Works For Me: Chore Chart


Last week I talked about how we handle allowance around our house:  we use on-line banking, and the kids can earn 1/2 their age in dollar amounts (i.e, the ten year old can earn $5/week.)

Some of you thought that amount sounded high, and I will tell you that the money we give them is not just for them to squirrel away.  They have to pay for some of their own stuff out of that money. 

For example, we go to the dollar movie pretty often, but this momma does NOT buy movie snacks.  Rip-off central.  If they want to eat something at the movie, they have to pay for it from their money.

Similarly, kids who are careless with their school supplies have to replace them with their own money (I cover normal wear and tear, of course).  If they lose a library book or break a brother’s toy, they are similarly responsible.  We give them plenty of chances actually to use their money, which is key in any successful allowance system

Several of you asked if we required our kids to give to the church or other charitable groups.  I tried to write out an explanation of our thoughts on this, but it was turning into a post of its own; I’ll save that for another day, soon.

Lastly, here’s the chore chart we use: 

Download choresFORBLOG.pdf.

I post this on the fridge (a fresh print-out each week).  They are responsible for crossing off their work when it’s done.  I don’t mess with an item-by-item account of each chore (i.e., "Clear the table and earn $.25"…my word, the thought of managing that just wears me out.)  Instead, they’re paid on their overall performance.  They have to do their jobs, cheerfully (that’s a big one around here), and without being reminded constantly.  If they don’t, certain amounts are deducted, depending on the degree of surliness!  Especially helpful attitudes are often rewarded, monetarily.  I just make a note of these things right on the chart, so that when we sit down together on "payday" (Sunday), it’s all right there in front of me.

(A couple of notes about the chore chart.  I don’t have "exercises" on Adam’s chores because I am a fitness freak, but because he has knee issues that require daily physical therapy exercises.  Notably absent from the chart is bed-making.  I don’t require this of my kids because if I did, I might have to start doing it regularly myself.  *shudder*)

My kids know–because they hear it often–that this family is a team, and everyone pulls his own weight.  Being part of a team means doing your work, and sometimes doing extra, and even sometimes (OH, THE UNBEARABLE TRAGEDY) doing your brother’s job if he’s sick or stressed over homework.  It all works out in the end.

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One last thing…PLEASE REMEMBER that next week’s WFMW has a theme:  it’s the "Mom, I’m Bored" Edition.  Post your ideas for clever ways to keep the kids occupied during the summer months.  Please-oh-please, my bloggy friends, if you care for me at all, PARTICIPATE.  My kids are out of school tomorrow, and I need your help!

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74 thoughts on “Works For Me: Chore Chart

  1. Daiquiri says:

    I’ve sure learned a thing or two from you about allowance lately. First, I leared that I’m a total cheap-o (my kids get a quarter for each year of their life!!). And today I appreciated the reminder that they have to have opportunities to use their hard-earned money. It seems all my kids ever do with it is save up for the next toy they so desperately “need”. Maybe a little more “real life” stuff is in order around here. Thanks for the chore chart too. I’ve been looking for a good one πŸ™‚

  2. The (Almost) Amazing Mammarino says:

    I love your ideas about having your child use their allowance for things they want, to replace things that are broken, etc. I think it goes a long way toward teaching responsibility.
    Thanks for the tips! These will help a lot in our household.

  3. Crystal says:

    I really like these tips for chores and allowances. My oldest is 4 so we haven’t started with specifically assigned chores or allowances. Can I ask, at what age did you start giving specific chores? What about allowances?

  4. Kate says:

    I love how clean and simple your chart is! I bet that really helps to keep your kids on track.
    I couldn’t agree more with the cheerful attitude. To me, that is almost more important than a job done 100% right. If they do the best they can cheerfully, I can overlook untucked bed corners, etc.

  5. Melanie @ Notebook Learning says:

    Okay, I’ve got to ask – exercises on the chore chart?
    I used to know a family who gave a whole dollar per year of age to their kids – but not only did they have to save, give to church and buy odds-n-ends for themselves, they also were responsible for buying any presents for friends for birthdays and other assorted parties. Mom said she *never* bought friend presents, that was totally up to the kids to spend money.
    Plus, Dad’s an orthopedic surgeon, I think their wallet could stand it. πŸ˜‰

  6. Kirsty says:

    Thank you for this, I have tried so many methods of tracking the chores and making the chore/allowance connection while still keeping the all in this together theme happening. I always made it too complicated I think. Your plan seems simple and effective. πŸ™‚

  7. Headless Mom says:

    I may have to try this chart/system. Headless Girl goes to college next fall and the boys will be learning new things to fill in her gaps. Besides, summer is the perfect time to learn new things, right? OH! That’s next weeks WFMW-sorry! πŸ˜‰

  8. Dani says:

    I love the chore chart and I’m working on something similar myself. It’s nice to have someone else to compare to. Thanks!
    My WFMW is actually a post from yesterday that I recycled. I didn’t see the WFMW value in it when I originally posted. Duh!

