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Fayette-Mom: Chores - to pay or not to pay

Posted August 18, 2014

Jennifer Joyner

— How much do your kids help out at home, and if they do, do you pay them for it?

It’s a debate going on in my house right now, and to be honest, I can’t make up my mind as to which side I support.

My husband is counting the days until our children can cut the grass. Until then, he wants them to pick up sticks, water plants and do other light outside chores. And he doesn’t think they should be paid a small allowance. His argument is, they are a member of this household and they must do their part to support its upkeep.

I wholeheartedly agree, and that is why the kids are expected to clear their dishes, straighten their rooms, make their beds and help carry in the groceries. When they get just a bit older, I’ll add wash the dishes, clean their bathroom, and help with the laundry.

But big jobs like cutting the grass and scrubbing the floors? It seems to me those are good opportunities for them to take on as extra tasks and make a little pocket money.

I’d love for them to learn to budget wants versus needs. I also want them to feel the pride involved with completing a job and getting paid for it, or, conversely, the consequences that occur when you don’t do your job and you lose out on the cash. Isn’t it important to learn all of this stuff at a young age?

I got my worker’s permit the day I turned 15, and I spent my high school years working several part-time jobs. This was both good and bad. I certainly learned responsibility at a young age, and how to budget my money.

But I also loved the independence a little too much, and I allowed my job to interfere too much with my school work. So I guess I’m looking for ways my kids can learn the lessons of a job while still staying close to home, under mom’s supervision. Is that even possible?

I’d love to know what you think. Should we pay kids for chores? Or do we just expect them to contribute to the household without being paid, as will be the case when they are adults? Please weigh in with a comment!

Jennifer is a mom of two and WRAL-TV assignment editor in Fayetteville. Her food obsession memoir, “Designated Fat Girl,” came out in 2010. Read more about Jennifer and her book on her website. She writes about motherhood and family-friendly events in Fayetteville here on Go Ask Mom.



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  • eharper3 Aug 20, 2014

    Read "Raising Financially Confident Kids" by Mary Hunt. Excellent plan for teaching kids a life long lesson about money and how to manage it. Beware, it will revolutionize your own financial attitude in the process.
    Then read "Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Tedd Tripp. Both books have been so valuable to me as a parent.

  • Viewer Aug 20, 2014

    We raised our son with no allowance. He was only paid for tasks completed.
    No work, no problem, but no money. He decided how much work (money) he would perform.
    As an adult, he seems to have learned those lessons well and his finances are in good shape..

  • tonyc3742 Aug 20, 2014

    I give my son an allowance to help him learn to budget and use his own money. "Discretionary" spending comes out of his wallet. He has regular chores which he is expected to do weekly, which are not tied to the allowance. If he does a "job", (these are occasional, larger tasks, like big yard work) he does get paid for that.

  • snowl Aug 20, 2014

    A monthly allowance based on age. No specific chores, just helping around the house as needed. No demands or punishments should be linked to an allowance.

  • busyb97 Aug 19, 2014

    I think you have a great plan. We pay our boys for extra jobs over and above the daily household. They don't get a regular allowance for their daily chores....that's just part of helping the family. But when we have extra yard projects (like painting, serious garden work (not the daily stuff), maintenance work, etc), we give them some extra cash (try to). A lot of times though, because of the cost of their extracurricular activities (Trail Life, travel sports, membership to water park, etc)- they know that their extra work gets turned around into those fun activities they want to do.

    I think their "first job" should be at home- for some money. Teach them at home how to be a good employee, how to manage their money, etc.....before they go work for someone else. Hopefully, if we do our job right, they'll be model employees and not blow all of the money the first chance they get! :-) They'll learn the value of that dollar, and the meaning of good work ethic.

  • Ashley Porter Aug 19, 2014
    user avatar

    We have always paid for chores. I never received an allowance but liked the idea of my kids learning to manage their $. So until this year we paid them bi-weekly according to their age ($10 bi-weekly for a 10 year old) and the chores were age appropriate. Nothing done or reminded too many times, no $. Now that they are older (15 and 12) and asking for $ for activities with friends, etc. we decided to pay them a flat $50 a month (increased the # of chores-essentially they do almost all the house cleaning in and out). The $50 is all they get for the month. Outing with a friend, skating on a Friday night, etc., the $50 covers it. No more bank of mom and dad and they learn to save for bigger items and still get the understanding that lack of work = lack of pay.

  • Ginger Lynn Aug 19, 2014
    user avatar

    Mine got paid for big jobs. Blowing off the leaves, cleaning the roof, washing windows, mulching, etc. They were not paid for routine house work. We had a lot of pine trees. From the time they were 3 or 4 I would pay them to pick up pine cones, a dollar a dozen. i would get lots of pine cones picked up and they would get 3 or 4 dollars. They loved it!

  • mrsjanm Aug 19, 2014

    I never received an allowance as a child. When I had children, they had non-paid chores that they were expected to do to learn personal responsibility and family contribution. If they wanted to earn money, we found them "odd jobs" around the house over and above their everyday chores that they could earn money. They took pride in "earning" their way for their special "wants".

  • babbleon Aug 19, 2014

    I'm doing what my parents did - a base allowance, expectation of doing chores (not tied to the allowance, just expected), and the opportunity to earn money by doing extra chores.

    Extra chores were: mowing the lawn, washing cars, shining dad's shoes, but it's going to be different for every household.

  • Tunaboy Aug 19, 2014

    as a child, I was given a modest allowance for doing chores around home. My allowance increased as I matured and the chores included maintaining our yard.