How Allowance Works in Our House, by Sofia Suardi (10 years)

My sister and I have been getting allowance for a while, but we haven’t been very good about remembering to get it before, so we have changed the old rules up a little.

We started when we were little, getting 50 cents per month, and when we moved to Syracuse, we got $2 a month. But my mom said that she wanted us to get more allowance, partly because we help her out so much around the house. She also said, by giving us more money we can learn how to save up for big things that we have been wanting. For example: a bike, a ticket to a Broadway show, or a camera.

How do we decide how much allowance each girl gets?

My family decides how much each girl gets by age. Basically, for every year you have been alive, you get one dollar of allowance per month. For example I am 10 years old, so I get $10 of allowance per month, whereas my sister is 8, so she gets $8 of allowance per month. When I am 11, I will get $11 of allowance monthly, and so on.

How do we separate the money?

My mom got us both (my sister and me) a Moonjar, which is a kind of wallet with 3 different sections: one is for money to save, one is for money to spend, and one is for money to share.

I don’t really get to decide where all those 10 dollars go: we have a system. Fifty percent of all the allowance money goes in Save, 40% of all the money goes in Spend, and 10% of all the money goes in Share. This system is for both of us, no matter how old we are. But the older we get, the more allowance we get, which will lead to bigger amounts of money, but still with the same percentages.

Where and what do we record about our money?

The Moonjar also comes with a book where we can record all the money we put in or take out, and why.

We don’t only have to put allowance in the Moonjar, we can also earn money by doing extra jobs. For example, we can earn money by:

  • taking care of the boys (Mark and Luke),
  • watering the plants,
  • cleaning an area of the house, or
  • painting something in the house.

There is space to write what we did to earn or take out the money, for example: “bought stuffed animal,” or “played with the boys for 30 mins.” When we earn extra money, we can decide which section we put it in (Save, Spend, or Share). It is a very nice, organized way to record how we spend and how much we earn.

What do we do with the money from Save?

My mom says we will have to agree on something that I will buy with the money from Save. She says that it is not so much about saving up a certain amount of money, it is more about deciding on something that you really want and (if it’s a good choice) to spend your money on it. For example, I asked my mom if I could save up for an iPod, and she said that she would have to think about it, but she really didn’t want me to be listening to music all the time and playing with a personal electronic. I am not sure what I will buy when I save up to that much money, but my mom and I will make sure it is a good choice.

What do we do with the money from Spend?

Spend money can be spent in any way you want to (well, if my mom thinks it’s OK). I could even Save or Share it if I want. Here are some things I have used my Spend money for: nail polish, stuffed animals, necklaces. I’ve also used my Spend money to pay my sister to do something that I didn’t want to do. For example, I’ve paid my sister to help me move the hose around when I was watering the garden (10 cents), and play with Mark and Luke before dinner (20 cents).

What do we do with the money from Share?

The Share money is meant to go to some charity that helps some kind of thing. For example my Share money is going to an animal charity called the WWF, or the World Wildlife Fund. I think I am going to give my money to lions, which are my favorite animals. I may also give some of the Share money to some charity that helps people who need it in Ghana.

This is how my sister and I have learned to handle our money. I think this is a very good way, and my sister says she agrees.

How do you do allowance at your house? Let me know in the comments!

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60 comments

  • More Than A Mom March 15, 2013, 2:22 pm

    I’m deciding on an allowance system for our children (ages 5 and 7). Great information – thanks!!
    More Than A Mom´s last post ..How to Make a Jedi Light Saber

    Reply
  • Amanda August 5, 2012, 2:56 pm

    I love your allowance idea. I have always tried figuring out a way to do this for my kids. My only question is any ideas on chores? I struggle in this area as well. My kids are 13, 8 and 6.
    Thanks,
    Amanda

    Reply
  • Zee Kleshchar July 3, 2012, 4:51 pm

    Interesting idea with the moonjar – never heard of it before, but it sounds like a good idea – might get something like that for myself, even though I’m not 10 anymore and I live alone and work :D

    Thanks for sharing, Sofia :)

    Zee

    Reply
    • Amy July 3, 2012, 11:01 pm

      Hi Zee,

      I know, several adults tell me they want one for themselves! It makes our complicated adult stuff seem so simple and colorful and fun. Like elementary school classrooms. Don’t you love how they’re so organized and functional, yet bright and fun-loving too?

      Thanks for writing to us,
      Amy

      Reply
  • Chelsey July 2, 2012, 4:07 pm

    Great post Sofia — very well written!

