Now that we are debt free we are officially instituting a commission policy for our three kids. Over the years we have tried varies ways to pay our children for chores. We’ve tried a straight allowance system, tracking sheets, etc. None of these really ever stuck falling off after a few weeks. Now that isn’t to say we have not given them any spending money at times, we have, when they had plans with friends, things like movies, school dances, etc. We sat down recently with our children and explained the commission system would work. It will be up to them to keep track on a weekly basis of the things they have helped with around the house. The more one does the more they potentially can earn. The totally amount is still a work in progress. We are working the total amount into our monthly budget. Most likely a $30-40 total per week range. This would be divided up among the three. They all agreed to keep track of the items completed and the lists will be kept on the refrigerator.


Commission Item

Here’s the list of items we came up with:

  • Set dinner table
  • Clean dinner table
  • Take out trash
  • Load dishwasher
  • Empty clean dishwasher
  • Mow lawn
  • Yard work
  • Feed Mushu (our dog)
  • Walk Mushu
  • Pick up Mushu’s poo
  • Laundry
  • Fold and put laundry away

The children are free to add an item at any time. We want them to take the initiative to pitch in more around the house. Items like mowing the lawn, yard work and picking up the dog poo will be weighted a bit heavier since they are more involved them the other items. We want to add preparing meals to the list. This is something we are working on.

Commission Week One

Week one went pretty well. $25 was paid out in commission. My daughter and youngest son earned $10, and my oldest son earned $5. My oldest son didn’t do a good job tracking he progress during the week and missed some possible earnings. He tried the old “I didn’t know we started yet” trick but I wasn’t falling for it. He’s been warned and ready for a better week two.

How do you handle allowance in your house? What items do you expect your children to help with? Did you receive an allowance growing up? If so what were you expected to do?

32 thoughts on “Commission”

  1. When I was growing up sometimes we had allowances and sometimes we didn’t. I think it all depended on whether my parents could afford it at the time, because it didn’t seem to tie in well to our work ethics. I hope this systems works for you and you can all stick with it.

  2. I’m bad I think. My kids don’t get an allowance but they are expected to help around the house – dishes, tidy up, trash, make their own lunch etc. They do manage their own money though- and they seem to always have some. (!) They have to put 50% in the bank and then they can do what they want with the rest. The tend to get money as gifts from family and paid for odd jobs. They have also been known to sell things (video games) and do arbitrage with garage sale finds. Budding entrepreneurs on my hands.

  3. Congratulations on being debt free. I guess I am late to the party but that is awesome. I am close to paying off our truck loan and could not be happier about it. Oh, the time can’t pass quick enough for that one.

  4. My parents never paid me to do chores because I was brought up to believe that working together is a necessary part of being a family. Instead I would get a small weekly allowance (just £1 each week) and my crafty, scheming dad agreed introduced the idea that if I managed to save £50 then he would add a further £50 to my bank account.

    Needless to say, it encouraged me to save my money and whenever I wanted to buy something it made me appreciate the value of the money I was spending because, in my mind at least, it equated to a couple of months-worth of savings.

    It doesn’t take long when you’re young to get into the habit of saving instead of spending, and when my £50 bonus came in I was already hooked.

    And that was when he introduced the £200 target… 🙂

  5. That’s pretty cool…kind of an ala carte sort of allowance…but a kid’s job could change from week to week. There could even be a little competition. 🙂 I may add something like this to our household on top of their base allowance!

  6. I’ll be interested to know if your system keeps working. Pretty creative approach! We would get into all kinds of arguments about who did what and why a certain job should be worth more, etc. We pay our daughters a clothing allowance (which covers more than just clothing) until they’re old enough to get part-time work. There is an expectation of some housework. I got a clothing allowance when I was a teenager, but my parents made the mistake of caving when I asked (each month) for an advance on the next month’s allowance. We don’t make that mistake with our kids!

      1. We also got a clothing allowance as kids and it worked really well. When we were ~12, my mom would drop my sister and I off at the mall twice a year to do school shopping. We also scoured garage sales together.

  7. A great idea, it’ll be interesting to hear how it works out. My sons are long since grown and gone. I honestly don’t recall how we managed allowances when they were young. When they were in high school their summer job money went into the bank to cover their fun for the school year. But, they were required to hold 10% aside for their college fund. We wanted them to understand the value of saving up for a longer-term goal.

