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The Kids’ Fun Fund – Our Alternative To Allowance

Each summer, my wife an I take our kids to the beach for vacation.  One of our kids’ favorite places to go, while on vacation, is the “fun park” where they can ride go-carts and play video games.  I think they enjoy the “fun park” more than they do the pool!

A few months ago, in an effort to teach our kids a bit about money and responsibility, I created The Kids’ Fun Fund.  Throughout the year, the kids are earning extra money, and they are planning to spend that money when we go on vacation.  Here’s how The Kids’ Fund Fund works –

Instead of giving our kids an allowance, we reward our kids for doing chores around the house.  Our daughter is 9, so she can help with folding clothes, taking care of the baby, cleaning her room, and straightening up the den.  Our son, now 5, can make his bed, put away folded clothes, straighten up the bathroom, and pick up his toys.

Taking into consideration their differing ages, I created a list of 10 age appropriate chores for each of our kids.  I then posted the list of those chores, along with how much Mommy and Daddy will pay upon completion of  each of those chores, on a bulletin board near our refrigerator.  (By the way, the bulletin board is a life-saver.  It keeps papers off of the front of the refrigerator, and with a few pushpins, makes organization a snap.)

Each morning our kids go through their list of chores, and as they do them, they receive their “salaries” – usually a dime or a quarter per chore, depending on the chore’s complexity.  My wife and I also have the flexibility to add bonus chores, something we do pretty often, especially if the house needs a quick clean up.

One cool thing about The Kids’ Fun Fund – all of the money goes into a single jar.  It’s actually a square plastic container with a label that says “The Kids’ Fun Fun”.  I made it from a jar of fancy peanuts.  The kids have been earning money for several months, and neither one of them have commented on the “fairness” of putting all of the money into a single jar.  In fact, from time to time, they’ll take all of the money out of the jar, count it, and determine what their “half” of the money is.

We have tried other systems for teaching them about money, but this one really seems to work.  Clearly, our oldest is doing more work and could make much more money, but she seems very content to share whatever we give her with our son.  And he loves nothing more than to dump the money onto the floor and organize the coins by type.

I’m not sure if this system will always work, but for right now, it’s a good way to teach them about work, how to share, the power of working together, and the joy of achieving a common goal.  It’s going to be very interesting this summer at the beach.  I really can’t wait to see if they spend all of their money at the “fun park”, or if they choose to save a bit for other adventures.  Whatever they do, I’m sure there will be plenty of teachable moments along the way.

A couple of final thoughts – Our kids give a portion of what they earn to our local church.  We believe it is important to teach them to be givers.  Also, they save a portion, because we also believe it is important to save.  Also, there are some chores that our kids are expected to do, for which they will not receive any financial reward.  And, there are times when we just give them money, for no other reason than that we want to.  We want them to learn that family members do for family members, not for gain, but out of love.  Finally, I have found that the amount we give the kids is almost irrelevant to them.  For now, they just really dig watching those shiny coins pile up.

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5 thoughts on “The Kids’ Fun Fund – Our Alternative To Allowance

  1. Outstanding practice! Teaching your children that work equals reward and even that the reward is not always immediate. They are lucky to learn these lessons early in life.

    My sons are all grown men now and gainfully employed! When they were younger we established a clothing fund for each of them and gave them permission to purchase whatever clothing they wanted with the money. We required them to have at least one nice outfit to wear to church and other functions but beyond that they could get anything they wanted.

    They very quickly learned about opportunity cost when they considered buying those Michael Jordan shoes at $170 a pair. They realized the impracticality of this and always opted for shoes that were reasonably priced. Christmas wish lists became opportunities to add to their wardrobe and clothing was truly appreciated when received as a gift. My sons discovered the incredible values that could be found at thrift stores and they still shop there today!

    Teaching your children a work ethic and the value of a dollar will pay them and you rich rewards today and for the rest of their life!

  2. That’s a pretty elegant solution. Especially the “forced” tithe and sharing.

    Now the question becomes is if wealth redistribution bad =)

  3. That is an interesting alternative to the traditional allowance. I like how it teaches sharing among siblings; might have to try it when my kids get old enough.

  4. Sharing might work for your kids. What if one decides it isn’t worth the effort if they are going to get half anyway?

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