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How to use chores to teach your kids about money

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How to use chores to teach your kids about money

Sandra Diaz

Let’s be honest. Few people actually enjoy chores. So it can be hard to impart their importance to your children—but not impossible. 

Parents should try to steer clear of bribing their kids to do work around the house. However, chores represent an opportunity to teach children a valuable lesson about money and work ethic. 

By rewarding their hard work, and demonstrating a “just do it” attitude, you can show them how performing their tasks on a regular basis can benefit their wallet (or piggy bank).  

Establish a “job description”

Be very clear with your kids about what you expect from them. Explain what their chores are, how to do them, and when you expect them to be completed. Around 5-6 chores per week is typical, but varies depending on the maturity of the individual child. You should also determine a pay rate or commission. $1 per finished chore is a good place to start. 

(Obviously, make the chores age appropriate. Don’t give them anything they’re too small, weak or short to accomplish).

Only reward good work

There’s no need to nickel and dime your kids. On the other hand, don’t let them off the hook for half-efforts. Part of doing chores is learning about the value of a job well done. Let’s say their job is to clean the bathroom. If they scrub the sink and sweep the floor but neglect the bathtub and toilet, the chore isn’t finished. Show them what they missed and ask them to complete their work before rewarding them. 

Talk to them about what to do with their money

This may be the first time your kids have their own money, so it’s a great opportunity to show them what to do with it. Explain how they can save or spend it, perhaps even designating separate jars for each category. Once they earn, they can decide how much to deposit into each jar. Spend Money should be used for things they really want and can afford; Save Money should be used for more expensive items, or to build a balance. The idea is to teach them about needs versus wants.

Be a firm—but sensitive—boss 

Kids have bad days, too. You can show your empathy, but be careful here. In real life normal people have to keep working, even on bad days, and kids have to learn that lesson eventually. Use your best judgment to decide whether to lend a hand or let your child out of chores for the day. 
Chores are important life skills, and it is up to you to make sure your children are well equipped to handle any task by the time they leave the house. With your encouragement, they can develop the right attitude about work–it’s a part of life, it should be done well, and sometimes it can even be fun.