    My kids are 6 and 8. When they get money they have jars that are labelled Spend, Save and Give — similar to the Moonjar. http://pinterest.com/pin/207236020322870793/

    I do let my kids have debts, but they must have 50% of the money to put down in order to qualify for the debt. Any money they get in the future must be used to pay off their debt first before they can do anything else with their money. I want to teach them that debts are something to seriously consider and not jump into…

    Reply
    • Amy July 3, 2012, 10:59 pm

      Hi Chelsey,

      Those money jar kits are just adorable! I love how personalized and unique they are. So much more meaningful than just buying something.

      I like that you have a set policy about debt and debt repayment. I think you are right: it teaches kids that it’s a serious matter, and to think before doing it.

      Thank you for writing in, Chelsey,
      Amy

      Reply
  • Victoria@Snailpacetransformations July 2, 2012, 8:46 am

    I love the look of the Moonjar, I have seen others but most have been slots for coins only and not lids for bills. In our family we pay per job, and each kids has a jar that they put pay slips in for that days total, when my husband gets his check they total up their pay slips and I pay out their money. Then they have to put a bit in their share envelopes. I encourage them also to always have a set savings goal. Right now my daughter is shooting for a camera that takes vid. clips and pictures under water.
    Victoria@Snailpacetransformations´s last post ..Sunday Reads:The Fiddler

    Reply
    • Amy July 3, 2012, 10:53 pm

      Hi Victoria,

      I love the idea of pay slips! Being someone who is obsessed with office supplies, filling in little forms makes me happy. I also like how you encourage your kids to have a set savings goal. And your unusual camera is a great idea!

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your system,
      Amy

      Reply
  • CyniSister July 1, 2012, 5:40 pm

    I have been looking for a way to SHOW rather than TELL my kids how to manage their money. This is so perfect! Thank you for sharing. I am going to start this right away!

    Where did you get your Save/Spend/Share container?

    Thanks a bunch!
    Cyn

    Reply
    • Amy July 1, 2012, 5:50 pm

      Hi Cyn!

      I’m so glad you like our system, and thank you for writing to us. I read a review of the Moonjar online, and then bought it via Amazon. You can buy one directly from Moonjar — http://www.moonjar.com/ — or if you buy one through one of the Amazon Moonjar links in this blog post, you help support Frugal Mama because Amazon sends us a small referral bonus.

      Thank you, and good luck with your saving, spending, and sharing!

      Take care,
      Amy

      Reply
  • Kerry @ Made For Real July 1, 2012, 4:54 pm

    Sofia, great job. My daughter, Hope, read your post and would like to write to you:
    Hi Sofia,
    I think that it’s a great way to organize allowance . We’re looking for ways to do that. I like how you talk about things with your mom to make sure the items you get are useful. My name is Hope. I am twelve years old, and I have a sister named Sophia! I am thinking about starting a blog, too. Still planning it all out.
    ~ Hope
    Kerry @ Made For Real´s last post ..Happy hot July!

    Reply
    • Amy July 1, 2012, 5:51 pm

      Thank you so much Kerry and Hope! I will tell Sofia she has a message, and she’ll respond to you soon. That’s so cool that you have a Sofia/Sophia in your family too!

      Take care, and thank you for writing us,
      Amy

      Reply
    • Amy July 1, 2012, 6:39 pm

      Dear Hope,
      I am glad you liked how our family does allowance!
      I like it too, because it is very simple, and fun.
      That is so awesome that your sister is named Sophia! I think it is a very popular name now.
      I think a blog would be a great idea. Do you have any idea of what is is going to be about?
      -Sofia :)

      Reply
      • Kerry @ Made For Real July 1, 2012, 6:58 pm

        Sofia, I don’t know yet for sure. I like dogs, art, books and family stuff. Or I might do a little of everything.
        Hope :D

        Reply
  • Hilda July 1, 2012, 3:57 pm

    Great post Sofia! I like the tracking system and the save/spend/share categories. My husband & I have been trying to figure out the best system of allowance for our kids & I think yours is a great idea. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Amy July 1, 2012, 6:43 pm

      Dear Hilda,
      I am glad you liked my post, and how we do our allowance!
      I really think this would be a great way to give your kids allowance.
      I am sure your kids will like it.
      -Sofia :)

      Reply
  • Abigail July 1, 2012, 2:35 pm

    I don’t get an allowance. But I want to try what you do.

    I have a pink princess piggy bank that I save for college and a car. My parents say that they will match any money that I save for a car. I get money by doing extra chores and having a lemonade stand.

