Chores & Allowance Revisited {Plus a Printable Time Card for Kids!}

Chores & Allowance Revisited {Plus a Printable Time Card for Kids!}
I’ve shared our philosophy about chores and allowance in the past, but I thought I would revisit the topic now that I’m the mom of three — soon to be four! — elementary-age kids and not a whole slew of preschoolers.

For us, chores and allowance offer opportunities to teach the girls about responsibility, team work, money management and more:

Chores

We define chores as the things each member of our family does around the house just because we’re all members of the same family. This includes both regular assignments and the needs that crop up in any given day that we ask the girls to do.

We try really hard to be fair about this, to model a “happy heart” when doing our own chores and even to make chore time fun with music, working together, etc., although there are plenty of times when it’s just plain work.

In our family, there is no payment for doing chores. You do them because you’re an Ehman and because you live in this house (just like Mommy and Daddy!). End of story.

Allowance

On the other side of the equation is an allowance, a set amount of money you get each week simply for being part of the family.

Although we have made some halfhearted attempts at giving allowance in the past, right now our kids don’t actually get one.

In the future, I can see giving them a monthly allowance that they’ll need to budget for clothes, going out with friends and other various odds and ends, just to help them practice money management rather than asking mom and dad each time they want to buy something.

For now, though, they get plenty of money for their birthdays and Christmas, plus the opportunity to earn money (more on that below), and I don’t really have any desire to give them more money to spend on stupid toys (which are the ones they inevitably go for!).

Jobs

Finally, we offer our kids jobs, which are paid opportunities to work hard and earn a little money. We’re fairly cheap in this area, and while our 6-year-old surprisingly drives the hardest bargain when it comes to negotiating pay, the others are happy to fold a load of laundry for $0.50 or dust baseboards for $0.25.

Typically, I’ll announce that I have a paying job for the first taker, but we do have a few regular jobs as well. For example, our oldest actually folds all of the girls’ laundry each week. She asked for a regular paying job, and I was happy to delegate that one, but we also think it’s important to teach work ethic and commitment, so our rule now is she can do it happily for pay or with a bad attitude and it will become part of her regular — unpaid — chores {#meanmom}. That said, we really haven’t had too much trouble with her attitude. She grabs a basket full of clothes 2-3 times a week and folds it during TV time, which is working out really well for all of us.

I’m also reconsidering the idea of a job board where I can post jobs that are available so that they can earn money more regularly and we can tackle some of the things we regularly ignore…like dusting the baseboards!

Money Management & Time Cards

Printable Time Cards for Kids

Which brings me to the most recent addition to the way we handle paid jobs: the time card.

A few friends had actually asked about chores and allowance recently on Facebook, and in the comments of one of those posts, someone else mentioned that they require their kids to divide the money they earn between tithes, savings and spending.

This is something I’ve always been committed to in theory, but it’s a little bit harder in reality when you’re paying a quarter at a time.

Enter the time card.

In order to make this a habit, we decided that I would track the money the girls earn and use a $10 payout threshold, at which time the girls will give 10%, or $1, to our church as tithes, put $4 in savings, and keep the remaining $5 to spend. (I know some people do a separate charity category as well, but the girls find plenty of other ways to give to charity — whether through their change, cleaning out their toys or volunteering — so I don’t want to complicate things further by requiring that as well.)

I had initially been keeping track of the money they earned on my computer. However, I really wanted to turn the tracking over to the girls themselves, so I created a set of time cards for them to fill out each time they do a paying job.

The time card lists the date, a description of the job and the agreed pay plus a place for Sean or I to initial. At the bottom, there are fields for calculating the tithes, saving and spending for the total amount earned.

Click here to download or print the time card.

I’m sure our system will continue to evolve, but for now this is working out pretty well for us!

How do you handle chores and allowance in your family?

Mandi Ehman is the blogger behind Life Your Way. She and her husband have four beautiful girls plus one baby boy, and together they live, work and homeschool on a little slice of heaven in wild, wonderful West Virginia. Mandi loves coffee, chocolate, easy meals, beautiful things and minimalist spaces.
  • Christie P

    I love the idea of a time card with a $10 payout. I think you may have solved our problem of not paying our kids on a regular basis because we didn’t have the correct amount to pay them. Thanks for sharing your system!

    • http://lifeyourway.net/ Mandi @ Life Your Way

      You’re welcome, Christie — I’m so glad I’m not the only one who had that problem in the first place!

  • http://joyceandnorm.wordpress.com/ Joyce (and Norm)

    I’m still thinking through what we will do. We never got an allowance growing up. I knew my parents worked hard for their money, coming as foreigners to the States, not knowing the language, and coming to own their own business, and afford 2 houses, 6 cars (at one point when all my sibs and I were home), and 4 college tuitions. I only asked for what I needed until I got my own job. While we don’t have a budget (weird since my hubby is a finance/budget analysis by trade, and I was also a finance major), we know to save first and we have never had debt. He never got an allowance either. I love that Carisa (1+1+1=1) call chores at their house “contributions” because that’s what they are, and it helps to think I’m contributing to my family when I do a task that make our home a sanctuary. I think I will do something like the time cards.

    • http://lifeyourway.net/ Mandi @ Life Your Way

      Ah, I love the term “contributions” too!

      Now that my girls are getting paid for some jobs, they often question whether something is a paid job or not, and I usually respond with, “That’s an Ehman job” if it’s just part of being a member of our family. :)

  • Cat

    Hi Mandi!
    I bought my kids the coolest piggy bank called the Money Savvy pig somewhere online. It has 4 slots to put spend/save/tithe/college for us. The piggy itself is pricey, I paid $18.99 each for 2, but it helped explain things to my kids. We also do not pay for chores, but once a month they get the amount equal to how old they are. $7 & $5. I keep ones & a roll of dimes to do the divvying up between the categories. I plan to adjust it to twice a month when they get older. It works for us, but I love these time cards for extra jobs!! Thank you!
    Cat

    • http://lifeyourway.net/ Mandi @ Life Your Way

      That’s a great system, Cat! I’ve seen those banks too, and I’m often tempted by them, but I’ve never been able to figure out where we would keep them. It’s definitely a great visual so that they can actually SEE where their money goes!

  • Paige

    Love the time card! Right now my daughter gets paid bi weekly and I don’t always have the correct change, so I am going to use your $10 payout idea. She gets paid for each of the following (I am cheap, too): cleaning bathroom (this is new and we are working on it), unloading dishwasher, folding laundry, vacuuming, practicing piano.

    • http://lifeyourway.net/ Mandi @ Life Your Way

      That sounds like a great list! I love that you added the note about “working on” cleaning the bathroom. It’s so tempting to only give them easy jobs, but I think it’s worth the investment to teach them how to do the harder jobs too!