  9. kim says:

    we keep a chore list on a wipe-off board. I do not change it often. Allowance is not tied to chores in our home. I feel that they do chores because they’re a part of the family. Allowance is given, really, to help them learn how to handle money. We use the same monetary values–a dollar for each year old they are every two weeks. However, that will change for my 14yo soon. He’s going to begin getting $50/month, but also have increased responsibility on what he pays for.

  10. Shannon says:

    I am SO glad to hear that it’s acceptable to not make your kids make their beds. πŸ™‚ Like you said, I don’t make mine, so that’s totally off my future kids’ chore charts.

  11. Stephanie says:

    I try to always buy something at the movie theater, even though the prices are ridiculous. Why? Because that’s where their profits to pay the employees come from. They make nothing on the films, because the theaters are not allowed to determine the prices for tickets. I only know this because my daughter worked for a year or two as assistant manager of a local theater when she was 17, and since the (usually) teenagers make diddly-squat there, I try to make sure I do my part.
    Just to enlighten everyone a little.

  12. JC says:

    I like the chore chart. It is simple and straightforward. Our son receives and allowance but it is not tied to chores. Chores are what you do as part of family life. He can earn extra money for voluntary extra special work.
    We break down his allowance money into thirds (church, spend, long term savings i.e. collge, car etc.) We pay $1.00 per year of life. The spending money is what he uses to save up for those special things he wants during the year. He is very careful with his money because we have instilled in him the idea of really thinking about what he wants, the usefulness of it, the value for the dollar, etc.
    I completely understand having exercise on the chore chart as our son has feet issues and needs daily PT. We have a daily chart of things he needs to do each day such as brush teeth, exercise, do homework and so on because he has ADHD and it helps keep him organized.
    Love WWFM and the rest of your site.

  13. Colleen in MA says:

    Great ideas concerning chores & allowances! We’re still on the young side for an allowance, but I think I’ll try instituting a chore chart (maybe with stickers) to make the transition easier.

  14. Heather L. says:

    I have strayed so far from chore charts in the past, but I love your tips and I may have to give it another shot. Thanks for the details!

  15. Elizabeth says:

    Oh, I’d love to have a bored child at my house!! When that brother of mine and I lived at home, if we ever said that we were bored, Mom put us right to work scrubbing baseboards or the slate entry hall, or maybe weeding one or more of her many gardens. Boredom is the inability to use free time, so she took ours! I’ve taught both kids how to spot a weed, and I have on hand clean paint brushes and Murphy wipes for the baseboards, but we seem to only use them during family tidy attacks since my brilliant offspring never, ever say that they are bored. That is just not a row they want to hoe.

  16. catnip says:

    I’ve been doing a job jar with my 5 year old for a couple of years. He gets a quarter if he feeds the cat, or helps me unload the dishwasher, that kind of thing, but doesn’t get paid to pick up his own toys. Now I’m starting to think it’s time for a more formalized chore list and an allowance at the end of the week. Thanks for the example!

  17. Sheila Gregoire says:

    Thanks Shannon! I’ve used chore charts like that a lot, and we swear by them! I’ve got a similar view of allowances to yours, and I detail a lot of this in my book To Love, Honor and Vacuum.
    In the meantime, I have a follow-up post up on cloth sanitary pads. I know, everybody says EEWWWW. But I had a ton of comments last week, and I thought I’d better address them!
    Thanks for hosting!
    Visit To Love, Honor and Vacuum today!

  18. Becoming Me says:

    Shannon, please delete the flossing one. Thank you and so sorry for the mix up. I love the allowances are set up and the chore chart is great.

  19. Jane says:

    Thanks again for hosting Works for Me Wednesday! What a wonderful collection of ideas and thoughts here each week! Becoming addicted to this fun mid-week stop? Works-for-Me!
    God Bless!

  20. TrentTribe says:

    My kids get $0.25 for each chore they do. The catch is that they don’t get paid for taking care of their stuff. (Their rooms, toys, clothes.) They have to do that for free. The older kids usually have enough completed jobs to earn around $8 per week. My preschooler will usually earn $2. Some they save, some they give and the rest they save for things they want. Like those movie theater snacks, dvd’s, toys . . . My husband and I started working our way out of debt eight months ago. We drastically reduced our budget. So, by starting this plan and allowing the kids to make their own purchases, they’ve hardly noticed our budget reductions. Which makes me happy because after all, their kids. I want them to learn about money, not worry about money.

