Should You Give Your Child an Allowance?

Expert advice on what age to give an allowance, and whether it should be tied to chores.

Expert advice on what age to give an allowance, and whether it should be tied to chores

Should I just give an allowance – and not attach it to chores? Again, plenty of parents think so. "Children should learn that they need to contribute to the family without getting paid because that's part of being in a family. Parents need to be consistent in ensuring the chores get done," says Mary Kelly Blakeslee, a recently retired psychologist based in Summit, N.J.

Besides, Blakeslee adds, "It just doesn't work. Parents often don't keep track of the chores. Yeah, sure, most start out with charts and stars or stickers, or perhaps a spreadsheet, but very few keep up with it after the first few weeks."

Helmer is also in the just-give-the-allowance camp. "My personal philosophy is that an allowance should not be tied to chores. My children were expected to clean and help out around the house. You shouldn't pay children to do what they are supposed to do. The purpose of their allowance was to show them the value of a dollar and how to handle and manage their money."

"Parents think differently on this subject," Golden says diplomatically. "Many reach a compromise, giving the child a base allowance whether he or she has earned it or not, while continuing to expect the child to do basic household jobs as part of the family, and then paying extra money for larger chores."

[Read: The Best Children's Books for Money Lessons.]

Dovetailing nicely with these thoughts are those of Clare Levison, a certified public accountant in Blacksburg, Va., and author of "Frugal Isn't Cheap: Spend Less, Save More, and Live Better." "Rather than paying kids for chores at your house, I believe encouraging them to be entrepreneurial on their own is better," she says. "They can cut grass, cat-sit, babysit and that sort of thing, to make money from the neighbors. Then they have to learn negotiation and a work ethic."

How much allowance should I give my kid? What you can afford and not a cent more. Alas, Helmer says: "There is no formula on how much you should be giving your children for their allowance. It has to be driven by the cash flow of a particular family."

In other words, when George Alexander Louis, the latest addition to the British royal family, hits his kindergarten years and his parents dole out the allowance, boy, is he going to be sitting pretty.