Marble Money: How We Handle Chores

It’s been a challenge for our family to implement any sort of chore system over the years. Part of the problem is that the systems I have tried rely heavily upon me for successful implementation.

  • I’ve tried chore charts (kid sees card, completes card, flips it over when done).
  • I’ve tried bribery (“Hey, I’ll give you 25 cents for XYZ”).
  • I’ve tried just assigning tasks willy-nilly and saying you’re-part-of-the-family-so-do-it.

While each have worked, it really required ME being mindful and constantly remembering that this system needed to be used. I didn’t like that. In a word? I needed my kids to have OWNERSHIP. 

Of course, you might be wondering — do kids really even need to be paid to do stuff? As huge Dave Ramsey fans, we want to help guide our kids from a young age in using money. We want them to learn important life lessons of saving, spending, and giving so that as they become older the habit becomes automatic. 

(We found his book, Smart Money, Smart Kids to be really helpful, by the way.)

But this still didn’t solve my main problem. How do I get my kids involved and engaged without me having ONE MORE THING to remember and nag them about?

After a life-saving conversation with my friend Candie (who happens to be The Farmer on this website, *cough*), I gave her method a try. So we implemented a new system — and it has been the FIRST to stick. I give you: Marble Money.

Step 1: Gather Supplies

We purchased a large set of marbles. I also grabbed some plastic freezer canning jars. While you could totally use glass jars — I just wanted containers that were a little less breakable. (These plastic jars are fantastic — just the right size and with lids that are easy to manipulate.)

Step 2: Prepare The Marble Money Zone

You’ll want your Marble Money Zone to be somewhere easily accessible at all times. Ours lives between the top of the piano and a counter off of the dining room. I labeled a few jars: the community jar (which holds all the un-earned marbles), one for each of my kids, AND one for myself. Don’t forget the jar for yourself — this is your secret weapon and will become the most important jar! (Keep reading to find out why.) 

Step 3: Determine The Chores

I made a list of what tasks I wanted my children to do every day without my having to remind them. You know — those things you ask your kids to do every day (“Are you wearing clean underwear? Did you put away your shoes? Are your toys picked up??”) While my kids were pretty quick to obey at emptying the dishwasher, I was tired of their carelessness in leaving dirty laundry strewn everywhere and backpacks hanging in the entryway. 

For this season of life (especially while I fight through chronic illness), I needed the motivation of “paid chores” to help cement basic life responsibilities.

Candie (The Farmer on this webpage) pays her kids for farm chores, such as feeding the chickens. Make the chores be whatever works for your family.

Step 4: Make A Chart

Since my kids are visual oriented, I made a printed chart (including pictures for my non-reader) and laminated it. Actually, I had several charts that I printed and hung around the house as reminders.

In case you need a laminator, this one is economical and hands down my favorite.

You’ll notice that these aren’t traditional chores (like emptying the dishwasher or brooming) — and that’s okay. My children already help out with those. But not flushing toilets? Not picking up their shoes? Leaving dirty dishes out? I’m so over it. 

I determined what I was willing to pay for — and at this stage of life, this is worth all the money in the world.

Another side benefit of the chart? You don’t have to nag your kids to do a task. I will frequently just say, “Check The Chart!” and my kids immediately know to run and look for what they need to do — or even better, they already KNOW what they are not doing and can correct it right away.

If they complain or grind their heels, The Chart can take the heat, and not you. “What does the chart say?”

Step 5: Give The Challenge

When they complete a task, they earn a marble from the community jar right there on the spot. We yell “Marble Money!” and run to the jar. 

If I complete a task that my children fail to do? Then I get a marble from the community jar.

But — here’s the best part — if there is a task on my list that fail to do and my children catch me, then they get the marble. And believe me — there is nothing your kids love more than catching you messing up! Hahaha!

Step 6: Determine The Reward

We decided that Friday will be Marble Money payday. Since our kids can earn quite a few marbles every day, we’re making each marble be worth ten cents. But you can totally rewire this project to fit your own needs and do traditional chores worth 25 cents. Or use different size marbles (or beads) to represent different sized/paid tasks.

And the best part of this system for me — I don’t have to remind my kids to do their jobs in a barking sort of way. All I have to do is walk past the table and see a particular child’s bowl sitting out and yell, “I see I’m getting some marble money!” The offending child magically appears to take care of their task.

Friends, this is a beautiful thing. Here’s to Marble Money!

Grab your supplies here: marbles and jars.

If you need help with raising your kids to be wise financial stewards with money, I highly recommend you check out Smart Money, Smart Kids.

Find yourself struggling with keeping your spaces tidy, even with the kids’ help? Check out my review of The House That Cleans Itself.

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