  21. Annie says:

    We make our kids pay for everything once they hit middle school. Clothes, shoes, hair products you name it. We learned one child too late that teens are expensive, and they are much more discriminating in their purchases when they have to work for it.
    On vacation we do pay for stuff, but it takes on a different form than us doling out the cash. We put our budgeted amount in envelopes that we hand out each morning. They pay for snacks and souvenirs. The first time we did this we took a six day trip with three kids, and were only asked for money once. I’d classify that as a miracle.

  22. Robin (PENSIEVE) :) says:

    Wow, Shannon…
    While I was “sleeping” (and by “sleeping”, I don’t mean sleeping AT ALL–I mean while I was at the beach! πŸ™‚ ), your blog sho nuff did change! I almost thought I had the wrong place :).
    Keeps us guessing, huh? Oooo, how I like these kinds of surprises :).
    Anyway–CHORE CHARTS, a GREAT idea! We’ve used ’em in the past and it’s always a good idea for summer…when days are less structured and we’re lookin’ for boredom busters. Glad to see that for next week’s theme, too.

  23. Edi says:

    Our kids’ allowances may also seem high but the money is used for a variety of things. We recently bought a year long swim pass for our local indoor and outdoor pool. The kids paid a portion of it with their savings.
    They use their own money to buy Christmas and birthday presents for our immediate family, as well as Mother and Father’s Day gifts etc.
    They are allowed to use their money as they like but we have a savings incentive program to encourage wise spending and saving. How ever much $ is left in their “account” at the end of the month – they get 5% interest on it. I wrote about it on my blog a couple of months ago – so if you’d like more details on how our allowance/incentive program works, head on over and search on “allowance”.
    Our theory is – kids need to have some money in order to learn to be wise with it.

  24. Kim says:

    Great system. Ours is very similar. We do their age every 2 weeks (same thing as yours, just on our payday) then at 12 they begin to get it every week. There is a reason for this though. We have all cell phones in our house (no land line) so everyone has a cell phone. At 12 they are required to purchase their own minutes (on a pay-as-you-go phone) or pay us for the phone on our plan. We do the same thing with the movies. The only exception to that is that we always see a movie on Christmas and as a treat, we buy the popcorn. My 13 year old buys many of her own clothes. She has this thing for changing binders and backpacks periodically throughout the school year-I buy at the beginning of the year, the rest is up to her. She went to her 1st concert this week and I split the cost of the ticket with her, but the $30 shirt was on her. It has been great to no have to say “no you can’t have that” constantly when we go out. Now, if they want something (pack of gum, new CD, whatever) I just ask them if they brought their money. Takes the whole “bad guy” thing off of me. We just opened a checking account for the 13 year old yesterday. She will have a debit card, have to keep track of the account etc. She has a regular babysitting job and the lady pays her by check now, so it kind of came out of that. I’m a firm believer in letting them make bad choices with it too. Want that toy now, okay. Later when they want something that is SO much better, they are reminded of their choice. I would rather they learn these lessons under my roof then when they are out on their own.

  25. jenn says:

    I love the new blog look! Thanks for the chart doc. and tips. I love that you add in exercise for one of your boys. Think I will add that too.
    But clean/water rats??? You are one brave momma – that would never be on my chore chart. (Ha, ha!) Maybe a hamster or gerbil but definitely no mice or rats! Ugh.
    Looking forward to next weeks theme.
    PS- still curious about the Texas sonic you visited in my neck of the woods.

  26. gretchen from lifenut says:

    Good ideas! We’ve done chore charts, we’ve done the “hey you, you are closest to that mess so please clean it” method, we’ve done everything. Maybe we’ll give it a whirl again?
    Also, I just sent you something long and posty. Ahem. Finally.

  27. Dev says:

    i don’t have children yet. or even a husband yet. but i LOVE your blog! i have even decided to start one on my own. I know you’re an insanely busy mom to four (five if you count the husband), but you have NO IDEA how much of a celebrity encounter it would seem to me if you stopped by. and if you were ever inclined to come back, i think i would cry with “look! i don’t suck at this”-ness. ;o)

  28. Brandy of The Building Brows says:

    It took us a long time to find a chore system that worked for us, and we finally hit upon the chore board (dart-board push pin system) with privilege ladder.
    Cheerful attitude? Love it.
    I like your idea for how you devised payment for your kids based on half their age. We might try that. Since we have a passbook system they can cash in at the bank for real money (me and daddy) we shouldn’t break the bank on this even with six kids.
    Thanks for the tips!

  29. Marigold says:

    My husband asked me to tell you he thinks you are a VERY smart woman! (Duh!) Love the chore chart and online allowance ideas!

