Chores and Allowance - Winston Salem,NC

Updated on December 31, 2009
R.S. asks from Winston Salem, NC
11 answers

At what age do you start distributing chores and how much do you pay for allowance?

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answers from Charlotte on

My kids are 8,12,14 they all have stuff to do in the house. My kids know we are a family we all made the mess so all need to clean it up. I pick one day week to clean the others they have keep room strait. I don't give no money for this but do for grades and they also know that if things get done then we all get go do something as family or with thier friends so that cost money. In way they do get paid. Dont know if this helps I did start young with mine helping even if it was just picking up their stuff or cleaning off/setting table. In my eyes kids dont get this enough now days. Happy New Years

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answers from Memphis on

I like Dave Ramsey's ideas on this -- in fact, "Financial Peace Junior" is what I had my mom get my boys (3 & 5) for Christmas this year. We've read some of the books, but haven't started with "the program" yet -- I figure once we get back into a routine with the New Year we'll start.

Basically, he doesn't like the term "allowance" -- it's too much like Welfare, where you get money simply for existing, which doesn't work in the job market. In the real world, if you do work, you get paid; if you don't work, you don't get paid -- he thinks children should learn those principles. To do this, you establish certain chores that they need to do around the house (obviously, with starting out, especially with young children like yours and mine, you'll have to do a lot of hands-on time, doing half the work yourself, as "they" clean their room or whatever). But, there also needs to be things they do without getting paid, just because it's the right thing to do, and builds character.

An example of a chore chart would include something like feeding the dog, or loading the dishwasher every night (obviously, for older children). Each chore earned them a certain amount (like a dollar), so if they did their chores every night, then at the end of the week, they would get $5. If they didn't do a chore one day, they'd only get $4. But if they shirked their duty several times that week, they'd get some form of punishment, because they starved the dog. There was a minimum amount of effort they needed to put forth, "just because I said so," and if they let too many of their chores slide for too many days, they needed to be put right.

How much to pay depends on your own financial circumstances -- a single mom with 4 kids won't be able to afford the same pay scale as someone making 6 figures with 1 child. As a SAHM married to a teacher, we don't have just a ton of money, so my children definitely get on the low end of the pay grade... but then, I'm training them to get stuff at yard sales, and a dollar goes a lot further there, than at the store.

In "The Tightwad Gazette" books, the author did not give her children an allowance, and said she paid them "slave labor" wages (not above $1 per hour). However, that was almost 20 years ago now, when minimum wage was probably still about $3-4/hr, so you might want to increase that standard a bit. ;-) But, basically she would see how long it took to complete a task like taking the compost bucket out to the compost pile (they had a large farm with plenty of chores available to do), and if it took 5 minutes to go out and back, then three trips earned the child a quarter. But she didn't pay them for everything they did -- some things were done just to pitch in and help the family -- she noted one time that 5 of her 6 children cheerfully worked together with her canning vegetables, without expecting remuneration (the 6th child was helping her husband with a task).

The good thing about starting as young as you are, is that your daughter still probably thinks everything is a fun game -- take advantage of that! Turn "chores" into "fun time" and then pay her money (my kids would rather have 5 pennies than 2 quarters, because "5 is better than 2" -- I'm gonna have to work on that!) according to what you can afford, and how difficult the job was, and how diligently she worked. But, yes, start now!

What sort of chores? Depends on what you have to do in the house, as well as your child's aptitude and attitude. You may or may not want to pay her for cleaning her room, if that's something you think falls into the category of "you're a member of this family, so you need to do a minimum amount of work in this house". But you can start working with her now, teaching her how to sweep and vacuum floors, fold towels and other simple things, separate her clean clothes from yours and perhaps put them away, etc. Try to find things that she will think are fun to do, at least to start, to get off on the right foot.

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answers from Charlotte on

I, too, am a Dave Ramsey fan, and my son (5) has started to work on "commission." Here's a link to Dave's article: There are certain chores he doesn't get paid for but still has to do as a part of the family (basically, hygeine stuff and taking care of HIS toys, schoolwork, etc.) I used MSExcel to make him a spreadsheet for his chores and used pictures to help him remember what he's supposed to do (i.e. a toothbrush next to "brush teeth"). Then I made the squares large enough to put a star sticker in. If he does ALL his chores for the day, he earns his "commission." Since he's 5 and he's just starting to learn about money, he gets $0.12/day. If he doesn't do his chores, he doesn't get paid.

