Do your kids earn money for chores?

I like to start our kiddos early in helping out around the house. Around age two, our kids empty the silverware from the dishwasher, help set the table, pick up their toys, and dust kid-level surfaces around the house. Now at five, Tate is in charge of making her own bed (sometimes with help), folding clothes, putting away her laundry, setting the table, and reshelving her books in the right spot.

Last week she successfully made lunch for the entire family, so maybe I’ve got a new task to add to her repertoire. Hmm.

I like getting kids started early for a few reasons.

1. You’re tapping into the stage of life when it’s fun to help.

Two-year-olds mimic their parents, want to be with their parents nonstop, and are obsessed with doing things by themselves. It’s the perfect time to let them start “helping” around the house. I give Reed a spray bottle of water and a rag, and let him go to town on the cabinet surfaces or bathtub when I’m cleaning the bathroom.

Yes, it’s often not really helping, and many times I have to undo what he just did. But he’s going to be right next to me anyway, probably doing something like dropping my phone in the toilet. Might as well give him something pseudo-productive to do, and it doubles as teaching life skills early on.

2. It’s never too early to learn that the world doesn’t revolve around you.

Having kids do chores is not robbing them of a childhood. It’s blessing them with the gift of reality — that life involves work, messes, and not getting your way all the time. Tate, who is quite used to helping around the house, still huffs and slumps her shoulders when it’s time to empty the dishwasher, so it’s not like she skips around with a grin on her face at chore time. But it doesn’t shock her to no end that she doesn’t get to play tea party all day long.

3. It really does help.

I feel like Tate’s involvement is now actually helping, probably for the first time. She folds cloth napkins and towels fairly well, she knows the protocol behind basic table setting (including festive centerpieces that often involve leaves from the backyard), and she’s a star at watching the baby when I’m finishing dinner. I’m thinking things can only go up.

We use a basic chore chart to help our kids check off their accomplishments. This doesn’t tally up to anything we keep track of, but little ones find it fun to have their own visual to-do list they can adorn with stickers or check marks.

To pay or not to pay

Q is for QueenBen Eine Letter a

This is the dilemma. And this is what I’m wondering what you all do in your family. Do you pay an allowance or some sort of commission? Is it at all related to the tasks performed? Or do you give a set amount “just because,” and chores are simply an expected part of being in the family?

Tate doesn’t quite grasp the value of different coins just yet, but she certainly likes earning money. For now, she just does her chores, and every now and then, she earns money for extra things, like an abundance of laundry folding (one penny per folded item can quickly add up to several quarters). This is pretty similar to Mandi’s hybrid solution as well.

There’s no one right way to do this, I know. So that’s why I’d like to hear from you, especially those of you with older kids — how do you handle some sort of allowance distribution to your kids?

top photo source
Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. My kids are pretty young still (2 & 6). But for my 6-year-old– there is a list of chores (nothing huge, overwhelming or complex lol). There are daily “must do” chores/tasks/responsibilities & there are “optional” tasks that she can choose to do IF she chooses (no big deal either way)– but the “optional” tasks are “paid” tasks. It is pretty awesome to see how willing our kids are to put in some extra work to earn their own $ ;P

    We explained before instating this system a little bit about managing our money (which an earlier poster discussed and I totally agreed with– how it isn’t “taught” and we really need to model great habits early). Our system involves the caveat that she have to divide her money up into 4 jars.

    1. Savings Jar
    (teaching her to save for her future– we talked about cars, college, fulfilling dreams, etc)

    2. Spending Jar
    (Allowing her to spend at will or encouraging her to stack up for something she REALLY wanted. Right now it’s a giant stuffed Mario she saw at Target!)

    3. Giving Jar
    (We got to talk all about helping others, charities, good causes. Believe it or not, this is by far her favorite jar. She gets more excited when she gets to donate/give then any other part so far! She really likes the Heifer International foundation [they learned about at school], Cheerful Givers, the Humane Society, and Toys for Tots!)

    4. Investing
    (Holy cow! This one is so fun. Plus, in teaching her, we’ve started to learn more ourselves [win win]). It takes awhile to save up to buy shares, but we keep a corkboard up with pics of all her favorite companies that we’re saving for one at a time– Mattel (she loves Barbie), Target, McDonald’s, etc.

    We are all having a lot of fun with this system and look forward to how it all adds up in the upcoming years (and watching her brother learn from her, etc). I’m just hoping it’s a good balance between responsibilities and building financial savvy for them– I sure wish my parents would have taught me about money! That’s for sure!

  2. we used to get our age in dollars, but when we turned 12, 15, and 17, plus babysitting, it became an issue. Plus, we had too much money to learn how to save. Also, we weren’t earning money, so it didn’t prepare us for the real world. Now, I am 13 and we get paid 25cents to 1 dollar per something for doing laundry, folding, dusting, cleaning toilets, yardwork and dishes. It teaches us that there is value to money and it doesn’t just get handed to us. For younger kids, a nickel or dime is good depending on the chore (what are they wanting that you cant get for them?) That’s just my opinion, and it adds up fast if you factor in birthday money, and babysitting.

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