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Friday, July 19, 2013

"Who Wants to Earn Some Money?"

That was the question Papa Oak called out yesterday morning. The response, of course, was immediate.

Who doesn't want to earn some money? Who doesn't want to have some of their own money to spend as they choose? And these kids are being treated to a trip to Disney World by their grandparents this fall, so they are eager to earn every penny they can. Bring on the chores! Every family has different ways of doing chores, allowance, and money. It took us a little while to hit our stride, but the system we have in place has been working for several years now.

Our chore system began in response to Curly (aka The Hoarder), then about five, asking to buy every thing in every store we ever visited. Frankly, the constant questioning and refusal on my part was exhausting. I knew it was time for the child to learn to make his own decisions about what to spend and how to spend it. He would learn the value of money and maybe some hard lessons along the way. And he has. It has been encouraging to see him think through whether or not he REALLY wanted that bouncy ball.

So... here's how it works.

In the early days, we sat down and made a list of all the possible chores the kids could do to earn money. There are some chores that do not earn money such as cleaning their rooms, putting away their things, setting the table, and helping with the groceries. But there are plenty of paying chores left to be had!
Okay, he might be a little too excited.

Once we had the list, we assigned each chore a value in ten cent increments. Some of the values have changed over the years as the kids have gotten bigger and the chore has gotten "easier." Some examples of the chores that pay include vacuuming, emptying the dishwasher, cleaning the cat litter (which no one has ever done!), doing laundry, and taking out the trash.
Bringing the laundry downstairs and sorting it is a popular job.

For a while, we kept the list posted on the fridge so the kids could see exactly what they were earning. Now they know the values, so the list has long since left the house.

After the kids complete a chore, they put marbles in their jar. One marble = ten cents. (I won't even talk about the math lessons here!)

When the jar is full, the kids count out the marbles and have a pay day. The marbles go back in the reserve marble basket; the kids get paid. And it all starts all over again.

Some of the chores are things we tell the kids to do. Some of the chores are things they might ask to do to earn more money. In the beginning we required three chores per day that they could select. But that didn't work out so well for us. They often chose the easiest chores to be finished quickly, but the bigger jobs weren't being completed. I think they have forgotten that was once an option. Now they just do what they are asked, however many jobs that might be.

On payday, the kids are to split their money into three different containers: God, savings, and spending.

I like this system because it gives them some control over the process. Curly has come to me recently, of his own accord, and told me how fair he thinks the system is. He understands that in the real world you don't get money for doing nothing, so this is good practice. He appreciates how the value increases as the chores increase in difficulty. But mostly, he appreciates that once he is paid, the money is his. He can spend it however he likes.

Now we're working on the lesson of credit. He wants to buy something when we're out when he hasn't brought any money along. But that's a post for another day. :)


  1. I really like the math applications for this! I don't think it would work well in our house but it sounds like it's working really well with your kids and it's great that they have the chance to earn money for their trip.

  2. Thanks, Sharla! We have tweaked it some since we began, but it has been working well. :)