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My Boys Are Becoming Men

By JLP | March 24, 2008

My boys are becoming men.

Last weekend I bought a new self-propelled Honda lawnmower with the intent of teaching my oldest son how to mow. He was quite excited about getting to mow for the first time. It took him a couple of laps to get used to the mower. The first couple of rows it looked like the mower was dragging him around the yard becuase he didn’t know how to control the self-propelled throttle. While mowing he asked me, “Is this the kind of fun that wears off?” LOL!

Anyway, he did such a good job that I decided to let his younger brother give it a try. He did a great job too so now I have two lawn dudes! I have to say it was quite nice being able to edge and trim while one of the boys mows. I could definitely get used to this!

All of this leads me to a question for AFM readers:

Should I pay my boys extra for cutting the grass?

I’m thinking no for the following reasons:

1. They each get a pretty generous allowance of $10 per week.

2. They don’t have a lot of chores in the first place.

3. I don’t want them to grow up thinking that they should get paid for helping out around the house.

That said, I’m still a bit torn. If I do end up paying them for mowing the yard, I may cut back on their allowance but pay them extra for mowing.

I’d like to know your thoughts on the topic.

Topics: Kids and Money, Kitchen Remodel | 18 Comments »


18 Responses to “My Boys Are Becoming Men”

  1. Jan Says:
    March 24th, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    How about this….
    Instead of paying them for a household chore like lawn mowing, you could remind them that there might be elderly (or busy) folks in the neighborhood who would pay them for a job well done.

    Maybe they could be budding entrepreneurs when they have learned to do a really good job with this. Just a thought — I’m an apartment dweller with not kids so I’m not sure if this is a sound option. Just my two cents.
    JB

  2. JLP Says:
    March 24th, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    Jan,

    I think that’s a great idea but I want them to be a little older before they take on the responsibility of mowing other people’s yards. They also need to know how to run an edger and trimmer before they can earn money mowing.

    But yes, that’s a great idea.

  3. No Debt Plan Says:
    March 24th, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    I like Jan’s idea, not knowing the age of your kids.

    Note, I don’t have kids so my advice may be way off.

    You might offer them the ability to have their savings matched by mowing the yard. For example, you give them $10 per week. For mowing, if they save $1, you’ll kick in a bonus of $0.50. Make it only apply to mowing, or something like that.

    Just an idea that would encourage them to save. Building up that habit is always a good idea.

  4. Brett Says:
    March 24th, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    I agree that they need to learn to appreciate that as part of a family, they have unpaid responsibilities. I NEVER got paid money for mowing the lawn, but I understood that it was part of my contribution to the household. Dad paid the bills and I mowed the lawn (Looking back, I realize that it was a pretty good deal for me). I do think, however, that it’s good for kids to have jobs for which they get paid if they also understand that they will not get paid for everything they do. My boy is too young to mow a lawn, but when he gets old enough he won’t get paid. Instead I will try to provide him with opportunities outside the scope or normal house chores to earn money. It sounds like your boys are finally old enough to start to really contribute to running the house – to pay them for it would cancel out this benefit, in my opinion.

  5. Rex Says:
    March 24th, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    I would pay them based on chores completed, thus linking the ability to make money with work. Tis was done when I was young and has more than paid off over time. Anytime you can link $ to work I’d take advantage of it.

  6. Bee Says:
    March 24th, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    I think it is awesome that your kids can now mow the lawn! One of the major life lessons I want my kids to learn is that running a household takes work and everyone who is a part of it needs to contribute. So as a family we all share the load and everyone contributes based on what they can handle for their age level. My goal is that by the time they graduate from high school my son should be able to scour the bathroom from top to bottom, make a menu, grocery shop, and handle a weeks worth of cooking, and that my daughter will be able to mow the lawn, seal the cracks in the driveway, and clean the leaves out of the gutters. I don’t want either of them to be as surprised as I was at the myriad of little things it takes to keep a house running. And “many hands make light work” so I don’t think it will be too much for them to handle either. So I don’t pay for “regular” chores, but we end up with enough of what I call “projects” that I gladly shell out cash for a little extra labor from my kids. Lately, they are getting cash for making paper pots for seedlings so I can get my garden started early, and I have a wood pile I want moved to a more aesthetically pleasing location. So if I were you I wouldn’t pay the boys to mow the lawn, but I would start thinking about where you want a new planter! I am sure you could come up with a project or two quite easily.

  7. Esmond Says:
    March 24th, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Along with the rest of the responses, the number one concern is to have the boys understand the importance of having to mow the lawn, and also taking care of their (meaning the family’s) property.

    I’d encourage the boys to mow other people’s lawns for extra pocket money.

