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About Jean Chatzky

Financial editor for NBC's Today show and contributor
to Oprah Winfrey Show

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Here are some recent questions that Jean has answered.
Should I give my children an allowance? At what age ?

I'm a believer that all children should receive some form of an allowance on a regular basis. You can't, though, just start passing out bills every week. An allowance needs to be prefaced with an explanation that you'll be giving them X number of dollars on a set schedule, and that this money is intended for Y. The X and Y are up to you but dependent on each other. As a general rule, I think children are ready for a small allowance when they start school. Start with a dollar (that's enough to visit the school store or buy a treat at the mini-mart) and increase a dollar for each year of school. Then give a more substantial raise in middle school, another in high school, or when their responsibilities start adding up.
Should I tie my children's allowance to chores ?

I shy away from tying my kids' allowances to their chores because they should do things to help out around the house because they live there, not because they're getting paid. Chores serve a different purpose, in my mind: They help kids develop a work ethic, and teach them to juggle a few different tasks and responsibilities at once. An allowance, on the other hand, is a way to teach them how to budget, save, and spend money wisely. Also, to be honest, I find that tying an allowance to chores doesn't always work unless you have one of those children who is primarily motivated by money. You'd be surprised how often kids are willing to give up a few bucks so they don't have to unload the dishwasher or clean their rooms. That's why I tie chores to things my children seem more passionate about such as video games and television watching.
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