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URL:  http://boards.fool.com/allowances-chores-10029800.aspx

Subject:  Allowances & Chores Date:  9/11/1997  3:31 PM
Author:  TMFJeanie Number:  40 of 6774


Wow, what a lot of great advice and ideas in this folder. Makes me (almost) wish I could go back to my son's childhood and start all over again, only this time apply more Foolish principles to teaching him about investing his money.

As to allowances and how much to pay and at what age to start it... that really has to be determined by each child's temperament and the family dynamics. The kinds of chores that pile up are going to be different in a household with two working parents than it is for a house where one parent is home with a baby or toddler, or even home alone all day while the kids are in school.

In our house, there were always certain chores expected of our son with no remuneration attached to them. The chores changed or expanded as he matured, starting with picking up his toys when he was little, to complete cleaning, including vacuuming, of his room when he was older.

Expected (but not compensated) were: Anything associated with taking care of your own personal space and possessions. In our house this was non-negotiable. It started with keeping track of leggos, continued through removing dirty socks from under the bed before they grew into the carpet, locking up the bike, taking care of skis, and ultimately to changing the oil in his own car. Even though he paid for his first car, he needed to learn that buying a car is only one part of being responsible for owning one.

Expected, and paid for, were regular chores like feeding the pets, emptying litter box, taking out trash, emptying dishwasher, folding laundry. His base allowance was established for this set of chores, but neglect of either set could result in being docked.

Extra-income jobs were those that benefitted the whole family -- mowing lawn, weeding garden, trimming hedges, painting, reorganizing the garage/basement/attic, washing mom's car, raking leaves, etc. Fees were established for jobs like these and were his main source of extra income. Once he was 12 or 13, he sometimes got offers from neighbors willing to hire him after they witnessed what a good job he did on our property!

By 15, he was justifiably proud of a stone wall he built and a rock garden he designed. He had discovered that even "grunt work" can lead to creative expression and be a source of real accomplishment.

Jobs for kids will vary if you live in a city apartment, a suburban home or a rural farm. Each comes with their own chores specific to that setting and parents who are harried and tired need only start making a list of "Things that have to be done around here NOW"... to find lots of stuff, big and small, that the kids - big and small - can do to pull their weight as a contributing member of the family.

Oh yes, the reward for a mom? That huge grin you have to suppress when your kid comes home during the first college break and says, "do you know my roommate was, like, totally CLUELESS the first time he had to do his own laundry...sheesh...what a dork, had to show him how the washer works."

Sweet victory!

TMF Jeanie

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