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Will Work for Fireworks

Boys and Explosives. What is the attraction? I don’t get it. Fireworks seem like a giant waste of money to me. After each detonation, I calculate the amount of cash that exploded in 2.5 seconds. My men don’t share my convictions. They will do anything for fireworks. Including math.

He wanted money. My husband and I buy the kids a reasonable amount of fireworks, but they wanted more! In anticipation of Independence Day, my oldest had saved his chore money. Although my 8yo had tried to save his allowance, the temptation of sugary treats consumed every dollar in his possession. Suddenly, as we drove past the fireworks tents, his desire for work (and money) increased! In our home, the kids ALWAYS have one stand-by for making money…….doing extra math sheets. I don’t pay well- 25 cents per side of each math page. But, with determination, a boy always has the chance to earn money for his longings.


After many hours of perseverance, he did 24 pages of math!! (Equaling $6 worth of fireworks!) Wow! Look at that pile of quarters! (Let the record show……I never told him he had to do any of this math. He chose to do it because he wanted more fireworks!)


The proud owner of four packages of firecrackers!

What did he learn? Hopefully, he learned that it might be wise to save his money instead of spending it all on food! Also, he learned that he can do great things…..when he puts his mind to it! Thankfully…he learned some math, also!


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Chores and Kids – Part 3- FAQ’s

Here are the most commonly asked questions about my chore system.


My child wouldn’t work for $3-$4, should I increase the amount? 

  • The answer:  Can you afford it?  I can’t.  I am thinking long-term.  The amount will increase every year by 50 cents.  I have three kids.  All of their amounts will be increasing simultaneously. If my child decided that his allowance wasn’t good enough, then I would stop purchasing all of his favorite treats until the chores became “worth it.”     

 My child doesn’t care if he has money or not.

  • The plan is two-fold.  The child will either be motivated by the money or by the exclusion of their beloved activity.  Eventually, they will be motivated by both.   Also, ask yourself, “Am I making him buy his “wants?”  If you buy everything he wants then he won’t care about money!  Close your wallet and he may begin to care! 

 I have a teenager.  I don’t think this would work for him. 

  • The basic skeleton of this plan would work for a teenager, but the amount of money may need to be increased.  But, if his allowance increases then you can start asking the teenager to purchase his own clothes, shoes, etc. with that money to compensate for the increase of allowance. 

 My child doesn’t care whether he misses snacks, video games, etc.  He won’t do his chores. What do I do?

  •  You haven’t found the child’s “button” yet.  What does he always ask you to do-watch tv, play with a friend, go outside, eat a special treat?  Eliminate that activity until the chore is complete.  Continue trying various activities until the child is motivated to do the work without you having to hassle him.

My kids want to switch room assignments.  Should I let them? 

  • My kids keep their assigned rooms for a couple years.  I don’t want to have to re-train them every couple weeks.  That is a hassle.  It takes me about a month to train them to clean the room properly.  This plan will not be low-stress if I am constantly re-teaching everyone.  Keep it simple.  Chores are boring, no matter what.  Boring and easy is better than boring and complicated. 

I want my kids to know how to clean every room of the house, not just one.

  • We will switch rooms after a couple years.  I have them for 18+ years.  That is plenty of time for them to learn to manage every room of the house.   

 I don’t believe in allowance.  I won’t pay my kids to do everyday chores. 

  • I want my kids to learn how to manage money.  How will they learn to do that if they don’t have money?  This plan motivates my kids to work while providing them the opportunity to learn lifelong money management skills. 

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Chores and Kids – Part 2- The Plan

I have tried several “no-fail” chore charts and checklists with my children.  Guess what?  They failed.  In the end, I had to create my own system.  Finally, we are consistently doing chores.  This plan is low-maintenance and it continues to work month after month!


-Assign an allowance.  Assign allowances based on the children’s ages.  I start the allowance at 50 cents for a three year old and it increases by 50 cents at every birthday.  Factors to think about when assigning an amount: 

-How many children will be receiving allowance?    

-What age will I start giving allowance?

-Am I allowing room to increase the amount as the children get older?   Will I have to take out a second mortgage to continue this plan as the amount increases?

-Hand out room assignments.  Everyone cleans their own bedroom.  In addition, he will receive one or two additional rooms.   The oldest child is assigned the most difficult room.  My firstborn receives the kitchen, the most time-consuming room in our house.  But, he also receives the largest allowance.  (This is why it is important that the allowance increases as the child gets older.) 

