Kids Will Work for Money: Commission-based Chores

Jan 12

About a year ago, I implemented a new chore system for our household.  Determined to get my kids to learn the value of hard work, I developed a commission-based chore schedule.  I was sick of begging them to set the table, practice piano, or do homework.  Even worse, I was fed up with the shrill battle cry that erupted from my lungs when they ignored my multiple requests. 

I’d considered starting an allowance for each of them, but my inner voice of reason taunted me with names like schmuck, sucker, push-over.¬† Did I really think that folding a¬†crisp five dollar bill into my kids’ unwashed hands every week would suddenly compel them to leave the bathroom sink gleaming after brushing their teeth, or set polished silverware over folded napkins in preparation for dinner?¬† Free money.¬† That’s precisely what they would think¬†- a concept they¬†learned after continously watching Mom and Dad slip a magic card into a money-making machine that spat out twenty dollar bills.¬† Who needs to work when there are machines like that around?

It was important to teach them a direct connection between work and earnings.¬† You work – you make money.¬† Given my lack of confidence in my ability to enforce daily duties on my children, I decided to give them the opportunity to make money based on their own individual efforts.¬† For every duty they completed, I stuck¬†a gold star (well, my initials, actually) into a box beside their name.¬† At my current rate, they earn whole dollar for every six initials they receive.¬† It’s not a lot of money, but it allows them the freedom to buy a book or video game every couple of months as reward for their efforts.

On a really good week, my oldest son will earn up to¬†twenty of my monetary signatures (his chores include doing homework and practicing piano).¬† On a slow week, he may earn only ten.¬† My youngest earns the least amount of money because – surprise – the least is expected of him.¬† The system works at its best when the kids have decided they want to purchase something.¬† Those days, I can hardly come up with enough chores¬†to rack up the dollars or, er, quarters.¬† Recently, all three boys pooled their points to purchase a Wii game.¬† It’s a good thing, too, because I would have definitely nixed the plans if they’d not had their own means of paying.¬†

While I still perform the bulk of the household chores, I’ve accomplished what I set out to do – teach my children that money does not, in fact, materialize if it we just wish it so.¬† It is earned.¬† They understand that if they want to accumulate more money, they need to put in more effort.¬† So if they’d rather play Wii than help clean, they’d better be prepared to play the same old games until next Christmas – when Santa’s feeling generous.

A full explanation of the system is at


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One comment

  1. Kimberly /

    This reminds me of the Dave Ramsey system, free. I love it.

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