One of the biggest financial lessons your children will have to learn is that, in most cases, money is something people earn. It doesn’t magically grow on trees, as the saying goes, and the amount of effort put into a venture or job usually directly corresponds to how profitable a person is. Chores are a very basic way to instill these ideas in your kids, but of course, this requires that you figure out what jobs are right for them.
What determines what chores my kids should do?
Two major factors come into play when you’re trying to decide what to have your child do to earn cash (or, if you prefer, other assets or privileges). Probably the most important of these is your kid’s age. How old your child is influences how cognitively and physically developed he is, which in turn dictates what he will understand how to do, and what he’ll have the strength or stamina for.
The second big thing to look at when picking chores for your child is your overall philosophy about how the tasks should work. For example, if you are more focused on the general concept of working for a reward, then just about any task can be paid, and you’ll have a very wide range of activities your child can do. If you instead think that some things should be done just because they are necessary and because your child needs to contribute to the family (for instance, dishes or laundry), you might need to be much more specific with what you pick. In this case, you’ll need to focus more on tasks people often pay others to do, such as mowing the lawn. This can get a little tricky when kids are younger, because paid jobs usually require a certain amount of independence, which for safety reasons you can’t always let your littlest ones have. If you pick this option, it’s standard protocol to pay your child the going rate for the job he does.
What are some examples of chores kids can do?
Very little children can help with things like:
- Putting laundry in baskets or the washer; sorting by color
- Picking up toys
- Feeding the family pet
Adolescents can do chores such as:
- Setting or clearing the table
- Doing laundry from start to finish
- Vacuuming, sweeping and mopping
- Scrubbing floors, counters, tubs, etc.
- Putting together their school lunches (no or simple supervised cooking)
Older teens and young adults should be able to help out with:
- Making meals from scratch
- Basic home maintenance and repair
- Car maintenance (e.g., oil changes, washing—can include taking vehicle to shops)
Is money management a chore to assign?
Money management isn’t a regular “chore,” per se, but it’s something you want your child to handle regularly. He should be able to know how much money he’s made from the things he’s done for you, and he should be setting specific saving, investing, spending and charity goals for those funds. To keep your child focused, simply set aside a time once a week where you sit down together—for example, when you give your child his “paycheck” for what he’s completed—to talk about his budget and money priorities and make sure he’s on the right track.