Should You Pay Your Kids For Good Grades?

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As kids’ year-end report cards start coming home, many parents are considering this question: “Is it a good idea to pay our kids for doing well at school?”

Greenlight reached out to several family money experts for their advice. Here’s what they told us:

Expert: Neale Godfrey

What She Does: Chairman and President, Children’s Financial Network, Inc.

Pay for Good Grades: Yes or no? “No! Step away from your money! Getting good grades is the responsibility of and show of good behavior from your child. Getting money is the result of work and not of good behavior. I believe in paying money only for work.

“The other issue is that if you have more than one child in your family, one child could be working really hard to get Cs while another kid could be coasting to get all As. You should set separate goals for each child for each marking period. If they achieve their goals, the family should celebrate their achievement. A special outing of their choice—not money—is a great celebration.”

Expert: Rachel Cruze

What She Does: Speaker and co-author with Dave Ramsey (her dad) of Smart Money, Smart Kids

Pay for Good Grades: Yes or no? Cruze stands somewhere in the middle: “As a parent, it’s up to you to make that call. The most important thing is encouraging your child to work hard and do their best. Every child is different, so if yours responds well to cash incentives, then maybe you assign a dollar amount to their good grades that fits within your budget.

“Growing up, I wasn’t paid for good grades. However, my parents did pay me in the summer for reading leadership books and writing one-page reports. I say be creative and do whatever makes you most comfortable.”

Expert: Jesse Mecham

What He Does: Founder/CEO, You Need a Budget (YNAB) 

Pay for Good Grades: Yes or no? “I don’t think it’s a good idea and my wife and I don’t do it with our six kids. Hard work provides a sense of purpose and helps build confidence and character. Kids need to intrinsically understand that doing a good job is worth the extra effort because it feels good—to push yourself, to give your best, to accomplish something.

“In a similar vein, we don’t pay our kids an allowance for doing chores. We separate the two completely. They do chores because they are part of a family. They get an allowance so they can learn how to handle money.

“By paying kids for good grades, you risk teaching them that the only things worth doing are things that pay….If they are only ‘chasing the money,’ they may never find the thing that really brings them joy, the thing they could be really good at. Any job worth doing is worth doing well, for its own sake.”

(photo courtesy © Carissa Rogers cc2.0)

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