Going Rate for Allowance and the Suitable Chores to Earn Said Allowance?

Updated on March 27, 2013
H.W. asks from Canyon Country, CA
7 answers

Hello Mamas, I'll give a little back story first- sorry if this gets lengthy for what seems a simple question =). I currently live with my boyfriend and my 7 year old son (I've been a single parent since my son was 3 months old and even living with my boyfriend for the past 2 years, it's been hard for me to let go and share the parenting roll- but as our family is exanding, I must). In the past, I have done chore charts with my son, and the reward for doing what he was asked to do on his chart was a quarter a day- he loved it. Sadly, both of us got lazy with the rewards and the whole system just kind of stopped. Come this Sunday, my 17 year step son (my boyfriends son, I call him my step son, just as my boyfriend calls my son his step son) will be moving in with us. (He has had a very rough home life with his bio mom and was made a warden of the state mid last year after his bio mother was arrested-that's a whole long, troubling story, and because of his bio mom, he has not had any contact with his dad since he was 3. Him and my boyfriend, his dad, have been building their relationship since the whole ordeal happened last year and their bond is getting stronger by the day, the move is going to be very beneficial for my step son and he is eagerly looking forward to living with us). We are also currently in the process of buying a bigger home for all of us (and hopefully my step daughter will move down here with us too, but she's over 18 so it's a differnt ball park than with my step son). My best friend of 15 years will also be buying the house with us, and that means I'll be the only female in a house with 4 boys- eewww LOL. Currently I do the majority (95%) of the house work and grocery shopping. I also work full time, am a full time student, on PTA, team mom for all my son's sports, coach soccer in the fall and wear every other hat that a mother has to endure daily. With that being said, having a 5 bedroom house and 4 boys under the roof, I refuse to do it all by myself. I recently just did a big spring cleaning of our current house and got rid of a bunch, and I mean a bunch of stuff, what we are keeping is now organized and labeled, everything has a home, and my house is now clutter free and I want it to stay that way. My boyfriend and I have sat down together and made a household chore list that we want to divide among us (me, boyfriend, roommate, 7 year old and 17 year old). For my 7 year old, his chore list consists of keeping his room clean, emptying the trash can in his room weekly, helping me take the trash out on pick up day, helping me do his laundry (I don't trust him with laundry soap lol, but he can seperate, load the washer/dryer and help put away), clean his bathroom sink daily (I hate toothepast globs in the sink and he's natorious for them), homework, good behaivor in and out of school, and dust his room weekly. On his chore chart, next to each item, daily, he will put either a happy face if the job was done or a sad face if it wasn't (mainly using sad face for good behaivor and attitude, and he will get one warning to change his behaivor or attitude before it's marked as a sad face). For every sad face a quarter will be taken off of his weekly allowance of 5 bucks, and thankfully, both boyfriend and I agreed on this. Now for my 17 year old step son. He is currently living on a farm with his aunt and uncle, who are his "foster" parents, during this whole ordeal with his bio mom. I talk to his aunt all the time and have asked her about his current chores, obviously what he does there is a bit different then what he would do here, as we don't live on a farm. But we thought his chore list (trying to be fair between all members of household and taking into consideration age), would consist of: doing his own laundry (he does this now), cleaning the bathroom he will share with my 7 yr old (the 7 year old will also have to help with this, they will do it together), dusting the dining room and living room (totalling about 10 surfaces as it's one large room ), dishes twice a week (we have a dishwasher so this is just rinsing and putting in dishwasher, the rest of household will split the other days), helping me and 7 year old take out trash on pick up day, keeping his room clean, and homework complete. He will also have same type of system with happy and sad faces, probably won't use actual happy and sad faces as he is 17 lol, but if he doesn't do what's on his list, money will be taken off weekly allowance. I was thinking that 20 a week is a good amount for a 17 year old. (He currently does not have a license so car, gas and insurance are not factors). The rest of the housework will be divided between me, boyfriend and roommate. There are certain tasks I have already assigned myself as I like them done a certain way (cleaning out fridge and pantry, vacuuming and mopping, grocery shopping as I am a big coupon person and can't trust the older men in the house to get a good bargain or stick to the list lol). Each adult will be responsible for their own laundry (I don't let boyfriend do mine and I don't do his as we both have certain ways we like it done lol), their own bathroom, and we'll take turns for cleaning the front and back patios and dishes on the nights 17 year old doesn't do them. Eventually dog care will be added to both boys chore lists, as we plan on getting a dog. I want the household to run smoothly and I want it to be fair for everyone- I especially don't want my step son to feel that it's not fair or that he has to do everything and the 7 year old is getting off easy. (Because relationships are still being built, he's moving from another state so he won't have many friends to start with, and my boyfriend, I and 7 year old already have a routine from living together for 2 years, I don't want him to feel like an outsider or Cinderfella- if that makes sense. I want to make sure that he knows the rules and chores but still feels like part of the family- I hope that explained it better.) Is there anything I missed? Would you do anything differently? Do these seem like fair lists for the two boys? Do the amounts seem fair? What do you give your kids for allowance and what chores do they have to do?
Thank you ladies in advance for your comments, they are always much appreciated!
Take care,

