Updated May 2, 2015

23 Chores for Kids to Earn Money

Read more about Kids and Money

It's never too soon to teach kids about money, and one of the best ways to do that is by having them help out around the house. Here are 23 ways that kids can start earning their own cash at home.

Letting children earn an allowance for doing simple chores is a good way to instill a solid work ethic and learn the value of a dollar. The kind of tasks you set for your kids depends largely on how old they are, but there are plenty of age-appropriate chores to choose from.

The Toddler Years

1. Picking up toys

Playing at Gramma's House
Playing at Gramma's House © 'Playingwithbrushes' (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Showing children how to pick up and put away their toys at an early age is a good way to start instilling a sense of responsibility and cut down on the clutter in your home. At two and three years of age, most little ones should be able to collect toys and put them back where they go with some guidance from Mom and Dad.

2. Putting clothes in the hamper

baby pastime
baby pastime © Liz (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Once your wee ones have mastered the art of picking up their toys, you can move on to teaching them how corral their dirty clothes into the hamper. If you're looking for a way to make the task a little more fun, you can make a game out of it by having them identify clothes by color and sort them into corresponding piles.

3. Cleaning up spills

Spilled Milk
Spilled Milk © Michael Bentley (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

If your toddlers are transitioning from sippy cups to big kid glasses, you're probably going to find yourself cleaning up spills for a while until their motor skills are fine-tuned. Having them pitch in and help you to mop up that spilled milk or sticky juice is another easy way to get youngsters involved in the household chores.

4. Helping to feed pets

Are we there yet?
Are we there yet? © Jen's Art & Soul (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Keeping the dog's food bowl filled or topping off the cat's water dish are two relatively simple feats that smaller children should be capable of completing with parental supervision. You can also use it as an opportunity to teach your kids how to properly care for and handle animals so they're not constantly tugging on Fido's tail or Kitty's whiskers.

Related: Pet Care Statistics

5. Dusting

Violet And The Feather Duster
Violet And The Feather Duster © Joe Shlabotnik (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Dusting is one of those things that most grown-ups aren't exactly enthusiastic about, but you might find your toddler has a different opinion. All you have to do is hand them a feather duster and stand back while they dust everything in sight. Sure, they might not be able to reach the high places and you'll probably have to handle those delicate knick-knacks yourself, but they might surprise you with how much fun they have.

Chores for Preschoolers

6. Setting the table

table is set
table is set © leadfoot (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

At four and five years old, your kids might still be too young to help you with the dinner prep, but they can still do their part by setting the table. Having them put out the plates, line up the silverware and fold the napkins gives them something to do so they're not underfoot while you're cooking, and it allows you to focus on preparing the meal.

7. Sorting socks

Money Stinky Feet Bankroll Girls February 08, 201113
Money Stinky Feet Bankroll Girls February 08, 201113 © Steven Depolo (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Sorting socks may not seem like a useful skill to learn, but it's actually one of the things they teach at the Waldorf and Montessori preschools. The act of sorting can help younger children to differentiate between colors, shapes and patterns, which is a great way to expose them to some early math skills before they head off to kindergarten.

8. Helping to put away groceries

In the grocery with our little helpers.
In the grocery with our little helpers. © Jaro Larnos (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Having to put away a pile of groceries after you've spent an hour or two at the supermarket probably isn't at the top of your favorite chores list. To make the job a little more pleasant, you can ask your preschooler to help you unload everything once you get home. If you have several children, you can turn it into a contest to see who can put away the most items in the shortest amount of time.

Tip: How to Save Money on Groceries

9. Checking the mail

New Mailbox
New Mailbox © slgckgc (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Bringing in the mail each day is a fairly simple chore that your four or five year old should be able to handle. You can even turn it into a learning opportunity by teaching them the basics of how sending mail works or pointing out different letters and words on the mail you receive.

Tip: How to Opt-Out of Junk Mail

Kindergarten to Second Grade

10. Watering plants

Powell kids pulling beets
Powell kids pulling beets © U.S. Department of Agriculture (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Whether you've got houseplants, a flower garden or your very own vegetable crop growing in the back yard, you can enlist your elementary-aged child in taking care of them. They can water the plants as needed, pluck off dead leaves or pull up weeds whenever they sprout up. They might get a little dirty in the process but for most kids, that's usually the best part.

11. Cleaning their room

Jack... clean your room
Jack... clean your room © Michael Newton (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

If you taught your kids how to pick up their toys at an early age, you can take things one step further by putting them in charge of cleaning their rooms. That means not only picking up but dusting as well, another skill that they should be well acquainted with by now.

