“How much to pay kids for chores?” is a question my wife have wrestled with. “ I’ve already explained in a previous post why we don’t give our kids allowances. I’m not giving them money just for existing, which is what an allowance implies. Kids need to feel the burden of work so they can experience the joy of its rewards.
In addition to earning some money, doing chores around the house is teaching them responsibility. The home is where they should begin to learn basic life skills. I knew some freshman college students who couldn’t do their own laundry. My oldest two children have been doing that since they were nine.
Questions About Paying Kids For Chores
There are so many questions that arise for parents on the issue of paying kids for chores. Some of the big ones we’ve wrestled with include:
“At what age should we start?”
“What tasks should my kids be doing?”
“Do I pay them for everything?”
“How much should I be paying them?”
I’m not sure there is a cut and dry answer to those questions. We’ve gone back and forth on the issues since we began our work-for-pay commission program. Five years into it, this is how we see it:
1. We choose age appropriate chores for each kid. These began at age 5 or 6. (Our oldest was actually 8 when we started the program.)
2. We don’t pay them for all work around the house. There are some tasks they simply do because they are part of the family. For us those include things like making beds, doing dishes, setting/cleaning the table, walking the dog, running errands around the house, getting the mail, packing school lunches, and picking up toys outside.
3. We don’t pay them equally. Some chores are worth more than others because of their difficulty. The older they get the more chores they do and the more they get paid.
4. There are additional chores they can voluntarily choose to complete for extra money.
How Much to Pay Kids For Chores
The question of how much to pay kids for chores is a tough one. I’ve heard many say the going rate is $1 per task. To me, that rate seems like a good starting point, especially for the young ones. However, as ours aged and the tasks became more challenging, we increased the amount, as you will see below.
My best suggestion is to make the amount paid a part of the monthly budget and do what you can afford. This has to be a personal decision upon evaluation of your own family budget.
Remember the real reward is found in the work ethic and responsibility being developed not in the “how much” they are getting.
If you can’t afford much, try substituting other rewards for chores in lieu of money. Perhaps staying up later, watching an extra hour of TV or getting an additional 30 minutes with the Xbox could be options. We’ve considered implementing these type of reward options for chores but haven’t pulled the trigger yet.
Our List of Chores and Payment Schedule
These are the chores our kids are required to complete at least once per week:
Child #1 – Girl – Age 13
Sweep hardwood floors in the entire downstairs
Take trash to the curb on trash day
Clean and vacuum her bedroom
Thoroughly clean upstairs kids bathroom (sink, toilet, shower, mop)
Mop the kitchen floor on Saturday
Do her personal laundry
Clean up after the dog in the yard with brother
Pay – $10/wk. (if all tasks are completed)
Child #2 – Boy – Age 11
Sweep kitchen floor on Saturday
Clean the downstairs bathroom (sink, toilet)
Clean and vacuum bedroom on Saturday
Clean kitchen widows and glass deck door with Windex
Do his personal laundry
Clean up after dog in the yard with older sister
Pay – $8/wk.
Child #3 – Girl – Age 7
Vacuum upstairs hallway
Empty trash in mom and dad’s bedroom and bathroom
Clean and vacuum her bedroom
Put her clean clothes away (after we launder them)
Vacuum mom and dad’s bedroom
Pay – $5/wk
Child #4 – Boy – Age 6
Wipe down the stairway railings
Empty the kid’s bathroom and all their bedroom trash
Clean his bedroom on Tuesday
Put his clean clothes away (after we launder them)
Water the plants in the house
Pay – $5/wk.
The following infrequent chores the kids can select for extra money, provided they ask us first:
Change bed sheets – $.75
Dust the downstairs – $1.50
Wipe down doors/door jams – $1.50
Clean master bathroom – $2.00
Sweep/clean garage – $3.00
Weed flower beds – $4.00
Scrub kitchen grout – $6.00
Mow the yard – $6.00
Other – depends on job
The Benefits of This Chore System
You might be saying at this point, “That’s a lot of money!”
Some quick calculations would cause me to agree. If all the chores are completed, we are handing over $28 per week to our kids. That’s approximately $1,450 per year.
A couple of points to consider here:
1. Every other week somebody forgets at least one chore, so the actual amount is sometimes less.
2. We can afford and do budget for this. This money doesn’t keep us from paying down debt, putting food on the table or keeping the lights on (which obviously would be higher priorities).
3. We’ve seen some great benefits develop including:
*It’s taught them the value of completing more challenging tasks. They are rewarded more and thus are driven to attempt them.
*It’s helped them buy their own stuff. My daughter purchased her own iPod with the money she saved from her chores.
*It’s relieved the burden we as parents feel when the kids nickel-and-dime us for spending money. All I say now on the smaller requests is “Use your spending money.”
*It’s taught them to use their money wisely. It means more to them because they earned it.
How Much to Pay Kids For Chores Is An Evolving Process
I’m sure this system will continue to evolve, especially as the kids go through their teen years. We will have to add/drop chores and adjust the amount paid as they get older. I’m fine with that though, because as I’ve said multiple times in this two part series, paying kids for chores isn’t all about the money.
If you’d like to download a sample chore sheet you can find one on my “Resources” page by clicking here. It’s an Excel file so you will be able to customize it to whatever chores are being done in your household.
Questions: What thoughts do you have on how much to pay kids for chores? How many chores is too many? Are there chores your kids do just because they are part of the family? Anyone use alternative reward options for finishing chores? Could you do laundry by the time you were a freshman in college?
Image by Luke1428