We have three little kids in our family. We are constantly trying to get them to clean their room, pickup their toys…the list goes on. In the past we had a chore system that worked pretty well. If kids did their chores for the day, they got up to 2 “checks” per day (one for the morning and one for the evening). If they did chores 70% of the time (10 checks in a week), they got to choose a reward: $2 cash, a treat from the local bakery, etc. It was good in that they were motivated to do chores, and it was teaching them some delayed gratification. For example, our daughter saved for about 10 weeks to save up and buy a $20 barbie doll. As a financial planner, I was thrilled by this behavior!!

In recent months, we’ve slacked on the “chore system.” In looking to reboot again, I ran across this article on www.businessinsider.com. The article talks about how paying kids for chores may teach kids to be entitled for activities they should already be doing (ie pitching in to help with household jobs). It may also stifle their innate desire to “help out.”

As a financial planner, I still want to teach my kids the positive elements of delayed gratification and saving for goals; however, I do think there is some truth in the above referenced article. Maybe a combination of non-paid daily tasks with occasional paid chores will give the best outcome – Teaching kids they’re a member of a larger community/household and that they need to pull their own weight while also teaching them the rewards of saving and delayed gratification.

Parents: How do you teach your kids delayed gratification? How do you teach your kids duty?

4 Comments

  1. Chris Rylands on June 6, 2020 at 2:46 PM

    We don’t pay for cleaning your room, making your bed, unloading the dishwasher, etc. However, I do pay for outside yard work. The only problem is that our son is so much of a saver, that the money no longer motivates!

    • Taylor Stanfill, CFP® on June 8, 2020 at 9:59 AM

      Chris, I saw your comment about your son being a saver and wanted to share our experience…we’ve started allowing our kids to define their reward for their chores (within reason of course!). This has helped tremendously. On Sunday, we lay out their chores for the week and we come up with a reward that motivates them. Game changer for us! Great blog Thad!

  2. Chris Hallward on June 7, 2020 at 10:54 AM

    Chris, A friend’s son is a saver too, but it goes both ways, if they misbehave or fail to do things they need to, that costs them $1 and he doesn’t want to part with his money… We do buttons for good behavior to earn TV time and or Dessert with an Allowance for money managing and delayed gratification. Rooster Money is a great app for teaching kids to save, contribute and spend towards a goal and it has taken the tracking out of a weekly allowance… very handy for kids to be able to spend from their account without having to bring money…

  3. Joni Diehl on June 17, 2020 at 12:41 PM

    Encouragement from a couple privileged oldies: We are nearing the initial Empty Nest phase (college bound Freshman in the house). We also defined age-appropriate chore expectations for being a part of our family, and the chores we were willing to pay our child to do – we had a price list and discussed it with her. It wasn’t much, and provided motivation to earn money in other ways – babysitting, cutting grass, etc. Conversely, we had a sign in the kitchen reading “$5 fine for whining.” We wanted to teach a good work ethic, and gratitude at the same time. Boy did that sting, when she had to fork over $5 and then earn it back slowly! We kept the $5 in a glass jar on the counter as a visual reminder. It became very important to her to keep that jar empty.

    We always talked openly about tithing and the Give/Save/Spend model of handling money. We can report that our 18-year old has thus far worked, saved and paid cash for her own vehicle (and covers 100% of the expenses that entails), her own [refurbished] iPad and [refurbished] iPhone and peripherals. She has never missed a tithe and loves having margin to be generous. Further, she is not a complainer, PTL. Now, she has set her sights on stroking a check to buy her first home post-college. 🙂 She may be in touch with Verisail soon to start planning her long-term financial future! It was hard sometimes to stick to our guns, but we see the benefit now… and are proud as punch of our girl.

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