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So What Happened?

First, thank you ladies for the responses. My boyfriend and I sat down, read them all and discussed them all. After much talking, we decided that chores with allowance was the best scenario for us. We feel the kids will have to learn how to manage their money, and save it if there is something that they really want, as they will have to pay for it themselves. We both agreed that since both of us work full time (he works over 50 hours a week and most Saturdays) and I work 40 hours a week, but do most of the mom taxi services and am a full time student that having the kids do chores will be good for all of us to keep our house cleaned and then the kids can earn money and we aren't constantly having to tell them no when they want something, because now they have their own money- we figured chores were just like a job, you do the work, you get paid, you might not always like it but that's the ropes LOL. We did sit down with my 7 year old and went over his chore list in detail, and the allowance and the consequences for not getting the list done weekly. We also did this with our 17 year old and he was actually excited about it (as I mentioned, he had a horrible home life with his mother and was never given money to do things or buy things and things were never bought for him, so he very much liked the idea of working to get some spending cash). He even suggested a few more chores to add to his list, saying adding them made the $20 bucks a week more fair. He too has consequences if he doesn't do his chore list. One comment mentioned him getting a job, and while my boyfriend and I agree with that, we feel that since the graduation requirements of his old high school and his new high school vary so much, and he is starting so close to the end of the school year, that during the school year, he should just focus on school work and meeting new friends. We already have a summer job lined up for him through a great family friend and he is very excited about- "as long as it doesn't interfere with summer school" those were my step sons words, as his trying to graduate a semester early. All in all my step son has been here for about 2 weeks, and we started his chore list the week he got here and he's doing great. He even does extra stuff that is not even on his list with out having to be asked. Our house is running smoothly and we all agree this arraingement is fair for all. So it's going good. Again, thank you all for your comments, they are always much appreciated!

More Answers



answers from Boston on

I think your list is fair, but I personally don't do allowance for a basic chore list. No one pays me to clean so why should I pay someone else to clean. Allowance for me comes into play for above and beyond. My daughter is 16. She is responsible for her own laundry, her own bedroom, the trash, the dishes, and the litter box. I do everything else. She gets no money for any of this. If she chooses to say sweep and mop, or clean the bathroom, then I'll give her money because it's beyond her normal chores.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

The problem with paying kids for chores is they get bored after a while, and decide they no longer want to do them. Young kids don't really need money so it's not very motivating, you know? The teen may be more motivated, but he should probably be looking for a part time job at his age, or maybe he can agree to take on extra work around the house to earn money, like washing the cars, mowing the lawn, watching your son, stuff like that. But I think the everyday family chores should be done without pay, because it's not an option or a reward, but part of being a family.


answers from Columbia on

In our house, we take care of our jobs and responsibilities before any relaxing or fun stuff. We started with a basic chore list, yes, and basically said "if you want to play games, go out, do 'your' thing, you WILL contribute."

Those things are not connected to money. They are part of being a member of the family. Everyone contributes. It's not fair to make mom and dad do everything. Kids are not kings, and it's important to us not to relate the contribution they make in the home to a "what do I get for doing this work?" attitude. They don't get anything for their chores except our appreciation for the help and praise for a job well done.

However, as kids get older, they do need a bit of spending money and to begin to understand how to handle money in a responsible way. For allowance, we pay 50 cents per year of age. So, for example, our 10 year old gets $5 per week. Payday is every two weeks, on Saturday. The kids get paid the day after we get paid (approximately). On payday, they get their money, and then have to pay 10% into tithe and 20% into long-term savings. This establishes a habit that will follow them into adulthood. The rest is theirs to spend or save as they wish. Before holidays, they like to keep a short-term savings as well.

