What’s the going rate for 7-year-olds? And what do they have to do for it? In addition to regular toy cleanup, we have our almost 7-year-old make his bed, set the table, put his dishes in the dishwasher, and wipe the table for $2/week. Would love to hear other people’s input. Also, how old should you be to get an allowance? The issue becomes complicated with younger siblings who are also doing chores but who have no real concept of money. I have started giving my 4-year-old $1 for his chores but am not totally sure that he’s ready, since I find the bills strewn all over the house! It just seems totally unfair not to give him anything since he understands that his brother is getting allowance. But we also heard our beloved reader Heija Nunn on this topic loud and clear (and her words have stuck with me all of these months later): “I pay my household helpers the same going rate I got: Zero! Our kids are expected to help, and even babysit for free. In return they get room, board and mostly cheerful parenting. Any extra money they accumulate is earned in various dubious ways, including shaking down party guests for coat check tips, selling free charity brochures, outright begging and “collecting” loose change and bills from my handbag. My eldest has also taken on pet-sitting and caddying jobs for which he is obscenely overpaid.” Of course this made me feel totally inadequate, but I learned from it. Thoughts?


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Comments (12)


  1. Posted by: Aly S

    I’m with Heija in terms of tying an allowance to chores. I think it’s important to learn early that there are jobs you do for the money, and there are jobs you do simply because they are your responsibility or because it’s the right thing to do. That said, I’m all for an allowance as a means of teaching money management, and the allowance is definitely a privilege that can be taken away (temporarily) if our daughter isn’t being responsible.

  2. Posted by: ritu

    I am with Heija. I don’t think the children should expect payment for doing housework and babysitting. This is part of being a family, and a community, and a good way for them to take some responsibility for themselves while learning that everyone has an impact on our communal environment. And I’m hoping that having to clean will make them a little more mindful of the way they navigate through the house.

    That said, we do give our oldest daughter $20/month, with some reservations. It is not tied to chores, but sometimes gets docked for bad behavior. She is 13, and occasionally supplements her allowance as a “mother’s helper” or babysitter for our neighbors (not much time for extra work during the school year). I think she mostly spends the allowance while she is out with her friends, on unnecessary food/snack items or buying books or craft supplies. She tries to save at least 1/2 the money she earns outside of the house. While I have mixed feelings about the whole allowance thing, I do think that having some spending money to manage over the course of a month is probably good for her, to help her work out what her “needs” vs. “wants” are, in relation to her resources. As a bonus, we don’t get many “Can you buy me…?” requests.

  3. I do my best to separate allowance from chores; in other words, you do chores because you are a member of this family. You get an allowance so you can experience a little autonomy, learn some skills and also so I can have a bargaining chip of some kind. SO I flip the allowance equation: starting when he was 5 or 6, my son got 7 coins a week ( choose appropriate denomination). And when he wasn’t behaving well or contributing to the household adequately, I would take away a coin. Much more concrete for the younger kids and much more painful to have
    something taken away than “ungiven.”

  4. I should clarify: he actually got his 7 coins in his piggy bank at the beginning of the week. And I would literally take the coins away at the time of the transgression. As opposed to keeping an abstract tally in our heads and delivering the resulting amount of allowance at the end of the week.

  5. Posted by: KJones

    We just started paying our two girls (9 and 7) for dog walking ($1 per walk) and taking care of the cat (litterbox cleaning, daily feeding/watering – $5 week). Our 5 yr old doesn’t get paid anything until he is older and can take on chores like this that require a little more responsibility…have no idea what the “right” thing to do is, but this has worked so far – and these happen to be chores that i think are worth some extra cash…it seems like just enough money – allows them to save for a few weeks for something they really want, but at the same time to be thoughtful about how they spend it…

  6. Posted by: chika

    We give our 7-year old her age in $ per week (that’s right– $7 per week) following the concept of “share/save/spend”. She has 3 money banks: “share”, which she will decide how to donate to a charity or other cause, “save”, which will get deposited at month’s end into her savings account for college, etc, and “spend”, which is her money to spend as she wishes, with the caveat that she must pay for birthday presents for friends when she gets invited to parties. So right now, $2 goes into “share”, $2 goes into “save”, and $3 is “spend” every week. I feel that she’s learning the value of money by having to divide it up and getting some in her hands to manage weekly (or not, that is, if it’s been a really bad week!). She also is getting a chance to think about sharing with others who are not as fortunate as she is and learn about charitable causes and organizations (since she gets to decide where her money is donated) and how great it feels to give to others.

  7. Posted by: Jen

    I agree with others who have said allowance should not be tied to chores. My 5-yr old does not yet get an allowance but will soon, I think. An allowance is not necessary, but I think it’s a good tool to teach money management/budgeting. The amount ultimately depends on how much autonomy you want the child to have and what he/she is going to be responsible for buying during the week. So if it’s only supposed to cover fun stuff like candy when we go to the grocery store, and then to be saved up for a larger toy or something, then a couple of dollars a week is fine. But for an older kid (maybe 8 or 9 and up) then maybe you want them to be responsible for paying for a school lunch out of their allowance too, so it should be higher.

  8. Posted by: erin

    My ten year old receives $3 per week, of which he is expected to save $1. He started getting an allowance around 6 & he got $2. Reading this I think he might be in for a bit of a raise. As many other contributors have commenting allowance is not a payment for chores it is a little spending money. Chores are very much just a part of being a member of a family. This was always made clear to me as a child & it seems such an important lesson to learn, we all pitch in, as we send our children out into the world. My son does do extra things throughout the year cleaning my car, raking leaves etc. for which he may earn extra $. So far this is working for us

  9. Posted by: Sara

    My 9 year old gets $3/week. $1 to save, $1 to spend and $1 to give away (tzadakah – charity). We do not tie allowance to chores – he was doing them long before he got an allowance. He makes his bed, sets the table, clears his dishes from the table, cleans up toys and is expected to help out in other ways when asked (and not for additional money). Because of the fairness issue you wrote about, we now do the same for my 7 year old. They can save their tzadakah money and donate it as they see fit – usually there are one or two big causes a year that they give to.
    They know that if there is a toy they want and it’s not near gift giving season (birthday or hanukkah in this house) they must purchase it with their own money. In general they save up, and do buy something for themselves that they’ve been eying for a long time (sometimes a big purchase, sometimes a small purchase). They’ve become pretty savvy about their saving and spending . . . all it takes is a few regrettable “immediate gratification” purchases to better understand the value of a dollar . . . and a good toy!

  10. Posted by: Sara

    ADDENDUM: btw, I’m totally against the $3/week. I think it’s way too much. But it was borne out of compromise . . .

  11. What’s so interesting/amazing about this topic (at least to me!) is that parents have been debating the “Do we pay for chores or not”-allowance-issue for more than 100 years. And if our current economy is a reflection of how parents have been faring, well…you know. A few years ago I stumbled across a completely new alternate allowance program, when I told my then four-year-old daughter to “get a job” after yet another case of the “gimmies.” She started earning money the same way adults do: by having “real” professional jobs! She’s been a chef, paleontologist, event planner, photographer — it’s been so fun for her, she hasn’t even realized how deep the lessons go. Feel free to check out how the whole thing’s ended up at Oh, and now at six, she earns $2.25 a career (she got a raise on her birthday last year!).

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