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Jobs for little kids

In an extract from her book Smart Money Smart Kids, RACHEL CRUZE discusses how to introduce the concept of working for payment to under fives.

Without fail, every time I’m on the road speaking to groups, I have a parent ask me, “How can I raise my kids not to feel entitled? How can I teach them the value of a dollar?” From my experience, the basic principle of working is one of the best ways to combat the attitude of entitlement.

The younger you can start them on this road to discovery the better, but don’t get carried away! For young children, I recommend that you limit the number of chores – somewhere around three jobs – and keep them short and simple. You want each job to be enough that it feels like a big accomplishment, but not so much that it seems complicated or impossible to complete.

Some great options for chores at this age include:

  • Picking up toys
  • Putting dirty clothes in the washing basket
  • Making his or her own bed
  • Matching socks in the clean washing
  • Setting the dinner table (with supervision)
  • Collecting the indoor rubbish bins from around the house
  • Helping carry in light groceries

Pay Fast and With Excitement!
When you’re initiating the commission system with kids under the age of seven, you should pay them as soon as the job is complete. They need that immediate connection between the work they did and the money you’re handing them. Younger kids don’t relate the action and the reward if payment is delayed, especially by several days.

As soon as your child finishes the job, you should inspect the work. You’ve got to really amp up the enthusiasm here. Get excited! If they cleaned their room, then they need to feel like they are the most incredible room-cleaners on the face of the earth! It may sound silly, but you’re doing two things by expressing your excitement: You’re showing them how proud you are of the work they’ve done, and you’re building up their own pride in their hard work. At that point, handing them their commission for the job doesn’t come across as an expectation; it comes across for what it is: payment for a job well done. That’s the kind of mindset you want to encourage.

The Main Goal: Spend
When you have a three-, four-, or five-year-old, getting them to do a few chores and paying them is an incredible head start. Most children this age can’t fully grasp money concepts like setting some aside for saving and spending (we will get there soon; don’t worry). So, the best way to reward your young child is to go shopping with some of the money they have earned. Can you imagine how proud they will feel when they hand the cashier a couple of dollars that they earned all by themselves? Something amazing happens in little boys and girls when they get to walk into a store, pick out a toy all by themselves, and pay for it with money they earned.

As a #1 New York Times best-selling author and host of The Rachel Cruze Show, Rachel helps people learn the proper ways to handle money and stay out of debt. She’s authored three best-selling books, including Love Your Life, Not Theirs and Smart Money Smart Kids, which she co-wrote with her father, Dave Ramsey.


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