We got him "My Giving Bank" for Christmas this year. So he puts the dime in the "store" spot, and a penny in both the bank and the church spot in his bank. Of course, he's 5 so he doesn't really get it yet, but I figure if we start the habits while he's young, then by the time he has real income he'll know what to do with it.

His daily chores are as follows...
Morning: Get dressed, make bed (pull the covers up), put breakfast dishes by the sink, brush teeth, comb hair, put laundry in the sorter in the laudry room, swish the toilet (I have the toilet brush in a bleach solution), swipe the bathroom counter (using a Clorox wipe)

After school: Put snack dishes by the sink, Swiffer the kitchen floor, set the table for dinner

Before bed: pick up toys, put on pjs, brush teeth

He also has a spot for his if he's respectful, he gets a star there, but if he's rude, no star.

Other chores he can do: put away his laundry, "mop" the floor (I use the Swiffer Sweeper wet cloths), empty the silverware and pots and pans from the dishwasher, pick up garbage/help clean out the car. These extra chores are worth a nickel a piece.

I hope this helps. I think it's so important to teach our children work ethic at an early age! Many blessings in your endeavors.



answers from Johnson City on

We started giving our daughter an allowance when she started Kindergarten. Then I also give her snack money each day she goes to school. If she decided not to eat snack that day she could keep that money for herself.

Before the allowance...every time she went shopping with me she wanted everything.

After the allowance... she had to have enough money to buy what she wanted unless it was something I wanted to buy for her.

She has been very good at managing money. She saved over $500 and bought a dog. She also uses her money to pay the dog's vet bill and buy his food, treats, etc.

I put a limit to what I would spend on her clothes... we buy her new clothes when school starts and usually again around the first of the year. She can buy any other clothes with her money... and she does this more than I thought she would.

As for chores... I don't make her do a lot except keep her room clean; put her clothes away; and help pick up the dog's toys. When she really helps me a lot I do try to pay her a little but in general she doesn't get money for helping do the chores I expect her to do. I did implement one rule... that when she has friends over and they trash her room - it is her responsibility to clean it back up. It's funny... most of the time she makes them help her clean it :)



answers from Charlotte on

I believe that children should have set tasks that they do as a member of the family and anything beyond that they get paid for. I also know families in which their child gets a weekly allowance not tied to chores, but does get extra for doing extra. As far as amount goes, just pick what you think is fair. Also with four year olds it might be easier to pay in pennies or $1 bills and gradually teach that 10 pennies = one dime, etc.

The last family I nannied for had a four-year-old and 17-month-old when I started. I started by having them both help pick up their own toys, bring me their dirty dishes from the table, and put their shoes and jackets away when we came in (with help for little one). After a month or two I added "making" their beds and putting their dirty clothes in the hampers (sorted by dark/lights) in the mornings. As 4-yr-old got a little older, I added helping me change his bed linens each week (or if he soiled them), sorting dry laundry by where it belonged (mom/dad's room, kids' room, bathroom), matching his socks, unloading flatwear from the dishwasher, and chosing his own clothes. When their baby sister was born they both "helped" with her. The extra stuff the older one did that earned extra privileges was helping clean the bathroom and kitchen once per week, helping vacuume as needed (with the hose around furniture legs and base boards), and helping organize toys and books every so often. I know that sounds like a lot, but he often offered to do the extra stuff without being asked. The every day stuff was made into a game and involved other skills I was trying to build in addition to basic life skills, such has color recognition, sorting/counting skills, strength, hand-eye coordination.

As I said earlier I rewarded the extra stuff with extra priveleges or special time together (a prime comodity once baby sister came along). I believe his parents would reward him with money for extra stuff he would do for them.



answers from Charleston on

In "The Ann Landers Encyclopedia" (old, a little dated on some things, but a great reference otherwise) it says that children really start to develop a work ethic from 4-6. Though my son just turned 3, I have already started giving him little tasks, like folding dish towels(usually into a ball) for the last year or so. I agree with alot of what Amanda said, as us Americans have the tendency to really spoil our kids. One thing though, iis that I am big on praise, and affection, and verbal recognition of efforts and things done right, it seems to build a kid's esteem more than an object, and I believe that it doesn't set them up to always be expecting, or feel entitled to whatever they want later in life, even if they do the right things. Luckily, it seems to do some good, I can go into any store, even a toy store and when I say'time to go' we go, without buying a thing, and without a tantrum. But, I can also see the point in using an allowance to teach money managing skills, too, just make sure that the allowance ought goods aren't being piggybacked by buying toys for your daughter, too, or the lesson will be lost!



