Charts, Chores, Allowances, & Behavior – Part 4 -Purposeful Living

Todd Bowman on purposeful living.

These posts written by Todd (Amy’s husband) are designed to model a system of purposeful living.  At least once a month, he spends time setting meaningful goals around one of seventeen core priorities.

If you missed it, consider reading the foundation post – Purposeful Living #1.

Correct Priority

Priority #5 – Children (Emotional Health)

Goal – March 2012

Invest in the emotional health of my children by revising our chart, chore, allowance, and behavior system.  Specifically this means:

  • Revising our list of morning, afternoon, and evening routines/chores.
  • Developing an easier system of connecting routines/chores to an allowance.  The system must be easy to record and monitor.
  • Developing effective and easy to implement consequences for misbehavior.   

Goal Status


ORDER – Obedience – Kindness – Peace – Honesty = BOWMAN FAMILY BEHAVIOR PLAN

Our method for managing the behavior of our children is captured in five words.  

ORDER refers to Daily Routines (Charts), Chores, and Allowances.

What Is An Appropriate Allowance?
The correct allowance depends on what you can afford, and what you believe is a reasonable amount for your children to be able to earn.  

Coins in a jar next to a yellow piggy bank

What Can You Afford?
I am not wealthy.  I worked as a public school teacher for twelve years and at a non-profit the last six.  When Amy stopped working after our first child it was a struggle at first to make ends meet.  We pinched pennies and carefully considered every dollar we spent (like many families).  

For many years, I didn’t feel we could afford (nor did we give) an allowance.  My girls did not grow up feeling entitled to stuff.  They appreciated and were thankful for things we were able to provide for them.  They asked for candy and knick-knacks when they came shopping with us, but usually heard “no” (at least from dad – mom is more of a pushover).  And on the occasion they heard “yes” they were thrilled.  

But over the past few years we have been in a more stable place (not wealthy – but stable) financially and we felt it was time for our girls to be able to earn an allowance.  

At first, Amy and I decided we could afford $60 a month total.  This meant each of our girls could earn roughly $5 a week or $20 a month.  This was a stretch for our budget and I needed several reassurances from Amy that we could afford this.  At the end of the day, we both agreed there was no better way to invest our money than to invest in our children.  $60 a month is broken down in the following manner.  

Each child could earn $.75 a day by successfully completing all charts for the day.  

$.75/Day x 7 Days/Week x 4 Weeks/Month = $21/Month

$21/Month x 3 Children = $63/Month

Five dollars a week was perfect while our girls were in elementary school.  But one our oldest two became teenagers, five dollars no longer seemed appropriate.  About one year ago Amy and I decided we could double the amount we put towards allowances to $120 a month.  This meant each of our girls could earn $10 a week or $40 a month.  It was another strain on our budget, but we again agreed it was worth it.  $120 a month is broken down in the following manner.

$1.50/Day x 7 Days/Week x 4 Weeks/Month = $42/Month

$42/Month x 3 Children = $126/Month

What Is Reasonable
Some teenagers may think $10 isn’t very much money, but for my girls $10 is a lot of money.  It’s an amount they appreciate and value.  But it isn’t so much money that they take it for granted.  

In addition, we don’t make it easy for them to earn $10 a week.  They have to genuinely earn this money and it is just as easy for them to earn nothing as it is for them to earn $10.

For the Bowman family $10 a week per child is just the right amount – at least for right now.   

Should You Pay Your Children To Complete Chores?
Many parents are philosophically against paying children to complete chores.  And I understand the reasoning.  

But Amy & I feel good about the system we developed because it rewards work.  We view it as an opportunity for our girls to earn an allowance by working reasonably hard for the money they earn.  

An additional benefit is it shifts many purchasing decisions from my shoulders to theirs.  Instead of asking me to purchase food, or a video game, or a purse, they can make their own decisions.  They have their own money.  They can ask themselves the question “Is this object worth the effort?”  They can make choices about what is truly important to them and what is not.

If we could afford it, I would prefer to pay our girls a large enough allowance that they could become responsible for nearly all of their purchases including clothes, beauty products, gas for the car (in a couple years), etc.  It would be ideal in my eyes for them to associate their work with paying for these items.

Unfortunately, we are not in a position financially to do this.  To make ends meet Amy and I have to be frugal and look for opportunities to save money on each purchase.  The downside to this arrangement is it creates an environment where it is easy for our girls to take for granted and feel entitled to these items.

Don’t Start & Stop  
If you are going to start an allowance or incentive system of some kind you should go into it reasonably sure you will be able to maintain it over the long haul.  Creating incentives and then removing them can be more damaging than never creating incentives at all.


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  • April
    September 11, 2013 at 2:11 am

    I want to implement your ideas! I have a few things that I’m unsure about. 1) The girls are expected to complete their routines and their 3-5 chores each day, correct? 2) Is allowance partially decreased when they don’t complete everything or do they “lose it all” when they don’t complete one item? 3) Are the same routines followed on weekends?
    Thanks so much for all of these great systems you’ve posted!

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