Chores vs. Jobs

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I never got an allowance when I was a kid; there were experiments, sure. I remember, for about a month in 7th grade, when I got $22 a week, with the understanding that I was now responsible for budgeting for EVERYTHING; clothes, field trips, school lunches… EVERYTHING. Like I said above, that lasted about a minute. I don't remember now what the expectations were for me to get that money but I certainly remember how cool I felt with all those fives and ones in my wallet, which I proudly pulled out to pay for my Blue Sky soda in the lunch line.

In raising Max, we're doing something different than how either of us were raised. There's no weekly allowance… no one gives *us* money just for existing. Jamie and I work hard for the money that we have, and no one is giving us anything for free, unless it's a birthday or Christmas.

The way that we've done this with Max is to draw a line between chores and jobs. Chores are the things around the house that he is responsible for, that he takes care of as a member of the family. At ten years old, he's in charge of loading and emptying the dishwasher, keeping the cat boxes scooped and their water dish full, he keeps his bedroom straightened up and (this is the big one!) he does his own laundry.

Jobs are things he gets paid for. He only has one required every day job, which is scooping the cat poop. He gets paid $3 a week, via direct deposit into his savings account, for doing this every day. (Protip: Transfering money automatically via app is much easier than making sure I have $3 on hand when he comes asking! We set him up with a savings account that's linked to our checking, so I can easily “pay” him through our banking app)

Beyond his main job, the other jobs are things for which he gets paid, but they're more one-off things that Jamie or I need help with. He might help sweep the patio, or organize the garage, he's even been known to do MY laundry on occasion, when he's really trying to save for something.

We review his chores and the going payment rate for jobs a couple of times a year; he'll come to us occasionally, and ask how he can earn some money, and we'll have to invent ways for him to earn some cash. You’d be amazed at what your kids might be willing to do when a few bucks are on the line!

Here are some examples of jobs he has done in the past, and what they pay:

  • 1 load of parent laundry, washed and dried $2.00
  • Daily cat box scooping $3.00 per week
  • Wipe down all bathroom counters and sinks $.50 per bathroom
  • Vacuum community spaces in the house $1-2 per room
  • Pick up and put away assorted shoes and misc items around house $1.00
  • Sweep kitchen floor $.50
  • Break down and stack moving boxes $.50/box
  • Scrub down the patio chairs $.50/chair

We're really happy with this system, for two reasons. 1. He's growing up with the understanding and expectation that everyone in the family helps. Everyone has their jobs and responsibilities, and everyone chips in to make life better. And 2. My goal is to send a grown up Max out into the world a self-sufficient man who would be a great partner for whoever he ends up with. I want him to be a man who knows how to load the dishwasher, and how to properly sort a load of laundry.

He's currently trying to save money for a $400 Lego set, so he's always looking for ways to make a few bucks. We've also gotten him to sell off some of his unwanted toys on Facebook. We have him handle the transaction when someone comes to pick the items up; he got $20 when he sold 10 board games to a local teacher; he showed her that all of the pieces were there, explained how to play a couple of them, and was rewarded handsomely for his effort. This can be a bonus great way to clear some stuff out AND give them the responsibility for making their own money too.

How do you manage chores and allowance in your home? What are some jobs that your kids do around the house? I'd love to hear what works for you!

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