Pay for chores? Not pay for chores?

Ah the debate.

Over 27 years of parenting, we’ve been all over the map on this issue.  We’ve done allowance, we’ve done no allowance. We have tied allowance to chores. We’ve separated allowance from chores.  The options of how parents handle this issue are endless!

Several years ago, Mark and I took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace class (which, by the way, we HIGHLY recommend!).  Dave is not a believer in allowance.  He believes there needs to be a connection with work and money.  He also believes there are certain responsibilities that kids need to do because they are part of their family.  This caused us to once again look critically at the whole allowance thing.

We eventually came up with a system we have found to work very well.  There are certain jobs that our boys do because they are part of the family: mow the yard, shovel snow, clean the bathrooms, clean their rooms, etc.  These are not jobs they are paid for.

However, there are other jobs that are done on a daily basis such as vacuum the lower level (we vacuum nearly daily because of living in the country!), dishwasher and dishes, and emptying trash throughout the house.  Following a chart I created, the boys are responsible for one of those jobs everyday.

The boys have three parts to their chore: 1) Do the chore, 2) Do it before 5pm, 3) Record your work on your timecard (a.k.a. the dry erase calendar on the fridge).  See the “A” and “K” written in the corner of some of the calendar blocks in this picture.  That’s how the boys “report” their work and that’s what I use to figure their “pay” at the end of the month.

If they do all three, they get $1/day (weekdays only). If they don’t, they don’t get paid. No nagging. No reminding. Our agreement is that if mom or dad see that chore hasn’t been done after 5pm, we can require it to be completed but they will not be paid.  They had to be responsible and have it done on their own and by the pre-determined time to get paid. If they forgot to write it down, they also don’t get paid.

I have loved this system. It is self-motivating. It has natural consequences built into it. Not only that, but it mimics a real work environment where you have certain responsibilities that need to be done within a certain timeframe.  Some jobs require that you punch a timecard.  If you forget…you don’t get paid.

Once paid, our boys manage their money just like a paycheck. They do the 10-10-80 thing…10% to God, 10% to savings, 80% spending.  That’s why I always pay them in $1 bills so it’s easy for them to divide and manage intentionally.  When they hit the teen years, we have them “manage” even more intentionally. For more resources, check out my book Got Teens?: Time-Tested Answers for Moms of Teens and Tweens.

What about you? How do you handle the chore/no chore/allowance/no allowance thing?


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