Chore Timecard

Pay for chores? Not pay for chores?

Ah the debate.

Over 27 years of parenting, we’ve been all over the map on this issue.  We’ve done allowance, we’ve done no allowance. We have tied allowance to chores. We’ve separated allowance from chores.  The options of how parents handle this issue are endless!

Several years ago, Mark and I took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace class (which, by the way, we HIGHLY recommend!).  Dave is not a believer in allowance.  He believes there needs to be a connection with work and money.  He also believes there are certain responsibilities that kids need to do because they are part of their family.  This caused us to once again look critically at the whole allowance thing.

We eventually came up with a system we have found to work very well.  There are certain jobs that our boys do because they are part of the family: mow the yard, shovel snow, clean the bathrooms, clean their rooms, etc.  These are not jobs they are paid for.

However, there are other jobs that are done on a daily basis such as vacuum the lower level (we vacuum nearly daily because of living in the country!), dishwasher and dishes, and emptying trash throughout the house.  Following a chart I created, the boys are responsible for one of those jobs everyday.

The boys have three parts to their chore: 1) Do the chore, 2) Do it before 5pm, 3) Record your work on your timecard (a.k.a. the dry erase calendar on the fridge).  See the “A” and “K” written in the corner of some of the calendar blocks in this picture.  That’s how the boys “report” their work and that’s what I use to figure their “pay” at the end of the month.

If they do all three, they get $1/day (weekdays only). If they don’t, they don’t get paid. No nagging. No reminding. Our agreement is that if mom or dad see that chore hasn’t been done after 5pm, we can require it to be completed but they will not be paid.  They had to be responsible and have it done on their own and by the pre-determined time to get paid. If they forgot to write it down, they also don’t get paid.

I have loved this system. It is self-motivating. It has natural consequences built into it. Not only that, but it mimics a real work environment where you have certain responsibilities that need to be done within a certain timeframe.  Some jobs require that you punch a timecard.  If you forget…you don’t get paid.

Once paid, our boys manage their money just like a paycheck. They do the 10-10-80 thing…10% to God, 10% to savings, 80% spending.  That’s why I always pay them in $1 bills so it’s easy for them to divide and manage intentionally.  When they hit the teen years, we have them “manage” even more intentionally with a financial notebook we created.  You can download the notebook for free on my website here.

What about you? How do you handle the chore/no chore/allowance/no allowance thing?



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12 thoughts on “Chore Timecard

  1. This is AWESOME! We are Dave Ramsey “nerds”, and our girls (ages 9 & 11) have been doing the Financial Peace Jr. program since they were 5 & 7. We operate very similar to you in that the girls have both things they do because they are part of the family (not paid) and things they do as chores (paid). They are paid on commission, so no work= no pay. I am off now to get my dry erase calendar set up! What a great idea to have them “punch the clock” and be responsible for doing things on time.
    If it’s OK, I’d like to also recommend Financial Peace University! We have been leading this class for a few years and it is a wonderful tool not only for getting out of debt but also for budgeting, investing, and giving. Another EXCELLENT resource is a little book called “Living With Less so Your Family has More” by Jill and Mark Savage!!! That book gives a personal view of finances from the perspective of both a wife and a husband. Great writing and practical examples!

  2. In our house we use a chore pouch for each of the boys. They each have a little pouch that they wear with their daily chores. These include things like homework, cleaning their bedroom, putting away their laundry, etc. Things that we feel they should be doing because they are part of the family and to care for their own things. They don’t get paid for these chores. It has also taken a lot of stress off of me for getting them to do chores, they have their pouch and know what they have to do and I don’t have to nag to get them to do them. They know they can’t watch TV, play on the computer, or whatever fun thing we are doing until the chores are finished. So they don’t even ask until the chores are finished, and I don’t feel like I constantly have to ask if they have cleaned their room.
    We also have certain jobs, like pulling weeds in the garden or cleaning out the car after a trip, that they can do if they want to earn money for things. Since we didn’t have a garden this year other then weeds, there is a lot of opportunity there. :o)
    Last week I was so blessed by them, when they came home from school all excited about the book fair and rather then just asking for money for books they asked if they could go pull weeds to earn money. Makes a mommy proud.

  3. Our children are 5 yrs. old and almost 3 yrs. We also follow the Dave Ramsey method with them. There are jobs because you are part of the family and then jobs when they can earn money. We pay them for jobs with change (nickels and dimes) so that it is easy to put the money in the correct container (jars for: 10% tithe, 10% savings, 80% spending). Family jobs are things like: making their bed, picking up toys, taking dishes to sink, putting clean clothes away in their room, making sure dirty clothes get in the basket and other “help” requests from Mom or Dad. They get paid for jobs like: collecting the garbage weekly, folding hand towels & wash clothes, cleaning the base boards, dusting rooms and sorting silverware. These jobs are optional/their choice. We ask if they want to do the job and if they say no we remind them of what they are saving for, but we don’t make them do it. We started this system with each of our kids when they began asking us to buy extra items (toys) for them at the store.

  4. Love these ideas…we have a really hard time trying to decide between what is the chores they should get paid for and the chores that would just be a family responsibility…any advice there? I have four kids, and sometimes just trying to come up with the chores is a! They are ages 2, 4, 7, & 10. Thank you…

    • Julie, what do you like done on a regular basis? Vacuuming? Dishwasher? Trash collected through house? Porch swept? Garage swept? Sometimes those are the good “chores” to assign. (Of course, the 2 and 4 year old aren’t there yet. 🙂

      Things like cleaning the house, cleaning their room, cleaning bathrooms, those are probably things you want to keep as “family responsibilities.” Everyone pitches in and does those things.

  5. I saved your email & spoke to my husband about putting this into the works & he LOVED it! We start everything today. I wrote all the rules down on our dry erase board (my almost 12 yr old likes to act like I didn’t tell her all the rules), wrote down all the daily chores (the ones they are not paid for) and the main chore/chores for the day (the one they get paid for). Both my girls do a different chore on each day to help me out since I work full time. I even wrote their pay day down on the dry erase board so they know when they get paid. My 11 yr old asked if she can save more than 10%…I told her of course you can! It’s your money! Really looking forward to this system.

  6. Hi,

    We have a 13 yr old son that gets an allowance and does chores…they are not tied together. We thinking of switching to the Dave Ramsey method like you outlined above. Now that is has been 2 years…are you still using it? Have you made any changes? Any new insights?

    Thank you,