Recently, I visited with a friend about how to help boys grow into responsible men. I wrote down the wisdom I received in this post. Since then, we have changed the way we do chores at our house. Our boys have each started getting an allowance at age 5, along with some regular chores to perform. We tweaked our system a little and added a list of chores that can be done to earn extra money if they have something they want to save for.

We have two lists on our fridge.

The first is required daily chores. They are:

Aidan (age 9):

Morning routine: Put away pajamas, brush teeth, make bed, tidy up room

Lunch clean-up: Load the dishwasher

Mondays: Clean out the van

Tuesdays: Vacuum Downstairs

Wednesdays: Vacuum Upstairs

Thursdays: Vacuum Van

Fridays: Clean the School Room and Random Toy Put-Away

Gresham (Age 5):

Morning routine: Same as Aidan’s

Lunch Clean-up: Sweep the kitchen

Daily: Feed the dog

Empty trash cans

Take dirty laundry to the laundry room

Wednesdays: Dog poop pick-up in the yard

Fridays: Clean the school room and Random toy put-away

Owen (Age 3):

Morning routine: Same as other boys

Lunch clean-up: Help mom put away the food (peanut butter jar, for example)

Take diapers from Jonathan’s room to the downstairs trash.

The following chores are paid chores. The list that I have posted on our fridge includes the steps required to complete each job.

I chose items for the paid chores list that would make my life easier, such as vacuuming the stairs. I never seem to be able to get to tasks like that!

  • Make Owen’s bed – 25 cents
  • Vacuum the stairs – 75 cents
  • Dust the living room – $1.00
  • Bathe Tucker – $1.00
  • Sweep the front porch – 25 cents
  • Garage cleaning – 50 cents for sweeping and another 50 cents for putting away toys, tools, and stuff
  • Mop the kitchen – $1.50 alone, or 75 cents each if two of them do it

Paid chores are completely optional, and there are a couple stipulations. First, paid chores must be approved by Mom. I need to make sure that the job actually needs to be done, and I also need to make sure that the person wanting to do the job has finished his schoolwork and required chores first. Second, the boys need to be willing to do jobs that come up without expecting to be paid. If someone spills the contents of the pencil sharpener, and I ask Aidan to vacuum, I don’t want to hear, “How much are you going to pay me?” On the flip side, there will be times that extra paid chore opportunities come up and they are offered a chance to make more money.

Forgetting to complete a required chore or doing a sloppy job results in a 25 cent deduction from their allowance. Aidan’s allowance is $2.50 per week and Gresham’s is $2.00. That’s probably low, but we can’t afford to hand out any more money than that! From their allowance, they each set aside 25 cents to give to the church. We also make them save a portion of their money, but my husband and I have not had time to sit down and figure out what that percentage will be! Probably close to 50%.

The Results?

Like everything else in parenting, this has initially been a lot of work for me! I can see progress, especially on the lunch clean-up, which makes our school day flow better! Both of my older boys have lost money for failing to complete required chores and for fighting over the chance to do a paid chore. One of them has earned significantly more money from paid chores than the other. We are going to Lego Land with friends on Thursday, and I’m curious to see how this will play out when that child does not have enough cash to afford anything in the store. I’m predicting a struggle, although I hope I’m wrong…

Despite the challenges, I really like having a system for paid chores. If the boys want something, they can decide whether they want it bad enough to do the extra chores. I think that’s how life works. Adults have to decide if the overtime hours are worth the extra money, for example.

How do you do chores at your house? What tips do you have? Do you have ideas for paid chores to add?


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  1. Candes Aug 21, 2012

    I have two boys myself. My husband and I struggle with defining paid chores. As active members of our household we expect our boys (7 and 5) to help w/ maintenance. I was very curious to see what chores you pay for and it gives me a good idea. Thanks for this post. Also glad to see that our allowance rate is on par too.

    I think focusing on their laundry will be one to tackle with my guys. They tend to throw clean clothes in the hamper rather than fold.

    1. Sarah Aug 21, 2012

      Thanks for your comment! I forgot about laundry in my post. All of the boys help fold and put away laundry as needed. The other thing I haven't dealt with is bathrooms... I do those myself. I think that my oldest is old enough to be cleaning the boys' bathroom on his own, so I think we'll be working on him taking that chore over once his younger brother is old enough to take on some of the vacuuming.

  2. Darci Sep 4, 2012

    This is so helpful. I'd be curious as to how its working now? I've tried more than one, but mine become too complicated and become a "chore" for me to keep up with. So a simple list on the fridge seems totally doable. How do you keep up with which ones they've done?

    Also....I think you are spot on with the price. I've heard 1/2 of their age is the appropriate amount per week. Plus, the name of your site has the word frugal in it, right?

    Glad to have found you! (via the KBN)


    1. Sarah Sep 4, 2012

      It's working really well so far. I get bogged down by the checklist system. Sometimes, chores just don't get done, and I hate "holes" in the checklist because then the boys get the idea that filling in the checklist is not really a requirement. With the list on the fridge, we do our chores on the days that we can (which is most of the time), and if we have a dentist appointment or something like that come up, then we don't worry about it.

