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The Money Messenger -- Happy New Year!
January 01, 2009


Welcome to Issue #12 of The Money Messenger!

The Money Messenger brings you the latest on your kids and money.

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The Money Messenger

In This Issue

Jump into the new year This month's article on chores and allowances focuses on reviewing and updating each program for new year's changes. Is your budget feeling the pinch of higher prices or other financial issues? Don't be afraid to dial back everyone's spending - including kids and teens - and updating allowances for that.

Or consider the alternative of having the kids earn more of their money - and not earning it from you. It can be doable for even young kids to earn a couple of dollars each week by helping out neighbors or coming up with even more creative ideas. This month's article gets you started with ideas.

A reader's question on the how to decide whether all chores need to be tied to an allowance.

What's next?

Note from Jennifer

This month's newsletter focuses on getting the new year started off on the right foot. Money is always one of the top resolutions of each year - why not make that resolution a family affair? Focus on increasing everyone's financial knowledge and learn as a family. Giving kids and teens a solid financial foundation will give them a head start on their future. What better 2009 goal is there?

Jumping to next month - the February issue will be focused on kid and teen entreprenuers. But you might want to consider checking out the holiday SBI! special before that. The special ends in a few short days (on January 5th) and is a great opportunity to buy one site and get one free. See my in-depth review of SBI! here for more information.

Special SiteSell Promotion

I still need YOUR help with is to get your stories. Everyone wants to hear more from each other! Personally, reader stories are my favorite part of any newsletter or magazine so I can't wait to make this addition. But I need your help! Please drop me a note at to tell me your story (and you can remain anonymous if you like).

Feature Article
Updating Chores and Allowances for a New Year

My husband got on revising the chore list early. In fact, it's been posted on our refrigerator for a couple of weeks so the kids can get used to the changes. (And, yes, he's the organized planner of the family!)

And, today (the first day of the new year), we talked to them about what each chore means. For instance, setting the table is on the kids' list. But, we don't sit down for dinner every night as a family so it doesn't apply every day. We all agreed that this one applies based on Mom and Dad requests. However, bringing in their school stuff (backpacks, lunch bags, etc) from the car and putting them away has to be done each day.

For us, we've been doing a chore program long enough that the kids get it. But what if this is a whole new thing for you and your family?

Start with only three or four chores. Or less if that's what seems to fit your kids and family life. The key is to not get burnt out (kids or parents) and ditch the program all together. Give yourself 90 days. Add more chores at that point if things are going smoothly. And if they aren't going well? Change them! The key to success is making small changes and finding what works for you. Get started here.

Whether you link allowance to chores or not, the start of the year can also be a good time to review how much the kids are getting as an allowance. And this year it may be even more important. Even if you haven't been affected as greatly as some by the economic climate, it can make sense to be more frugal in 2009. That idea includes reviewing how much the kids get in allowances by looking at whether the expenses covered are still reasonable.

Maybe the allowance included a movie each week and 4 song downloads. It could be scaled back to a movie every other week and only 2 song downloads. Not only does this help the household budget, it also share an important lesson with your kids about dealing with economic changes.

If you need a little help, check here for a refresher on allowance basics.

And if the kids still need or want more spending money? Check out the next article...

Feature Article
Winter Jobs for Kids and Teens: What Can You Do Inside - on Your Own?

Sometimes a kid's allowance isn't enough to cover what they want - whether because they want to spend $5 a week on extra snacks or because they are saving for a new MP3 player. That's when the opportunity to earn their own money (besides from their parents!) appears.

In the winter, that can be a little more difficult - especially if there is no snow in your area or if the kids can't work outside. But there are options. Here are some ideas to get started:

  • Pre-spring cleaning. The end of the holiday season and the start of the new year can prompt people to start cleaning out closets, attics and other areas of the house. Offer your services to help clean things out and box them up for either sale or charity.
  • Pet sitting. While this could be a year-round job, it can be even more important in the winter. Pets who might be able to stay outside 9 months of the year must stay inside during the colder months. But they may need to be let out in the afternoon - between the end of school and the end of the workday. Offer to let pets out for a break (and maybe play with them indoors) for an hour or so each afternoon. (Of course, if you want to be outside, you could also offer a walking service.)
  • Housecleaning. Certain jobs are just busier at the beginning of the year than at other times. This especially applies to any of the neighbors who are accountants (think tax season). They could need help now that they don't at other times of the year.
  • Organizer. Some people are born organizers. Is this you? Getting organized is also usually on the list of resolutions. Take advantage of this and your skills by offering your services to anyone who is cleaning out their closets or facing a messy home office. You could combine this with the pre-spring cleaning or housecleaning ideas above, too.

Does this list give you ideas of your own? Let me know what ideas you come up with by using either the "Contact Us!" form here or by sending me a note at

Ask the Editor!

Here's where I answer your questions. Lyndsey is trying to figure out whether every chore that her kids are doing should have a price tag attached. Can there be some chores that are just part of the household and others that are paid? Here's the advice:

Paying for chores is a classic dilemma. And there are lots of varying opinions. I do believe in connecting chores (or basic work) to an allowance because I think it establishes an early connection that work and pay are linked.

With that in mind, though, there are also chores or household duties that should be done as part of being a member of the household. It is the kids' part of making sure that the house runs smoothly. But there is no magic to deciding which chores are done for pay and which ones aren't.

You could decide that chores related to the kitchen are the ones that aren't paid. Or maybe it is making the bed and taking out the trash. Whatever you decide, the key is to be consistent and to get your kids to do chores on each list. It can be tempting for kids to only do those chores which are paid. But that doesn't keep the house running smoothly, so there need to be consequences for not getting the household-member chores done. It just shouldn't be money. Consider limiting or taking away privileges such as TV, computer or game system time as an option.

Finding a balance that works can be more of a challenge than if all chores are paid (or not). But it can be worth the pay off.

What are you doing in your chore program to balance paid and unpaid chores? Let me know your ideas by dropping me a note at Or for more information on chores, chore programs and chore contracts, start here.

To get your question considered (about chore and allowance programs or any other topics), contact me here.

Coming soon...
the next issue of The Money Messenger

February's issue will focus on kid and teen entreprenuers. We'll be looking at balancing their passion with not spending lots of money on the start-up. Plus, there will be a feature article on how to balance an allowance with earnings from a job.

Until then, may your 2009 be off to a great start!

Comments or suggestions?

If you have any comments or suggestions for future newsletters, please let me know. I want to be sure that this newsletter meets your needs. Feel free to provide your comments using this contact form.

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