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How to Create an Online First Dibs Chore Chart

How to Create a "First Dibs" Chore ChartLots of parents ask us about the best way to set up an online “first dibs” chore chart system for the kids in their family.

What’s that?

Here’s a typical description from FamZoo Mom Elizabeth H.:

I’d like to create a chore checklist that is open to all of my children, and the one to check it off first gets the money associated with that chore. Is that possible? For example, if the trash needs to be taken out and child 3 does that, I would like for him to be able to check the box and get the money.

Yep, we can do that in FamZoo. Here’s how you set it up.

First, create a new checklist, give it a name, and share it with the whole family so that each of the kids can see it when they sign into FamZoo separately. Be sure to check the Rewards and Penalties option on the list to enable the assignment of payments for each chore.

Click on Create List Link Fill in Checklist Settings

Currently, chore payments must be assigned to a specific child’s account up front, so you’ll need to create a chore item for each eligible child.

For example, suppose we have three children: Cub, LilSis, and BigSis. Let’s say that every Monday, the “take trash cans to the curb” chore is up for grabs. Start by creating a repeating item for Cub with the following settings:

  • Description: Take trash cans to curb (Cub)
  • Repeats: Weekly on Mondays
  • Expires: After the due date by 1 day
  • Reward/Penalty: Credit Cub’s Pocket Money $0.25 when item is checked

Create Checklist Items

Notice how we include Cub’s name in the description of the chore. Now, we’ll add another item that’s identical to this one except we replace Cub’s name in the description with “LilSis” and we pick LilSis’ spending account instead of Cub’s. Rinse and repeat with BigSis to create a third and final item.

The first kid to do the chore checks off their item to get the reward.

Check Off Item For Child Who Completed Chore

Checking off the item automatically makes a payment of the designated amount to the appropriate child’s account.

Checked Chore Automatically Makes Payment

If a child accidentally (or not so accidentally!) checks off an item, just un-check it to automatically reverse the payment. Do not delete the checked item because leaves any existing payment transactions in place.

So, that’s how your create a first dibs chore chart for your kids in FamZoo. Questions? Comments? Don’t hesitate to contact us.

Note: We plan to make this even simpler to set up in the future by assigning the payment account on the fly based on which child checks off the chore. That way, you’ll be able to have a single item for each chore that’s up for grabs.


Brent Hake aka The Blog Post Author

Do you have a time frame on "...assigning the payment account on the fly based on which child checks off the chore?" Having to recreated every task for each kid every day is quite a long list.

Bill Dwight aka The Blog Post Author

Brent, I don't have a definitive timeframe on that just yet since other features have been taking precedence for the time being. But, note that if you follow the recipe above, you don't have to recreate chores every day for each kid - by using the REPEAT field, you only have to enter the chores once up front for each child and the rest are automatically stamped out going forward. So, the data entry only happens once up front for each kid.

Michelle Johnson aka The Blog Post Author

I have three children similar to the example above. I love the extra jobs (first dibs) option! Did I set it up correctly if the kids can all check off the chores each day. I have told them to see if someone else has checked it off...as I will only pay the first person to complete the job. It is a little confusing. Did I do something wrong?


Bill Dwight aka The Blog Post Author

Hi Michelle,

Yep, you're doing it right! If one of the kids gets confused and checks off a chore already done, you can just un-check the box. That will also reverse any reward amounts that may have been inadvertently received. Note that you can also set up a text alert to yourself (and your kids if desired) so you can be notified whenever one of the kids checks off an item - that way, you can catch any duplicates right away. See this FAQ for how to set up checklist alerts: http://blog.famzoo.com/p/famzoo-faqs.html#checklist-alerts


Jamie Holmes aka The Blog Post Author

I have 3 kids and lots of first dib chores! It is such a pain having each chore 3x (1 for each kid), not for me, but my kids all have ADHD and seeing a huge list of daily chores (if I have 6 daily chores possible its a list of 18) makes them not even want to bother. I really wish it was set up like Brent suggested and whichever child checked the chore first got the money. I can't use a first dib list the way it's set up now, I just set up the chore and then go back and award the money after whoever did it, it makes it almost not even worth using the system.

Bill Dwight aka The Blog Post Author

Hi Jamie, thank you for your feedback. While waiting for us to get to this feature enhancement, I have an idea for you (and others) that might work better with your kids:

* Change your current first-dibs list to just be visible to you via Checklist > Settings > Share With: Nobody
* Create another list that is shared with your kids that just has one entry per first-dibs chore but no associated rewards
* Set up an alert (Checklist > Alerts > Is Checked Off) to send you an alert every time someone els checks off an item

It turns out that our alert message identifies the child who checked off the item. When you receive the alert, visit your private checklist with the entries for each child and check off the corresponding one to deliver the reward to the right child. The nice thing about this approach is that it's like an approval process - you get to decide whether the child actually performed the chore to standard before delivering the reward.

Hope that helps!

Jason Norris aka The Blog Post Author

Hi Bill,
Just curious if you had a timeline for when you will add the feature mentioned in the Note at the end of the article...
"Note: We plan to make this even simpler to set up in the future by assigning the payment account on the fly based on which child checks off the chore. That way, you’ll be able to have a single item for each chore that’s up for grabs."
Thanks... love your website and app!

Bill Dwight aka The Blog Post Author

Hi Jason, Unfortunately, no, I can't pin down a timeframe yet for that enhancement. We've been pouring our development energy into prepaid card integration features lately. For example, right now we're working on proactively providing more info about declines on attempted purchases with the cards. Kids routinely forget to check their balances, forget their PINs, enter the wrong address/date info, etc. We're working on features that will let them learn those important card handling habits more swiftly. (Nobody likes declines!)

