Right now, they are little so the idea that it grows on trees is not so bad but as they get older, I want them to have had some practice in using and saving money so they aren’t blindsided.

It also reduces the bugging we get for things since they know off the bat that if they want that candy bar in the checkout line at the grocery store, they had better have brought their wallet.

ETA: Also, we don’t have a lot of extra cash to be spending on wants.

That’s the way my family worked and my brother and I are pretty good with money. The best thing is to show financial responsibility yourself so they can learn from what you do and use events like grocery shopping to teach them.

If you make coffee at home every morning and they ask why you don’t go through the drive-thru at Timmy’s tell them that you’d rather save your money to go for a nice supper on the weekend. Pick out some store brands and say you’d rather cut some money from there and get steak instead of ground beef.

Not a parent, so take with pounds of salt.

Based on the snatches of psychology, reinforcement, etc. I know, I think it could be healthy to make a kid work for something they want, but probably not so great to make them feel like they’re being rewarded for things they should be doing.

The former would reinforce a sense of working for what you want and not expecting handouts – awesome. The latter could make them feel like work isn’t worthwhile unless there’s immediate reward.

I think as long as the “reward” chores are above-and-beyond stuff, the regular chores are still being done, and the rewards are closed-ended (ie he knows he isn’t going to get paid to clean up if you didn’t ask him specifically AND tell him there’s a reward), it’s good.

Pssht, my son was taking his own dishes to the sink at two. I never just sat down one day and said, “Okay, now you have to pick up your own crap.” It just evolved. He takes care of his things, I take care of mine, and we split dishes (he loads, I put away). He’s six now.

I used to have a set allowance for him but that kind of dwindled. He does get money and will save/spend as desired, but if it’s reasonable, I accommodate. When he’s older and has his own social life, I’ll give him an “allowance” - and a considerably generous one at that. (He can pay for his own clothes/entertainment/electronics/etc.)
oh hey, I’m new. :stuck_out_tongue:

I don’t think I ever got paid for chores. I didn’t really ever have chores. I didn’t have to work for toys ever. I didn’t really ask for a lot of things so I don’t think my parents minded getting me stuff. For the record, I think I turned out OK…

Not that I think it’s necessarily bad to make kids work for toys, esp. if it’s a really expensive toy which you suspect they won’t play with after a few days.