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The Money Messenger -- Summer Chores and Allowances
June 04, 2009


Welcome to Issue #019 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

Making Summer Chores and Allowances Work This month's articles focus on managing chores and allowances when the fun of summer calls

A reader's question on how to add chores for pay to a chore list that already has an allowance program with it

What's new and what's next?

Note from Jennifer

Aaahhhh...summer is here! Baseball season is in full swing and the pools are open. For our family it brings the chance to do things we love outdoors. It also brings a whole new set of challenges in getting chores done and remembering to pay allowances. There's just something about the school schedule that helps keep things on track.

Do you have the same challenges? This month's articles are focused on giving you some ideas on how to manage chore and allowance programs that you've worked so hard on while still making it feel like a summer vacation.

Also, as quick note, many Alex's Lemonade Stands are gearing up for the 6th Annual Lemonade Days June 12th - 14th. Check out all the details here or get more information on having a lemonade stand fundraiser here.

Now, feel free to grab a cool drink and enjoy the rest of the newsletter!

Feature Article
Summer Chore Challenge

The summer chore challenge almost sounds like a new reality show. The challenges with chores for children (whether they are kids or teens) can become even greater in the summer. Even though they should have more time available to do chores, it seems like it's harder and harder to get them done. At least that's the way it works in my house.

Everyone (and that includes the parents!) would rather be outside. With the sun, the summer breezes and the longer days, it's all just too tempting. Daily household chores are left behind and the printable chore charts are blank on the fridge. That well-planned chore program has bitten the dust. Do you have similar summer chore challenges?

Here are some ideas on how to keep the chores for kids for kids of all ages (including Mom and Dad) on a path to getting done. Depending on your family activities, you may find that you need to take a couple of these and make them into a customized one that works for your famiy. Feel free to do just that!

  • Opt Out. Finding ways to motivate everyone to do the daily household chores can be the biggest challenge of all. So...don't! Summer should be a time to relax, not to get all stressed out over chores. By opting out, you can reduce the stress on everyone.

    What is opting out? It's reviewing the household chore list and picking certain chores that just aren't going to be done during the summer. This is about simplifying and figuring out what you really can live with in the interest of more time enjoying the summer break. For my family, this means not making the beds. If you can't stand an unmade bed but are OK with clothes all over the floor or toys left in the yard, you can pick one of those to let go of.

  • Work a reduced schedule. Many businesses go to this type of schedule in the summer, and some have done it on a year-round basis. If it works for them, why not make it work in your family chore business?

    In opting out, one or several chores are selected to not be done during the summer. In having a reduced schedule, all chores still get done. They just don't get done as often as they would on a regular schedule. Let's go back to the bed-making example. You may decide that the beds don't need to be made every day but they do need to be made sometime. That could be every other day or every three days.

    You can do the same thing with the other chores and then plan the chore list so that the days of all chores alternate enough that only a couple of chores need to be done on any one day of the week.

  • Make it a game. If you don't feel like you want to cut out or back on any chores, why not make it fun? You can create your own games to get everyone moving and thinking about the game instead of the chores. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. Here are some quick ideas to get you started (and don't forget to make these EASY games - you don't want coming up with the game to be another chore).
    1. The Amazing Chore Race. There are several ways to do this. You can set the timer to see how many chores each family member can get done in the allotted time. Or you can assign chores out to be done at one time and then time everyone to see how fast they get done with their list. The only thing you really need for this is an honest time keeper.
    2. Let's Make a Deal. Even if everyone doesn't know Let's Make a Deal, they will catch on quickly. In this game, everyone is given one chore. They can decide if they want to keep that chore or if they want what is behind Curtain #2 (which is a different chore).
    3. Wheel of Chores. This one requires a little more preparation but you can use it over and over again. In this game, all of the chores to be done are placed on a big wheel (like on Wheel of Fortune). Each player then spins to find out which chore they will do (or at least do first). whoever spins the chore first does it. If someone else lands on that same chore during their spin, they spin again. You can have everyone take turns until all chores are assigned out or you can come back after the first round of chores are one.

All of these games will need to be set up based on the chores each family member can do. Be sure that age appropriate chores are included so that everyone can play. The fun is the game and competition and having everyone included makes it even more fun.

If you have kids chore charts, a teen chore contract or family chore charts, you can still use any of these ideas. You may need to modify them or make new ones, but they will last the whole summer. And, you may just find that this was a change that you needed to make anyway no matter what time of year.

