Should You Pay Your Kids for Good Grades?

A little over a year ago, I ran across an article in a local parenting magazine about paying kids for their performance at school. At the time, I thought it would be a great topic to discuss, so I cut it out and filed it away (by which I mean I threw it on my ever-growing “stack of stuff”) and lost track of it until last night. Now that it has resurfaced, I figured that I should write it up…

On the one hand…

Proponents argue that paying a child for grades, good behavior, or other accomplishments is no different than adults being paid to perform their daily jobs. Thus, paying kids for performance prepares them for the “real world” where you have to work for your rewards.

On the other hand…

Detractors argue that kids shouldn’t be paid to what they should be doing anyway. Thus, while kids should be encouraged to do their best, they shouldn’t be taught to expect a reward for simply doing what’s expected of them.

What’s our view?

My wife and I believe that kids (or at least our kids — we have four) shouldn’t be paid for things that they ought to be doing anyway. Thus, while we provide our kids with an allowance, we don’t tie it to academic performance, behavior, or chores around the house. We view the allowance as teaching tool that gives them an opportunity to learn about (and make mistakes with) money while the stakes are still low. But…

We don’t incentivize performance. Instead, we’d like for them to learn to be self-motivated, and to view success as a reward in itself. We want them to do the right thing because it’s the right thing, not because they’re getting paid.

All of this being said, we do give our kids a little something extra when they go above and beyond the call of duty. For example, when our eleven year old spent an afternoon crawling around under the house helping me make repairs, he earned some extra money. The distinction here is that certain things need to get done on a daily basis simply because you’re a part of the family, whereas other things are truly “work” for which you might otherwise expect to get paid.

What’s your view?

I’m guessing that this topic will stir up a diversity of opinions, and I doubt that we’ll arrive at one “right” answer. That being said, I’d like to hear your thoughts on the subject. Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

72 Responses to “Should You Pay Your Kids for Good Grades?”

  1. Anonymous

    I think you should pay your kid for good grades because it would show them that they have to work hard to earn money because if they got a bad grade they wouldn’t get paid. I am not saying give them $20 per A.

  2. Anonymous

    Aside from the difference in opinions on whether a child needs money for achievement, i.e., a good grade, versus learning self-motivation and personal satisfaction of job done well, my concern is when there are several siblings and each has varying degrees of learning skills and exhibit displeasure if not treated equally. So, one makes the honor roll with little effort, the other brings in lower grades but tries, the youngest gets a “red” card for behavior… you get the picture; who’s going to be smiling when the money is passed out, and who is going to be sulking in their rooms is this really what we want?

  3. Anonymous

    the only thing that perents want from you is to do good in life and in school so yee you dont need money when ever you have good grades you dont even need the money soo why qit the money if your perents can use it for some usfull insted of you that you dont even now what to spend it on

  4. Anonymous

    I’m 13 years old, and I just finished 7th grade. I keep a constant 4.0 GPA, or higher, (the highest is 4.3, and for 4th quarter I got like a 4.25) and my parents don’t pay me for anything that is a A- or lower. They pay me if I get an A or an A+, which would be anywhere from a 93% to 100% (or higher, as I did have in one class)I think this is a great system. I don’t get allowance, and they never give me extra money. My only income in from Christmas, and my birthday. The 20$ or so I make off a report card really help me out. I think that it all depends on how a child lives for how they get payed. If they have one of the children who gets whatever they want, whenever, and can get money from their parents just by asking, I don’t think they should be given money. Oh, also, I don’t get an allowance, but I do chores, I feed both our cat and our dog, take my dog for walks, clean both of their…waste, Unload/Load our dishwasher, clean the windows, take out the trash, keep my room spotless, and much more.

  5. Anonymous

    sure the money is nice but shouldnt it be going to other educational programs and the school will eventually be poor. but i still think we should get money for good grades

  6. Anonymous

    I think if we raise our kids with the mentality that they need a monetary reward all the time, they might begin to have a “what’s in it for me” type of attitude. While it’s good for them to be rewarded and understand that hard work can pay off, it’s also a good idea to teach kids that there are jobs in this world that you have to do that do not offer any monetary rewards, but the reward is in the joy of doing – being a parent, a SAHM, doing an internship, doing voluntary or charity work. My kids don’t get paid for grades, but they bring home good grades anyway, because they want to do well. They don’t get paid for cleaning their rooms or picking up their toys, but they do get paid for doing extra around the house and helping mom and dad do their work (help mom with filing, help dad with organizing tools, etc). Both my kids know the value of working hard to earn money as well as doing a good job whether you get paid or not.

  7. Anonymous

    It’s sad that people feel that they NEED money. Is money really all that life is about? Why do people take advantage of their parents so that they give them money? It’s pitiful.