    -Abigail, age 7

    Reply
    • Amy July 1, 2012, 6:50 pm

      Hi Abigail,
      I think the way your family teaches you how to deal with money is great, but I like my way too. (And I am glad you also like it!)
      I do extra chores too! I have never done a lemonade stand, but I think that is a great way to make extra money!
      I think it is also a great idea to save up for much bigger things like what you said you do, collage and a car.
      -Sofia :)

      Reply
  • Jennifer G July 1, 2012, 12:02 pm

    We are in the process of developing our allowance system. My son is 4 yrs old. I’m thinking $4 a month might be a bit too low, but $4 a week would be too high. I am considering about 50 cents a day, and maybe having 5 small daily jobs he has to do regularly to earn that. I’m thinking really simple to start, like making his bed, picking up his toys, brushing his teeth, dressing himself and then some chore that helps me out that will change from day to day, like helping me with whatever chore I have to work on that day. For now all of his money goes into his piggy bank for saving for bigger things. But I like the idea of the moonjar so that he can learn about prioritizing where his money goes. I have considered having him make choices, like when we go to McDonalds, if he chooses not to get the kids meal with the junky toy, maybe I will give him the $1.50 that the junky toy would cost if I bought it separately to save toward a toy he really wants. For now his allowance has been sporadic and he basically just gets a handful of change when my purse starts getting too heavy.

    Reply
    • Amy July 1, 2012, 1:46 pm

      Hi Jennifer,

      I like that you are looking for ways to teach your four year old about money, and that you are thinking about having him help you out with self-care and household chores. I recommend not tying allowance to tasks that you want done anyway. If your son doesn’t have a concept of money or is not motivated by it, then he might not be motivated to do the things you want him to do. Then it would be a lose-lose: you don’t get help, and he doesn’t get to learn how to save money.

      I would separate the two: give him allowance for teaching money management, and create a different system for daily tasks. We use rewards and consequences for making sure our kids get themselves ready for bed and school in time, for example, and we use this chart: http://www.frugal-mama.com/2011/01/getting-ready-for-school-in-time-every-day/

      I like your idea about the Happy meals too: your system will help him think about waste, the value of money, and choices.

      Thanks for writing in, Jennifer,
      Amy

      Reply
  • Katie B. of HousewifeHowTos.com July 1, 2012, 11:09 am

    This is a wonderful post, Sofia! Your system is very wise. It’s good to learn the importance of saving at a young age; too many people don’t learn until it’s too late. And, of course, your mom has your best interests at heart, so trust her on that iPod thing. There are too many fun things to do that don’t involve electronics. (Besides, radio is free!)
    Katie B. of HousewifeHowTos.com´s last post ..Four Free Printable Cleaning Checklists!

    Reply
    • Amy July 1, 2012, 1:47 pm

      Dear Katie B.,

      Thank you for writing in — I’ll have Sofia respond later.

      p.s. I’m so glad you agree with me about the iPod!

      Take care,
      Amy

      Reply
    • Amy July 1, 2012, 6:53 pm

      Dear Katie,

      I’m glad you liked my post. I like our way of allowance too, and I’m glad you think it’s wise. I agree that I don’t really need an iPod, but I can’t help wanting it really badly.

      Thank you for writing me,

      -Sofia :)

      Reply
  • Kim J. July 1, 2012, 6:15 am

    My daughter (and I) would never remember to bring her allowance anywhere, so we keep track of it on a spreadsheet on my phone. That way, if she wants to spend something, we look it up and know how much is available—she doesn’t have to carry it around with her and I don’t have to remember to get it from her when she gets home. I don’t think this is a good idea for younger kids—they need something concrete to feel and to give away. But it works for a 10 year old who can think abstractly.

    She also gets “spend, save, give” money—right now, $2 for spend, $1 for save and $1 for give. Maybe if she helped out more around the house we could give $1 per year—i have to think about that. =)

    Reply
    • Amy July 1, 2012, 1:49 pm

      Hi Kim,

      Yes, I know, we too would forget to hand out the allowance, so I agree that some kind of system is wise. I like how your system solves the problem of knowing how much spending money my kids have available when we’re not at home.

      I can seriously recommend getting kids to help out around the house — it’s good for them, and it’s great for you!

      Take care,
      Amy

      Reply
  • Elizabeth June 28, 2012, 10:34 am

    Sofia,

    I enjoyed your article. You are an articulate young lady and could someday in the future have your own blog. Keep up the good work.