answers from Jacksonville on

I started "chores" as soon as they could hold a sponge or a dust rag. WHen they were 3 they had a room with my or an older siblings' help. We do chores daily, on Saturday we do rooms.
Now I have a chore chart on the calendar. THere are on 4 day cycles. I have four kids in the house so
Day 1 Cat take care of everything cat feeding and scooping
Day 2 Dog same for dog, let them out and in and feed, scoop
Day 3 Dishes/kitchen
Day 4 off
THese days also have specific rooms on Saturday to clean. ie the cat person cleans both bathrooms,kitchen person does two rooms, etc.
I started this when my youngest was a baby and they know which day is their's, if there ever is an arguement, it's on the calendar.
I do not pay my children an allowance. We all chip in and they get enough money from Grandmas and Aunts on birthdays and holidays.



answers from Charlotte on

Well I'm of the opinion that shelter over your head and food in your belly is enough allowance and that chores were a contribution to the family. My son was taught to pick up toys and other stuff from the age of 2 years old. When he turned 4 we started with making beds and stripping the beds. We also taught him to put up his laundry. By 5-6 years old he was dusting in addition to picking up and making the bed. He was taking the trash from the bathroom to the kitchen once a week. Now at age 9 he does all of those plus takes the big trash out plus feed his dog. We do not pay him for doing chores. It is an expectation that he does these. He needs to learn how to do those things because one of these days he's going to be on his own and should know how to pick up, make beds, feed pets, and take out trash. I've recently introduced him to dishwashing but I have to go behind him and re-clean everything but he's still doing it. I reward him everytime we go shopping. His "allowance" is that he gets to pick one thing to buy whether it be a toy, shoes, book, etc. That's it. I do not give him money at this age. I have discussed giving him an allowance when he gets to middle school so he can buy the trendy, popular thing of the month. I for one think that paying an allowance to a child so young is not appropriate. Think about it, how many times do you walk in a store and come out with something for your kids. What did they do to earn what you bought them? Chances are they did nothing to earn or deserve the trinket that was bought. When my son starts in on being paid an allowance, I remind him of the Transformer I purchased for him a few days earlier. This is soleley my opinion. I didn't read the other responses; I'm sure many would disagree with me.



answers from Nashville on

We do not do an allowance in our family. When my children need money they ask for it and we decide if it is something we will pay for. My children are in academic magnet schools and they have a lot of homework every night so we do not have daily chores. I rotate asking my children to do tasks to help get ready for dinner. If one of them is watching TV and the other is doing homework I ask the child that is watching TV to help me.

On Saturday mornings I look around the house and estimate how long it will take to clean up. Some weeks it is an hour with all 4 children helping. Other weeks we may have guests coming for dinner and it may be 4 hours to get the house really clean. When we clean we crank up the kids favorite music and make it fun.

Your daughter is 4 and she can start helping do things like folding the washcloths and hand towels while you fold the bath towels. She can set the table while you make dinner if you get out the dishes for her. She can pick up her toys. She can help you make her bed. She can dust furniture and wipe down baseboards. Just look at the tasks you are doing every day and see which ones she can do. The key with 4 year olds is that they can "help" you do things, but developmentally they are not really able to do many chores alone yet.



answers from Huntington on

I started them out as soon as they were interested in "helping", simple tasks like dusting,around 3 yo. Rinsing and putting away the dishes started around 4, emptying the compost around around 5, washing their own clothes around 6, washing dishes around 7, sweeping around 8, vacuuming around 9, burning trash around 10. Of course each kid is different, with different skills, abilities & talents,so these are just approximations. Allowences weren't freely given, only given if all assigned chores were done in a timely manner. Allowences were stopped when they were old enough to get after-school jobs.



answers from Nashville on

you can never start too soon. Start with her helping you and her picking up behind herself...her toys, clothes, dishes after eating, etc. You can give allowance if you choose or a reward system. I used Funshine bears (you can use a favorite character of hers). I have an envelope on the frig with funshine bears attatched to popsicle sticks. When she does something worth rewarding she gets a funshine bear (something bad she gets a grumpy bear). When she gets 5 she gets to choose something out of the treasure chest...which is a box with goodies/trinkets in it. I have to "renew" it every now and then so it's not the same old stuff.

good luck

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