Kids and Money: Should You Pay Your Children for Chores?

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Most financial experts agree that it is important to start teaching your kids about money when they are young. After all, even toddlers can begin learning a little bit about money, and how it works. Providing solid lessons and opportunities related to money management when your kids are young helps them get used to the choices they will make later in life with regard to their money.

Of course, the issue comes when you start trying to figure out how your children will earn money. Most children are too young to send off to work an after school job. Some parents don’t like the idea of just providing an allowance that isn’t attached to work. Some parents, though, don’t want to pay their children for chores. Here are the arguments for both sides; you can decide what will work best for your family:

Money Shouldn’t Be “Free”: Paying Kids for Chores

One of the main arguments for paying children for chores is that just providing an allowance is a way to encourage kids to learn that money is “free.” Many parents want to attach money to chores to show children that they have to work in order to get money. The lesson is that hard work = money. You don’t just get money for existing (at least you shouldn’t get money for existing).

Some parents choose to give their children an allowance based on whether they accomplished all of their jobs for the week. Others provide a break down, attaching a specific value to certain chores. Industrious and motivated children can earn more money by doing more jobs around the house. This way, kids learn that payment is attached to work, and they have money to manage.

Sometimes We Do Things Even If We’re Not Paid: An Allowance not Attached to Chores

On the other side is the argument that sometimes we do things because we should, and not because there is money involved. Chores are part of being a family, and everyone does chores. I take this side of the argument. My husband and I feel strongly that our son should learn that there are some things we do to help the family — and that we can feel good about doing our duty even without monetary renumeration. We point out that dad doesn’t get paid to mow the lawn, and I don’t get paid to vacuum the floor. We do these things because we are part of the family. My son feels pride in his age-appropriate chores, and likes helping us out.

But he does get an allowance. We have explained to him that his gets an allowance because we want him to learn the basic principles of money management. His allowance is fairly modest, though. If wants to earn more money, we tell him that we will help get started with other ways of earning money. He earns ribbon money for 4-H, and he plans to sell cookies and lemonade this summer. If he helps me with filing or other jobs related to my home business, he is paid for those actions. He also knows that when he is old enough, we will no longer give him an allowance; he will be expected to get an after-school job.

In the end, though, it’s about your preferences. I think that my son is learning valuable lessons about looking for ways to increase income, as well as learning that it’s important to do some things in life without expecting monetary compensation. But I could be wrong. I could be setting him up to think that everything has to be handed to him.

What do you think? Do you pay your kids for chores? Why or why not?

{ 26 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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26 Responses to “Kids and Money: Should You Pay Your Children for Chores?”

  1. Shirley says:

    Whoa, this could be a loaded topic. 😉

    Our kids did the chores that were personally related to themselves: keep your room clean and vacuumed, dump your trash, clothes right side out in the dirty clothes hamper. These were chores, not jobs.

    If a child vacuumed a room used by all, they got paid for a job well done.
    If a job was one that could conceivably be ‘hired out’ like mowing the lawn or pulling weeds, they got paid.
    They all knew how to do laundry by age ten, and were paid for doing so.
    Running errands that did not pertain to them personally were paid for and they could pay one another for jobs.(The latter was not always fair, but they didn’t take long to learn.)

    While they learned about personal responsibility, they also learned the value of earning money and how to save for something special… thank goodness for mason jars.

  2. Kimberly says:

    Very interesting topic and I can see both sides – you don’t want young kids thinking they only help around the house if they are paid but there is also value in teaching them how to earn their money.

    We just had a related discussion on Facebook about when to start and stop allowances. Most experts have suggested starting as soon as they can ask for toys/gifts and stopping around 13, when a child can earn their own money by babysitting, mowing lawns, etc. But some folks gave their kids allowances until age 16 when they could legally work.

    I work with Bellco Credit Union and they just created a video series about Raising Money Smart Kids and one for New Graduates. (Promise, they aren’t selling products, just informational). Miranda, watch one and let me know what you think:

  3. Amy Saves says:

    Yes, I pay my child for chores well done. I don’t give her an allowance just to teach her about money, but I feel that if she works, she should get paid for it. I agree with the first point. 🙂

  4. Jim says:

    As a kid, I had an allowance that wasn’t tied to a specific chore or job; but I had chores. I forget how much it was but I associated the chores and jobs with being a part of the family, not the allowance. I’m not sure what my parents did to separate the two but it was nearly separated in my mind. If I didn’t do the chores, I wasn’t afraid that my allowance was in jeopardy… I was afraid of what my parents would say/do.

  5. Amy says:

    Why is this an either/or? We do both for our son. Part of his allowance is a weekly payment ($1), then he gets $.25 for each time he walks the dog. There are also other chores that are just expected – like cleaning room, clearing the table. If he refuses to walk the dog, he can choose to pay me the $.25 to do the job. The jobs and money will change as he gets older, but this gives us a bit of each. We still have a money management lesson as well as an understanding that some responsibilities are just that, responsibilities.

