Forget Chores. Here’s A Different Way to Earn An Allowance

The best way to give your child an allowance – just like many aspects of parenting – is a matter of debate. An allowance system that works for one family won’t work for another.

Alisa Weinstein – a mom whose creativity and work ethic blows me away – has come up with a new concept for allowances which she shares in her book Earn It, Learn It: Teach Your Child the Value of Money, Work, and Time Well Spent (Earn My Keep Allowance Program)

It won’t work for everyone, but if you’re the right match for it, then she’s done an amazing job of setting you up for success.

Alisa and I are in the same camp when it comes to paying for chores: we won’t do it. Both of us feel that kids are part of the family team and, as such, they need to pull their weight in the running of the household. From making their bed and putting away their toys when they are small to doing the laundry when they are older, everyone needs to pitch in. As Alisa says about her daughter: “One day she’ll  take out the garbage because it’s full and stinky and simply needs to be moved to the garage, pronto, not because I’m waving a $5 bill at the door upon her return.”  Exactly!

The “Earn My Keep” allowance system is a completely different approach to teaching kids about the value of money. It’s an educational program designed to teach children about different jobs. After “working” at each career, you pay them an allowance. Your child can choose to learn about careers as diverse as a toy designer, a judge or a guest relations manager from among 50 options created by Alisa.

Alisa has made it super easy to follow the program. For each career, she’s developed a series of tasks with options for all age ranges. For example, for a costume designer, you can:

  • Create a character collage, using photocopies or printouts of images you’ve found in magazines, catalogs and on websites (Pinterest anyone?)
  • Shadow a costume designer
  • Pick a movie that was filmed years ago and also was remade recently (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, for example) and talk about how the costumes have changed
  • Use your memory to make a list of what your favorite cartoon character wears. Then dress up your Actor (Mom, Dad, sibling) using what you can find and make from items around the house

By now some of you might be starting to understand why the “Earn My Keep” system won’t work for everyone. It can be a tad daunting when you think about all the school, homework, after-school sports and other commitments that already take your child’s time and energy. Let alone your time and energy.

Alisa, though, is all about flexibility. If you just want to do one activity and spend 15 minutes on it for the week, that works too. She’s giving you lots of options and you get to choose the level – and how much you pay – that’s right for you and your child.

Ultimately, though, this allowance system doesn’t work for our family. The biggest obstacle is my mindset. I’m very happy with the way we have set up our boys’ allowances so I’m not open to changing. It’s allowed us to have numerous teachable moments and conversations about money. And, as I work outside the home, I feel overwhelmed at the idea of trying to get the boys to stay on top of this as well as everything else.

But there is a huge amount of value in this book. For parents who can make the commitment, it could be an incredible program. For homeschooling families, there’s a ton of great ideas here that you could incorporate into lessons on math, writing and social studies.

I’m planning on giving this book to T’s teacher as the 4th grade classes just covered entrepreneurship. They all created mini games of chance and side shows to practice being in business. Using the activities in this book would have been a great alternative. The good news is that Alisa is already actively involved in developing this program into an educational curriculum.

Have you tried the “Earn My Keep” system?  How did it work in your family?

(Note: a copy of this book was provided to me by Alisa Weinstein for review purposes.)

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