-Teach the child to clean.  Train the child to clean his assigned rooms.  Start with small jobs in that room. As the child masters those jobs, assign more.  For example:  The child in charge of the living room will learn to dust, to organize the game cabinet, to de-clutter the coat closet, to wash the front door, etc. The first few times he cleans, I am walking alongside him, teaching him the correct way to do it.  The next few times he cleans, I am standing nearby saying, “What did you forget?”  When I am confident that he knows how to do it, I do not supervise the process.     I check him when the room is finished.

-Say, “I need you to go clean your rooms.”  “Rooms” means to clean his bedroom plus his assigned rooms.   During the week, they are responsible for “restoring order” to each of these areas.  They do not do any deep cleaning during the week.  On Friday, they are responsible for “deep cleaning” those same rooms. 

-Delay an activity until the chores are complete. The parent chooses an activity that will motivate the child to complete the job.  During the week, our delayed activity is usually a snack.  After school, I tell them, “I need you to go tidy your rooms.  When you are done, please tell me and I will check your work.  When you are done you may have a snack.”  I do not tell them again.  If he asks me, “Can I have a snack?”  I say, “Yes, you may-as soon as I have confirmed that your chores are done.”  On Friday, we tackle the deep cleaning in each room.  I tell them, “Your weekend has begun when all of your schoolwork and chores are complete.”  The delayed activity is usually video games in our home, but it can be anything that is very important to your son.   My boys are only allowed to play video games on the weekend.  They know that they are allowed to play Wii when their deep cleaning is complete, whether they get done Friday afternoon or Saturday afternoon.  Any activity will work-going to a friend’s house, movie night, watching tv, etc. 

-Pay the child.  The child is paid when the job is done-very simple.  I do not deduct money for dawdling or a poor job.  If they dawdle, they will miss out on their activity.  If the job is not done correctly, then they will do it again.  When the job is done and done correctly, they will be paid in full.  It may take a few times for the child to “get it,” but eventually he will decide to “do what he has to do, so he can do what he wants to do.”

-Deduct saving and giving.  Each child has three envelopes-spending, saving, and giving.  After he is paid, he places 10% in the giving envelope, 10% in the savings envelope, and the remainder in the spending envelope. 

-Expect the child to pay for his “wants.”  When he says, “Can I get a candy bar?” or “Can I have that new toy?”  We say, “Sure!  But, you will need to pay for it out of your allowance.”  Of course, we bless our kids with an ice cream cone or a special trinket sometimes. But, most of the time, he buys it himself. 


The Beauty of this plan

 -My kids used to fight about who had the hardest job and argued that it “isn’t fair!”  In this plan, the parent acknowledges that the oldest child has the hardest job.  But, he is being compensated for it.  If he chooses to complain, then I offer to give him the pay and the privileges of his younger brother.

 -I only have to teach each child a couple of rooms.  It takes me about a month to train him to do the job correctly.  But, once I have trained him, he is on autopilot! 

 -The house is picked up every day and deep cleaned once a week.  My kids are doing the jobs I used to do.  This allows me the opportunity to catch up on the jobs that they can’t do.     

 -I do not have to hassle my kids about doing their chores.  I choose the “delayed activity” very carefully.  I have to make sure that it is something that my kids will miss terribly.  If the chores are not getting done, then I have to choose a different “delayed activity.”

 -This plan is easy for the parent.  I do not have to deduct money every time they make a mistake and add money every time they perform well.  I have tried many systems with individual tasks, checklists, and payment plans.  After a few weeks, we fail.  I forget to pay them, the list goes MIA, I lose track of how much I owe them, or I decide it is easier to do it myself!   I tell them, “Go clean your rooms.”  When they are done, I tell them the things they missed.  After they complete the task there is a built-in reward.  (One that I would have given them anyway!) 

 -This plan teaches the child about financial wisdom from three years old.  He is giving, saving for larger items, and choosing how to spend the rest wisely.

 -This plan doesn’t cost me any money.   As I stated earlier, I don’t purchase treats, toys, or entertainment.   I let him buy it.  So, I decrease my entertainment budget equal to the amount that I give the boys for allowance.  Basically, I am handing them the money that I would have spent on them anyway. 


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