We’ve always tied our allowances to chores, starting at age 3. They receive quite a hefty sum, $1 per year of age per week, but with that they have to tithe 10%, save 30% for university, and divide the rest into short-term savings and spending.
And the chores have increased as they’ve grown older. It sounds perfect. It sounds foolproof. It should work.
But it doesn’t always. And I’ll tell you why.
It seems to me that allowances should be given out AT THE END OF THE WEEK. So naturally, that’s Saturday. The kids, then, should be finishing their chores Saturday morning, and on Saturday afternoon they take their money and divide it up.
That’s what everybody does. That’s what you’re supposed to do. On Saturday, you get your allowance. And that’s what we’ve done for eleven years.
And then last weekend, while we were away yet again, something hit me. The reason my kids miss 66% of their allowances is because we’re away 66% of all weekends. We’re just not around on Saturdays. So having allowance day on Saturday (as we all know is the natural allowance day) is just plain stupid.
So I am freeing myself from the shackles of the Saturday allowance tradition and moving to the Wednesday allowance tradition. After all, we’re always home on Wednesdays. We’re home on Mondays and Tuesdays, too, the days leading up to the allowance. And besides that, we always have people over on Wednesday nights, so it’s good to have the house cleaned on Wednesdays.
Sometimes you have to look at your routines and see what is working and what isn’t, and why it’s not.
I’ve always loved allowances, but it took me 11 years to figure out that weekends don’t work for my family. That’s a little slow, don’t you think?
If you have a routine that you think should work, but doesn’t, step outside and take another look at it. Is there something simple you can change to make it work again? Maybe there is.
Another thing that helps so many parents who don’t always carry cash is FamZoo. It’s an online program that you can sign up for, and it lets you enter your children’s allowance information, record any money they owe you (like if you buy them a chocolate bar when you’re out), and help them to save for goals. It’s amazing, and it makes sure that you don’t miss those allowance payments!
If you want more information about my allowance plan, it’s spelled out in detail in my book, To Love, Honor and Vacuum.