  8. Anonymous

    hey im 12 and i dont get rewarded i should be dont u think well i go ice skatin every week and my mom gives me some extra money for food but i just keep it for me well overall i of corse agree that we should get money for good grades
    peace madi out
    luv madi

  9. Anonymous

    Of course kids should be paid for good grades. Isn’t that what happens anyway? #1 Go to college to be PAID. Better GPA and furthering degrees = PAID MORE!!!!!! #2 Drop out of school……. not so much.
    What do you want for your kids? I say PAID. Knowing early how to make money off education is a HUGE bonus.
    I wish I were paid as a kid. It would have promoted even better grades and more college opportunities. Not like you pay for anything C or below.

  10. Anonymous

    I am only 21 and from a “kids” perspective I absolutely wish I could have had the option to be paid to go to school. Instead I had to work to pay for my insurance, any book damages even to go to the movies.

    So essentially this tiny parenting mistake has drastically altered my life. I couldn’t play sports, which changed who I hung out with. I had a very sheltered social life because I was always working.

    It was stated that this is something they should do so they shouldn’t be rewarded for it. I’d like to change your perspective, when you are at work… your duties are something you should do. Going to school is the real world, I would like to see life in general be operated as a corporation. Your kids stay home sick, they don’t get paid, that is real world. On the same note teach them about taxes. Who knows you might raise the next bill gates.

    If your kids get all A’s at the end of the school year they get a bonus. This will also help teach savings because in the summer when they are “off” they keep their childhood and can do whatever they want.

    Think of a video game, if you play it every day.. (as some people do) you’ll eventually get good at it, if you continue doing it you might be the best at it.

    If you start at an early age doing things to be rewarded(lets face it, life is about money) think about how well they will do in the long run. They have 12 years of having “do good in school” pounded into them. When they go to college they’ll have the same mentality. When they get into the work will do great.

    If they have to work while going to school, thats like two jobs…

    Im just saying I’m struggling in school right now because I have to focus on paying the bills and I have traced my problems to this situation (this has been my whole life)

  11. Anonymous

    ps i do agree it does depend on the child because if the child is really bad and usually he gets bad grades exept now he decides to change his ways and get good grades good possibility that he is cheating in his classes


  12. Anonymous

    adults wake up get dressed go to work get home exhausted with pay

    kids wake up get dressed go to “work” get home exhausted without pay

    notice a pattern?

    maybe kids wont drop out if they have propper reason to stay in the words of that great philosopher “everything is possible through a bribe.”

    everyone knows through reward things prosper why cant we grasp this possibility? the only reason kids dont get paid is to increase the supieriorness of adults sure dont give them all the power but it might help if you gave them a little compensation once in a while

    excuse me if im ranting but its a pretty good topic


  13. Anonymous

    I am in 7th grade and really don’t get money. My birthday and Christmas money goes to my bank account, and I don’t get an allowance.

    I get straight A’s(maybe 1 A- every now and then) in my school and am in several extracurriculars. It would be nice to get paid, but if the kid is already performing well, it shouldn’t be much of an issue UNLESS you think that schoolwork will soon be much harder.

  14. Anonymous

    First off, My wife and I do not have kids yet, but are planning to in the next few years.

    With that being said, I don’t see a problem with rewarding kids financially for good grades, although mine never rewarded me.

    Maybe using grades as a allowance pay scale could be a good idea. Each report card could set the tone for that report card period. GPA could be used to determine a regular allowance wage.

    I have know idea what allowances are these days, but here is a formula I just made up of the top of my head:

    [GPA-Unacceptable] x Rate = Allowance

    Example 1:

    Your son Michael brings home a report card with a 3.29 GPA. He is not allowed to get less than a 2.5 GPA (C average). His Pay rate is $10. And his allowance is paid weekly.

    [3.29-2.5] x $10 = $7.90 per week

    Example 2:

    Your daughter Rachel brings home a report card with a 3.50 GPA. she is not allowed to get less than a 2.5 GPA (C average). Her Pay rate is $10. And her allowance is paid weekly.

    [3.5 – 2.5] x $10 = $10 per week

    Your other son Paul brings home a report card with a 4.0 GPA. He is not allowed to get less than a 2.5 GPA (C average). His Pay rate is $10. And his allowance is paid weekly.

    [4.0-2.5] x $10 = $15 per week

    Example 4:

    Your oldest daughter Megan is a senior and highschool, and brings home a report card with a 3.50 GPA. she is not allowed to get less than a 2.5 GPA (C average). Her Pay rate is $15 because she is older. And her allowance is paid weekly.

    [3.5-2.5] x $15 = $15 per week

    If you want to be really mean, you could even charge or fine your kids if they get less than the unacceptable GPA.