    I like the idea of a Moonjar where you can deposit your money into different categories. Sounds like a great way to see where the money goes. Wish I had something like that when my kids were your age. Both of my kids are grown adults.

    I hope you will have a pleasant summer. It is very hot here in Texas so I don’t work outside so much. My garden is suffering.

    Again, I enjoyed your article.

    Elizabeth Carmody
    Dallas, TX

    Reply
    • Amy June 28, 2012, 10:34 am

      Dear Elizabeth,
      I am glad you enjoyed my article! Someday I think I might start a blog.
      I really like the moonjar too!
      I feel bad for your garden in Texas! But even here we have to water ours constantly.
      Sofia :)

      Reply
  • Sharon June 27, 2012, 11:17 pm

    Sofia, I loved your post!! Great job..hope we hear from you again in the future!!

    Reply
    • Amy June 28, 2012, 10:28 am

      Dear Sharon,
      I am glad you liked my post!
      I think I will write again!
      Sofia :)

      Reply
  • Lili June 27, 2012, 9:52 pm

    I think that’s a great system, Sofia, and you explained it very clearly. Nice job!
    When I was a girl I saved up to buy a sewing machine and when I got half way my parents matched the amount. The very first thing I made on it was a red wool dress. I loved that machine and eventually passed it down to your mother.

    Your grandmother, Lili

    Reply
    • Amy June 28, 2012, 10:26 am

      Thank you Lili! I am glad you liked my post!
      I think I might know what sewing machine you are talking about.
      I have seen it down in the basement.
      Sofia :)

      Reply
  • Christine June 27, 2012, 5:47 pm

    We have a similar approach–number of dollars aligned to number of years old, broken down into spend/save/give (more by dollars rather than percentages) but there are a few differences that have worked for us:
    1. We give allowance weekly. It seems like a lot ($7 per week to my 7-year-old) but considering how much he was costing me in lego and snacks after music class and donations to the homeless shelter, it balances out in the long-run and allows him to think about his spending habits regularly.
    2. We don’t tie allowance to helping around the house, but the kids can earn extra cash or treats by helping out with outside-the-norm chores. The theory here is that I never want to get to the day that they say, “Nah, I don’t want to do my own laundry, so just don’t give me allowance.” or “I don’t need allowance since I have a part-time job, so I won’t wash the dishes.” Those things are part of being in our family, so the kids are expected to contribute to household maintenance. The purpose of the allowance is not so much to pay them for helping, but more to help them learn about budgeting and spending and the implications of your “need” and “want” decisions. If the day comes that they have a part-time job, I will be able to stop giving allowance.
    3. For now, our “save” envelope goes to expensive purchases, but not to long-term goals like a car or college. At some point, we should switch it to that, but right now, college is a non-entity to my children and they won’t understand what they’re saving for. But a $100 lego set? THAT is realistic and expensive and worth saving for. And it takes a LONG time of saving the save money AND possibly not spending all of the spend money to get to that lego set. I feel like helping the kids have that goal and focus is the main purpose of doing allowance at this age and once they learn how to save for something like lego, we can start saving for bigger things later.

    That said, Mom still decides what to save for. There is no saving for wii…if I don’t want them to have it, they don’t get it. I hear you on the iPod, Amy! (Which, by the way, we have passed down to the kids but often still call it “my” iPod that I’m “loaning you.” All with the goal of me being able to say, “I think you’ve had enough; I want my iPod back now, please!”)

    Thanks for doing an Allowance post, Sofia! Great ideas (and nice idea to pay your sister!!)!

    Reply
    • Amy June 27, 2012, 10:19 pm

      Hi Christine,

      Thank you so much for elaborating your allowance system!

      And I am totally with you on not paying allowance for chores. My kids don’t get paid for the chores they are expected to do as being part of the family (setting the table, straightening up in the morning, and helping me clean the whole house on the weekends). However, they get paid for extra jobs above-and-beyond their normal everyday chores — and that is where we can help kids learn about real world jobs.

      I agree that paying for normal chores would not work when kids are not motivated by money, and we need household systems that work all the time, right?

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences, Christine,
      Amy

      Reply
  • Katie Morton June 27, 2012, 2:31 pm

    What a fabulous post! I used to think that allowances were a bad idea, but this article has taught me otherwise. Sounds like a great way to teach kids a lot about money and social responsibility.

    Reply
    • Amy June 27, 2012, 2:37 pm

      Hi Katie,

      I’m so glad you like Sofia’s first guest post! I hope our allowance system is going to help our kids learn how to save and manage money. For some reason, our schools and colleges don’t teach kids how to manage the money they hope they will make someday.

