Guest Blog Post – Angie Chladek

Our oldest daughter, Olivia, is 3 years-old, fiercely independent, and my biggest “helper.”  As such, I’ve been researching lots of different approaches for chores and allowances to see what fits with our financial and parenting philosophies. I wanted to publish this information in a format that would be useful to our readers because so often, when you read something, it’s from just one person, touting one specific approach.  As a former teacher, spouse of a financial advisor, and general lover of “simple,” I’ve compiled what I see as the best approaches to the chores/allowance debate.

In my search I looked for certain criteria…

Simple Plan– Anything that is too complex for a busy mom will not work at our house.  We need as few steps as possible. My hunch is that “simple” is a high priority for other households, as well.

Developmentally Appropriate– The approach needs to grow with the child, and it needs to lead them to financial responsibility and to being good stewards of God’s resources.  All of the approaches below begin at around 5 years of age.

Personal Experience– Many approaches just “sound” great, but the people recommending them have not really tried them; all the ideas below are from real families.

Top 3 Favorite Approaches

Local Parenting Coach/Love & Logic Guru: Laura Murphy

“Kids learn more about using money wisely when we allow them to feel the consequences of using it unwisely.”  This is a direct quote from Jim Fay (Love and Logic founder).  Allowance starts at age 5 or 6, is always given on the same day each week, and is not payment for doing chores.  Children should be expected to take part in chores because they’re part of family- not just to get paid.  However, they can “pay” you for doing their chores for them.   During the week, you can say, “Would you rather clean your room or “pay” me to do it- I charge an adult rate of “50 cents” and am always willing to earn extra money.” On “payday,” you hand them all 7 coins (value of the coins should fit the parents budget), Child is allowed to spend, save, waste the money as they see fit.  However, once the money is gone, there is no more until payday.  If the child spends all their money and doesn’t complete their chores, it can be deducted from the following week’s pay- just make a note so you don’t forget.  In that case, hand them the money and then make them pay you for the work.

Money Man: Dave Ramsey

Children are paid a “commission” on the chores they complete. They are taught to divide the money into give/save/spend containers.  They may spend from the “spend” container as they wish, but parents are encouraged to gently guide them.  They are encouraged to set goals for each container- Do they have a favorite charity they want to give x amount to?  Do they have a certain large item that they’re saving their money for (or possibly college/car/house?)  Is there something short-term they can spend their money on to feel the satisfaction of paying themselves?  Parents do not purchase things for the kids except on special occasions.

Mom Tip: Gretchen Hembree

“We do $1 for each year of age. $1 must go to church. $1 must go to long term savings. The rest they can choose what to do. Sometimes they add more to church or long term savings, but mostly they save up for a toy or a gift they really want to buy. I can’t tell you how cool it is when Charlie walks to the checkout with $50 of his own money to buy a new Lego set. His grin and pride says it all. We cover taxes on their purchases for now. That may change in time. Charlie will also tell you at 7 years-old he is saving (long term) for a car. :)”

My addendum:  Gretchen told our MOYC group that her husband handles the allowance and always gives it right before church on Sunday morning.

Please add comments to this blog if you have other approaches you’ve used or would like others to know about.  I’d love to have a running list of things people can refer to going forward.

Is it easy to organize your children’s financial life, but not your own?  Call me for a free consultation and personal financial assessment- 913.402.6099.

John P. Chladek, MBA, CFP® is the President of Chladek Wealth Management, LLC, a fee-only financial planning and investment management firm specializing in helping families and couples who are not yet retired realize their financial goals.  For more information, visit

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