    [2.36-2.5] x $15 = -$2.10 fee per week

    This teaches kids that hard work is rewarded, and there are consequences for their actions. It is also a good segway to teach about personal finance and money management. For those worried about the kids not doing what is expected, that what chores are for.

  15. Anonymous

    I have four children. Ones not in school yet. The 6 yr. old gets good grades and is smart but gets sent home from school occasionally for bad behavior.Should he be rewarded for his good grades even though he gets in trouble at school? The 8 yr. old struggles every year to pass to the next grade her only self incentive is to move on with her friends.She kinda try’s but has ADHD. Should she be rewarded the same as the other kids? Which would be significantly less. The 10 yr. old gets all A’s and a few B’s with ease. Should I set up a plan for each individually? Me and my husband ponder on what is the “right” or “fair” thing to do for them. We both were never paid for grades. I remember having friends that were paid significantly for A’s and know that I wished I had got rewarded for my efforts. Since I wasn’t I squeaked by instead of striving for my best. Now that I’m in collage myself and thinking about my children’s future I want them to do great in school so they can go on to college themselves with scholarships and such. We have thrown a few ideas to the kids to see what they think would make them try their hardest. We never came to a conclusion so nobody gets anything.

  16. Anonymous

    I think paying for grades is a good idea. My parents paid me for A’s in elementary school, even though I was gifted. It was an extra motivator for me to do my very best. And, it worked. I ended up loving learning and completing graduate school.

    My child has a learning disability (diagnosed by 3 psychologists and 1 psychiatrist and all teachers who ever dealt with this child). I am now giving the child a money reward system for good grades, even C’s. We also set timers for homework completion, and turned on the closed captioning on the tv so tv time is extra reading time. These measures ares helping the child to stay focused in class, more willing to do extra homework, and I’m even able to cut down on the medicines now. The child is very proud of the $42 in the wallet, and the little toys she is able to buy.

    My answer is that it depends on the child.

    Children that would otherwise “do poorly” in school, then money for grades may be the added incentive needed. But, it has to be part of an overall plan.

  17. Anonymous

    If a kid has absolutely nothing to work towards, what is the point of even trying? Having something to work towards worked for me. it turned me into a straight a student from a c-low b student

  18. Anonymous

    Well all interesting comments so I’ll say something.

    I personally was never compensated for anything; everything I did was for my parents or, “the good of the family.” Chores were something I was asked to do and did because it made my parent’s lives easier. However I was a special case perhaps because I DID care for parent’s well being.

    My academics were something which my parents told me I needed to do well in to succeed. I was never paid for grades, I was happy enough to see their smiling faces.

    Went I got my first car it was because I was doing well in school and was accepted into a REALLY hard college prep school which they were glad to pay for. I still wasn’t paid for grades though they did take me out to a nice restaurant if I did well one semester. I also got my first allowance, a debit card, and a bad idea.

    I’m not a high maintenance person so I never really asked for things when I was a kid, nor did I do anything out of the ordinary when I was high school. Gas, lunch with friends after school, movies, pretty normal stuff, but it never really taught me the value of money.

    Truth be told I could have done much better while I was there, only the first year I really had to study. Once my parents saw this they decided job time!

    Now comes the realization of a lifetime. Between my Dad losing his job, college looming, finding a job, and losing our house. I became aware of our financial problems.

    By informing your kids of the problems or limitations your budget faces it really motivates them to help (in my opinion) I cut back on everything (not that I had a choice, got a job ect)

    That’s my experience at least . . . 😉

  19. Anonymous

    I haven’t read all of the posts, basically because there are so many of them! And I also know that I am a little late. But as I was growing up my brother and I were never given money or any physical object for doing well in school. (We were both straight A students by the way.) But in addition to this, we were not given any kind of allowance either. Instead, when we went shopping we were taught the value of money. We calculated the percentage of money we were taking from the bank account and also how much money we were using in relation to how much money our parents made an hour. Of course this was a complex concept and did not come until middle schoo, but when it did come it taught us to value our money and the money of others. I know this struck me to the core, although I cannot speak the same for my brother. Now that I am older I have all of the concepts of money management as well as the concepts of doing your best in order to feel accomplished and to receive moderated praise from others. Although I do need to say that I felt as I was growing up that I was being cheated to an extent because I was performing so well and receiving nothing for it. But now that I am older I am able to recollect positively on their actions toward rewards. I am glad that money did not cloud my judgement and that it was not my motivation for things in life.

  20. Anonymous

    A college roommate of mine was paid by her parents based on her GPA at the end of each semester. We are not talking chump change here, she was raking in about $1500 a semester for maintaing roughly a 3.0. Her parents also paid for all of her expenses, school, food, apartment, car, insurance, phone, etc. They did not want her to have to work and go to school at the same time.

