Don't Tie Allowance to Chores

Parents shouldn't use money to motivate kids to help out around the house.

I recently heard from Laurel, a writer who had interviewed me for a story about allowances and then contacted me as a parent with a perplexing personal problem. “When I gave my 5-year-old a quarter for putting away his little brother’s laundry (a task that is above and beyond my expectations of what he needs to do), he then started to look for endless ways to make money.

“I appreciate his motivation, but it gets annoying. I feel like he becomes super money-centric and loses track of a purer motivation -- doing things just to be helpful. Any ideas for giving an allowance that addresses this issue?”

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Janet Bodnar

Janet Bodnar is editor-at-large of Kiplinger's Personal Finance, a position she assumed after retiring as editor of the magazine after eight years at the helm. She is a nationally recognized expert on the subjects of women and money, children's and family finances, and financial literacy. She is the author of two books, Money Smart Women and Raising Money Smart Kids. As editor-at-large, she writes two popular columns for Kiplinger, "Money Smart Women" and "Living in Retirement." Bodnar is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University and is a member of its Board of Trustees. She received her master's degree from Columbia University, where she was also a Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Business and Economics Journalism.