12. Clearing the table

Kids table at the first summers barbeque
Kids table at the first summers barbeque © Scott Leslie (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

Once kids have learned how to set the table, your next move is to teach them how to clear the dirty dishes away. They should be able to scrape off plates into the garbage, stack them up and bring them to the sink to be washed without too much trouble. If you're worried about something getting broken, use the less expensive dishes and save Grandma's heirloom china until the kids get a little older.

13. Loading and unloading the dishwasher

bubbles from the dishwasher.JPG
bubbles from the dishwasher.JPG © Pedro Reyna (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

After they've cleared off the table, your first or second grader can go ahead and put all the plates, cups and silverware they've collected into the dishwasher. You can even let them put in the dishwashing soap and adjust the knobs to get the cycle started. Once everything's all shiny clean again, they can lend a hand with putting the dishes away.

14. Raking leaves

IMG_2285
IMG_2285 © Kristina Zuidema (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

For most kids, jumping into piles of leaves is usually more fun than raking them up, but that doesn't mean you should sidestep this as a chore option. If you've got a big yard or there are lots of trees around, it might take you a day or two to get all the fallen leaves gathered up, but it's a great way to get in some family bonding time while you get that pesky yard work out of the way.

Third to Sixth Grade

15. Sweeping and mopping

Sweep hoe
Sweep hoe © David K (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

The dust can collect pretty quickly when you've got hardwood or tile floors, so you have to stay on top of it. If all that sweeping and mopping has you feeling a bit like Cinderella, there's nothing wrong with letting older kids get in on the action. The more hands you have on deck, the easier it is to keep the dust bunnies away.

16. Vacuuming

House cleaning
House cleaning © Emran Kassim (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

If you've got carpeting throughout your home, assigning vacuuming duties to your third or fourth grader can help to keep it clean. Depending on the type of vacuum you use, you could also put them in charge of cleaning out the canister or changing the bag. Just be sure you're checking behind them to make sure everything's in good working order.

17. Helping with dinner

Cooking with Soren No.2
Cooking with Soren No.2 © fotologic (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

For some kids, helping out in the kitchen is a real treat, and if you've got a budding chef on your hands, that's one chore they may not grumble about too much. You can show them some useful skills, such as how to read a recipe, how to handle a kitchen knife and the proper way to slice, dice and chop. Letting them choose one special meal each week - one they can prepare with little or no help - is a good way to let them show off what they've learned.

18. Doing the dishes

Dishes!
Dishes! © mia.judkins (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

If you prefer to do the dishes by hand instead of using the dishwasher, there's no reason why you can't recruit your fifth or sixth grader for help a few nights a week. One of you can wash while the other dries and the next night, you can switch off. If mealtimes are usually pretty hectic, doing the dishes together is also a chance to chat about the details of their day.

19. Folding and putting away laundry

sorting
sorting © Paul (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

By the time kids are 8, 9 or 10 years old, you should be able to start shifting some of the responsibility for doing the laundry off your shoulders. For example, you can have them lend a hand with folding and putting away clean clothes or linens. If you're feeling a little more ambitious, you could also show them how to use the washer and dryer so they can take care of their laundry all on their own.

Middle School and Beyond

20. Walking the dog

One More Walk
One More Walk © Tony Alter (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Once kids hit the tween and teen years, they should be doing more to contribute around the house. Having them walk the dog every day is a good place to start. If they're not content with the amount of allowance they're earning, they could even parlay it into their own neighborhood dog-walking business.

Tip: Money Lessons Learned from a Dog

21. Taking out the trash

Rubbish and recycling bins (trash cans) in New Zealand
Rubbish and recycling bins (trash cans) in New Zealand © Wesley Fryer (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

Taking out the garbage or sorting items for recycling is another chore that older kids can take on. It's something you could have them do once a week or every day, depending on how often the trash tends to pile up.

22. Cleaning the bathroom

Bathroom
Bathroom © Tobias Wolter (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

Once your child hits a certain age, your bathroom is likely to be home to tons of makeup, assorted hair products and grungy towels that were left to mildew on the floor. If you're afraid to venture into your teen's bathroom, you shouldn't hesitate to put cleaning it regularly on their to-do list. If they start griping about having to clean the toilet, just remind them that Jim Carrey once worked as a janitor before he made it big.

23. Washing the car

Kids' Car Wash
Kids' Car Wash © kennejima (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

If your high schooler is constantly asking to borrow the car, they can do their part to earn that privilege by washing it on a regular basis. You could even suggest that if they want to score some brownie points, a good wax and polish wouldn't hurt.

Related: Best Time to Buy a Used Car

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