Five "Jobs" for Children
I have decided that my child will not have an allowance when he grows older because I do not want my son to feel entitled to getting money for doing nothing. He will have to earn his money. Here is a list of "jobs" that I think kids can do to earn their spending money. (See also: Hey Kids! It's Time Your Butt Got a Job)
If your children are old enough to read, then they are able to help with couponing. Kids can help identify and organize coupons, and then parents can reward them with a fraction of the money saved. If a kid really wants to buy something, then I think it is also his or her job to find a deal on the item.
When I was nine, my parents paid me for washing dishes. Other common household chores like throwing out the garbage, cleaning countertops, and folding the laundry can also become paid tasks for a child. I think a child probably shouldn't be paid for cleaning up his own room and toys, but extra work such as organizing the garage or cleaning the kitchen and toilets should be rewarded.
Extracurricular Academic Work
In fourth grade we were rewarded Pizza Hut coupons for reading books and writing book reports. If you think of school like a job for kids, then I think it is okay to pay kids for academic work beyond what is taught at school. One thing I plan to do is to let my son write essays about any topic he wants. If they are sensible pieces of writing, then I would pay him for his work. Of course, he will have to do all his regular schoolwork first.
In middle school I collected cans and recycled them for a few dollars every month. I think children as young as eight or nine can do work like crushing cans and sorting cans and bottles. You may need to drive them to the recycling center to redeem the goods for cash. It is a good way for a child to cut down waste and earn some money. In states where you can redeem cans and bottles for cash redemption value (CRV), the money could add up quickly. In fact, a teenage girl we know asked friends, family, and neighbors to contribute to her recycling, and she was able to save up enough money for a trip to Africa.
Every once in a while kids can go through what they have and see what they want to keep and what they want to get rid of, and then they can organize a yard sale. I did this once when I was young, and I made about $23 after putting up signs around the neighborhood and cleaning out my room. I sold some of my old books and toys that were taking up space anyway. My mom supervised me and chuckled at the paltry amount I earned, but all that stuff would have gone into the trash or to Goodwill anyway, so I really lost nothing.
I believe that making children earn their money will make them appreciate it more. If your kids are too young to get a real job, then these are real ideas for how they can earn money from you and others.
What do you think? Do you pay your kids an allowance unconditionally, or do they have to earn it? What do you pay them for?