Cute curly toddler girl in a colorful dress washing dishes, clea


I look into my wallet and it is empty – again.

I think back over the past two weeks and cannot remember doing anything for myself that required cash. Then I realize – it’s the kids.

I look at my withdrawal slips. I have taken out $600 in cash – with absolutely nothing to show for it. I think $600 – where did it go?

It is early June. Nick is out of school and doing lots of fun things to keep busy and Katy still has three weeks to go with many field trips and end of year projects.

So, Captain Dusty’s ice cream, movies, golf, Nick’s roast beef, pizza, and Canobie Lake Park for Nick and jaunts to the art store, Salem Willows, Captain Dusty’s, dances, the mall and other field trips for Katy.

This is not the way I want to start the summer.

I look around the house and see the towels to be folded, dishes in the sink, trash piled up, and plants wilted.

This is definitely not the way I want to start the summer.

I then spy the tattered chore list on the kitchen cabinet. It’s faded and not noticeable to anyone. The kids are not motivated to do chores as their allowance is augmented with every activity.

Time to start something new. Time to put the kids on a budget. Time to sharpen that chore list. Time to….

Wait a minute. The current allowance is not enough to actually do anything. No wonder the kids are not motivated. The last time I reviewed the allowance Nick was maybe eight and Katy six. An eight year old and six year old can live on $10/week with $5 for play, $2 for long term purchases, $2 for savings and $1 for giving. That seemed like so much at the time. Now, it is nothing.

Time to increase the allowance. I need to talk to Greg to get him on board. You can imagine his response.

“What?” (Probably with exclamation points.)

“We need to increase their allowance. We need to give them $20 per week, so they each have $80 for the month. We are saving money with them. You are investing money with them, so the savings portion is probably covered. We can talk to them about giving as we give throughout the year, so that could be covered too.”

“What?” (This time with definite exclamation points.)

“If we increase their allowance, we can have them pay for the movies, ice cream, dances and other activities. This way, they will learn the value of money. You know they don’t really appreciate it now. This should help.”

Greg reluctantly agrees, but says the chore list has to be reflective of the increase.

Hmm…well, this is where the fun begins. I think of all of the things I hate doing and then put them on the chore list.

Brilliant, yes?

So on goes emptying the dishwasher, taking out trash and recycling, and lots of other things. Yet, when I look at the list, it’s light. There isn’t anything of substance on it.

Hmm….wait a minute. What is the thing I ALWAYS want?

Always, always, always, I want food to fall from the sky. On goes planning and making dinner once a week for each of them.

This is worth the entire $20 to me.

I sit down with Nick and Katy separately to get their buy-in and then we make a chart with the days of the week for each chore.


Well, almost. Let’s face it. Planning and making dinner takes practice. This is going to be a long haul, especially for Nick who barely knows where the pots and pans are kept.

But, it’s a start.

It’s been a handful of weeks and it’s still going well. They do not want to miss any of their chores as we have told them partial completion equals $0.

Katy has made excellent dinners with very light supervision. Nick? Well, Nick has lots of help from all of us, but he now knows how to hold a knife properly. That’s good news.

In fact, I bought each of them a binder to put recipes into as they go. Katy loved it and even decorated the front of hers.


Nick looked at it and said, “You want me to take this with me when I move out?”  He then threw it onto the couch and walked away.
Yup, no surprise there.


Here’s a sample:

Nick’s Chores  Sun Mon Tues Weds Thurs Fri Sat
Family Life Responsibilities
Fold napkins towels/season) X       X    
Empty kitchen trash & recycling   X   X     X
Empty trash throughout house X   X       X
Take barrels to/from curb     X X      
Fill Zoots bag -> porch     X     X  
Get mail from mailbox   X X X X X X
Feed birds X            
Empty dishwasher X         X  
Plan & make dinner             X
Make lunch (camp only)   X X X X X  
Clean out backpack           X  
Clear dinner table X X     X    
Clear shoes & jackets in hallway   X   X X    
Gather laundry -> laundry room           X  
Put laundry away (into drawers) X            
Fill kleenex in all bathrooms X            
Personal Care Responsibilities
Need to take care of bedroom & personal hygiene              
Attitudinal Responsibilities