For even more information on summer chore challenges check out these new site pages:

Feature Article
Managing A Summer Allowance for Kids, Tweens and Teens

If it isn't summer chores creating headaches, it's what to do with the allowances for kids. This can get especially confusing and tricky in the summer as many kids earn their own money.

How do you balance that with the allowance that they get at home? Here are some tips to manage a summer allowance for kids and teens.

  • For kids: Kids are less likely to be earning their own money on a regular basis. You may have an entrepreneural exception, but most kids earn money from time to time through a lemonade stand or by doing chores for neighbors. For the kids who are earning money only occasionally besides their allowance, keeping their standard weekly allowance should be fine.

    If you are making changes to the chores that they do and their allowance is tied to that, you will need to decide if their allowance also needs to change. For example, if they normally earn $2 each week by doing 6 chores, will they still earn $2 each week if they only need to do 4 chores?

  • For tweens: Tweens are more likely to be earning their own money more regularly during the summer. This could be from babysitting or having their own craft business at the local farmers' markets over the summer. If your tween is in this category and earning some amount of regular income, you may need to sit down with her and talk about her allowance and her income.

    This can be tricky. You don't want the outcome to be that she cuts back on earning money so she can keep getting the same allowance. Earning her own money is a key step in her financial and overall independence. Part of that independence is also moving away from an allowance. You may decide not to eliminate her allowance but rather to decrease it by a small amount just for the summer. This needs to be a mutual agreement, and it needs to have a specific end date. The end date can be tied to something as simple as the start of school when she can no longer spend as much time earning her own money.

  • For teens: This group is much more likely to be earning their own money by either working at a job or by working for themselves. They are also more likely to have some specific goals in mind for the money that they are earning such as a car or college. Or it could be that they are responsible for more of their own expenses such as clothing above a certain budget or a cell phone.

    No matter the reason, if your teen is working, their allowance should likely be reduced. How much it goes down really depends on how much they are earning and what they are doing with the money. If you have a teen that is a hardcore saver and has shown that he is saving everything that he can for a car, you might not reduce his allowance at all in support of his savings goal. If your teen struggles with saving even enough to get to the end of the week, then you may want to reduce his allowance by 25% to help him start managing his money better.

The most important thing to keep in mind is your kid or teen. You know them best so use that as one of the deciding factors as well. If you need a refresher on the allowance basics, check out this page.

Ask the Editor!

Here's where I answer your questions. Tara writes that her 10 year old daughter, Sydney, is asking to earn money by doing chores around the house. Sydney already has some chores that she does to earn her allowance. Tara wants to know how to balance these two things with her daughter. Here's the advice:

Congratulations on having a motivated daughter! While it can seem frustrating trying to figure it out and balance her allowance with added chores, it can be a great first step in her having more control over her money. Here are some specific tips to help:

  • Make the weekly chores a priority over any new ones. This tip is meant to ensure that the household chores that need to be done still get done. It can be tempting to do the chores that earn more money first. Having a rule or guideline that says that all allowance program chores get done before any added chores get paid will help ensure that the basic chores still get done.
  • Determine how often the new chores will be done. Is this a one-time request so she can buy a new outfit? Or is this so she can earn more money each week? How the added chores get managed (and paid) depends on whether these chores are infrequent or if they are now part of the routine.
  • Set a fair price. Even if she is only going to do this once, don't overpay for the service. It can be hard not to pay the amount she needs (for that new outfit). You should pay what the chore is worth. The best way to determine that is to think about it as if you were going to have pay for that work to be done every week. What would a fair weekly rate be? That is the rate you should use. (The possible exception to that rule is if you have a chore that only gets done once a year or every couple of months. The rate for that work should be slightly higher. This would cover things like heavy-duty spring cleaning.)
  • Update the chore list or add on to the chore contract if you are using either of them. It gets hard to remember from week to week and month to month all of the details of any work being done. And it seems like no one will remember the same details. It's best to put it in writing at the outset to limit confusion and hard feelings later on.

Are there tricks or tips that you have for tweens or teens doing extra work around the house? Share them with me (and everyone else) by sending them to

What's New?

The most recent special issue of The Money Messenger focused on garage sales. If you missed it, check out the back issues link at the bottom of this newsletter or just click here. There are new garage sale pages focusing on garage sale tips, pricing garage sale items and garage sale signs have also been added in the The Family Room so check those out too.

Other new stuff:

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

July's issue will focus on giving back and how it can be easier than you think for kids, tweens and teens. If you have questions you'd like to see addressed for that issue, just use the Contact Form or email me at Be sure that your name will be kept confidential if you wish.

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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