Greenlight’s Guide to Chores

Julie Lythcott-Haimes, author of How to Raise an Adult, gave a TED Talk in 2015 about setting the right priorities for your kids. She quoted the Harvard Grant Study (only the longest longitudinal study ever conducted) which concluded “professional success in life comes from having done chores as a kid.” 

We think chores are important too, which is why we launched a set of chores features in the Greenlight app in February of this year. Since then, we’ve actually had Greenlight families tell us that their kids have asked for MORE chores after instituting a routine.

“I have noticed that my kids volunteer to do more chores without asking since I have signed them up about a month ago. They enjoy tracking their spending, and more often think before they spend unlike with cash.”

When is the right time to start chores?

All families are different, and all kids are different. A chores routine can start as early as “getting clothes to the laundry basket” in preschool years. 

Back-to-school season is a great time to talk about getting back into routines, and asking your kids for input on what tasks need to be done. Another great time is birthdays, recognizing that with age comes new responsibilities.

Which chores do I choose?

Of all Greenlight families, the five most popular chores are:

Greenlight's top 5 most popular chores: 1. Clean your bedroom. 2)

Clean your bedroom is the most popular chore for all ages. Read is popular for younger kids, under the age of 10. Take out the trash heats up for children over 12 years of age. And wash the dishes is most popular around 15-17. 

Some other personal favorites from the editor: pick up after yourself, scoop the dog poop and be nice to your brother. “No cussing” has also been a fan favorite around the Greenlight office. A special shout out to the parents writing their chores in ALL CAPS. But we digress…

On average, Greenlight families institute 4.41 chores per child, and recurring chores are by far more popular than one-time. 

Here’s a helpful guide from the moms of Sunshine and Hurricanes with kid-friendly chores from preschool through 10 years of age.

Do I pay my kids for chores?

A recent T. Rowe Price survey on parents, kids and money saw that 51% of parents give their kids allowance, but the kids have to earn it. 

Ron Lieber, author of Greenlight staff favorite The Opposite of Spoiled, advises not to give allowances in exchange for chores. He says, “Allowances ought to stand on its own, not as a wage but as a teaching tool.” 

Chores teach accountability and responsibility. Allowances tangibly teach the practices of budgeting and saving. (More on allowances over the coming weeks.)

There are experts and Greenlight families, on both sides of the fence of this debate. We encourage each family to make decisions based on what will work best for them.

  • You may institute a chore schedule that includes standard tasks (like cleaning up bedrooms, doing laundry or walking the dog), and incentivizes more high-value tasks with monetary rewards on a less-frequent basis. 
  • You might consider an allowance to be regular payment for jobs well done. If the clothes are piled up on the desk instead of on the floor, little Sophia’s room still isn’t “clean” to mom’s golden standard.
  • You can tie chore completion to allowances. If the trash isn’t taken out, floor isn’t vacuumed and the dog poop isn’t scooped, you won’t get your allowance this week.

Whatever your chore routine, Greenlight can help you stick to it

With features like flexible scheduling and linking chore completion to allowance, Greenlight has helped thousands of families implement a routine.


Set chores that repeat weekly, or multiple times a week.

Greenlight chores scheduler

Or set one-time chores for bigger tasks like spring cleaning, babysitting or mowing the lawn.

Setting up a one-time chore.

Kids review and check off their chores as complete.

Child checks off chores when complete.

Review the chore schedule and manage scheduled payouts.

Parent reviews all chores in one view within the Greenlight app.

Don’t have Greenlight yet?

Get started by signing your family up today.

How to financially prepare your kids for back-to-school season

Parents aren’t the only ones pulling out their wallets for back-to-school season. According to a 2019 survey from the National Retail Federation, teens are spending an average of $36.71 of their own money and pre-teens an average of $26.40. 

This year, your back-to-school budgeting may be a little different (okay, a LOT), but one thing remains the same: A new school year means new costs. Which also means new opportunities for your kids to learn about money. Follow along for our tips on getting your kids ready for the upcoming school year!

Plan beyond the school supply list

School supply list with pencil and ruler

Back-to-school budgeting brings up a lot of conversation about school supplies for the first day, but what about the whole school year? When you sit down and talk to your kids about their school supply lists, you may want to chat about other expenses that might pop up throughout the year. Here are a few to consider:

  • Sports
  • Yearbooks
  • ACT/SAT study materials
  • Lunch money 
  • School pictures

Shifting over to a virtual learning environment? Some of the usual expenses may go away this year, but you should be ready for new ones. Think: Virtual classroom decorations, new desks and high-powered laptops.

Talk about back-to-school deals

Love a good BOGO deal? So do we. But your kids may not understand how much it matters to score a good deal — especially during a busy retail season like back-to-school season. 

As you probably know, smart shopping means looking for deals, shopping early and doing research before buying. To get your kids into these habits, try comparing prices online and showing them how to find discounts. Bonus: Help your kids make savings goals throughout the school year. They can do this with their Greenlight app

Separate wants from needs

Trade-off decision about spending extra on pizza delivery

Coming up with a back-to-school budget is a great time to talk about wants and needs. If your kids have a school supply list from their teacher, use it as a guide. If not, it doesn’t take too long to come up with one yourself — or use a quick start list of common items by grade

Go through your kids’ school supply lists one by one. Talk about each item and whether it’s a must-have or a nice-to-have. Then, decide how they (or you) would like to budget accordingly. Maybe your kids want to splurge on a set of trendy binders but they’re okay with buying cheaper folders and erasers. Or maybe they’d rather save for something else down the line, like a laptop or an iPad. And look at that… they’re already thinking about wants and needs! Piece of cake.

Always come back to learning

Your kids might be excited about the first day. They might be nervous. You might be stressing about setting up a virtual learning environment. Or maybe you’re just not ready to think about any of it yet!
 
Here’s what really matters: Your kids are learning. And we’re not just talking about school. Kids learn by doing chores, deciding how to spend their money and setting savings goals. Just pull up your Greenlight app and let the learning (and fun) begin.

A fresh new look for Greenlight

In 2017, Greenlight started on a bold mission to raise a generation of financially-smart kids. Now, that mission is growing. Because… well, we’re growing.

1 million strong

Earlier this year, we surpassed 1 MILLION kids and parents. That’s more than 1 million of you who…

  • Dreamed up new features for us to build.
  • Reached savings goals (and then created more). 
  • Finished chores on time and earned allowances.
  • Chuckled at our corny jokes. 
  • Gave money to charities.

And throughout it all, it’s the 1 million of you who inspired us to keep reaching for new milestones.

Fun, fresh and new

We thought a lot about how we could celebrate you, be better for you and evolve the Greenlight you know and love.

As a team, we decided it needed to be big. It needed to be new. 

So we came together to imagine a new brand — a brand that can be there for every first, every birthday, every transition and every milestone. A brand that inspires your trust and is there to celebrate every little joy of being a parent.

Today, we’re so happy to introduce you to the new look for Greenlight, as we take on an even bigger mission: to shine a light on the world of money for kids and parents.

What changes?

Starting today, the new look and feel will take over our website, social media, emails and more with (minty) fresh colors, a new logo, fun patterns and delightful photos that reflect our vibrant community of families.

What’s next? Stay tuned. Over time, you’ll see our new look across more and more of the Greenlight universe.

What stays the same?

Us! We’re still Greenlight. We’re just growing up, like your kids do. For now, your app and debit cards will still look largely the same. But, changes are on the way — we’re just getting started!

From our Greenlight team to your family, thank you for getting us here. With 1 million reasons to celebrate — and many more to come — welcome to the new Greenlight.