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The Money Messenger -- February Follow Throughs
February 05, 2009


Welcome to Issue #13 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

Keeping the new year going strong This month's articles focus on teen chores and on allowance basics. These two things can be the strong foundation for teaching kids about work and money (even if they are not tied together in your house). But they can also be challenging if you hit a few stumbling blocks along the way. These articles have some suggestions on how to deal with those speed bumps and stay (or get back!) on course.

A reader's question on the how to keep the chores balanced among kids of different ages in the same house

What's next?

Note from Jennifer

This month's newsletter focuses on staying on track with your goals for 2009 - especially those around chores and allowances. There continues to be so much in the media about the economic issues in the U.S. - and so little that we seem to be able to do about it. But there is something we can do. We can make sure our kids and families have the right money education and foundation to be successful - no matter what the bigger economy is doing.

Chores and allowances are excellent ways to build that foundation.

I've delayed the kid and teen entrepreneur focus issue for a bit. There are couple of reasons for this. First, February is THE month that resolutions and goals set for the new year are most likely to start getting derailed. With that in mind, I wanted to give you some chore and allowance tips to help stay on track. Second, the entrepreneur subject really deserves its own special issue. And that is exactly what it is going to get! Be watching your mailbox in the next several weeks for a special edition of The Money Messenger on kid and teen entrepreneurs.

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
Teen Chore Contract Add-On Option

If you've been using (or even just considering) a teen chore contract, you may have come across times when there are some seasonal or occasional chores that need to be done that just don't fit well into the overall chore contract. These could be snow shoveling or one kid filling in for another due to a sledding injury.

In either situation, it can seem like redoing the teen chore contract isn't quite the right thing. These new chores are ones that won't last - and the rewards aren't likely to be ongoing either. That makes rewriting the contract that also covers the ongoing chores a little tricky.

That's where a supplement to the teen chore contract can help. This is simply an add-on to the original contract and covers only the seasonal or exception chores. It can written to cover a certain time period only with an expiration date or it can be a little more open-ended. That will really depend on what types of chore you are including.

Another advantage of the contract add-on is that you could have more than one add-on going at one time. While this may not be the best way to manage chores (since too many of these can make it hard to manage - for everyone), you may find that certain seasonal chores overlap between seasons. For instance, the yard may still need to mowed as leaves are falling.

To see how a teen chore contract supplement might work for you, check out this page. It also includes a blank contract add-on plus a completed sample.

Feature Article
2009 Money Resolutions: Allowance Program Basics

Do your goals for this year include learning more about money? It does for plenty of people - money and weight loss goals always seem to top the list.

But what does this mean for you and your family?

If it means starting an allowance program (or getting one on track), here are some basic steps to get started:

  • Set a schedule. One of the most common - and easiest to remember - is to pay it weekly. All of the calculation on the right amount and what it covers don't matter as much as getting into a regular habit.
  • Set an amount. The older the child, the more time this may take. They likely have more expenses and more financial responsibility. The keys on this step are to make sure it fits in the family budget and that the child isn't getting rich on their allowance (which is different than them saving part of it).
  • Talk it through. Depending on the age of your kids, this conversation may take 10 minutes or 30. Keep it at their level and explain the important pieces to them. For younger kids, they may just need to know that they are old enough to have some of their own money. For teens, this may mean going down a list of their expenses and talking about what the allowance should cover.
  • Consider it a work in progress. An allowance program (just like a diet) doesn't need to be all or nothing. If you miss a week because it's spring break and your on vacation, don't sweat it. Just get back on it the next week.

For more allowance basics, check this out.

Ask the Editor!

Carla wants to start a chore program for her 3 kids - ages 12, 9 and 5. What is the best way to have chores that fit each child but don't become a nightmare to manage? Here's the advice:

Yep. Having a chore program for 3 kids could get to a part-time job on its own. That is not the goal, of course, so here are some ideas on how to keep it manageable:

  • Have common chores for all children - but vary the difficulty based age. Some of examples of this would be cleaning their rooms and making their beds. You would expect the 12-year-old to put away her clean clothes (and dirty ones too!); organize her books and CDs; and, make her bed neatly. But the 5-year-old may only be expected to put away toys in bins or his toybox and make sure that the covers on his bed are mostly straightened. It will take at least one time through this to make sure everyone understands how this needs to be done - but it shouldn't be a separate list each week.
  • Have one of the chores of the oldest child be to ensure that the other kids do their chores. There is a small danger with this one that the oldest child will become bossy (or even bossier) with this added responsibility. Attitude and respect for her siblings should be part of the chore requirement, so things don't get out of hand.
  • Focus on only two chores per child that are really important. This is the chore version of "choose your battles" - the motto of nearly every parent. Two chores times three kids is six chores per week. That is generally doable. And will help give you a sense of whether everyone can handle more - it's usually easier to increase and tackle more than it is to try to recover from being overwhelmed.
  • Have a list of household chores that are not assigned to any one child but that rotate weekly between the kids. The trick here is that they need to be able to be completed by any one of the kids. But that list can include emptying trash cans, unloading the dishwasher feeding the pets. This list can be a partial or complete replacement for individual chores. That way there can be ONE list for everyone.

Do you have several kids that you are managing a chore program for? Let me - and all the other readers - know how you are doing it and what ideas you have for making it successful 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

The next issue will be a special edition focusing on kid and teen entrepreneurs. 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.

March's issue will focus on the transition to spring with ideas on jobs and chores that fit the season.

Talk to you soon!

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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