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A parent’s guide to chores and allowances

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Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of "How to Raise an Adult", gave an interesting TED Talk about parenting priorities. One key takeaway? “Professional success in life comes from having done chores as a kid.”

We think chores are important too — especially on the path to financial independence. Chores teach kids life skills and, when paired with a kids' allowance app, they can help teach the relationship between work and money.

While there are many ways for kids and teens to earn money, many Greenlight families choose to teach the value of earning through allowance and chores. Read on to learn how your family can connect chore schedules to allowance payouts — and add extra ways to earn along the way.

“Greenlight changed his entire attitude around chores. He gladly does his chores so he can save money.” — Michael, Greenlight parent

Clean room illustration

Step 1: Choose which chores and jobs to assign. 

Think about what household tasks you need help with, what your kids are good at and what skills you may want them to learn. You can also ask for their POV. Including them at this stage of the game will give them a sense of ownership (which they love).

The five most popular chores for Greenlight families are:

  1. Clean your bedroom

  2. Take care of the pet

  3. Take out the trash

  4. Wash the dishes

  5. Read

The five most popular one-time jobs are:

  1. Wash the car

  2. Mow the lawn

  3. Clean out the garage

  4. Babysit

  5. Seasonal yardwork

PSA: These tasks can be anything (and we mean anything). Greenlight parents aren’t afraid to get creative with their chores. We’ve seen it all — from “Do taxes” to “Make tacos” to “Practice magic.”

Chore complete illustration

Step 2: Set up a chore schedule.

With our chore app for kids, you can create custom lists for your family's needs. Schedule and automate chores to make sticking to a routine easier for everyone. Then, add one-time jobs so your kids can take initiative with extra opportunities to earn.

  • Set chores that repeat once a week — or several times a week — like laundry, dishes or trash.

  • Post one-time jobs for occasional tasks like yardwork or seasonal to-dos.

When your kids know what they’re on the hook for, they can start practicing skills like prioritization and time management. Done and done!

Take out the trash illustration

Step 3: Connect allowance to chores.

Pick a day and decide how and when you’d like their payout to hit. Then, set it on autopilot, sit back and watch them earn — and learn. (A clean house is just icing on the cake.) Greenlight’s allowance app features give you flexible options to teach kids how hard work pays off:

  • Flat rate: Pay a consistent allowance that isn’t connected to chores — and pause anytime.

  • Partial payment: Pay a percentage of their allowance based on chore completion.

  • All or nothing: Only pay their allowance if they complete all their chores.

Greenlight tip: Take the learning to the next level with allowance allocation. Kids can divvy up their earnings between Spending, Savings and Giving.

Doing the dishes illustration

Step 4: Download the app for your kids.

Now, it’s their time to shine. Make sure your kids have full visibility of their chore schedule. They can download the Greenlight app on their own devices to check off chores, track their earnings and receive chore reminders. (No nagging here!)

Chores completion streatk

Step 5: Stick to it.

Chores and allowance look different for every family, but we all have the same goal: to build the foundation of a healthy and happy future. In a 75-year-long Harvard study, researchers identified the top two things that people need to be happy: love and work ethic. As parents, you love your kids unconditionally (that’s a given). But can you teach work ethic? We think so. By encouraging your kids to do chores and giving them an allowance — whether or not you connect the two — they’ll learn life skills that will help them succeed.

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