Paid vs. unpaid chores? What is best for your kids? Read on and find out!
Should you pay your kids for doing chores?
Paying for chores seems like a win-win situation – you get your kids to do chores and they get an “allowance” in return.
While it’s important that kids learn how to do chores, paying them for everything they do may not be the best answer.
If you want to raise responsible kids, you need to look at the big picture.
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Should Kids Do Chores?
First of all, should your kids even have chores?
There are actually numerous benefits to having kids do chores (besides helping keep your home clean – haha!)
Chores are important for kids to learn how to:
- develop adult skills
- manage their own daily chores when they become adults (if you want your kids to do their own laundry when they grow up, they need to learn how to do this when they are kids)
- contribute to the family
- gain a sense of pride and accomplishment
- grow up to be a good, considerate roommate and/or spouse
- need to learn to notice what chores have to be done (You need to teach them how to notice when to clean up – or do any other task – rather than just telling them.)
Start teaching your kids about chores when they are very young so they will grow up making it a part of their life.
The Great Chore Debate
Paid vs. Unpaid Chores
Even very little kids can do simple chores and reap the great benefits from them, but should you be paying kids to complete chores?
There are pros and cons to paying kids for doing chores. No system will fit every family perfectly. You need to work out a system that works for your family, but here are some things to consider first.
Related: Chores for Kids by Age Group
What are the benefits of paying your kids for chores?
Pros of Paid Chores
- They learn the value of money (work = pay).
- They can earn money and start saving young.
Related: Teach Your Kids to Save Money
Cons of Paid Chores
- It can lead to resentment.
- If your kids don’t want money one week, they may not want to do the chore.
- Kids should understand the importance of helping out family (for free).
- It can encourage entitlement.
If you do decide to pay for chores, you definitely shouldn’t pay for all of them.
Kids need to learn that there are things that we do to help our family and these should be done for free because we love each other.
I tell my 2 girls all the time, We help each other (to clean up, for example) because we are a family.
Personally, I think that paying for chores provides the opportunity for your kids to start learning the relationship between hard work and money and this is a stepping stone to learning how to manage money well.
Rather than paying for all chores, a good balance would be to have some chores that are not paid, but that kids do simply because you are a member of a family.
For example, If everyone is eating dinner, we should clean up after ourselves together.
Then, have a list of chores that are “extra” that can be paid for. Your kids would probably love to help you decide what chores should be on this list!
As I said before, unpaid chores should be regular family contributions. Things like:
- Chores to help the family
- Personal care (taking care of themselves and their belongings)
- Taking care of pets
Some general ideas for choosing paid chores:
- any thing extra beyond regular family chores
- extra help for a family member (for example, a teen driving younger siblings to appointments or practice; mom doesn’t have time to do chores and wants to “hire” it out; kids notice a unique need and negotiate the job for a price)
Here are some specific ideas for unpaid and paid chores:
Ideas for Unpaid Chores
- setting and clearing the table
- keeping the common areas tidy
- taking care of pets
- putting clothes away
- shoveling snow
No one will pay your kids to brush their teeth or clean their room when they are older, so they should learn these habits when young (and not be paid for them).
Pets are an important responsibility and we should always model that they need to be treated with care. We take care of them whether or not we are paid to do so!
Ideas for Paid Chores:
- raking leaves
- painting a room
- washing cars
- cleaning out the fridge
- organizing a closet
- repairing an item
Choose what works well for your family! You might want to pay for outdoor chores like snow shoveling and mowing, instead of making them family chores.
Your kids can probably help you come up with ideas for paid chores as well!
Paying for chores is a GREAT way for kids to learn the connection between hard work and money and get them started on learning how to manage their money.
You work hard, you get paid!
Final Thoughts on Paid vs. Unpaid Chores:
1.You should require that your kids save some portion of their money. If you teach them about budgeting, they can learn money management as well. They should start saving as soon as possible so they can reap the benefits of compound interest.
2. If you teach your kids to earn money for items they want (and some they need), then you can help them start to gain money management skills. Help them persevere in saving up for a special purchase by using a savings chart like this one.
3. If you pay for all chores, you could be setting your kids up to be entitled.
4. After doing chores and getting paid, if your kids want more money, have them figure out how to get it by:
- doing extra tasks for you around the house for negotiated pay
- encouraging them to find ways to make money outside the home (jobs for others)
- seeing what skills they have that they can market to others
Above all, teach them to be creative and entrepreneurs – if they want more money talk with them about how they can get it.
For further reading, Smart Money Smart Kids is a great book about teaching your kids about money and they talk about chores as well:
If you want to raise responsible kids who know how to manage their money well, then a great first step is to talk about paid vs. unpaid chores and set them up with a commission system for extra chores they can do. They will learn how to be responsible and take care of their family and also understand the connection between hard work and a paycheck.
What do you think about paying kids to do chores?