    1. We are hopefully hat this is the start of that lesson. Our oldest two will be driving soon, so need to understand about savings for car, gas, insurance.

  8. I’m not against paying my kids to do chores when they are older. With that being said, they are only 3 and 5 right now. It will be a while! They definitely won’t get an allowance from me unless they do something to earn it.

  9. Do you have set rates for each of the items, Brian? Some are more difficult than others. I like the idea that they have to track it themselves to take the onus off of you. Do they ever fight as to who get’s to empty or load the dishwasher because they want to make easy money? #doubtit

    1. We have not set rates, but certainly weight things like mowing the lawn higher and if completed will earn more. No fighting yet, but give it time. 🙂

  10. I don’t have kids, but I’ve read a lot about these kinds of systems. The idea I like best is having chores that are expected and not rewarded like setting the table, making the bed, washing the dishes, etc. and then having a list of commission chores for things that require more work, like cleaning the bathroom.

    1. We are hopefully that this sparks our children’s desire to pitch in more and start to tackle the more difficult and time consuming chores. Like mopping, bathroom cleaning, vacuuming, etc. Harder you work can equal more money. We shall see how it goes.

  11. We didn’t get a regular weekly allowance or get paid for chores. They told us we had to do chores because we were part of the family and that was that.

    Paying for chores didn’t go over well in my husband’s family. His dad wanted to pay them something like $2 to mow the lawn, and the boys all decided it wasn’t worth the $2. For a fifteen year old, $0.25 for unloading the dishwasher so isn’t worth it. And his dad wasn’t willing to pay more! Then they ended up making them do it anyways. 🙂

    1. They have done these thing all along without officially being paid, we are just formalizing it now. With the hopes that the recognize if the do more then can earn more.

  12. I’ve always been curious as to how people handle allowances with kids now, as I don’t have kids of my own. I did not receive an allowance growning up. I was just expected to do things 🙂

  13. We got a regular allowance, which increased over time, but I can’t remember how much now; it’s been a loooooong time. We also divided up chores — I did dishes, primarily, and shared lawn-mowing and leaf-raking as I got older. We didn’t do “heavy cleaning” (sweeping, vacuuming, bathroom-cleaning) unless we had company coming — there wasn’t a regular schedule for it — but I’d help out with that when it came around.

    This system had some weirdnesses; I did almost all our dishes for about a decade but never did laundry at all, so I had to be taught how when I left for a summer program at 16. I also didn’t learn how to clean a toilet until I was at the very end of college. But I could vacuum and clean glass tables/mirrors/windows like nobody’s business. If I had kids I’d probably institute more of a regular rotation so everyone learned how to do everything over time.

    By the time I was in eighth grade though I was earning most of my money with babysitting — I made way more that way than through getting an allowance. I did a ton of it in high school especially and that was where nearly all my spending money (movies, music, books, food when I was out with friends, whatever) came from.

    1. My daughter is trying to get some babysitting jobs. She took a prep class offered at our local library. Babysitting can earn you better money the a P/T job.

      1. a prep class, interesting! I didn’t do anything like that (though I did read a ton of The Babysitters Club books, heh.) I got basically all my jobs through neighborhood friends and referrals. I started in seventh or eighth grade by walking home and staying with the younger sister of someone in my class — I guess his mom thought (probably correctly) that he wasn’t responsible enough. My family knew their family pretty well, and they just asked me if I was interested, and of course I was. I did that a couple days a week for a while, probably an hour or two at a go — I remember making cookies with her a lot as an activity. I also at that point had watched my brother for a couple of years (only during the daytime, and only for an hour or two at a time) so I was used to being “in charge.”

        Around the time I turned 13, I started getting more responsible jobs — younger kids (including at one point six-month-old twins!), gigs at nighttime. My first clients I knew from church, but then they referred me to friends. I ended up with probably five families that I sat for regularly during high school — some more often than others. It was enough to keep my schedule full and it did pay much better than a job at the drugstore or whatever. I think if your daughter (or for that matter your son) can get one client, they’ll probably get referred around. Good luck to them!

  14. “He tried the old “I didn’t know we started yet” trick but I wasn’t falling for it. ” Funny. 🙂 We have set chores in the house that the kids have to do simply b/c they’re a part of the family, and then we have an extra list of chores that they can do for commission. It works out well for us. They understand that helping around the house is a part of being in a family and that those chores are non-negotiable, and they have the opportunity to make extra cash and learn that “work equals money” too.

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