Kids & Chores

Teaching Your Little Honeys About Money
kids and chores boy mowing lawn

Now that I’m a parent, I think about things like chores, allowances and how to teach my kids about money.   Most people agree that children should do chores around the house and help out in age-appropriate ways.  And most people also agree that it is valuable for children to receive an allowance to start learning about the value of money.

But, it turns out, there is quite a bit of debate over whether or not an allowance should be tied to doing chores…First things first – I had to rid my mind of the image the word “chores” conjured up in my head – for some reason I equate it with churning butter, but I know in today’s world it is more likely to correspond to TIVO management.

Though I understand the concept of wanting to teach kids that they have to earn money, I’m not so into the idea of paying them do everyday things that are expected of members of any household.  It didn’t feel right to me to tie an allowance to basics like making the bed. So – how do you best incorporate an allowance and chores to teach kids the value of money, all while being fun and educational?

As with all of life’s great questions, I consulted many friends – and many websites – to find my answer.  The approach I liked the best was sort of a mix of several approaches. I was comfortable with the idea of giving a weekly allowance, but then having room for the child to earn extra money by doing special “paid” chores – basically, things I would hire someone to do anyway, like wash my car.  One expert I would recommend checking out is Neale Godfrey and her Children’s Financial Network – a treasure trove of resources for getting your kid on firm financial footing.  She advocates this type of approach, namely linking pay not to basic household duties (you don’t want to have to bargain every time your kid picks up their toys!) but to extra “bonus”  jobs.  Kids and Chores Girl with Laundry

I’ve realized over the past few years that some of these “big jobs” which seem tedious to me are SO much fun for our kids.  Our boys washed our car the other day (with a little help from Dad) and you’d be surprised what a great job a 4 year old and 20 month old can do.  More than that, they had a great time and were so proud of the job they did. By tacking on a little financial learning tool in the future to this already great lesson in self-esteem, not only will I get a clean car out of the deal, my boys will start to build their concept of work and earning money.

Ok, so in addition to tying pay to “big” jobs, how much was I supposed to give for the basic weekly allowance? A dollar per year of age seems to be the going rate, which of course was appealing to me given that my oldest child is only 4!   From this weekly allowance the lessons you can teach are manifold: saving, charity, planning, responsibility.  Rather than just having the focus be on saving for a new Lego set, make sure you use this opportunity to teach other life lessons as well.  Put away a certain percentage for charity, a certain percentage for savings in the bank, and a certain percentage to go towards purchases, your wee one will start learning how to budget – even preschoolers are old enough to understand this, so it pays to start while they are young!

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4 Responses to “Kids & Chores”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Andrea Moya and kathypape. kathypape said: Kids and chores. Teaching your little honeys about money [...]

  2. I think this is an excellent summary of sound techniques for teaching your kids basic personal finance skills and for building a work ethic – nice!

    One other suggestion I have – particularly when you reach the tween/teen years – is to make your kids responsible for managing a budget in a well-defined expense area. I find clothing to be the easiest. Have them draw up a budget, review it with them (iterating as necessary), and then put them in charge of purchasing within that budget. We’ve had lots of teachable moments with our teens through this process.


  3. Susan says:

    LOVE your site and LOVE chores. See my site on the whole topic. I agree with most of what you said except paying for “big jobs.”

    I say, “Pay them when they pay us.”

    I borrowed your photo of the girl doing laundry — hope that’s OK, and linked it to your site. It’s a great shot.

Any Thoughts?