  30. harper says:

    I think the age rule about allowance is a good one. And those who think it’s excessive haven’t bought anything recently. Allowance should encourage saving to buy what one wants, but saving nickels and dimes these days will take a while–longer than most kids can be excited for.
    When I was a child, my parents tried the dime and nickel system (a dime for this chore and a nickel for that), but it did not work, because the only things I could save to buy were things that were really low priorities for me. I’m also good at saving, and not seeing my savings increase particularly every week was pretty disappointing.
    When I reached middle school, my mother gave me an allowance of $5/wk. At the time, I was homeschooled and accompanying her to her college classes (for which we had to get up before dawn), so that money paid for a small breakfast a couple times a week. Later that money made sure I could afford bus fares and the like, but I was frugal enough with it that I always had some money in my pocket.

  31. Jenni says:

    I love visiting your site on wednesdays…last week was a post on getting stains out…clorox bleach and cascade dishwasher powder…IT REALLY works…I don’t know why I doubted but WOW!!!
    On another note…the list of contributers is getting huge…I was wondering if there’s a way to separate ( by colour or another way)…the topics from the blogs…it would make for an easier skim through to see which ones are of greatest interest when you’re limited for time…
    Thanks for this great wealth of knowledge , ideas, recipes and tips!!

  32. Lissalulu says:

    I do enjoy your blogs and your ideas on Weds. However, I would include in the “chore” list to let the rat go into the wild…far..far..away!!!Never to return!!!(You are a much better mother than I am).

  33. Jamie/penguinsandladybugs says:

    Oh sweetie, I feel for you….I know that you get way more readers than I do. I see that you “anticipate” some criticism and I am sorry that the blog-world has treated you this way. I know there are lots of good folks out there, too. But…this is what I want to say to you!! You are doing a fabulous job!!!!! I, for one, appreciate your honesty and willingness to share and make yourself vulnerable. As we say in the south, bless your heart! My kids get the potential for $50 a month and they have responsibilities as well…I think those are both good things. My kids are 11 and 13….I also give them $150 cash in exchange for not having a birthday party. It is in our budget and I don’t think they are spoiled in the least! Thanks again for pressing on despite the many critics out there….if you get any lip, delete their comment :0)

  34. Charity says:

    Oh my! Your blog is so different! How long has it been since I clicked over from my feed reader? I like it, but it is so different!

  35. Kori says:

    Oh my word – thank for you saying you don’t make your bed or make your kids make theirs – much guilt has been relieved. Also thanks for the chart – it is on my summer list to create one for our family and this idea really helps!

  36. Jill says:

    Shannon, thank you so much for posting about this, as it is what I have been trying to set up for my kids. I guess summer comes along and we think “put my kids to work, keep them busy!” I also love the new blog look! Very classy.

  37. Sandwiched says:

    I used a dry erase chore chart with stars for a while last year, and it worked great. I basically gave stars based on how helpful the child was. One star for setting the table, two stars for unloading the dishwasher, etc. The part where I got hung up was the reward. I intended to use experiences (a trip to the zoo, or the movies, etc) as rewards, but they were too big, so the rewards were too few and far between. I’d like to revive it again, but maybe give each star a cash value. Hmmmm…

  38. Teresa says:

    I love your blog and enjoyed the chore chart. Do you have one for your husband? Does he pay any attention to it? I’ve had my husband’s on the refrigerator since 1981. Over the years he’s marked off a few things but he spends a lot of hours in time out (sleeping) because he ignores his chores!

  39. Jennie says:

    What seems to work with us is we have a chore chart set for each child, age 9 and 6, and when they get their allowance at the end of the week, we have set up a system…they each have their own piggy bank and 2 extra jars with lids…1st jar is for savings and in goes 10%, 2nd jar is for tithe and in goes 10%, then the rest goes into thier piggy bank for them to do whatever they want. We decided to teach them about tithe early on because it is sometimes hard to make a habit of it and they actually get excited about taking their own tithe money with them on Sundays.

  40. Holly Smith says:

    Thank you for sharing this…with four children ages 10, 8, 4 and 21 months, I need to do this for my sanity. I have printed yours to get some ideas for mine.
    Praying for you today!

  41. Pieces says:

    Thanks for sharing your chore chart. I think that I will do one too. I usually write chores on a white board on the fridge but I find myself repeating the same ones each day (practice piano, etc.) I like the idea of a master chart that I can add to.

  42. Susan B says:

    What a great WFMW post. We have just started allowances with my 5 & 6 year old and I have been struggling with all the “details” of a chore chart and how much to pay, etc. Thanks for the great tips. I may have to re-evaluate our system. Oh and I love your blog. I visit often and have enjoyed reading it.

  43. Kim says:

    I missed it! Darn. Well, I hope no one minds, but I’m putting my WFMW link here.
    My topic: small town living.

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