    I on the other hand maintained a 3.9 throughout my four years at school, my parents helped me out where they could, but I took out loans and worked several jobs to pay for my daily expenses (despite several scholarships). I was certainly never paid for getting good grades… I worked hard for my own personal satisfaction, and in order to be competitive for graduate school and jobs once I graduated.

    Fast forward to graduation, and my roommate had zero work experience (except for a few summer jobs) to put on her resume, while I had compiled a list of worthwhile work experiences and professional contacts. It would have been nice to not have to work during college like my roommate, but I think in the long run I benefited the most from those professional experiences and connections that I was able to establish while still in school. If my parents had paid me 1500 a semester, I may not have been motivated to get out and find those jobs.

  21. Anonymous

    I agree with the overall concept of offering an allowance that is not tied to chores, behavior or academic performance. I also believe that some amount of saving and tithing should be taught from the beginning.

    One thing my husband and I have learned about parenting from discussing our childhood experiences is that each child reacts to specific punishments/rewards differently. Using money as a reward might work with one child but won’t with another so we have decided to leave money out of it entirely.

    We plan to make it clear from the beginning that punishments AND rewards are not tied to money and will be tailored to the child and the situation. There are many ways to reward a child without handing over cold hard cash, not the least of which is some extra quality time spent with them or letting them choose the family activity for an evening.

  22. Anonymous

    In my family the chores were done because we are part of the family. There was no allowance. However, We were paid $30 every two weeks to mow the lawn. The significance here was you earn your money. We were not paid for grades.

    Paying for grades: This could add up to some type of investment in the long run. If your children pull good grades for the money then they may qualify for a scholarship that will help you or them out when they do go to college.

  23. Anonymous

    We pay for grades. Up through Middle School, we take the kids out for pizza at an arcade place. When in High School they get $50 for an A, $10 for a B, -$40 for a C, and hopefully never have to figure out a D or F. My college kid doesn’t get paid anything since I’m paying for college, but if she makes a D and has to take the class over, she pays the takeover herself (it’s only happened once)

    Youngest (10 year old) gets $10 every two weeks allowance (not tied to chores). The 17 year old gets $80 a month in a checking account but has to pay for everything (she also has a job). The college kids gets $300 month spending money (she also has a job). I spend a ton on my kids and don’t think they’ve been unmotivated just because I pay for grades or give allowances not based on work done.

    From someone that’s been through it, don’t lose any sleep over whether your way is the right way or not, because it REALLY doesn’t matter much in the great scheme of life. Don’t over think these things.

  24. Anonymous

    I neglegted to mention in my 10:19 am posting that the jobs that have a wage attached also must be done within a certain framework of time, usually Mon-Sun. Not only does he not get paid for the chore left un-done, he must make up the work at a most inconvenient time. And if it’s something I have to make up then his goose is really cooked!!!! He’ll still get his paycheck but will have nowhere to go and nothing to spend it on for a week or so. Again, this is what works for us. He understands this very well.

  25. Anonymous

    I use a bit of your thinking and some of Dave Ramsey’s advice. My son has chores that he does not get paid for because he’s a member of the family and we all have to pitch in. He and I share the bigger chores for which he gets a “salary”. They’re on a schedule, they have a money amount attached, he checks them off and gets paid accordingly.
    Although, I’m actually thinking of giving him his full “salary” and then citing him with “tickets” when work is not done. This way may be a bit more realistic, kind of like when you’re late for work or get a speeding ticket.
    I do not give money for grades. He’s expected to do his best, and then some. He knows college is in his future and that it’s his effort that will get him into a good one. He gets constant praise and encouragement for his efforts. His dad and I will take him out to a very nice dinner and movie once or twice a year especially for his grades. Sometimes his dad will buy him that special techno gadget, but only once in a year. It works for us.

  26. Anonymous

    When I was young, my sister & I both received an allowance for washing dishes plus a “bonus” for top marks in school.. although I shouldn’t have needed to be paid for “education”, this added incentive (in hindsight) was our mother’s way of showing us that education should be valued and caused us to try to excel in it.. Now it just seems to be a “carrot” of sorts.. basically harmless and has potential to achieve what parents want?

  27. Anonymous

    Growing up, I never received an allowance, and I never received a monetary reward for good grades. Up through Middle school I was always on the Honor Roll (3.0 GPA) with the rare occasion of the High Honor Roll (3.5 or higher). School work was not hard for me, but in High school my grades began to drop–not because school work got harder for me but because I wasn’t motivated. I never took school work home. I left it for the next day’s study hall where I would mess around and end up (most of the time) not even finishing it before class. I strongly believe that if I were offered money for As I would have made the High Honor Roll at least 3 out of the 4 semesters a year.

