We're big readers of James Dobson and in his Dare to Discipline book he writes that starting at age 4 a child can EARN his/her allowance. I'm certainly a believer in earning rather than getting- I was working as a waitress at 15 (got a work permit and hardship driver's license) and Terry worked HARD growing up in Oklahoma. So, Dr. Dobson says to make out a list of things that your child should be able to do (but maybe doesn't or won't) and each night go through the list saying yes or no... then, each item should be worth 2 pennies (funny thing about 4 year olds- they know NO inflation- a penny is GOLD to them). As though things become ingrained, you choose new things (our NEWEST one will be Attitude with a capital A!)
So, there are 10 things (he gets 'stars') Jake is required to do daily and that means he gets 20 pennies daily. The key is to do this daily (requires diligence, for sure!). At the end of the week, we sit and count all the pennies and divide them up- tithe (which he actually takes to church and gives), 15% $$ for long-term savings (i.e. car), 35% for short-term savings for bigger priced items he wants, and the rest is his spending $$. Every other week or so I tried to take him to the dollar store to get a cheap toy. Then, we got smart... now it's an ice cream cone or save a few weeks for a toy (like Chic from the Cars movie that he bought yesterday).
He's really starting to value $$ and earning it (will do what we say- even when he doesn't want too b/c he might lose a "star"). Well, it has PAID OFF for sure!! Yesterday he was whining about what he got for lunch and I told him that if he didn't eat it then it was like throwing mommy and daddy's hard earned $$ in the trash- he certainly wouldn't like it if we threw HIS $$ in the trash- right!!?? I kid you not, the child ate the food!! Thank you God and Dr. Dobson!
... now Emma just needs to turn 4 right?