Should you pay your children to read? I don't think so!

I left a comment on a great post by Free Money Finance (I’ve mentioned FMF before as being a GREAT source of Making Money 101 ideas!).

Basically, FMF was commenting on an idea that has been around for a while … the idea of paying your children to read!

I have some strong thoughts on the subject of children (I approve of them), money (I approve of it), paying children to read (I don’t approve of it), encouraging children to save for ‘retirement’ (I STRONGLY approve of it) and thought that I should simply repeat my comment here:

Having kids EARN their pocket money is a great idea! As a matter of personal preference, I would prefer NOT to pay my children to learn.

Whether you pay them to work, pay them to read/learn, or just give a hand-out, what IS important is how they deal with that money.

For example: we give each child TWICE their age in pocket money every month (others do once their age a week), but they must SAVE half (not for cars, toys, or anything else … JUST for future investments) and we encourage them to SPEND the other half (saving it up until they have enough for the ‘good stuff’). Loose change is thrown in a bucket by all for CHARITY …

So far, my 13 y.o. son who supplements his ‘income’ with an e-Bay business (the spend half / save half policy also applies to his e-Bay profits AFTER funding inventory) has bought himself an iPod touch, an Apple Mac, AND an IBM laptop – all this year (he has invested his entire savings in my Scottrade account … he accounts for 0.001% of my portfolio from memory).

Do you pay your children? If so, what for? How much? And, what do you hope and expect they will do with it?

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11 thoughts on “Should you pay your children to read? I don't think so!

  1. The idea of paying your kid to read sounds terrible! Seems to me it is more sensible to ingrain in them that if they don’t read, *they* will be the ones paying for it later. (I say this as a father of two. My 4 year old loves to read right now. Hopefully this continues.) If it doesn’t I will give him hard labor as an alternative and let him decide 🙂

  2. First off, I think it is great that you are teaching your kids about money. When did you start to give them (their age)*2 a month? The problem with that approach is that age 16 when they can drive they are only getting $30 a month, which is barely enough for a drop of gas these days, So would you support them getting a part time job so young? Also I think it is great that your son has his own ebay business and is making so much money, But don’t you think you should let him pick his own investment vechile? that way he can learn more about that side of money magagement

  3. @ blogrdoc – we’re operating on the same wavelength.

    @ vanessa – if they want more … they will have to work for it; if his ebay business continues to grow, at 16 I expect my son will be rich enough to employ me 😉 It’s his choice where to invest his money …

  4. The direct and almost immediate incentive of cash will shorten the money “attention span.” You want them to work for the long term and giving them cash would definitely not promote that. You want them to derive an incentive from the reading itself and that required education.

  5. @ Supreme – if you don’t want your kids to go humgry when they’re older, teach ’em to fish … don’t just hand them a plate of sushi!

  6. I have to admit that a lot of my reading in elementary school was driven by prizes. I read at least 5 books a month for Book-It (I wanted that personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut). I also read every book in the school library reading program to get a large candy bar (it was a Symphony w/ toffee–is it bad that I still remember it) every year (1st-5th grade, about 30 books in 2 months). I also participated in the summer reading program at our local library to get bookmarks and other silly little prizes…

  7. @ Saving Diva – Dang … now, I’ll have to delete this entire post and issue a retraction 😉 On the other hand, I think my issue is mainly with parentsdoing the paying, not so much with a little competitive spirit … although, quality counts, so if you are just reading the Coke Tastes Better than Pepsi series of children’s books to win some MyCoke Rewards, I might still have an issue!

  8. Paying kids to read is the lazy way out for schools to teach reading. It’s a lot easier to get kids to comply when you waive a wad of cash in front of them. But what lesson are you really teaching them? Are they going to expect cash payouts for doing their homework or taking tests? Where do you draw the line? Let the kids discover the fun of reading on their own. Otherwise they might be bunking on your couch as adults waiting for the next handout.

  9. @ financial gal – I’m not against a nice handout … it’s the relying on it that I don’t like 😉

  10. DH and I have struggled for quite some time w/how to handle allowance/money in general w/7 y.o. DD. We wanted to give her some $$ on a regular basis but have never been thrilled w/the idea of tying it to chores, etc. We recently decided to start giving her 20.00 at the beginning of each month to do w/whatever she pleases. If she wants to spend it all that is fine since she will learn the value of her money. However if she chooses to put all or part of it into her savings account we match the amount (she’s very aware that she makes interest and loves getting “free” money!). Also, if she chooses to donate all or a portion to charity we will provide a match. So far so good, but as mentioned this is a fairly recent development. Thus far she’s put it in savings 🙂

  11. @ C – Thanks for your comment … we do similar with our two children. Now, let’s hope it works!

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