The pocket money predicament: should you pay kids for chores?


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Despite it being a foundation for understanding money, opinion is divided as to whether pocket money should be tied to chores.

Some parents give pocket money with no strings attached. Other parents give pocket money on the condition that the children complete household chores.

Some parents believe children should do chores because they are part of the family and doing chores is helping out the family.

pocket money predicament dilemma pay kids for chores

There are also parents who believe that relating chores to pocket money teaches children the concept of working for money. Just as parents work to earn money, if the children want money they must earn it by doing work around the home.

The approach you choose depends on what money lesson you want to teach your children.

Remember, pocket money is one tool you can use to teach children money lessons. If you want your children to learn about earning money, then giving pocket money for doing housework is one way of teaching them.

If you want to teach your children other money lessons that do not involve the exchange of time, skill and effort for money, then don't link pocket money with completing housework.

There is, in fact, a happy medium to this debate. It's one that works brilliantly for my family. We identify "family chores", "contribution chores" and "individual chores".

Individual chores are those that must be completed by the child as a personal responsibility. These chores generally benefit the child only - keeping their room tidy, making their bed, etc - and should not be paid.

Contribution chores are chores the child completes as a contribution towards the family. These are chores which benefit another member of the family and can technically be categorised as family chores. However, these chores are not paid.

The third category, family chores, are chores which, if completed by the children, will relieve the parents from doing it. Family chores in my household include feeding the family pet, doing the laundry, loading and unloading the dishwasher, etc.

The latter category of chores is one that we tie to money. This is because it relieves mum and dad from doing the chores, therefore it frees up mum and dad's valuable time.

The time it takes a child to complete these chores ought to be exchanged with money - these are paid chores.

Whether you have an open market for paid chores (that is, anyone can do them and whoever does it gets paid) or allocate certain family chores to each child is up to you.

I prefer to allocate certain family chores to each child because I have found that sometimes the open market doesn't work - none of the children want to do it and I end up having to do it.

When I allocate specific family chores to individual children, these chores get done.

I also have a rule which requires the child to pay whoever completes the chore for them if they don't do it. This can include paying mum or dad if we have to do it.

If a child is saving up for a goal and is asking for ways to earn more money, you can then find other family chores for them to do to help them reach that goal.

This would be akin to a child asking to do overtime in a real job. I also had instances where one of my children offered his allocated family chore to his sister so that his sister could reach her savings goal earlier.

This is an edited extract from Kids Money Habits by Amy Koit, founder of

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Amy Koit is founder of and mum of three.

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