    I never had an allowance as a kid, but then again I never wanted any of the stuff that kids wanted. If you can teach your kids how to measure utility of items, they will be fine for the rest of their lives.

  8. Traciatim Says:
    March 24th, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    No extra pay. The allowance is a tool to learn how to manage money. Household chores are done because they are part of your family and families take care of the things they own. They are two separate items in learning to grow up.

  9. Chad Says:
    March 24th, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    I would pay them extra for the lawn mowing and drive the idea that as you go thru life, the harder you work, the more rewards you benefit.. I wish my parents would have done this, I wasnt paid extra for “extra” chores and it did affect my work ethic as i got out in to the real world. I had the mentality it all pays the same so I am only going to do the minimal required… I have long since learned the fallacy of this and have changed my ways, but looking back, I had lost out on the “teachable moments” my parents could have offered me and with a different mindset when I first gotten in to the work force, I dont know, life may have progressed differently, since i started out with an entitlement mentality.

  10. Brent Says:
    March 24th, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    We pay our kids an allowance, but it isn’t setup like a normal allowance. They have chores they must do each day to get paid for that day, then we pay them for the week on Saturday.

    If they complete all of their chores then they qualify for other bonus chores that they can bid on. They learn how to bid on things and to put a dollar value with their time.

    Personally I don’t think our kids will ever get paid a straight allowance. They must work to get the money, if they don’t work they don’t get anything. We’re working on encouraging them to find new ways to make and earn money.

  11. finster Says:
    March 24th, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    They could only get the full $10 if they mow. If they don’t they get less. Extra effort pays extra.

  12. Four Pillars Says:
    March 24th, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    I say don’t pay them since it sounds like they enjoy doing it anyways…

    Wait until there is a task they don’t like – then break out the big bucks!

    Mike

  13. Independent George Says:
    March 25th, 2008 at 7:58 am

    No fair, Tom Sawyer, why are you the only one who gets to whitewash the fence?

  14. Meg Says:
    March 25th, 2008 at 9:17 am

    I always wanted to mow as a kid, even though my parents looked so tired and sweaty after it was done. It looked so fun! They never let me though (as a female, I allegedly lacked the upper body strength to keep the push mower from running down the hill of our backyard into the woods).

    I agree I’d wait until the “fun” part wears off to even think about it. They may never even see it as a chore, only as “fun times with dad in the yard.” If you automatically start paying them for it, they may quickly get the idea that it’s a task not to be desired unless you’re being incented in some way.

    The only financial incentive my dad offered was a relatively hefty bonus for straight A’s on the report card. We were expected to acheive no matter what (all A’s and one B would require a detailed explanation about “what went wrong” in that one class), but the bonus was there to keep us from getting complacent with a B average, for doing a little extra hard work. (Of course I don’t suggest that if one kid obviously is a C average type of student while the other easily makes all A’s).

  15. Term Life Pro Says:
    March 25th, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    That is a hard one. I don’t have children, so I’m not sure how I’d handle that. But I have thought about another idea for my kids (if I ever have any). Growing up I was a little spoiled (okay, maybe a lot spoiled), and I feel like it handicapped me. I was never forced to work or pay for what I got, so when it was time to enter the real world I was years behind some of my friends. So I’ve thought that when I have kids, I will help them pay for whatever it is they want, but I’m going to make them raise half of the money. That way they have some ownership and can learn the value of working for what they get, instead of just giving it to them.

  16. Amanda Says:
    March 26th, 2008 at 11:44 am

    I wouldn’t pay them extra for mowing the lawn. I think that it’s a good value to teach them that everyone in the family contributes to the household wellfare… not for a financial reward, but for the reward of everyone chipping in and producing a happy home.

  17. JimmyDaGeek Says:
    March 27th, 2008 at 10:43 am

    Since both your boys have qualified on your mower, I suggest you:
    1) Set up a mowing schedule
    2) Alternate between the boys
    3) Only pay if an out-of-cycle mow has to be done.

    Point out to them that this is part of growing up, taking part in the household chores, just like you currently drive them where they need to go if they can’t get there on their own.

    For example, trash and recycling were split between my two boys and the responsibility was switched every 6 months.

  18. AndyVA Says:
    March 27th, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    I agree with the above posters in theory, but my parents paid me a below-market amount to mow the lawn, and it had a side effect… I avoided their lawn (with the push-mower, $3) to mow the neighbor’s lawn (riding mower, $15). The end result? They had to mow the lawn and didn’t teach me anything about money, except how to shop for a better job.

    I don’t have an answer, but I stumbled across this website earlier today that seems to have some merit for pre-teen/teenage boys. Check out ChoreWars.

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