The Chore Timecard

ThinkstockPhotos-480915812Pay for chores? Not pay for chores?

Ah the debate.

Over 30 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 found to work well with our two youngest who were still home at the time.  We determined there were certain jobs our boys did because they are part of the family: mow the yard, shovel snow, clean the bathrooms, clean their rooms, etc.  These were not jobs they were paid for.

However, there were other jobs that were 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 were responsible for one of those jobs every day.

The boys had 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 “reported” their work and that’s what I used to figure their “pay” at the end of the month.

If they did all three, they got $1/day (weekdays only). If they didn’t, they didn’t get paid. No nagging. No reminding. Our agreement was that if mom or dad saw that the chore hadn’t been done after 5pm, we could require it to be completed but they would not be paid for it.  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 didn’t get paid.

I loved this system. It was self-motivating. It had natural consequences built into it. Not only that, but it mimicked 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, we worked with our boys to manage their money just like a paycheck. They did the 10-10-80 thing…10% to God, 10% to savings, 80% spending.  That’s why I always paid them in $1 bills so it was easy for them to divide and manage intentionally.

When they hit the teen years, we had them “manage” even more intentionally with a financial notebook and “paycheck worksheets” we created. Six months ago our 18-year-old made his first $1000 mutual fund investment using this plan throughout his teen years. He also uses a portion of every paycheck (he works two part-time jobs) for his college tuition. (Looking for some tools to teach your teens to manage money? You can download the financial 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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