Will work for food, allowance and chores


Some parents give allowance for chores. Work for pay may prevent a child from believing in entitlement. It  also helps the child to experience the value of doing work for money.  It’s good training for getting and keeping a job.

Other parents do not give allowance for chores. Children have to do chores simply because they live in the home.  Just as Mom and Dad do not receive wages for their work at home, neither will the child receive money for do chores as a member of the household.

Whether or not parents give allowance, the shocking reality of money is that money is limited and it takes time and effort to make money. Most children do not realize this until they get jobs.

“Is this all I am getting?”  is the most common reaction to the first pay check.

However meager one’s earnings, the rules for earning that check are clear—and consistent.  The tasks to be performed, the code of conduct at work, arrival and departure times and getting along with others are all established by the employer, in exchange for the wage.

Does this mean that the parents that give the age appropriate allowance for chores have it right?  If so, a 5 year old makes $5 for chores, a 6 year-old makes $6, etc.  When the child gets to be around the age of 11 or so, they start to complain “It’s not enough!  I can’t buy anything with this!”

Parents may agree that the age appropriate allowance is like paying a child sweatshop wages.  The age weighted allowance may be close to the reality of some adult workers.  The  full time federal minimum wage is  $7.25 an hour.  If parents use this formula to pay allowance, they are on par with minimum wage earners by aged 7.5.

It is unlikely that your child will be doing chores full time.  However to put it in perspective, a full-time federal minimum-wage earner makes about $15,080 a year.  This amount is below the federal poverty level for a two-person family.

Maybe the parents that don’t give allowance are getting it right.  Children are rewarded with their favorite experiences – trips to the movies, new clothes, toys – and are not focused on money itself.  These children “will work for food” but may also be shocked when they enter the job market – “Is this all I am getting?”

Maybe the key is to mix it up.  Some extra chores are done for money, good grades are rewarded in some other way, and gifts are given without any strings (no chores, behavior or grades required).  There are options for rewarding children, when the family can afford to mix it up.

Think through which alternative you’ll use, and then follow through.


Candi Sparks, is a Brooklyn mother of two, financial educator and children‘s book author.  Titles from her Can I Have Some Money? books include “Max Gets It!”,  “Nacho Money” and other books on finance for kids.  Facebook and Twitter and YouTube.

About candi sparks

Candi Sparks is a fully licensed financial professional and a Brooklyn mother of two. She works with private clients, business owners, the NYC Department of Education, faith based, non profit and community organizations on financial education and implementing financial strategies for success. Events are fun, interactive and solid financial information. Sparks Fly, financial literacy for YOU(th) Learn more so you can live more! toll free: 866.556.2432
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2 Responses to Will work for food, allowance and chores

  1. Chantal Onelien says:

    This blog/article was quite powerful and very informative. I enjoyed it so much, I’ve opted to open the discussion with the entire family. I will be sure to share this blog with everyone. Looking forward to more topics such as this in the future. Thank you very much Candi Sparks.

  2. Candi, This is helpful information. Whether to give allowances is a debate among parents. You offer compelling evidence as to why allowances may not be a good choice. I prefer giving rewards for accomplishments (except grades). My son just got his working papers, he is looking for a job.

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