Should I Pay My Kids to Do Chores? Here’s My Thoughts

Should I pay my kids to do chores? It’s a question I get asked a lot and today I’m sharing our personal experiences with paying kids for chores, why I think it’s beneficial, and how we’ve incorporated it into our family finances as a whole. So, if you want the inside scoop, today’s episode is for you. Let’s get started.

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Should I Pay My Kids to Do Chores? Here’s My Thoughts

Well hey there and welcome back to another episode of the Financial Fix Up Podcast. I’m your host, Sarah Brumley, and I’m actually really excited about today’s topic because it’s a question I get all of the time, “Should I pay my kids to do chores?”

And a lot of time it comes in the form of parents – normally moms – asking how we’ve managed this over the years, so today I’m going to share my thoughts on the topic and give you a few action items to think about if it’s something you’ve been contemplating for your own family.

Now I know that this can become a controversial topic, but I’m going to let you know right now that I don’t necessarily believe that I have the right answer for every family or for every specific child. So you will have to do your due diligence to decide whether the decisions we’ve made are the right fit for you and yours. Remember, it’s okay that we do things differently. We are raising different kids, we have different family dynamics, and our finances likely don’t look the same either. And that’s okay. So, all that to say, take what you need and leave what you don’t.

Do We Pay Our Kids to Do Chores?

So, let’s talk about paying kids to do chores. In our case we do pay our kids for chore completion. About the time that my oldest was eight or nine, I started assigning chores with small amounts of money attached to them. These were basic household chores, like folding or hanging laundry, matching socks, wiping counters or tables, among others.

I think one of the biggest sources of debate around this subject is that everyone should contribute in a home, so why should kids get paid for doing something that contributes to the home. And that’s a good question, and one I actually have an answer for, starting with the fact that I believe that there are so many life skills that can be taught by doing chores and then by receiving payment for them.

Chores Teach Life Skills

Chores alone teach life skills. So before we jump into the payment aspect of this, I think it’s important to take note of that. Chores help kids practice for life outside of your home someday. So, if your goal is to have them move out and be responsible for a residence and possibly a family of their own, then it’s a good idea that they understand how to take care of themselves and their surroundings.

My favorite thing about assigning chores from an early age is that my girls had a good work ethic. They showed up to their chores and got them – mostly – done well. Of course, I made sure there was no confusion as to what their responsibility was with regard to the chore, we had and still do have checklists for everything, so that they could complete the task and find satisfaction in doing so.

As my older daughter is about to start her first job, I believe that the work ethic she’s learned by completing chores each and every day will pave the way for her to excel in her new position.

So, chores alone teach life skills that are necessary for your child’s future success.

Payment for Chores Teaches Life Skills

I also believe that payment for chores teaches life skills, too.

My girls were responsible for the chores whether they got paid for them or not, but I wanted them to have some additional incentive to do a good job and then be able to be rewarded for the work they did.

Because when they completed those chores and they recognized that hard work actually made a difference for them – when it came to the ability to have a little extra spending money – then they worked even harder. They took ownership over the result because they were getting payment in return for it. And they even asked if they could earn money for doing additional chores. Talk about resourcefulness, right?

I think it’s also fair to say that I’ve fired my kids from chores, too. There have been times when they didn’t do their chores the right way or neglected them entirely. During those times they didn’t get paid. And they may have had to come back and do those same chores without payment for a period of time afterwards too. So, that’s a good life lesson to remember as they work toward having employment outside the home in the future. If you don’t do a good job, you can find yourself without the job AND then money, too.

Additionally, the added money to their wallets means that we get to have conversations and teach them about financial responsibility, about managing their money in a way that not only makes them happy, but blesses the community around them. My oldest might let her money burn a hole in her pocket, but she’s also the most generous person I know. And a lot of that comes from having something to give to start with. Something that she worked for. Something that mattered to her.

So, in addition to the act of chores teaching life skills, I really believe the payment for chores does as well.

What Chores Are They Responsible For?

Of course, it’s important to make sure that the chores that you are assigning your kids are age appropriate and while I’m not going to go into the details of what should be assigned for each age group, I do want you to know that the chores that they were responsible for at age 8 are not the same chores that are done now that my oldest is 17. Also, the payments have changed over the years, too.

What I have tried to do, to the best of my ability, is make sure that the chores stay consistently daily and weekly. That means that it’s not a guessing game for the child as to what they need to complete or when.

How Much Do We Pay Our Kids?

The final piece of this that’s important to discuss is the financial end of things. How much do we pay our kids and are there restrictions on how the money they earn gets spent?

As far as how we pay them, well that’s kinda specific to our financial situation, but I’ll tell you that I have a monthly budget for each kid that I set aside. So, I make sure to divide that by each week in the month and then the chores that I assign reflect the total amount available for that week. So, if I have, let’s say $20 for my oldest each week, then her total chores will add up to that amount. The number rarely changes, but we have made adjustments as chores change or our budget has changed for the better. Hopefully that makes sense. I could give you my exact amount but it wouldn’t help you determine what’s best for your kid or your financial situation.

How Does the Money Get Spent?

Now, I do choose to pay my kids a little more each week because I believe that once they start earning money, they should also starting having some financial responsibility. At least as they hit their teen years. In our case, we’ve made it the teenagers responsibility to use their “income” for:

  • makeup
  • personal items beyond what I’m already buying
  • take out
  • friend outings

…among other things. These items go above and beyond their basic needs, so we’re still paying for food, the majority of necessary clothing items, housing, toiletries, and so on. But anything they want above and beyond should be purchased using their money. Of course they have plenty of leftover for spending, too, but this way we are able to pay them for their chores without overspending our budget at the same time. And their starting to understand the importance of managing their money, too.

We didn’t really implement this until the girls hit their teen years, but in retrospect, I wish I’d done it sooner – although I’m not entirely certain what my guidelines would have been. Maybe in a few years when our little guy is older, I might have a better idea for you. Hehe.

Should You Pay Your Kids to Do Chores?

So, long story short, we do pay our kids for chores. And I’m a big fan of it for a lot of reasons, but mostly because it’s such an easy way to teach our kids real life skills within the safety and security of our own homes.

Should you pay your kids to do chores? Well, only you can make that decision. But, if you decide to, I’d like to suggest a couple of things:

  1. Choose chores that are specific to your child, things that they are capable of accomplishing
  2. Be specific with the results you want to see
  3. Make sure that your payment isn’t going to create issues for your family finances as a whole

Whatever you decide, just know that I’m cheering you on! You’ve got this! Have an amazing day and I’ll chat with you again next time!