    This isn’t necessarily the “right” policy, but this is probably going to be my policy with my kid, who is due this April:

    I think a monetary reward for the child’s very best work is good. If I know he could be doing better, I will not reward him. I will also reward him for performing jobs that aren’t part of a normal day (my parents paid me for working on the farm).

    With that money earned (along with xmas/birthday gifts, etc.) he will have 3 piggy banks: 10% will go to charity/church, 45% will each go to “permanent savings” and “spending money.”

    This will hopefully teach him how to save, and it will teach him how to be responsible with his money.

  28. Anonymous

    Great Topic!!!

    Lots of opinions and good arguments for both sides. I’ll just throw in what we do for our three girls.

    They get a special night out for good grades – this can be a night bowling, a special place to eat out, etc. I don’t view this as paying them off, but as a celebration of their hard work. And yes, if one does not meet our criteria laid out for her, then she does not get to pick.

    Our kids are expected to help out around the house a lot. They fill and empty the dishwasher, clean the house (their part of the house) weekly, feed and care for the animals, and take care of the trash. They also get an allowance. Allowance is based on age which also correlates with their level of responsibility around the house. If they don’t follow through on their responsibilities they get allowance docked (as well as additional punishments if need be). We view the allowance as a training tool for life while the jobs around the house are a part of being a family.


  29. Anonymous

    I absolutely agree that an allowance not be tied to chores, grades, etc. I agree because IT WORKED NOT TO! (my son is almost 20 now). The allowance is not an “entitlement”, it is a learning tool. When $$ is tied to chores or behavior/grades, it becomes too easy to use it to bribe, etc. When my son did not do chores, homework, etc. there were other ways to discipline or penalize him to get the point across. For example, I would not allow him to do something or go somewhere he wanted. My rationale was you didn’t do your part, I now have to do it, so my time must be spent doing this rather than getting you somewhere, etc. etc. Also, I learned from several books on the subject to give an allowance once a month rather than once a week, especially when they get to be about 10-12. When he was that age, my son would blow the weekly amt pretty quickly. With a monthly amount, he might blow the same initial amt quickly, but then would be very mindful of how much he had left. He has really learned the skill of saving and managing money. The key is to remain firm when they run out, decide what you will and won’t require be paid for out of the allowance, and then stick to it.

  30. Anonymous

    I have three kids – 16, 12 and 7.

    I personally do not believe in paying kids for good grades. Allowances in our house are tied to chores as in life you get paid for the work you have done.

    If a child brings me a report card and they have done especially well I give them a gift that they can pick or that I have purchased previously and held(value – no more than twenty dollars).

    However, our kids do have grandparents who pay a set amount per grade.

  31. Anonymous

    Our two older kids (ages 7 & 11) get an allowance, but are expected to “earn” the allowance by doing chores. On weeks that they are given a pass on chores (holiday weeks), they don’t get “paid”. They both have learned to save their allowance to buy things that mom & dad won’t shell out for, like wii games. Right now our oldest has a bigger goal – he’s announced that he’s saving for a laptop. At $5 a week, he’s got a ways to go!

    As far as report cards go, our oldest is a straight “A” student, and his younger sister does well, too. When they bring home a good report card, they get to choose a special activity, such as inviting a friend to go see a movie (on us) or to go bowling, swimming at the rec center, etc. We see this more as a celebration of their achievement than as “payment” for good grades. They really look forward to these special activities.

  32. Anonymous

    I used to get 5 dollars for every A, 4 dollars for every B, and so on. It must have worked because now I am a board certified physician and working full time. This last December I took my parents on an all expense paid trip to Hawaii. Paying your children for grades is a small investment with the opportunity for huge gains!

  33. Anonymous

    I have raised four very productive children into adult-hood and what we did as a family regarding money/reward was: no child got paid for chores, not “above and beyond” nor grades. Though we home schooled, no attention was really put on a grade, just excellence in the school work. Red ink on a page was punishment enough…. We all worked in the family, no one paid Mom for going above and beyond pulling out the stove and cleaning behind it – just had to be done. Likewise, when a child did go “above and beyond” doing things with a cheerful, grateful manner – that is what was praised, attitude not actions. However, it was taught that actions came out of attitude. Teaching about money came through math class, and later when they had jobs at age 16 – no sooner. Home life was more valuable.

  34. Anonymous

    I am a father of a three year old and a five year old.

    Whatever motivations works, i will try.

    Example from the business world: What motivates a sales rep and a programmer are often very different.

  35. Anonymous

    This is so interesting to read! Comments too.

