Chore Chart and Allowance for a Preschooler

When I get home from a conference, I go through my stack of business cards and look up blogs, Twitter accounts and Facebook pages. I love looking at the cute and clever designs printed on those little cards, but once I’ve followed all my new friends, I don’t really have a good place – or reason – to keep them.

About a year ago, though, I discovered that Annalyn LOVES playing with business cards. So, every few months, she gets a new stack of pretty, colorful cards to add to her collection. She thinks they are debit cards. She calls them her “money.”

Until I had a child I never thought about how difficult the concept of money is. It never occurred to me that a 4-year-old would prefer 10 nickels over one dollar bill any day. And I certainly never debated the merits of motivating that same child with promises of shiny coins for her piggy bank.

Since becoming a mom, though, it seems the question of allowance is everywhere . . . which means that opinions from one end of the spectrum to another are everywhere, too. After going over the pros and cons half a dozen times, I finally decided to do something a couple months ago. (It’s easy for me to get stuck in research mode, gathering intel and input on every angle of an issue, but never making an actual choice.)

The choice we’ve made for our family is to give Annalyn a short list of daily chores. For each chore completed, she gets five cents. And of the money she earns, 10 percent goes into a “give” jar, 10 percent goes into a “save” jar, and the rest goes into a “spend” jar.

For us instituting chores and allowance is more about understanding money and learning to manage it than it is about mandating daily chores for our child.

After all, I don’t have to do much to motivate Annalyn to help out around the house. Honestly, the kid loves to clean. I don’t know how this happened.

Her chores are mainly things that she was already doing, off and on, and this new system is simply making those habits more regular. I also added a couple things that she probably should have been doing for a while now, but I’d been lazy in teaching her and then waiting for her to do them. (It is so much faster for me to put away the silverware than waiting for her to do it!)

Here are the chores on her list:

  • Make her bed
  • Put away clean silverware
  • Set the table
  • Clear her dishes after meals
  • Put away toys
  • Help me put away her laundry

She doesn’t do them all every day, and I don’t stress about that. And though she’s excited about getting her own money, she hasn’t been too worked up about making sure each box is checked off every day. (We’re both pretty type A, so this is actually a very good thing.) I want to be consistent, but like I said, this new system is about teaching her how to use money, not about cracking the whip on a list of chores.

Once I decided this was what I think is best for our family, I  – of course – went online for inspiration in the actual execution. Simple Mom shared a great chore chart and some rationale about chores for preschoolers that I found super helpful. And I slapped some scrapbooking stickers on Mason jars for piggy banks after seeing these money jars on Pinterest.

So far, this simple and laid back approach to chores and allowance is working for our family. (So of course, I’m linking up to Works for Me Wednesday!)

What does your family do for chores and allowance? How are you teaching your kids about money?

16 Comments Chore Chart and Allowance for a Preschooler

  1. MIssy June February 23, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Single mom of three here, so I struggle with consistency. BUT each of my three have one jar and for manners, for chores and general cooperation their earn quarters. When they misbehave, quarters are lost. When the jars fill, we divide into give, save and spend. Half is saved toward a family goal (Disney vacay in 2013) and 25% into the giving category. About every other week we get to spend at Dollar Store or Target, except that my seven-year-old often spends $1 at a time on ipod games.

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect March 4, 2012 at 4:23 pm

      I love the idea of a family goal! I might just steal that one…

  2. Nicole February 23, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    I absolutely *love* this idea and really want to incorporate something like this with my children. My youngest is 18months, so she’s still probably a little too young to appreciate something like this. However, I have a 6yr old “step”(covenant) daughter that I’d love to do this with. The only problem is that we only get her Fri (after school) until Sunday night. Any ideas as to how we can modify this to fit into our scenario and still have it be succesful? =)

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect March 4, 2012 at 4:22 pm

      I think you could certainly alter the idea for a weekend. Just shorten the list to three days and adjust your expectations. I’d imagine that you try to cram a lot of family time into those three days, so you might have fewer chores you expect her to do because of that. And maybe you do dimes instead of nickels, since she only has three days to earn the allowance? Just a couple thoughts. Good luck figuring out your system!!

  3. Tara February 23, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Great minds think alike, Mary! This is almost exactly what we’re doing. I have a post about it scheduled for next week. :) there’s also a really good book about the 3 jar system from Tommy Nelson. I bet she’d like to read it.

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect March 4, 2012 at 4:20 pm

      Oh, I’ll have to look up that book. Thanks for the tip, Tara!

  4. Kimberly February 24, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Just made the jars last night! I had been meaning too for a while, but kept wanting to make really cute things, and had to come to grips that it was just NOT GOING TO HAPPEN! Get-er-done! We just did two jars for each kids- save and give, because there’s only so much I want to keep track of- and they fit into a handy basket. We figured that save is basically the same as spend at this age (what is the difference you use?) and that by the time the kids should start saving for big things, we’ll use a computer!

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect March 4, 2012 at 4:19 pm

      Valid point. Save and spend really ARE the same at this age. I’ve had a hard time explaining to her what the difference is!

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