Q&A: How Does Your Family Approach Chores, Allowances and Educating Kids About Finances?

Question and Answer

Chores might include unloading groceries, mowing the lawn, feeding pets, helping with laundry and supper time... Western MA families share their expectations of chores, allowances and money management with their kids. Add your comments too!

This week let’s talk about chores, allowances and how to teach kids about money management:

What chores are your kids expected to do around the house, and what is their age?

  • Kara Kitchen‎ writes, “9 years old-Unload groceries! Since they eat all the food! No payment-they just get fed! Laundry help since they wear the most! Again no payment but at least they have clean clothes! They mow the lawn for fun. Need to get them on the dishes though since they make the most! That I might pay for!”
  • Judy Bennett writes, “Our guy has fed the cats dry food, and put his dirty laundry in the hamper since around 2-2.5. He just turned 3 and I’ve been wanting to put another chore on his list…”
  • Diane Hinze Kanzler writes, “4-year-old. Helps feed the sheep, helps with washing dishes several times each week, puts clean silverware away. Helps set table at suppertime; will push pushmower around a bit; weeds garden daily; puts dirty garments into hamper. Helps hang laundry and tidies up her toys. She doesn’t get an allowance yet, but any money gifts she receives she deposits into her savings account herself. Allowance will start when she turns five, and it will be 25-50 cents per week, once we settle on the figure.”
  • Amy Meltzer writes, ‎”6 year old sets dinner table and helps clear. 7 year old puts away the silverware from the dishwasher. Both kids are responsible for sorting and putting away their laundry.”
  • Pauline Delton writes, “My son is 5, and he’s not really expected to do any chores. However, he recently has been asking to get “things”… as in buy them. So, he was asked what things he would like to take off our plate for household duties, and we ended up with him feeding the cats in the AM and PM, feeding the fish in the PM and putting away his clean dishes (because his dishes and such are in a lower cabinet so he can better reach them). Not a huge list, but it does help us, he has some tasks, and will get a small amount of $$ at the end of each week. The other things he does are things like clearing his place at the table, getting his own setting out, putting his clothes in the hamper or back in his drawer, etc.”

How about ALLOWANCES? For those families who choose to give allowances, what is a reasonable amount for what age?

  • Glenda Spurling writes, “We have a seven dollar per hour for our 16yr old. She’d get $8 outside the home by an employer, the younger one will be getting her first allowance this summer… she is 5 and we do not know what is reasonable for her… We too are wondering.”
  • Vickie Riggs Selleck writes, “Would love to hear others’ input on this one.”
  • Alice Fiddian-Green writes, “Curious what others do also. My son is almost 11 and I don’t yet give him an allowance, but would like to. The chores he is expected to do (w/o allowance, because in my mind the 2 are connected) are: take out compost, bring up recycling bin when it needs to get filled, taken to the curb if not too heavy, set and clear table, make bed, “clean” room on weekend. Would definitely be interested to hear feedback on this one…”
  • Pauline Delton writes,  “Is it totally lame that we figured out around how long each task would take and calculated it into a 5-year old version of an hourly wage? Let’s just say that per week it’s $3 if the whole week is complete.”
  • Monika Szucs Eichler writes, “We have chores that need to be done, and if other things above and beyond those chores are done, then an allowance is given for those things. Our eldest is almost 9 and this is how she can earn an allowance. So if she is highly motivated, she can earn quite a bit in a short amount of time, and will even find chores to do around the house and ask how much she would get paid. Sometimes, its just $2 here or there, for 15 minutes of work.”

Should an allowance be tied into doing chores?

  • Kathleen Roden Spiresno writes, “….there are certain things one does to be a member of a household… extra work… above and beyond the basics… perhaps… though I have learned that most children don’t do anything, and people are shocked that my son has had “jobs” since he was 2.”
  • Kelly Bevan McIlquham writes, “I’m right with Kathleen … our kids have had jobs around the house since they were very little and we have always explained that this is what it means to be part of a family and keep things running. We’ve tried the allowance for EXTRA chores and usually the excitement for that wears out quickly. The one chore I think is worth the money (paying it out and receiving) is the 10 cents a dog poop chore after the winter thaw!!!!”
  • Marya Zilberberg writes, “It’s a good idea…”
  • Diane Hinze Kanzler, “It was when I was a kid.”
  • Jane Stephenson writes, “I don’t believe on allowances, but I do believe in weekly ‘wages’ tied to predictable, accessible jobs that help household, (but only if kids are motivated to participate.)”

How do you motive your kids to do their household chores?

  • Mary Murphy Brazeau writes, “We try not to call them chores but service. Families serve one another. Fun things can’t happen until our service is done. Does not always work, however after many years they know I’m not fooling.”
  • John Boydston writes, “I sing ’em a song called “Do The Chores.” Doesn’t work but I sing it anyway.”
  • Annie Bob DeCoteau writes, “We have community chores that you have to do because you are part of our “community”. We reward with “coins” and coins can be taken away throughout the week. Coins can be turned in for money, screen time, or special treats.”
  • Amanda Allen writes, “Many hands make light work… as part of a family it is their responsibility to help.”

How do you teach your children about money?

  • Lala Welsh writes, “This is such a good question. I have been observing my own concerns about money – and how I say “that’s expensive” or “we can’t afford that right now”. And then there is “wasting” food (we currently don’t have a place to compost) = wasting money – I don’t feel good about any of the things I have been saying – but at least I am starting to become more aware – would love to hear what others are doing/have learned.”
  • Donna Todd Rivers writes, “A great book for kids about fiscal responsibility, charity and entrepreneurial spirit is Danny Dollar Millionaire by Tyrone Allan Jackson.
  • Shannon Malone Kopacz writes, “For my older children (10yrs+) I used our actual bills and monopoly money. I paid them a weekly salary and then told them what bills were due that week, cost of groceries, gas fill up, etc. just like we have in real life. I threw in a couple of plausible emergencies (car trouble, sick kiddo= doctors visit and meds, etc). I had them go thru an entire month on the bill calendar. The play money really helped to show them that money is finite and that you must plan ahead for emergencies.”

(Photo credit: (ccl) Andrea R)

3 Comments on “Q&A: How Does Your Family Approach Chores, Allowances and Educating Kids About Finances?

  1. Funnily enough, my daughter (in the pic above) and I were talking last night about how kids should learn how to do chores around the house. We refer to it as training to be a grown up some day. ;) So when they move out, they know what they are supposed to do to look after themselves.

  2. Thanks for the ideas and opinions about chores and allowances. we don’t DO allowances yet – haven’t figured out a ‘system’ that would work for our household. sorting / folding/ putting away laundry; emptying dishwasher; sweeping the kitchen floor; drying pots/pans – these are the types of chores that we have in our home. I do want to expand them to include more outdoor chores too, but as far as mowing the lawn goes – we’re going to wait until our oldest is 12 or maybe even 13. I figure he can mow, when he can START (pull the cord) the mower. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/suppl/2008/02/25/107.6.1480.DC1/p2_1480.pdf

  3. I know that I have read many thought-provoking articles here on the HF website (I remember a visiting author who recently gave a talk – or a workshop?) and it has really made me think about raising responsible kids. While we’re driving our own kids around we also tend to wait on them hand and foot (and resent it); giving them things that they are responsible for helps them and helps us, too. As for allowances, I’m torn:: mostly because we never had pocket money growing up. Our town’s bank has a student savings program, I prefer to give them small amounts to deposit there so they can see how their savings grow, and then we can make withdrawls and share the costs of the things they want to buy.

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