Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Our Chore System

Now that our son is six, we've decided to start giving him an allowance. He often wants to buy things and we don't like to buy things "just because" but really do understand that he should have the right to buy something he wants if he has the money and he should learn how spending works.

 Before we get into an argument around here about whether children should be paid for their chores or not, let me give you a few different views on the matter.
  1. Yes - Children should be taught to equate work with money and learn that hard work = payday.
  2. No - Children should do chores because they are a member of the family and should not get paid for their chores.
  3. No - Children should get paid each week to have spending money but not in direct response to the work they have done. However, lack of work or behavior problems can result in lack of payment for the week.
And us?  We're kind of doing a combination of the three above. 

Here is what our plan is.  Patrick already has some chores that he does just because he is a member of the family.  This includes setting the table, cleaning up after himself after dinner, putting away his clean laundry, picking up all toys before bedtime, putting all clothes in the hamper when dirty, and picking out clothes for the next day of school. He will be making his bed as soon as we have him in a full size bed at the beginning of next year (currently he sleeps on a daybed without any covers - by choice). Other things come up, but those are the usual culprits for him.

We've decided that we're going to leave those alone.  General tidiness is something that I expect from all members of our family pertaining to their body and their living space.  I don't think people should get paid for being neat.

We are going to add some tasks though that he CAN get paid for.  What?  Yep - none of his chores will be required work, but will only be done if he wants to earn money.  They will be weekly chores that Chip or I currently do, but our son is capable of doing. Harder chores will be worth more money. If he wants to earn some money for the week, he will do those chores. If he feels he does not want to do those chores, he will not earn any additional money that week and we will do those chores ourselves as we always have.  And - money will be deducted from his weekly total with behavioral problems that come up.

I think this will teach him the following:
  • Work = Money
  • Hard Work = More Money
  • No Money = No Spending
  • How to do the tasks in question by practical hands-on learning.
  • Stupid choices (behavioral problems) can cost.
Also - it will just help us out because we won't have to do it that week.

To put this into practice though, I am using a system that I saw on Pinterest.  I am modifying it slightly by not specifically using chalkboard paint and weighting each chore the same, but the same concept applies.

One will be a bucket of chores using craft sticks to note the chore and the amount that chore will earn.  The other bucket will be completed chores.  After he finishes a chore, he can move the stick from one bucket to another.  At the end of the week we will tally up the completed, deduct $0.25 for each red stick in the completed bucket (indicating a behavioral problem) and pay him.  From this total we will teach saving and tithing, but that is a post for another day, as this one will be long enough as it is!

Currently, this is the list I have for weekly tasks:
  • Bring trash from upstairs bath and his bedroom downstairs to big trashcan - $0.25 (once a week)
  • Sweep kitchen - $0.50 (once a week)
  • Sweep living room - $0.50 (once a week)
  • Feed dog - $0.25 (up to 4 times a week) - she doesn't eat a full bowl a day
  • Fold laundry (towels only) - $0.25 (once a week)
  • Fold laundry (his and his sister's - all) - $1.00 (once a week) - it's one load for the two of them combined. And he actually folds laundry really well.
  • Dust - $0.25 per room, up to 6 rooms
That would total up to $5.00 if he did every task possible.

And I have ideas for specialized tasks that are not every week deals, but will be added to the bucket on an as-needed basis:
  • Clean baseboards (all) - $1.00 per level of the house (we have 2 stories)
  • Clean windows (all) - $1.00 per level of the house (we don't have that many windows)
  • Clean storm doors - $0.25 per door (we have 2)
  • Help wash car - $0.50 to $2.00 depending on amount of participation
  • Clean doors/doorknobs/scuffs on walls (all) - $1.00 per level of the house; $0.25 for small jobs
  • Clean cabinet fronts - $0.25 per bathroom; $0.50 for lower level of cabinets in kitchen
  • Water plants - $0.25 (we don't have that many plants - it would increase with more plants)
  • Put away groceries - $0.50 - $1.00 depending on level of participation. Not a weekly task because we often grocery shop while he is at school.
For those variable tasks, we can incorporate our other colored craft sticks (that we already own) by color coding the amount.  For instance, move the "Clean baseboards" stick to the completed bucket and two blue "$1.00" sticks if he does all of the baseboards on two levels.

We'll modify it as we go.

But that's the plan.

What do you think?  Do you pay children for their chores?  What type of system do you use?  What other tasks could our 6 year old do?


  1. Our children do not get pay for their chores. However, we pay them for odd jobs that we would normally pay for.

  2. I like it! We currently do the same as you. My son has chores that he does as part of being in a family (Room, gather dirty clothes, Feed the dog (It's his dog) and pickup after himself). We have a chore chart for opportunities to make $. He can work as little or as much as he wants depending on if he is saving up for something. I like the stick idea though. I think it would work easier. You could make 2 of the baseboard sticks 1 for each level.... ect.

  3. We do a combination approach also with our four kids. They get a very small weekly allowance, certain expected chores and optional jobs to earn more money. They have mini-budgeting tasks to help them learn to manage their money. For example, my middle schooler is given lunch money for the month and has to make it last for the whole month. If he runs out, he takes a packed lunch from home instead of buying the school lunch. Our teens have to pay for their own cell phones.

  4. Love it, Pam! Love how you're teaching them to budget too! I hope to do the same for ours as they get older!