Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Why do my children have chores?
I am primarily a stay at home mom.  I cook, bake, sew, quilt, clean, etc.  I also clean 3 other houses for a little extra savings to increase our emergency fund, and someday pay for part of my children's car, purchase something special for our home, etc.  After working for several cleaning companies, I've realized the value of frequent dusting and vacuuming.  I've learned how few people were taught how to care for their home, and how few children are expected to clean up after themselves.

What do they do?
Not every chore they do is paid.  They are expected to pick up and actually clean their own bedrooms (vacuum, dust, change sheets, sort laundry, etc.) before getting paid for other household chores (they clean a bathroom, vacuum, dust, dry and wet mop, take out trash, clean the inside of microwaves, etc).  My children are only paid for chores I would normally do in my home.  I still periodically do some detailed cleaning (blinds, oven/stove, windows, areas that are high or dangerous like the tops of cabinets, light fixtures, etc).  The chores they finish each week will help them know how to care for their own home someday.  These chores are somewhat consistent, but rotate each 12 weeks.  I created it on a spreadsheet, with income amounts for each chore.  I also colored several chores green.  This means they HAVE to do them.  The others can earn them extra money if they chose.  Once in a while I tell them the whole list is mandatory.  Some chores aren't required every week and are grayed out (yellow in this pic), since others may do it, I'd like to do a detail clean or it just doesn't need to be done on a weekly basis.

This is a sample of the first 4 weeks.  I print 8 weeks at a time, fold in half and give one to each child.  They check off their chores, then I look over their work (or sometimes have a sibling inspect), then we sit together, calculate totals, tithe, savings, and exchange money when their bags get full of coins.

How it works.
Jim and I instituted this chore list and income for our children after we attended a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University (FPU) class Feb 2009.  This class is detailed more in Financial Peace.  Since that class, we've become debt free except the house, and have accumulated 1 1/2 months of emergency money, that grows by a few hundred each month.  He also teaches adults (and kids) to use the envelope system for many of the regular purchases (food, gas, entertainment, clothing, etc) your family makes each month.  Dave advocates "commissions" for the extra work kids do.  My kids each have an envelope, bag or jar (their preference) for "CHURCH" (tithe - mandatory 10% of earnings), and "BANK" or "SAVE" (the next 10% of their earnings goes here).  The rest of their money is their own money to do with as they wish.  We have them calculate their "income", figure their tithe and savings amounts and use the rest of the money they earn to buy gifts at Christmas, friends' birthday gifts, save for something special for themselves, and splurge occasionally on candy or junk at the grocery store.  Sometimes I give a "bonus" for the person who completed largest percent of their chores, saved the most, or did the most thorough job.  The bonus goes directly to the bank.

Looking forward.
Paying my children income for work they do around the house will save me money in the long run.  While I teach them how to care for their own home and cook, we get time one-on-one to talk about stuff.  I teach them the value of hard work, helping, saving, tithing, counting money, and making change.  Hopefully these values will help them become excellent men and women who regularly and joyfully tithe, save and think before spending.  At this moment, Alex is debating whether to get his drivers licence (or permit) now or wait until he's 18.  He's looking at the large expense of paying for his insurance and not having enough money saved for his half of the car he'd like to purchase.  We've agreed to match what he spends on a car, to include special tools or equipment needed to restore an older car to good working condition.  He's taking a second Autos class spring 2011 to ensure he knows how to maintain and fix his own vehicle someday.  Alex is also working on the 100K mile tune-up on Jim's Accord.  Jim purchased all the parts with money saved in his auto budget, will have Alex read the manual and do the work, Jim will pay Alex, and everyone is happy!  Alex will earn money and have a better understanding of vehicles, and Jim will save money.

Since my children aren't all grown up, I can't say how they will turn out.  I am confident though, that God will direct them and teach them.  I am training my children in the ways of the Lord.  I am training them how to give, save, spend wisely, care for their homes and help others.  I pray that I am doing this in a way that will honor and please the Lord.

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