      Thanks for writing in, Katie,
      Amy

      Reply
      • Sharon June 27, 2012, 11:14 pm

        Amy “for some reason our schools don’t teach about money..” i really think it’s the parent’s responsibility..our teachers have enough to do..

        Reply
        • Amy June 27, 2012, 11:18 pm

          Yes, that’s a good point, Sharon. But schools teach sex ed, typing, cooking, and woodworking. Why not, how to stay out of debt?

          Reply
          • Sharon June 27, 2012, 11:21 pm

            That is a good point Amy! Actually our local high school has a life skills elective which does cover finances..and most of the courses you listed would be electives..however a personal finance class as elective is not a bad idea..

            Reply
            • Amy June 27, 2012, 11:23 pm

              Yeah, it’s weird that it’s missing, isn’t it?

              Reply
              • tiffany sexton July 29, 2012, 12:09 am

                I agree that some sort of finance class should be included in our schools. The schools where I live all have the required Economics and Home Ec classes but they are the exact same now as they were when I was in school – some random coach sitting at his/her desk reading the paper and falling asleep. I was never taught a single thing and sadly my son has had the same experience. Thankfully, I have had the internet to at least learn all the Home Ec skills and of course life has taught me the finance ;) I agree that parents should teach these things and we do. However, once our kids hit preteen/teen years they are convinced I am being dramatic and making things seem more dire than necessary. I would love for another adult not related to them esp. a teacher to inform them I am not crazy! lol

              • Amy August 1, 2012, 9:10 pm

                Hi Tiffany,

                You are so right — having an adult other than one’s own parent would have been very effective in teaching kids about sensitive issues like money. But I think we can sprinkle in tidbits into everyday conversations so children absorb our values without feeling like they’re being lectured.

                Thank you for writing in,
                Amy

  • Kim June 27, 2012, 2:23 pm

    We have a similar system – my boys get allowance every two weeks (on my paydays so I remember!) They put 50% in savings ( to be used for a car down the road or to start investing in stocks when they are old enough, etc.) 40% in spending (they can use this amount for whatever they want) and 10% for charity that my husband and I match at the end of the year once they choose a charity.
    The boys are 8 and 10 and have been doing this same routine for 3 and 5 years and have learned some good money lessons. We try not to intervene with the spending money decisions but it’s hard to watch them buy what we feel is junk. They have learned to make better choices. For example, a few years back they each spent about $30 on zhu zhu pets (stuffed hamsters with ninja gear) and played with them for about 2-3 days before losing interest. That was all of their spending money at the time so when another want came along they didn’t have the money to spend. We don’t do credit so if you want to buy something you have to save up for it. After that they have been more careful with some of their purchases.
    Kim

    Reply
    • Amy June 27, 2012, 2:27 pm

      Hi Kim,

      Thanks for telling us all about your method!

      I like how you match the boys’ charity donations, and how the savings are earmarked for seriously major purchases, like a car down the line or for building wealth going into adulthood.

      I also like how you don’t let kids borrow against future allowance. Credit can be a dangerous trap!

      These are all wonderful ideas — thank you, Kim!

      Amy

      Reply
    • Sharon June 27, 2012, 11:12 pm

      Sounds good. But does a 5 yo really comprehend saving for a car or stocks??

      Reply
  • Lauren June 27, 2012, 1:34 pm

    We use the Dave Ramsey Jr. method. He tithes 10% off the top, then gets to chose if he wants to save or spend. he usually saves up enough money to buy something big or a gift for someone else. Great tips!

    Reply
    • Amy June 27, 2012, 1:51 pm

      Hi Lauren,

      Thanks for this! Are you talking about how Dave Ramsey handles his own or his kids’ allowance? He has some really great ideas.

      Thanks, Lauren,
      Amy

      Reply
  • KS June 27, 2012, 9:38 am

    I think iPods are okay. My 12 year old son has an iTouch that he bought with his own money. He takes it with us in the car, and we both like to listen to the music and sing along. He even put some songs on there that I really like, even though they’re not his favorite songs. We also play Mad Libs together on his iTouch, and sometimes he’ll just play something he’s interested in. My son is also very interested in architecture and will sometimes look up interesting buildings on his iTouch using Wifi when it’s available.

    Reply
    • Amy June 27, 2012, 1:50 pm

      Hey KS,

      I’m glad to hear that the iTouch has some fun and educational features. I’m just trying to keep things simple as long as possible, because I know how technology can get away from us.

      I love Mad Libs too!

      Amy

      Reply

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