    I think I’ve learned that it truly depends on the kid. For example when I was young and naive and my kids were small LOL, I was first getting into the ‘responsible personal finance’ thing after years of NOT. So one idea I liked was teaching the kids about work and money and tying chores to allowance.

    This SO did not work. My kids response? Eh. I don’t need the money [which is great – they are NO spoiled with ‘things’ btw]
    So they didn’t do the chores.
    Then I realized that part of life is dealing with your life, cleaning up, putting away, helping out etc. And you should just do it because there’s no cleaning service around here!

    We now handle things exactly how you’ve outlined – for example my extremely ‘motherly’ 10yo dd does not get paid for helping me out with her sibs on occassion, drawing a bath, finding a pair of shoes etc, but when we were on vacation last month and she was unrelentingly helpful WITHOUT being asked and truly made the trip so much more FUN for me by relieving some of our burden I a) told her often and b) bought her a little souvenier she wanted in appreciation [that she did not ask me to buy, she was willing to pay for it herself] and told her why.

    When she’s a little older I’ll expect her to watch her sibs for a little while gratis when I drop one off at an activity just like I chauffeur her, but if I ask her to stay home on a Saturday night so I can go out with Dad I will pay her.

  36. Anonymous

    Every kid and every situation is different. Some times you use whatever motivation works for your kids. My kid always made good grades, without really trying, and so didn’t need motivation in that area. Alternatively, I’m sure I bribed him for other things, as needed!

  37. Anonymous

    Regarding the idea that “kids shouldn’t be paid to what they should be doing anyway”, some might say that *adults* should be working anyway as well. An adult’s labor has more of an impact on the world and is more useful to his fellow citizens than a child’s schoolwork, so if we’re going to say that either of those should be done for its own sake regardless of any reward, why choose the schoolwork?

    Soon after I started high school, I stopped doing most of the assigned homework. Not because it was too challenging, or not challenging enough, but because I realized there was nothing in it for me, and I had other things to spend my time on. I received no satisfaction from getting A’s in classes that didn’t interest me in the first place, and I didn’t buy into the idea that I should do whatever parents and teachers expected me to do just because they were born before me.

    Toward the end, I was offered a monetary reward, and it helped somewhat. I finally had a reason to care about my grades: the schoolwork was the same, but doing it was no longer a waste of my time. It was too late to make much difference, though. I managed to graduate anyway, thanks to excellent test performance, but there was a huge gap between my final GPA and my SAT scores.

    So the monetary incentive raised my grades, was that the right thing for my parents to do? I’m not so sure. It raised my grades a little, but so what? Ultimately it made no difference. Even if they had started earlier, and I had graduated with a respectable GPA, so what? My high school grades are no more relevant to my life today than they were back then. The skills I use to earn a living as an adult are skills I gained by pursuing my own interests *instead* of doing homework! My folks could’ve saved their money and made things easier on everyone by simply ignoring my report cards.

  38. Anonymous

    I was never paid for earning good grades; my boyfriend was. We are both successful individuals (lawyers who met at a preeminent law school). However, my grades were always good, and I was not motivated to try particularly hard, and thus received a B every now and then. My boyfriend, also not a particularly motivated individual, was motivated to make good grades because there was a tangible reward – money – for his academic efforts. Thus, he made straight As – and became valedictorian. Which earned him a full scholarship to undergrad at a Tier 1 school, where his parents still paid him for good grades – which motivated him to continue making As – which resulted in a 3.95 GPA – which resulted in him getting a 1/2 scholarship to law school. The amounts that they paid him for those As are laughable now – he earns that amount in minutes, but when you talk to him about it, he specifically studied hard for the monetary reward. We attended the same law school, and I was admitted to the same undergrad that he attended. Our grades were similar in law school, our LSAT scores were similar. The only difference is that he walked away with very few loans; I walked away with $160K. Looking back, I would have definitely been motivated to bring those handful of Bs up to As if I had a monetary incentive to do so, and I wonder if I would have qualified for more scholarships.

  39. Anonymous

    Oh – and when it came to paying for college, my parents said they would pay for any class where I got a 2.0 or above. If I got below that in a class, I had to come up with the money to reimburse them for that class. THAT was motivating. I never got below a 3.0.

  40. Anonymous

    We give our son money to go out to lunch at school. We give him a month’s worth of money at a time and it is up to him to budget it accordingly. If he blows all his money the first week, he doesn’t get lunch the rest of the month. We started this at the beginning of this school year, and so far, he’s been doing great. He’s learning how to budget his money.

    He gets good grades and we don’t pay him extra money for his grades – however, if his grades are exceptional (an average over 97 or so), then I will give him a “bonus” – not a lot of money, but enough to show him that his hard work is appreciated and rewarded (usually about enough to buy a new CD).

