Should You Pay Your Kids to do Chores?


kids doing choresDo you pay your children to do chores around the house (or did you when your kids were young)? I’m not referring to chores as part of an allowance (though that could be part of it) but rather to direct pay for certain jobs.

There are arguments in favor of doing soâ”as well as arguments againstâ”so I’m not sure there’s a right or wrong here.

Let’s try to look at both sides.

The argument for paying them for chores

These are just some common points on the pro sideâ”there may be more.

Paying them connects money and work. Since most kids will grow up to be working adults, the sooner the money/work connection is established the quicker and stronger it will take root. In a real way, you’re preparing kids for the adult economy when they get paid for the work they do. Once they make that connection, they can take it as far as they like.

They have their own money to manage. This isn’t to imply that a child can’t develop the ability to manage their money if it comes in the form of gifts or allowances, only that they may have a stronger desire to properly manage money that they have to earn through effort and time invested. Earned money has a way of feeling more real, and as such the desire to manage it well will almost certainly be stronger.

It gives them an opportunity to make money to pay for what they want. If a child can earn money, they can earn money to pay for what they want. They can connect X amount of money being earned through Y amount of effort. If they can do that, they may even decide that what it is they want to buy isn’t worth the effort to get it. At that point, a child is beginning to make adult-type money decisions, otherwise known as compromises! You can’t have all the candy in the store, so you need to begin making choices. Sometimes the choice will be NOT do buy something. If they have to earn the money they spend, the choices will be more acute.

It might even make them eager to do chores. Since chores will carry a reward, you probably won’t have to argue to get your children to do them. You may not even have to tell them what needs to be done, and eventually they may even start looking for work to do.

The argument against paying them for chores

The argument against paid chores might be just as strong.

As members of the family they have to contribute. There’s a line between getting paid to do chores and making necessary contributions to the family in the form of shared responsibility. If a child is paid for everything, they could come to a point of refusing to do anything unless they’re paid to do it.

Paying them might discourage just plain helping out. This is an even more extreme version of the last point. Sometimes they just need to help outâ”like helping to unload groceries, straightening up a room before company arrives or stepping up to pitch in when a family member is ill. All of those are part of the normal function in any household and not anything that should automatically require some form of payment.

It keeps them from attaching a monetary value to everything they do. In life there are jobs that need to be done that no one will be paid for. Anyone who runs a household can come up with a long list of such jobs. Some, like cleaning the house or mowing the lawn, might be paid chores. But routine family workâ”setting and clearing the dinner table, cleaning their own rooms and taking care of family pets are more like living requirements than paid jobs. A monetary value can’t be assigned to every type of chore a child might do, and they have to understand the difference.

It can prepare them for lean times. A child who is expected to do certain jobs around the home without being paid to do them might be better prepared for an adult life when money is tight. For example, if a child later faces unemployment in adult life he may be more prepared to do what needs to be doneâ”simply because that’s what he’s always doneâ”without expectation of monetary reward. As well, many employers are going through budget cuts in which employees are asked to do work that’s outside of the normal parameters for the job. Refusing to take on additional, uncompensated assignments could lead to the loss of a job.

A combination of both is probably the best course

As always, a balanced approach is probably the best course of action. A child should be expected to do certain chores without compensation, such as emptying the trash, cleaning their own rooms or helping out with dinner. Other choresâ”let’s say those you might pay an outsider to doâ”are the ones where payment enters the picture.

If you asked a stranger to cut your lawn, trim your hedges or clean your garage, you’d have to pay them to do it. The same is true of shampooing your carpets or cleaning the bathrooms. If a child performs these tasks, they’re either a) saving you money you’d have to pay an outsider, or b) preventing you from having to do the job yourself.

That’s just a rough division, and you can separate it any way you like. Either way, kids can be paid for some chores, but also made to understand that certain jobs just have to be done and you won’t get paid.

How do you handle this with your own childrenâ”or how did you when they were younger?

photo by comickitty

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Written by Kevin

With backgrounds in both accounting and the mortgage industry, Kevin Mercadante is professional personal finance blogger, and the owner of OutOfYourRut.com, a website about careers, business ideas, money and more. A committed Christian, he lives in Atlanta with his wife and two teenage kids.

Kevin

With backgrounds in both accounting and the mortgage industry, Kevin Mercadante is professional personal finance blogger, and the owner of OutOfYourRut.com, a website about careers, business ideas, money and more. A committed Christian, he lives in Atlanta with his wife and two teenage kids.

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