      1. Sarah Sep 4, 2012

        I just realized I didn't answer all of the question! As far as keeping track of what they've done - we do morning routine chores together and lunch clean-up together, so then the older two boys just have one other chore each for the day, so that's not too hard to keep up with. For the paid chores, I have a list going on the fridge behind the paid chores sheet. When they do a job, I add the money to their "account." We don't always have cash around, so with the account system I don't have to keep doling out 50 cents at a time.

  3. Vivian Nichol Sep 10, 2012

    Our children are grown now, but before we started paying allowances,I devised a chart that allowed for an increase in allowance each year on their birthday and was scaled so that by the time they were 15, they would have enough in their spending portion to go to a movie once a week.

    The chart contained five columns: The total allowance, the church tithing (10%), the savings (40%) and the spending (50%), and the savings goal. To encourage long-term savings, we assigned them a savings goal that they could reasonably meet once a year & they could only spend the savings once they reached the goal and then only on one to three items. The one thing I wish I had done is listed the additional chore(s) that would correlate with the annual increase in allowance. That would have reduced the sense of entitlement. We started at age 5 with about 30 cents a week and cut off at age 18 with about $15 a week.

    We also began giving them a weekly clothing allowance at age 13. That allowance came with an annual budget of so many shirts, pants, coat, shoes, etc. at a set price each. That saved a lot of headache when back-to-school rolled around - "You want $80 jeans or shoes? I hope you saved for it, because it's not in the clothing budget." or sometimes they went without because of the choices they made. I still bought socks and underwear or else they would become yucky while the child spent the money elsewhere :)

    1. Tara Sep 10, 2012

      Hey! That's my mom! lol

      As a grownup with kids of my own, I tell my husband all the time about how much I liked my parent's allowance system and that we should use it with our kids. I'm still trying to find out ways to make it tie in with chores though. We tried a stick system that the kids could earn a certain amount per chore stick they completed, but nobody bothers to pull sticks :( They all seem content to just wait until their birthday rolls around, spend the money they get in their cards and then hang out until next year (I have weird kids). My oldest is 9 now and he has started doing work for the neighbors for extra money. I am all for that, except that he is never willing to do work for us, even if we say we will pay him! Like I said, weird kids...

  4. F Jan 1, 2013

    The five year old shouldn't be dealing with dog poop!

    1. Bonnie Beukelman Jan 1, 2013

      I think if you teach them to not touch it then it's fine. 5 year olds are pretty smart and can follow directions. Besides there aren't many who actually want to touch poop anyway. Also, you've got to know your kids. She probably does and knows he is perfectly capable of handling the job otherwise I'm sure she wouldn't allow him to do it. She seems like a perfectly capable mother. Let's give her the benefit of the doubt.

      1. Sarah Jan 1, 2013

        Yes, he is not touching the poop. We use a sandwich baggie as a glove and a grocery bag to put the poop in. When he is done, he puts the baggie inside the grocery bag, ties a knot at the top, and puts it in the outside trash. Then he knows to wash his hands when he comes in, just in case.

        1. Kelly F Nov 21, 2013

          We do the same at our house, except my 8 yr old does it, sometimes with a helper holding the grocery bag. The newly-turned-7 yr old just isn't ready for it yet (can you say squish). Then they can tear it up all over the yard without tracking in dog doo. Blech!

  5. Rachel @RunningRachel Jan 5, 2013

    Love this! Thanks for sharing!

    Quick question... what method/tool do you use for your 5 year old to pick up dog poop? I would LOVE to hand off this chore to my 7 year old... but I am not sure how to have him 'pick up poop' without making a mess of himself and giving me MORE to do. ;)

    1. Jenifer De La Garza Jan 5, 2013

      My 9 year has done doggie dooty and we bought him a $15 scooper at walmart. It works like a robot arm and keeps hands completely clean. He thought the scooper was cool. He puts a grocery back down in a plastic ice cream bucket to hold the bag open. When he's done he ties up the bag and puts it in the outside trash can. I've moved this chore to my older girls now because our puppies are generating a lot more dooty than they used to.

    2. Sarah Jan 5, 2013

      We use a sandwich baggie as a "glove" and then he puts the poop in a grocery sack. When he is done, he puts the sandwich baggie inside the grocery sack and ties it shut and then puts it in the outside trash can. It works pretty well!

  6. Jenifer De La Garza Jan 5, 2013

    We have 6 children, 4 of which currently have required chores. The youngest two help but don't have lists yet. We don't pay allowance because we believe house chores aren't paid in real life so why get them started with that idea now?

    Having said that, we do offer payments for "extra" work done around the house. My 15 year old, who is not yet old enough to get a job, is always wanting money to do things and she learned early on that it must be earned.

    We give each child a wipe off chart and before they can do fun stuff (TV, XBox, Play outside etc) they have to complete their charts. The wipe off chart works well because they have to check the box saying they've completed the chore and lose some privileges if they mark it off without completing it. We've been on this plan for 2 weeks and so far so good. They know what we expect from them and get to it with few reminders.

    My kids are Girls 17, 15 and 12 and Boys 9, 4 and 2.


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