How to Build Kids’ Work Ethic and Money Management Skills

teach kids about money

Now that the school year has started, we officially have all three of our daughters in elementary school. With our kids getting older, we’ve been looking to give them extra responsibility and opportunities to learn about handling their finances. Combining the two together, we’ve been using a system that’s been working well on both fronts. As a bonus, it’s freeing up a bit of time every week for Jaime and me!

How we’re building our kids’ work ethic and financial education

Mandatory Chores for Responsibility

We have a set of age-appropriate chores that the kids handle every Saturday morning or afternoon rotation. Each child is responsible for one area of the house — the kitchen, the main bathroom, or the living/dining space. We rotate jobs every week to keep things fair and interesting.

Every member of our household is expected to help out, so these chores are not paid - they are done solely to build responsibility and practice daily life skills. Whether it’s washing dishes or vacuuming floors, our kids are going to need to know how to take care of their space. As our kids grow older, we’ll add in more complicated jobs, such as doing laundry and cooking dinner.

Bonus Chores for Money

Any of our kids that finishes her mandatory chores is free to volunteer for “bonus chores” to earn some money. The bonus chores vary week-to-week based on what needs to be done in our house. Jobs often range in cost from $0.25 to $2.00 depending on complexity.

At the moment, we are letting our children keep all of the money they earn so they can save up for toys, candy, or other items they want that we aren’t buying for them (we still need to approve the purchase though). We provide all of our kids’ necessities and plenty of entertainment through art supplies, positive toys, and activities.

Balancing it All

Overall, this split gives our kids the ability to have what they need, hustle for what they want, and to learn important life skills and lessons along the way.

If you decide to give this a try, here are some tips on how to make the process as effective as possible:

  1. Pick age appropriate chores; don’t make things too hard on your kids, but don’t sell them short either
  2. Let the kids come up with ideas of how they can help - you might be surprised with what they’d like to try to do
  3. Focus on improvement over perfection; if it’s not a crisis, don’t discourage your kids by criticizing their work
  4. Don’t worry if they make “mistakes” with their money. It’s better to let them learn from emptying their savings of $5.00 on candy now if it prevents them from blowing $5,000 when they are older
  5. This works better when your kids are responsible for their “wants” and you cover their “needs”. If your child has to earn the money on their own or wait until a birthday or holiday to get something they want, they appreciate it a whole lot more and see the value of hard work.