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My Story: Why I Pay My Son for Chores

contributed by Evelyn


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I often see discussion about getting kids to do chores. Many entries state that kids should not be paid for chores, but should do them as "part of the family." I don't agree with this for a few reasons. First, it's not their house. Yes, it's their home, but they didn't choose or pay for it. It makes a big difference when it's "your own." Next, in the outside world, you wouldn't do work unless you were paid, right? Finally, it cuts down on a lot of arguments and moralizing.

We have some basic rules in our house. We don't allow food anywhere but the kitchen and dining room and shoes are not allowed in the house. We also don't allow stuff to be left around the common areas of the house unless it's in use or just one thing at a time. A book or game out in the living room is fine, but outdoor sports equipment is not. I don't nag my son to pick up his stuff. Instead, it just "goes away." My son can buy it back from the "impound" with the money he makes doing chores.

I have decided that I no longer want to vacuum, clean the bathrooms, or mow the lawn. I advised my 12-year old son that he could bid on these jobs, or I would hire someone from outside to do them. He jumped at the chance with the caveat that he had to get it done by Friday when I got home from work. He also had to give two weeks' notice to quit. Otherwise, if I had to do it, I would charge him double what I paid him (seniority and experience has its perks!). I paid him $25 to do all the inside work and $5 per lawn mowing. After showing him how do to all the jobs, I watched him do them a couple times and then inspected the finished job.

I noticed several side benefits to this arrangement. First, he started being tidier, as he had to pick up everything to vacuum. Even with our "house rules," there could still be a lot of books, magazines, TV remotes, etc. around. Also, he became tidier in the bathroom. Second, he sometimes "calls in sick" when he's truly sick or has a lot of homework to do, which is fine. If this happens, I do the chores and don't charge him back, but he is very grateful. He sometimes says that he won't take the money, but I explained that you're allowed to call in sick at work and you still get paid (up to a point). Sometimes when I am sick or bring work home, he offers to do some extra jobs for me! Third, we don't argue over spending money any longer. If he needs more money for a new video game, he asks if there are any extra jobs he can do. Also the neighbors have offered him lawn-mowing jobs, so he is making quite a bit.

Not only am I saving money by not hiring a cleaner, but also I have given my son a good overview of how the world works and improved our relationship at the same time. Plus, we have more time on the weekend to do fun things since I am not stuck cleaning the house.


"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it to MyStory@stretcher.com

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