Do you pay your kids to do chores around the house? There’s no right answer here. Many parents feel their children should help around the house as a part of the family. Other parents decide to give their kids some extra cash for their work. So should you pay your kids money for doing chores? Let’s talk about it.
Does this sound familiar…
“Mom, can I buy a treat at lunch today?”
“Dad, can I have $5 for the book fair?”
“Pleeeease? It’s just $4!”
In the parent rule book, when you get hit with these questions, you’re supposed to reply with “Money doesn’t grow on trees, you know!”
Then you sound like your parents, and no one wants that.
Teaching kids about money is HARD. Especially when they (and we) are used to instant gratification and they don’t really understand the fact that all that money you’re doling out had to be earned. It’s for this reason that we pay our kids money for chores.
The Logic for Paying Kids for Chores
After reading Smart Money, Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruz we decided on some changes. For those who don’t know, Dave Ramsey is a “financial guru” who was once in major debt and worked his way out of it. He has a radio show and multiple books about getting out of debt and building wealth.
Dave and Rachel say that in order for your children to be smart about money, they need to earn, save, and spend money. They need to make smart purchases and not-so-smart purchases. They need to learn patience and perseverance.
Dave and Rachel don’t believe in allowances, but agree kids should be rewarded for their work. We have been trying this out in our house for the last year or so and it’s going well. Like, we-took-a-trip-to-Disney-World-and-they-didn’t-ask-ME-for-a-dime-well.
They had their own dimes.
Now, I know what some of you are going to say… “I do the dishes and laundry and I don’t get paid; they should chip in around the house without expecting to get paid in because they are part of our family.” And that makes sense, but so does giving kids the opportunity to learn about money.
My Thoughts on Money for Chores
Children should do chores around the house for free—especially chores that exist because they exist, BUT I think there are plenty of chores that can be done around the house that are “above and beyond” chores.
These chores help me, but shouldn’t necessarily be on a child to do.
Above & Beyond Chores
- Cleaning a bathroom
- Dusting shared living spaces
- Dusting baseboards
- Washing the family’s towels
- Picking up animal waste
- Walking pets
- Cleaning shared spaces
THESE are the types of chores I pay my children for completing.
Whether you pay your children for chores depends on a lot of factors such as the size of your house, the size of your family, your income, and the ages of your children. I have a 10, 8, and 5-year-old.
My children often want to buy things, such as toys or snacks from a snack stand. Earning money is an excellent incentive for them.
Plus, I have a decent sized house with three animals. I run a business and work full time, as does my husband. The chores I ask my kids to do are legitimately helpful. I don’t have time to do them and I don’t want to do to them. Paying my children a small fraction of what I would pay cleaners is worth it to me.
How we Pay Kids for Chores
There are many ways to work out how you track and pay kids money for chores.
For us, each child has their own custom chore chart. At the end of each week, I pay them for the chores they have completed during the week. I usually pay $3 to $5 per child per week depending on how many chores they complete.
We pay them in all singles so they can split the money up in different ways.
How We Teach Kids About Money for Chores
Here’s where the teaching kids about money come into play.
Once our kids have been paid, they split their earnings up into three envelopes: save, spend, give. Sometimes we decide the percentages that go in each envelope, but we usually let them decide as long as a portion ALWAYS goes into save and give. If they want to put all of it in save or give, that’s okay.
The envelopes we use are homemade, but this pack of colorful envelopes should work well when paying kids money for chores and teaching them how to budget.
So what do the envelopes mean?
The Spend envelope is money kids can spend freely. If we go to the dollar store, the snack stand, or they want to buy themselves an ice cream at lunch, that’s their prerogative.
If the kids want something more expensive, they need to let it build up here for a while. This teaches kids what’s worth spending money on and what’s not.
They’ve wasted their money a few times, but that’s part of learning.
The Save envelope is where money goes to be saved for spending with a long-term goal in mind.
When we go to on vacation, spending money came from this envelope. They also save for things like video games or toys. This teaches kids to work towards a goal and delay gratification.
The Give envelope is money meant for others. One year, my son purchased toys off of an Amazon wish list for monkeys in our local zoo. My daughter purchased a goat for a child in need through World Vision.
This teaches kids to use their money in positive ways to make the world a better place. It’s important to let kids decide how and where to spend their money. We let our kids choose organizations that are meaningful to them.
This “budget” for children teaches them patience, it teaches them to handle and save money, and it teaches them to make smart choices with their money.
Money for Chores: The Results
Are you wondering how this has been working out for us? I hinted earlier that it’s been going well.
Take Disney World, for example. If you’ve been there recently (or ever) you know it’s full of souvenir shops and delicious snacks, all of which are NOT cheap. In the months leading up to Disney, we reminded our children that they were going to want to have money to spend. And if they didn’t have money to spend, that was okay, but they shouldn’t ask us for anything.
Our 10-year-old saved up about $60, our 8-year-old had about $50, and our 5-year-old saved about $25. Is this equal? No. Is it fair? Yes.
My 10-year-old worked really hard to complete her chores, so it’s fair that she had more to spend. They had the potential to earn the same amount, but my 10-year-old was just more motivated.
When it came time to pack for our trip, all three kids enjoyed counting up their money, trading singles for larger bills, and putting it all in envelopes.
When it came time to shop, they carefully considered different options. They surveyed a few stores throughout the week. Would they rather have one more expensive item or a few less expensive items?
I have to say, they made smart choices that are perfect for their interests and personalities. And when they ran out of money, they moved on, and didn’t ask for a single extra thing. They walked away, content with their purchases.
Seriously, it was pretty much the most magical part of the week for me.
But what would have happened if I had handed my money over? If they knew me buying them toys was an option? I’m betting they would have asked for A LOT more. And when I bought them something, the next day they’d ask for another thing. They would not understand how much money they (I) would actually be spending. And would they appreciate those items as much? I’m betting not.
All that said, do what’s right for your family with money for chores. If paying children for chores isn’t your thing, then don’t do it, but try to give kids opportunities to learn about money in some way!
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