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The Money Messenger -- Fall Chores & Allowances
September 02, 2010


Welcome to Issue #034 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

While the unofficial end of summer for most of the U.S. is marked by Labor Day Weekend (which is just around the corner as this goes to press), many kids have already started back to school. It certainly feels like summer is over to them (and to their parents).

While you and your teen may be working on some of the ideas from August's newsletter on teen money management, it can also be a great time to review and update chores, allowances and how they impact the family budget. Using the newsletters together can have even more impact than just using the idea one at a time. It's like a power booster on teaching kids about money!

A reader's question on tracking chore programs for 3 kids

Helpful links and resources

What's new and what's next?

Note from Jennifer

My kids are in the group that goes back to school in mid-August. We are already into week #3 but it doesn't seem like we have a schedule groove just yet. That applies to chores and allowances, too.

The days are still long enough - and plenty warm - to spend time outside. Knowing that colder days are coming makes it a little harder to force chores to get done. And not just for the kids! I'm having plenty of trouble with that myself.

Whether your kids are in school or still savoring those last days of summer, you are probably starting to think about how to transition to a new schedule too. This is especially true when it comes to chores, allowances and the impact on the family budget. This month's articles can give you some ideas on how to manage it all.


Feature Article
Fall Chore Programs for Kids and Teens

Even though it still feels like summer here in the Midwest, I know fall is just around the corner. Changing leaves, cooler air...and fall chores. Whether you decide to update chores along with allowances (in the next article!), fall can bring some changes to chores for kids and teen chores too.

Why update them in the fall? The beginning of the school year is like New Year's to kids. They are a year older (at least in school age) and things are changing. Take advantage of that new mature attitude while it lasts!

Try these key steps to update the chores and get everyone on the same path before it's covered with those fall leaves.

  • Divide the chores into ongoing and seasonal ones. Some things, like taking out the trash, always need to be done. Others, like raking leaves, only happen a couple of times each year during the fall months. Make separate lists for each type of chore.
  • Figure out who can complete each chore. This is especially important if you have kids of varying ages. The five-year-old may not be able to drag the trash to the curb, but they can help empty smaller wastebaskets. This list of chore ideas by age can help.
  • Assign chores to each family member. Family chore charts can be a good way to make sure everything that needs to be done, gets done. Even if you only track the kids piece on chore charts for kids or teen chore contracts, having a complete list for the entire family helps.
  • After a month or so, go back and review the changes. Are they working out? Or is your teen doing chores any time she's not doing homework? Don't be afraid to review the charts or contracts more than once - especially if the changes you made were big. Those can be hard to get a handle on until you make the actual change. And next time, it will be easier.

If you need even more help on setting up a teen chore program, be sure to check out this Teen Chore Program which includes an ebook and ecourse to help you design a program that works for you.

Feature Article
Allowance Updates for the New School Year

For many kids, the beginning of the school year matters in the same way January 1st does for adults. It's a time of new beginnings. That can make it a great time to review and revise allowance programs for kids and for teens, too. But where to start?

  • Don't throw out the old program automatically. If you already have allowance basics in place, go back to them and see if you just need a little updating. You may need only small changes, or maybe it really is a complete overhaul.
  • Look at spending responsibilities and if there are new things that got added this year. Maybe your teen is a freshman in high school this year and suddenly wants to attend Friday night football games. Or your middle schooler wants to join the band program that is available to her. Most of these things come with a price tag, so it is important to discuss how they will be paid for (with most options having some impact on the family budget.
  • Need a brand new allowance program? Take the spending responsibilities from above to get a first estimate of the new allowance amount. Does it give you sticker shock? Consider modifying it by cutting expenses or having kids earn the difference through chores or odd jobs around your house or for the neighbors. (You can also check out average allowances here.)

Reviewing allowance programs at the beginning of the school year can be a great way to keep the money education going, and changes fit well with other changes your kids are going through at the same time. If you can start (and complete!) the allowance review before some unexpected expense pops up, it will be better for everyone.

Ask the Editor!

Here's where I answer your questions. Mary needs help with keeping track (and staying on top) of chores for her 3 kids. It seems like the paperwork of it all is almost a part-time job. Are there simple ways to keep track of it all?

Chore tracking can be the downfall of even the most dedicated parent. It can be tedious and thankless not to mention terribly un-fun. Still, there are ways to manage it and even have the kids help you do it. Here are a couple of suggestions.

  • Get the kids involved. Make it their responsibility to check the chore list and mark the things they've done. Your job is to review them list and the jobs. If things aren't marked off, then they aren't considered done. Having benefits tied to chores - even if it's not money - will help with this one, too.
  • Consider chore contracts even if they are teens. A chore contract can be just the boost your ten-year-old needs to act more responsibly even if the chores themselves don't change. Make it part of the contract that they are responsible for tracking their own chores.
  • Make it fun by using games such as Chore Dice or Chore Jars. As silly as they may sound, lightening the mood can make things get done faster and more smoothly. An added bonus? Most games have built-in tracking so you don't have to even worry about it!
  • Try online chore programs or software. Check out this month's Helpful Resource section to get a couple of ideas.

These are just 4 ideas on making the chore tracking load a little lighter for Mary. If you have any other ideas for her, send them to me here and I'll share them with all the readers.

Useful Resources for You

While strives to provide all the information you need to help educate your kids, teens and family on money matters, there are other great resources to help you. This newer section of the newsletter highlights those that I've found that provide solid, understandable and usable information.

Chores and allowances can be hard to manage. Having some help from the internet world can make things much easier to manage. These sites aim to do just that.

  • KidNexions offers KidsSave software to help you manage allowances plus teach your kids money management by having them actively involved. You can get a free 35-day trial here to check it out for yourself.
  • My Job Chart is a free site that gives parents and kids an online chore management tool. Parents can assign jobs, kids log in to see them and earn rewards after Mom and Dad review them. Kids earn rewards for the work done - which can be cold, hard cash.
  • My Reward Board is similar to My Job Chart but has lots more options. It costs $19.95 but you can download a 15-day free trial to make sure its for you before you buy. Plus, when you do buy it, you can use it on different computers for different kids. That's a definite added benefit.
  • The Ultimate Allowance Book is a step-by-step system to help teach your kids the language of money and provide financial practice while they're young and the lessons aren't quite so painful. The author, Elizabeth Donati, is devoted to teaching kids about money and this book is no exception. (I believe in it so strongly that I am an affiliate and may earn a commission if you buy. But I only recommend things I truly believe in - not because I might earn money.)

What's New?

Be sure to check out the latest blog posts at the site. With a new post nearly every day, there are lots of quick bits of information that might be just what you need.

If you are not a subscriber receiving the blog updates to your email each day, you can subscribe to the blog RSS feed here. Go now!

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

October brings more than just Halloween! It is home to National Financial Planning Week and Kids' Goal Setting Week. What a great time to focus on teaching kids about money goals and how that is part of a bigger financial plan! Those are the very topics we will cover in next month's issue. Make sure you and your friends have a subscription so you don't miss an issue!

If you have questions you'd like to see addressed for that issue, just use the Contact Form or email me at

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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