Allowance or Commission?

I grew up on allowance.  As I got older, my allowance got a bit larger and as a teen, it was 5$ in quarters to allow my parents to take quarters out whenever I didn’t do something I was supposed to.  Which looking back, is hilarious since I had only to keep my room clean and not leave the kitchen a disaster.  But, like every teenager, I insisted such hard work was torture.

So come having children of my own, it got to the time that I would follow my parents’ method and begin giving Sabrina her own allowance.  John didn’t come from that kind of family, instead he had to earn the money with chores.  So for a few years we didn’t come to a decision.  I would randomly give her a dime or a quarter for cleaning a room by herself as a reward and it spurred her on.

In Dave Ramsey’s classes, he recommends having them work for the money you give them.  It’s a difference of allowance (which pays you for breathing) and commission (which pays you for a job above and beyond).  So the money they earn is not for what you would normally expect of a family member participating in the running of the home but for things above that.  Then you go farther and show from even a young age, how to take the money earned and divide it between give, spend and save so they have that ingrained before their first job outside of the home.

So, I thought of the few jobs my kids could do if they chose and earn money for them.  With an 8-year-old, 5-year-old and 4-year-old, I wanted to have enough that they could each take a chore and earn something.  Vacuuming each room is 1$.  Wiping off the table and sliding glass doors is 0.50$.  Folding laundry that isn’t your own.  Mopping the floors.  Wiping down the bathroom sink and mirror.

The first week we implemented I never cleaned my house.  The kids wanted to do it all and I promptly paid out more than 14$ total in one week.  We then changed to a maximum 6$ each week (my budget can’t afford more!) and that has been better.  Sabrina is the one who understands this is her way to get the toys I won’t buy for her (because of not playing with similar ones in the past) so she’s usually the one asking to vacuum or mop.  But she has 3 envelopes in her closet and each commission she gets she faithful divides between her give-save-spend.  And on Sunday’s she happily gives it away.  Hopefully, we can instill in her a good work ethic, a good and cheerful give ethic, and a bit of wisdom as she eyes the stuff she wants and calculates if it’s worth it to spend her hard-earned money or if she should wait.  She learned that different stores or places can carry the same thing for a cheaper price.  And she learned, a bit painfully the first time, that once it is spent you have to start over in your saving to get the next item.  These lessons come naturally from this commission process, which means I have less to teach.  I know in our society of wanting to give our kids everything we didn’t have is the norm and it’s not necessarily a bad thought but more than giving them things I didn’t have I want to give them the lessons and knowledge I didn’t have.  Hopefully, they will grow and learn these before they have college loans or families to support and are struggling to pay the bills.  If they can, then they are much farther ahead than we were.

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