chores and allowance

Last Updated on March 19, 2024

There is a topic debated over the years by many moms. And it’s one we struggled with as we raised our five children. How should we handle chores and allowance? What is the best way to teach our kids about money and responsibility through these tools?

After years of parenting and a little bit of trial and error too, we found a system that worked really well for our kids that they are now passing on to their own.

The importance of chores

I have found it helpful to separate chores from allowances.

Why? Because having a chore is simply part of being a family. Everyone in the family needs to pitch in to help. One day your child will need to pitch in to do her share in an apartment she shares with friends. A son should be prepared to share the workload of keeping a household in order with his wife. It’s simply part of living in community. You don’t get paid for this.

So in order to prepare them for the future we give our children chores now. The earlier you start, the better.

A 2-year-old can help pick up toys.

A 6-year-old can set the table.

Kids can help cook, clean, take out the trash, and watch siblings.

Once our kids started to read, we created a weekly chore chart. As they got older they did it on the computer and posted it weekly on the refrigerator. Because there were seven of us, we had seven sections of the house that needed to be cleaned.

Chores could be done any time between Friday and 6:00 p.m. on Saturday night. You could trade chores with another sibling. Bathrooms were a dreaded job. Of course the kids complained.

But today my two daughters-in-law are pleased their husbands know how to scrub toilets! Chores are a valuable tool in training in thoughtfulness.

Allowance ideas for kids

Allowances are also a useful training tool. Once your child reaches the age of 5, I think it’s wise to begin an allowance, albeit a small one. Here’s how we did it.

Give the child three envelopes: One for giving (tithe), one for saving, and one for spending (now or later).

Teach them to put at least 10% in their “give” and 10% in their “save” envelopes and the rest in their spend envelope. It may be only nickels, but you’re training them in wise budgeting with an emphasis on giving first. As the kids get older you can adjust the amounts.

I really believe that allowances shouldn’t cover all their “wants.” That is a bottomless well. And granting all their desires will simply promote selfishness. However, there will be times when they need extra money for that “special something.”

So, I keep a running list of extra chores for pay. Cleaning out the garage, scrubbing and cleaning out closets, polishing brass or silver, etc., are some of those extras I never seem to get to and need help with so these go on my extra chore list.

When a child gets desperate for money, you can point them to this list! They’ll begin to earn the money to buy the items they desire, but it may take longer than they want.

This can be a good thing as they learn to wait and to persevere. And sometimes that thing they just “had to have” doesn’t seem so important after a few days.

Be on the lookout for opportunities that present themselves to your family to teach your children that life isn’t all about gaining money or possessions.

When there is devastation somewhere due to weather is an example. This is an opportunity for us to declare a “family work day.” A day in which we as a family can do a project—a bake sale, car wash, yard work, etc., with all donations going to a relief project. Working together as a family purely to give can be transforming for us and for our kids.

What if every family (or several families working together) set aside one day in the next month to do this for others? Not only would a nation be helped, but a family—ours—would be changed.

And a culture just might begin to turn from being “me-centered” to becoming “other-centered.”

How do you handle chores and allowance in your home? What are some tips or tools you’ve tried that work well for your family?

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One Comment

  1. Hi! I’d love to see some sample chore charts if you’d share. I really need to get this as part of our regular plan. THANKS!