    He also knows his good grades may be his ride for college and that’s his “real” motivation for him to keep up the good grades.

    We get salaries for doing our jobs, and if we do an outstanding job, we used to get bonuses (I don’t know anyone getting those anymore), so I think an occasional bonus for exceptional work is warranted with my child as well.

    But, results may vary – it definitely depends on the child, their level of self-motivation and the effort they put in to get their grades.

  41. Anonymous

    I think it’s perfectly fine. Growing up my parents used the reward system with me and grades and if my grades were up to their standards, I would receive a gift of my choice. It taught me to work hard and you receive benefits from it. I think it’s good lessons for kids to learn and incentives are part of life. A good learning tool and if it helps kids, why not.

  42. Anonymous

    Don’t make a promise your butt can’t cash. Back in high school my dad promised me $50 for an A and $5 for a B. I’ve always been the smartest guy in the class, but was making Bs and Cs at the time. The incentive gave me the motivation I needed, the next semester my dad owed me $300. Not only did he not pay me, he was pissed that I had been sandbagging all my classes. I finished highschool with a 3.0, and never did a lick of homework except for the semester I was promised the incentive. I don’t harbor ill-will toward my father about the experiment. I just think things would have been less contentious had he kept his promises.

  43. Anonymous

    I must agree with the no-money for grades on the “you ought to be doing it any way”. The work you put into your education ultimately serves you the most, so it doesn’t make much sense. I also thought Jeff’s comment about how easy school comes to certain kids is valid. I generally coasted in straight’s until I hit geometry, and received much poorer grades, but both parents had seen me working for hours a night on the subject. Their outlook was “I’ll accept what you bring home, as long as you can look me in the eye and tell me this is your very best”.

    Allowance was for chores, but it wasn’t strict. What was strict, was that on Saturday mornings when we (sister and I) got our allowance, a portion of it of our choosing went into our savings account. We wrote our deposit slips, parents checked them and we went into to the bank to deposit them. This helps immensely when kids become adults and must balance a checkbook.

  44. Anonymous

    Great topic as usual. I have a minor degree in psychology, and I’m particularly interested in behaviorism.

    You should provide positive reinforcement for desirable behavior to increase its frequency. However, the key is this line in your post: “we do give our kids a little something extra when they go above and beyond the call of duty…”

    There is a chapter on the book named “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert Ciadini, there was a specific chapter in which he mentioned that the key to deliver reinforcement is to find the minimum reinforcer for the situation so that when the reinforced individual think back, the reinforcer was so insignficant so that they think they did it because that was their preference.

    I intend to reward my kids in the same fashion you outlined, and focusing on behaviors that requires active effort on their side.

  45. Anonymous

    I think kids should be rewarded for good grades. Not average grades. GOOD grades. I think more than anything they should be acknowledged for their hard work and accomplishment with a special day out or something like that not. Not necessarily cash. But in the end, whatever works. If your kid is getting Bs and you offer cash for As and then they bring home As, I would say it was worth it.

    I also tie their allowance to chores. Some things they don’t get paid for, like making their bed or picking up after themselves. That’s just life. But some stuff they do, like unloading the dishwasher or cleaning the bathroom.

  46. Anonymous

    I have no problems rewarding a child for good grades. Starting in Middle School I was rewarded like this:
    $10 for an A
    $5 for a B
    -$5 for a C
    -10 for a D
    And for an F… well, I wouldn’t see a single dime at all, and probably wouldn’t have seen the outside world for a while either.

    I think that this incentive helped push me to be an excellent student as opposed to a good student. But they also understood that I was in most of the “advanced” classes back then. Cs and Ds were rare for me, so every semester I usually got around $50 dollars.

    I guess now I don’t see it as much different than a company giving a yearly bonus to top employees.

  47. Anonymous

    This is a point of contention for my wife and me. She thinks kids should be rewarded for good grades (because she was), while I think they shouldn’t (mostly because I wasn’t).

    As background for my opinion….when I was a kid, I didn’t get rewarded for good grades, even though I had good grades. I also didn’t receive an allowance. I had to work to get any spending money. Everything else I needed to survive and “be a kid” was provided by my family.

    One of the reasons for my position (now that I’ve thought about this as an adult) is that you are actually PENALIZING kids who have a hard time in school. Everything came extremely easy for me as a kid, and I got mostly A’s as a result. Why should I have been rewarded for coasting my way through school and getting good grades just because I have good retention when the kid sitting next to me doesn’t get rewarded when he works his tail off and can still only muster a C? Does that sound fair to anyone? I would like to know what the point is for rewarding intelligence. After all, those kids who get the best grades will most likely end up getting scholarships and grants for college anyway. What will the kid who worked hard for C’s get? Probably a pat on the back and a bunch of student loan debt.