It's so important that kids understand money. How it comes in and where it goes. That when it's gone, it's gone. That we can't just whip out a card or write a check when we don't have money in the bank.

We don't hide that from our kids. They NEED to know that leaving the lights on and the front door open means a $200 electric bill instead of a $160 one. Allowing them to know that makes them more thoughtful and considerate of how the family runs.

Best of luck to you!

C. Lee



answers from Pittsburgh on

I think your system sounds great. A friend has 5 kids and does something very similar. The way she has it set up, her kids get a set allowance ($20 for the older teens, less for younger kids, just as you propose). She has a monetary amount by each chore, and if she has to do the chore for the child, that child has to pay her the amount. So it's similar to yours because if they didn't do any chores for the week, they would lose their entire allowance because they would have to pay it to her.

Another thing she does is have a list of extras at the bottom of the chart. They are things that need to be done everyone once in a while, but aren't assigned to anyone. If a child wants to earn some extra $$, they can do one of the extras. The extras change all the time depending on what needs to be done around the house, and can be either big or small projects (wash the windows from the inside, wash the car, etc).

One category I don't see on your list at all is outside housework: mowing, trimming, weeding, etc. You might tailor your list to the child's interests. If, for example, he prefers to be outside, you might have more success in getting him to mow and trim weekly rather than do the dishes twice a week. But that depends on his personality and what kinds of things need done outside at your house.

And I assume your husband will have chores on the list too? Your SS is likely to identify the most with his dad, and so it will be important for your husband to be a good role model in terms of having and doing chores.



answers from Washington DC on

I think your lists seem basically fair. I'd be a little concerned that your whole system is basically about starting with money and trying to not LOSE it, rather than EARNING it (it's subtle, but it makes a difference). I also think your chorse (esp for the 7 year olds) are more about self-care than helping the household, but if that's all you WANT him to do, fine.

Paying for chores is a slippery slope, what if they decide they don't need the money? What if you ask them to do something extra?

If you're set on this plan, I think you will be fine with it. If you're open to suggestion:

-My 7 year old DS has the following "jobs" in our house: Keep room tidy daily, vacuum weekly; sort his laundry and run colors (he isn't allowed to use bleach)... I have to move the clean clothes from washer to dryer because he can't reach down in, but everything else he does on his own; fold and put away clean clothes; sort and fold family whites; put away clean silverware; set and clear table for every dinner; pack his own snack on school days; sole responsibility for recycling (sorting, taking to garage, and dragging to curb on pick up day); take garbage to curb and back on pick up day; bring in and sort mail; vacuum family areas when asked; clean his bathroom when asked.

We use a check mark chart not an allowance. He picks out a toy or game he wants and we set a number of checkmarks required to earn it (usually 200 or so). He also needs 5 check marks each day to use computer, tv, or video games that day.




answers from New York on

The 17 year old would probably be better served getting a job or doing odd jobs to earn money. You do housework, not for allowance at 17 years old but because you are a part of the family and that is just what family does. We work together to keep the place clean and neat and we help each other out from time to time and that kind of help may earn you some extra pocket change. My 18 year old son on spring break was asked to do me and hubby's laundry. We just didn't have time to do it. He did it and that earned him $21.00 for his 3 hours of work (shelping it to the laundry mat, washing, drying and folding). He did a great job and it was outside of the scope of his regular household stuff. (He still needs to do his laundry since I took up his laundry time with my laundry. It was too many bags to make one trip.)

When and if the 17 year old comes to live with you, please set establish the ground rules. This way he knows what to expect and so do you. Keep the lines of communication open.

The 17 year old while not quite an adult needs to be given the same kind of weight with the chores around the house than just the ones listed. My thoughts behind this is preparing him to be on his own and/or some day having a family of his own he may have to shop, cook, and clean for.


answers from San Diego on


I just want to commend you on being so thoughtful with this situation. It may not turn out exactly as planned (as things with kids often don't), but the fact that you've put in so much effort and thought into making this organized, fair as well as keeping your kids responsible is really commendable.

My only suggestion, since you're asking us, is to include the 17 year old in this decision. Perhaps send him an almost identical letter of what you just wrote to us and ask him for his thoughts and suggestions. This, above anything, will make him feel like he is an important part of the family with a voice that you are willing to hear and listen.


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