We do appreciate that we'll need to swing attention back around to the chore management side at some point, because we have lots of neat requests there. Apologies that I can't give you a firm, satisfying answer. :-(

Thank you for the kind words about FamZoo - much appreciated.

Bobby and Larisa Meeks aka The Blog Post Author

Agree this would be great. We have six kids, so replicating chores won't work for us... :(. Still great deal for us tho.

Bill Dwight aka The Blog Post Author

Wow, 6! And I thought raising our 5 kids was exhausting :-)

Jeff Bunker aka The Blog Post Author

I'm not sure if there is any place to submit an official request to add my name to the list, but we would LOVE to have the "on-the-fly" payment to the appropriate account/split based on whoever checked off the item. I see it has been just over 4 months since the last post here. Has this moved up the priority list of features yet?

Bill Dwight aka The Blog Post Author

Hi Jeff, it's definitely near the top of the chore area feature list. Lately the core prepaid card features and scalability work (to accommodate the growing family base) have continued to dominate our limited development resources, so I can't promise you a specific date. The feedback is much appreciated though, and the vote for increased priority is duly noted.

will aka The Blog Post Author

Looks like subscribers have been waiting two years for this feature that will make your app far more appealing, especially to large families! I really hope your team sees the value to customer retention to get this "on the fly assignment" capability done asap. It is a much needed feature and obviously in demand by parents. Thanks!

Bill Dwight aka The Blog Post Author

Hi Will, Your vote is duly noted! This feature is definitely at the top for those families using chore lists. Still working on some of the behind-the-scenes scalability work mentioned in my Sep 4 comment above. The things competing for the next development cycle are: a more mature looking teen card option, a revamp of the desktop web app UI to freshen it up and appeal to both pre-teens and teens (FamZoo kids are half/half now), and some key chore checklist features like this one. Like Oprah says: "You can have it all - just not all at once." :-)

Unknown aka The Blog Post Author

Hi there, I've just got started with FamZoo and just wanted to add my voice to the above that this is a must-have feature! So far it is the one very obvious limitation I have come across. On the whole it looks great though and my kids are thrilled with their new cards.

Brent Hake aka The Blog Post Author

I would vote heavily for functionality over appearance. Checklist features please...

Bill Dwight aka The Blog Post Author

Vote received!

David aka The Blog Post Author

Add my name to the list for our 6 kids.

Bill Dwight aka The Blog Post Author

6! Impressive. 7 votes received! :-)

Jan aka The Blog Post Author

One more vote for "assigning the payment account on the fly based on which child checks off the chore" please! Setting up our chores has been fun (not really) with 5 kids under 12 yrs. We're spending so much time getting set up we haven't even started the spending process yet! Also, is there a way to copy one checklist and move to another child so I'm not having to enter in each item for each child in each child's account? Tedious!! Overall we are so excited to finally get to fully implement this system! This is GENIUS!!!!! Thanks for all the hard work and effort to help us parents give the gift of financial literacy to our children!!

BethT aka The Blog Post Author

Another vote for implementing this feature! I love this site but because this doesn't seem to be implemented yet, I'm going to need to check out other sites and apps before settling down to this one. And I was so hoping that my searching was over!

Bill Dwight aka The Blog Post Author

Hi Beth - vote acknowledged!

Bill Dwight aka The Blog Post Author

(And Jan acknowledged too - somehow missed your comment in December - thank you for the kind words :-)

Lisa Broderick aka The Blog Post Author

Let's get this going soon! I have 5 kids and it is very tedious :)

Bill Dwight aka The Blog Post Author

I hear you. I've got 5 kids too, and only so many hours in the day to write code with our small team and run a self-funded mission-driven startup. :-) The bottom line: This item has hovered near the top of the priority list, but keeps getting nudged out by more pressing issues affecting more families. Every development cycle, we re-evaluate the top candidates. That's why I can't promise a specific time-frame. Apologies. Just being completely candid.

Bob aka The Blog Post Author

Ditto me for this feature. I'm just about to introduce my kids to famzoo and see how it goes. I'd love to have a first dibs chore list for my kids. Having to replicate the chores for each is a pain - plus then having to verify each kid doesn't check their box. By chance do you have an issue tracking system against which I can register my interest in this feature and track progress or future comments? I just happened to find this page while googling for a famzoo first dibs chart.

Bill Dwight aka The Blog Post Author

Hi Bob, duly noted and apologies for the inconvenience in this particular use case. Unfortunately, we don't have an external facing issue tracking system for folks outside FamZoo to track progress on specific items. We'll certainly announce any updates in our monthly newsletter. (BTW, you'll find the chore list related capabilities and use cases - like this one - in the Checklist portion of the General FAQ: http://blog.famzoo.com/p/famzoo-faqs.html#checklists )

Bruce Ferguson aka The Blog Post Author

Ditto, we would really love the "first dibs" feature with only needing to add the item once.

Bill Dwight aka The Blog Post Author

Hi Bruce, thank you for weighing in. Vote acknowledged.

Rachelle Pennington aka The Blog Post Author

A new user here. Super excited to get our debit cards and get rolling! Also wanted to add my vote for the "first dibs" feature since it looks like its been several months since anyone did so. ;)

Bill Dwight aka The Blog Post Author

Welcome aboard Rachelle, and vote duly noted! -Bill

Anonymous aka The Blog Post Author

Me too - I've been using famzoo for about 6 months. We used it with penalties first and that worked for a bit, now the kids want to try a reward system. creating the list twice is time consuming... (for those of you with 3+ horrible!!). Keep this one moving up the list please!

Michelle White aka The Blog Post Author

Please, first dibs functionality! :)

Bill Dwight aka The Blog Post Author

Vote acknowledged, Michelle. -Bill

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