    I’ll get off of my soap box now. 🙂

  48. Strick: I think that this is part of the reason that there isn’t widespread agreement on this. There are so many shades of gray that even those that agree in principle end up drawing the lines in somewhat different places.

  49. Anonymous

    I never had an allowance growing up, but my parents did pay me for good grades — sort of. In my school we took the Iowa Test of Basic Skills every year. If I was in the 95th percentile or above, I got $25. If I was in the 95th percentile again the following year, I got $50. And so on. If I fell below the 95th percentile, then I got nothing that year and had to start over at $25 the following year.

    In retrospect this seems quite smart. My parents were rewarding me for consistent excellence over the long-run. Which, I think, is exactly what should be encouraged.

  50. Anonymous

    On an academic note, studies have shown that once you start paying someone for something they were doing without pay, their motivation actually goes *down*. It seems that once someone is being paid for it, it both devalues their own internal motivation, and may even influence some unconscious belief along the lines of “wow, if I’m getting paid then this must really suck”. Generally not helpful, in the long run.

  51. Anonymous

    @Strick: I get it…I don’t have any kids of my own yet, so I’m speaking from theory, not experience…

    I’m sure a lot of my “theories” will be turned up-side-down once I have some kids! 🙂


  52. Anonymous

    Nickel: Thanks for the clarification, that makes a lot of sense, though I’d have a hard time figuring out where to draw the lines unless you just mean something that is irregular/difficult (crawling around under the house with you was no less something your son “ought” to do as a part of the family as the daily doing the dishes, but I do get the point).

    DebtFREEk: My post was a direct response to that point, its just that an 8 year old can’t get the same kind of work as an adult, so the “ought to do”s are a little different. (I’m not claiming I’m right here. I know I should love my kids and try to show them that with my actions and words, the rest is a guessing game.)

  53. Anonymous

    I view an allowance as something that should be earned, and not just freely given. It provides a reward for the chores that they would have to do anyways and provides an incentive for them to want to work. And they would also learn that money doesn’t come without actually doing work. This is just my opinion though.

  54. Anonymous

    Although our oldest just turned 3, I don’t plan to pay our kids for good grades in the future. There are plenty of ways to give children recognition for a job well done without using money.

    I plan to use allowance as more of a budgeting tool and developing an understanding of making choices with limited amounts of money.

  55. Anonymous


    I see your point…however have you considered the point of the article?

    “My wife and I believe that kids shouldn’t be paid for things that they ought to be doing anyway.”


    Maybe you could make more clear the exact reason you are giving the allowance for. Although from the article, I gathered you do it as a way to train your children in the ways of finance & money management.


  56. Strick: We’re simply using an allowance as a tool to learn about handling money — making good choices about saving and spending, etc. We don’t expect this to be the be all, end all of their economic education. I should also note that when they go above and beyond the call of duty, we do pay them something extra. So, for everyday household things like picking up their rooms, busing their own dishes, etc. there’s no payment. They do it because they’re a part of the family. But, for example, when our eleven year old spend a long afternoon crawling around under the house helping me improve the vapor barrier in our crawl space, he got paid for his efforts. The distinction here is that certain things are done on a daily basis simply because you’re a part of the family, and certain things are truly “work” for which you might otherwise expect to get paid.

    It’s a valid point, though… I’ll add a clarification.

  57. Anonymous

    My child who is only 2, will learn that doing chores, is part of being a family. Rewards for good grades wont happen in my household. I will figure some kind of recognition tho. A set allowance will teach the value of money.

  58. Anonymous

    Can kids still get free stuff for their grades at different stores. I remember growing up we could go to the arcade and get free tokens, and a baseball card shop gave some all based on the number of A’s that the student had on their card. Not completely related, but I know we always got what we could with those too. Not that I was a straight A student.

  59. Anonymous

    “shouldn’t be paid for things they ought to be doing anyway”

    Not sure why you’d give a set allowance that is an entitlement and not tied to anything and expect that to be a good teaching tool about money. Life is about being paid for things you “ought to be doing anyway” (working/performing), and if you don’t do them you don’t get paid, and the better you do them the more you get paid.

    I also want my kids to be self-motivated and do the right thing because its the right thing, and I don’t think paying them will prevent this from happening anymore than a raise at work is my motivator for doing a good job.

  60. Anonymous

    Wow! My wife & I had this same conversation last night & we have the SAME EXACT view on the topic.

    Though we don’t have any kids yet, we’re thinking of having some soon & were discussing some different parenting topics.

    We both believe the allowance to be the foundation for the children to learn about budgeting, tithing, taxes, & just money management as a whole.

    Great article. I’ll hit you up w/a trackback on this soon.


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