Pocket money for tennis balls

Well I don’t know if that’s what he will be saving for, but that is something he will be able to afford should he actually earn his pocket money in the way we introduced this topic.

incentive money jar for children

Money jar for 7 year old

A few years ago I started mentally clipping every article or blog post or opinion about allowances for kids. Should they earn it? Should they be given it? What is the amount, the limit, the purpose? How should they (or you) keep track of it? Can they spend it on anything they want, even pop and candy (which is allowed but limited in this house)?

So many questions.

Then I started the school money jar. And a few days later I started Ben’s money jar.

Ben’s money jar is tied directly to earning cash for household jobs well done. I came up with the idea without my usual planning, organizing, researching and other time-wasting activities I find myself engaged in with my technology toys. Partly because I haven’t had time to play with my technology toys (except the blackberry, what would I do without thou?)…

The idea is simple:

  • Do your chores without me asking or reminding you, and you will earn 50 cents by the end of the day.
  • If I have to remind you once, and it is met with ‘oh, thanks mom for reminding me I almost forgot’, that will earn you 25 cents at the end of the day.
  • If there is complaining, whining and carrying on no money will end up in the money jar.
  • As of yesterday, if there is complaining, whining and carrying on, I will be removing money from the money jar.

We just started this, hence this blog post. I have to get organized, lay out for my own benefit the clear rules someplace to refer back to, so that he can’t confuse me. Ever noticed kids have that ability when they try to engage you in negotiations, debates, and lengthy conversations? If you get drawn in (and I do, I hate to admit), ultimately everyone ends up pissed off and someone is crying. Or screaming. Or pouring a second glass of wine…


But back to the money jar. For now, earning money is tied to doing everyday chores well. I have every intention of increasing the chores as I see fit, and is age appropriate, without necessarily increasing the financial incentive, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. In the meantime, they have their chores to do. And a little bit of cash to earn.

Every since we purchased the bunk beds for the kids, they have had to make their beds on their own prior to leaving for school. We slack off a bit on weekends, and with less sheets or comforters, it’s not as big a deal in the summer, but theoretically it is a chore I wanted them to continue, just for habit’s sake. It’s just so much easier to transition to the busy school year if some of these things stay habitual.

But lately no one’s been making the beds, and everyone is complaining (and not doing) when I remind them.

Both kids also have to help set the table at dinner time, and clear off the debris after all meals. Up until not long ago it was enough for them to carry the dishes into the kitchen but with Benjamin 7 and a half now, I expect more. He’s finicky with dirt, mess and garbage, but he creates more garbage than anyone else in the family, so we showed him how to clear plates directly into the compost bin, how to use a napkin or fork to help push the icky bits into the bag, how to rinse off, if necessary, the ketchup blob on Sonja’s plate prior to putting the plate into the washer…

(Aside – funny how he doesn’t mind dirt and mess on his body obtained during anything sports related…)

Well he hates cleaning up food mess. He complains, cries, carries on. He agrees to put the plates into the kitchen and then wants to stop. (I wish I could stop halfway…)

The ironic thing about this boy of mine is that he does certain chores without asking, and to perfection, every time. Things like getting all his hockey gear ready prior to practice, or hanging up all the wet pieces to dry after a game. Never does he complain about THAT, nor does he need reminding. Same with his swim trunks – he hangs them up someplace (on a tree branch if the line is full, over a railing) and he places his expensive swim goggles in the designated basket 99% of the time.

So what gives?

It’s at the dinner table where it started, this money incentive thing. And I have read, and heard, all about the pros and cons about chores being tied to money. But for now, I think we’re going to attempt this little exercise. All he has to do, for now is:

  • make his bed
  • get ready completely for camp/school/activity with all its associated grooming activities in a timely fashion and be ready to leave at announced time
  • clear off all dishes used at all meal times and put in washer
  • set table for dinner with all associated cutlery, napkins, cups and condiments if required (if someone’s knives are missing, no money) (and the ketchup bottle is Sonja’s job, she’s the only one who likes ketchup 🙂 )

Excuses like “I can’t reach the cups” don’t wash anymore. My response is either “you are taller now and if you stand on your tip toes you can reach” or “have you ever noticed what I do when I can’t reach? Think up a solution for you problem”.

We’ll see how it works out. I want him to earn a bit of cash, I want him to start using his little notebook to keep track of money. This may work, or not. Time will tell. But I have to try something…

Note: since we started this three days ago he has earned 25 cents.


PS The 4 year old has not asked for a money jar so I haven’t brought it up with her.


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