Real Advice For Real Life

Parenting Expert Advice from Author and America’s Nanny,

Michelle LaRowe

To Pay or Not To Pay… That Is the Question!

child allowance chores Long gone are the days where you can convince your kid to feed the dog for a quarter. Inflation has hit the home front and chances are if you want that Mocha Latte on your way to work.  You’ve discovered you better feed the dog yourself.In a day where plastic has replaced paper, most kids have no understanding of the financial system of Mommy and Daddy, Inc.

The concept of earning money has seemingly been lost in electronic translation.While I am a firm believer in the “everyone plays a part” style of household management which embraces the idea that kids should not be paid for things that they have to do as their contribution to operation home front,


I believe that there are things above and beyond (a.k.a. my definition of chores) that can be done which would allow for financial compensation.From the youngest age, kids want to feel like part of the family. Even the highchair bound infant wants to be pulled up close the kitchen table and included in the chitter-chatter of dinner time.

Kids want to know that they have a place and that they have value in the family unit.

They want to feel like they belong.If you have a grade-schooler think back to the first time your child “surprised” you by helping out around the house – like the time Maggie proudly announced that she had cleared the table while you were in the other room gabbing on the phone to Aunt Sally.You retuned and discovered she had alright…everything was cleared – and put right into the trash! Kids enjoy helping out and take pride in their work.

One way parents can help their kids feel valued is to assign them age appropriate responsibilities.

By now you may have sensed that I am a believer that kids need to take responsibility for the routine “maintenance” activities of life – and for these daily tasks like making their bed, putting their clothes in the hamper, and picking up after themselves, I believe that the best compensation comes from a job well done padded with positive purposeful praise. “Great work getting your clothes in the hamper! Thanks bud!” goes a surprisingly long way.

Having a chart on the fridge, with their daily tasks listed is a helpful tool in establishing a consistent routine.

Now there is an entirely different set of tasks that fit into the category of above and beyond tasks (or what I refer to as chores). Based on your child’s age, these may include helping out with laundry, caring for pets, setting the table, loading or unloading the dishwasher, washing the car, helping out in the yard, putting away groceries or taking out the trash.

Posting up “help wanted” ads on the fridge next to their daily chart for these additional tasks is a great way to advertise the extra things that are available to be done for cash. The amount of cash paid for services varies from family to family, but it’s a good rule of thumb for a child to be able to earn in a week a dollar for each year of life.

These tasks can provide a great opportunity for a child to earn money- and once you’ve established an earning system you have a practical way to introduce your child to the financial world. Helping children learn the value of money and money management is a priceless lesson.

Even your toddler observes how to handle money – and you are their first financial advisor.

I recall a time when I was with Ryan at the store and he asked for a toy. I told him I didn’t have any cash on me and to my surprise he asked me to “Use my card.” From this simple exchange and the conversation that followed, I realized that he had no concept of how this magic card worked.

He didn’t put it together that I worked, earned money, put the money in the bank and then used the handy piece of plastic to which he was referring to access the funds.Once you establish a method of earning, you can teach your kids financial responsibility.

The 4S system is a great way to teach young kids how to budget.

To use this system, you divide their earnings into 4 categories: Spend now, Spend later, Save and Send.

The “spend now” money is for things that they need to have – lunch money, snacks and other daily needs. The “spend later” money is for something she wants, the “save” money is to be set aside for emergencies, college or other later in life events and the “send” money is to be given to church tithes or charity.

Some parents want to teach their children the importance of money management and budgeting, but don’t want to be bogged down by a chores system. These parents often choose an allowance method, where they give each child a set dollar amount each week that is or is not tied to the completion of tasks.

Whatever method you choose to use to teach your children the lessons of responsibly, hard work, and money management we can all agree that in these vital lessons are life skills that will help your child to lead a life of financial integrity.

Michelle La Rowe

Michelle La Rowe

About America's Nanny:

Michelle is an active member of the nanny community. She is the founder and president of Boston Area Nannies, Inc., a local non-profit educational organization and has served on the International Nanny Association Board of Directors.

She is called on by the media as a nanny and parenting expert and has been affectionately dubbed America's Nanny. Michelle has appeared on television and has been featured in print.

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America's Nanny

Books by Michelle LaRowe

A Mom's Ultimate Book of Lists: 100+ Lists to Save You Time, Money and Sanity - Grocery lists. Checklists. To-do lists. Lots of people love--and live by--lists. And parents are no exception. Today's families are busier than ever, and moms don't have the time or energy to search and scramble for the parenting information they are desperately seeking. This handy, practical reference guide will save time, money, and sanity for today's busy women.

Working Mom's 411 is your one-stop resource guide for navigating through the often choppy waters of managing kids, career and home.

Nanny to the Rescue - America's nanny offers a large dose of healthy parenting advice with secrets for raising happy, secure, and well-balanced babies and toddlers.

Nanny To the Rescue Again - Faced with multiple choices regarding school, friends, and activities coupled with the ever-widening influence of the outside world, parents of 6-12-year-olds need help. America's nanny is back to offer a large dose of healthy parenting advice with secrets for raising happy, secure, and well-balanced children.
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