We recently implemented allowances in our house. It's our way of teaching our children financial responsibility. We want them to know that doing the jobs that they are assigned (anything above and beyond basic responsibility for themselves) will help them earn money to do things that they want to do. We also want them to know that money doesn't grow on trees and that we work very hard for the things that we have. Since Sam and I don't have people handing us money to go do fun things, we want the boys to work for the money to spend on fun things as well.
Disclaimer: When we do fun things as a family, we pay for our kids. We aren't going to make them pay for a family movie or an ice cream outing or a trip to the zoo. We did, however, make Nathaniel choose between a birthday party and getting his Disneyland pass this year. That was a hard decision for him to make, but he chose a pass because of how much fun he has at Disney all year long. Good choice, kiddo!
Here's how allowance works in our family:
Starting at the age of 4 we give a dollar per age a week. Yes, that's a lot, but out of that we are teaching the kids to tithe 10% to church. We also make them buy their own treats. When we are out and they want gum, they buy it themselves. When Nathaniel wants to buy a snack at school from the snack shed, he pays for half of his snack card. When they want a toy, they buy it. When they want to buy a present for a friend that is above the budget we have set for the present, they use their money for that present.
The general chores that the boys have to do just for being a part of our family include cleaning up their places at the table after meal times, making their beds and putting their clothes away (not to mention cleaning up their toys).
Aaron has to empty all of the garbage cans 2 times a week and help his brother with the dog poop. He also has to pick up shoes and put them away and pick up dirty clothes and put them in the laundry.
Nathaniel scoops the cat poop two times a week, picks up dog poop, and empties the dryer when it is finished (I haven't taught him the finer points of drying clothes and would rather not have my items shrunk, so he hasn't gotten the lesson in switching over the loads yet, we're working on it). He also vacuums when we ask him to and will dust and help me with the bathrooms when I clean them (he's really good at scrubbing toilets!).
The kids have a specific time to do their chores, and if it doesn't get done, then they have to pay the person who does the chore for him. Our reasoning behind this is that we have to pay others when we don't want to do, so they need to pay someone for doing what they don't want to do.
So far, so good. Aaron had a week where he gave away all of his money, and that made him sad, but the next week he earned all of his money. And, now they don't ask for things, they know that they have to use their own money. We even had a fun lesson in the toy aisle last weekend after they spent all of their allowance on candy and junk. They saw how much the cool toys were and that they didn't have enough left to spend.
Win/win! Here's hoping they grow up to be financially responsible!