Creating a Life Free From Chaos

Show Your Kids the Money, and Teach Them the Value of the Dollar

Show Your Kids the Money, and Teach Them the Value of the Dollar

This is a guest post from Karen Sargent.

Moms have a lot of stress because we’re responsible for a lot of people and a lot of things. If your responsibilities also include the finances, that stress load quadruples and then multiplies by 100. So I want to share an easy strategy that made a big difference in my stress and taught my girls a few things about money management.

Here’s the Scene

You’re at Wal-Mart. As you roll through the aisles, this kid asks for this, and that kid asks for that. You say no a few times, and yes a few times, and when you reach checkout, you do some quick math. This kid’s extras add up to $15, and that kid’s extras add up to $13, and you’ve spent $31 more than you planned (don’t forget taxes!). You vow — again — to quit taking your kids to Wal-Mart.

Is There a Solution?

Yep. Your kids need to quit spending your money…and instead, spend their money!

But my baby is only six, you say. He doesn’t have a job…or a paycheck. Let’s give him one. Domestic Sanitation Assistant is an impressive title for his future resume, don’t you think? Here’s an example job description to hang on your fridge each month.

Chore chart example

Before each of my daughters had a driver’s license or a job, she had her own chore chart. Some tasks were the same for both, laundry for instance. Some were different. Randi vacuumed; Kelli mopped. And each job had a dollar value, based on how often it would be done (unloading the dishwasher daily) or more likely, how much I didn’t like doing it myself (cleaning the bathroom). I also made sure the tasks were age-appropriate.

On Sunday evening, the girls were paid for the jobs they did right…or not paid if they didn’t. “Payday” taught them the value of receiving a specific reward for their specific work at a specific time.

Uh-oh. More Problems

But what if Junior refuses to put away his laundry…and doesn’t care if his stack of dollar bills is a little short on payday? It happens. But on the next trip to Wal-Mart when he can’t afford that Star Wars action figure, he’ll care — if you stay strong and don’t give him an advance on next week’s paycheck.

It’s important for Junior to feel the consequences of shirking responsibilities. It might take a time or 10 for the lesson to sink in, but it will.

Another problem might arise. Unlike Junior, Juniorette embraces the chore chart, checking off tasks, adding up her earnings. So she asks for more jobs because she wants more moolah.

On the surface, this is great! She wipes baseboards, cleans out the fridge, dusts the decor on your walls. But on payday, the calculator says you owe Juniorette $50! Take advantage of her enthusiasm and get some overlooked jobs done, but pace her so you don’t break the bank.

Juniorette poses another problem. Remember Junior who doesn’t want to do his jobs? His sister sees an opportunity. She makes a deal: she’ll do his jobs if she gets his pay. This is good because the jobs get done. But it’s bad because, once again, Junior can’t afford the Star Wars figurine. (Will the boy ever learn?)

Why It Works

The chore chart isn’t a perfect system, but when kiddos give their own hard-earned cash to Wal-Mart, they make different decisions. Suddenly certain items aren’t as necessary as they once were. Their money supply is limited, so they prioritize their wants. Sometimes making those choices is torture for them…but it can be entertaining for you…kind of like payback for all the years they nickel and dimed their momma.

Our kiddos can learn other lessons while getting paid for a job well done. My girls set aside 10% for savings and 10% for church. It might be hard pull dollar bills from their greedy little hands, but when their savings account grows, they feel accomplished. And when they put their own money into the collection plate, they learn it’s not all about them.

Hiring domestic sanitation assistants takes a little organizing and management, but when your new employees are trained, the system is win-win-win.

  • Your house gets clean (less stress).
  • A trip to Wal-Mart doesn’t bust the budget (less stress).
  • Junior and Juniorette learn life-long lessons that shape their work ethic and money management skills…so they won’t still be living with you when they’re 30 (definitely less stress).

But there’s one problem this system doesn’t fix. You still have to go to Wal-Mart.

What battles do you fight when it comes to kids and chores? Will paying your child by the job work for you? What strategies have you used that moms might like better? Share your comments!

Karen Sargent

Karen Sargent considers herself a pro at juggling marriage, parenting, teaching, and writing — and dropping the ball! After 20 years of momhood, she’s learned what’s important and what’s not (if only she knew that back then…). Visit her website at