    • Miranda says:

      What an interesting idea, Amy! Rather than just letting them not do the job and forfeit the money, they see that if they don’t do it, they have to pay someone else to do it. Your hybrid system is something that I will definitely consider going forward!

  6. zapeta says:

    As a kid, I had chores to do and I didn’t receive an allowance, so in my mind they are separate. I like the idea of some chores being required and other odd jobs paying some money.

  7. Strebkr says:

    I think I like the hybrid approach. Can’t wait to try it on my kids when they get old enough.

  8. Debrajoy says:

    We did not pay our kids for chores ~ but DID pay them for excelling in school … we told them that your “job” is school.
    Do Well at your job ~ and it pays you, I told them.
    Only A’s and B’s paid.
    A report card with ALL “A’s” paid an additional BONUS on top of each individual high grade. Our high school only had two semesters,just like college, so the report cards came twice a year.

    It worked very well for us. The youngest (age 20 now) of our Three kids just graduated, Summa cum Laude, in his Economics class at CU Boulder ~ after only three years, as he took advantage of AP classes in high school and went in to University at a sophomore level.

    We came from a very literal communal life-style, since 1976 (shared purse, no private ownership of bank accounts, property or vehicles) ~ and lived pretty comfortably on a shoe string budget, since all shared generally in the same level of economy. Our kids were born and raised there til we all moved out, in 2000, when our eldest two were high school sophomore and junior ages.
    Money for all of us, was a “new” thing and granted, it probably gave our incentive program more weight, than it might with other families. Our kids were generally very studious and have always done very well at and taken school seriously.

    Had we had one who did not excel scholastically ~ this method Could have been a problem. In that case we may have found another skill set to reward as an extra bonus or ‘incentive’…

    Just coming out of communal living and starting off financially in THE Most Basic of ways, we started our program at $25 for each “A” (only four classes per semester) and an additional $50 bonus if all “A’s” were attained. Each of our kids in high-school had the potential to earn $300, each year.

    Another family with more means, might easily make that $25 for a “B”, $50 for each “A” or … (?) with a bigger bonus for all “A’s”.

  9. Grant says:

    I didn’t get an allowance or paid to do chores. We were expected to do our assigned chores and when we needed money to do things, we would ask. The parents acted as the final decision maker on our requests. I think my parents were fortunate for the most part considering I’m quite frugal, so I even felt bad spending their money on unnecessary things, but I wouldn’t expect that from the typical kids. I can say that my sister milked the system much more than I. I think ultimately the hybrid approach is the best as only a limited amount of tasks in life have financial compensation involved. Many other tasks pay dividends in other ways, such as education of one’s self or volunteering. Individuals need to value other things than just financial rewards.

  10. Strebkr says:

    I think that paying for grades could be a nice extra bonus to reward them for hard work.

  11. We have four kids, ages 8 – 17. Our kids have certain chores that they must do just for being part of the family! Everyone pitches in to keep the household running smoothly. We also have bigger, optional jobs that they can choose to do in order to earn extra money. This is working pretty well for our kids.

  12. Robert says:

    I always gave my son an allowance. to teach about money and how to use it wisely. now he is now 19 in college and is pretty good with money

  13. I like Dave Ramsey’s approach to paying a “commission” for a few chores, while the rest are just expected as part of the family. He argues against just giving an allowance, and instead making them earn it through the commission of a couple of chores. I like his approach, because it seems to be a nice hybrid of the two schools of thought.

  14. We never gave our kids an allowance. Instead we taught them the true concept about family. It is a group that relies on one another, nothing is free, we are to serve others, not ourselves, pursue your passion, work hard. Believe in God, stand for what you believe. Being popular isn’t important being honest and true to your convictions is. By teaching these values they have made great decisions and respect all of what they have.

    • Gaby says:

      I TOTALLY agree with you Merrit. You are doing a great job with your kids and I think that we SHOULDNT get payed for our chores because our parents do so much for us!

  15. Noah says:

    i think that kids should be paid it is only fair for them.

  16. emily says:

    Why even think of about it is is plain and simple YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. YourBabyMama. says:

    Kids should not get paid, they should learn their resposibilities !

  18. oliviasully says:

    ….i have 2 do a debate 4 my class.i happen 2 b against having allowance…can some1 giv me a good solid reason?:)

  19. Jack@Article says:

    either that or has a serious mental problem and likes hearing about how that one kid in his school got paid $20.00 to mow the lawn. And
    let us not forget that one kid who gets $12.00 a week.

  20. Anonymous says:

    i would never do thT

  21. supergirl says:

    i agree with you

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