Ways Your Kids Can Earn Money
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Did you work or do odd jobs around your home when you were a kid? Some kids naturally gravitate in that direction from an early age, while others might need a little nudge. But a job of any sort is a great way for kids to learn about money and what it means to be responsible—including chores they do for an allowance, helping out neighbors with their yard work or dog walks, babysitting, all the way up to the sort of job that includes filling out tax forms and earning a regular paycheck. The ways your kids can earn money are also ways for them to build key skills and habits that will help them throughout their lives.
Start at home
Kids from 2–18 benefit from chores and chore charts because they promote responsibility, help kids learn to associate work with money and rewards, and make kids feel valued for their contributions around the house, however small. You can customize the chores you ask kids to do based on their particular talents, skills, and inclinations—for example, your artsy 9-year-old might be asked to set the table and fold the napkins in a creative way—or you can challenge them to find ways to make a chore fun when it doesn’t seem that way to begin with. Maybe your kids can come up with a specific song to sing while they take out the trash, or maybe they can clean and dry the dishes with you or a sibling and take turns picking topics to talk about with their dish partner.
Doing regular chores helps kids feel important, successful, and needed, and there’s a strong correlation between doing chores and jobs as a kid and succeeding in important ways as an adult.
Practice good behavior
Younger kids in particular can also benefit from a behavior chart that helps them visualize what you want them to do and how you want them to act. Instead of posting negative behaviors on the chart and noting when they occur, consider posting a “calendar” of positive behaviors and drawing a star for each one that occurs on a given day. You can easily create a customized chart based on the positive behaviors you’d like to encourage, and you can get kids more involved by letting them draw a star or smiley face themselves, or add a fun sticker, next to their positive behaviors after they occur. To connect positive behaviors with money, consider boosting their allowance when positive behavior milestones are reached (like completing homework before dinner for a whole week). And remember that in lieu of a cash allowance, you can use Monopoly money or pretend currency to help kids learn about money, with the idea being that they can purchase special household treats or perks with the “money” they earn.
Use your experience to help your kids
Another key consideration is helping your kids to avoid any financial missteps you may have made yourself. You don’t necessarily need to go into detail with your kids about your own experiences, but keep in mind that those experiences, however unpleasant, likely provided you with some awareness of how money management can affect you in the short- and/or long-term—and that information can be enormously helpful to your kids. Are there specific money issues you may have been able to avoid if you had just learned sooner? For many of us, the answer to that question is a resounding yes. According to one recent survey, more than 2 out of 5 American adults had to teach themselves about personal finance, and 33% feel that their lack of financial knowledge prevents them from making financial progress. It’s not a stretch to say that financial illiteracy is common in the U.S., and yet money plays a major role in our lives. So what do we do—and how do we help our kids?
Find opportunities close to home
When I was little, my young friends and I hosted neighborhood talent shows and charged a fee for entry. Your kids might like that idea, or have them try these:
- Organize a garage or tag sale
- Set up a lemonade or hot cocoa stand
- Care for pets
- Sell crafts, art, or photos
- Troubleshoot technology issues
- Water plants
- Wash cars
- Shovel snow
- Rake leaves
- Host a bake sale
- Give manicures
- Help decorate for holidays
- Mow lawns
- Pull weeds and tend to gardens
Get that first “real” job
Is your kid ready to earn a regular paycheck for part-time work? Consider having them apply at local places like a grocery store, ice cream parlor, or coffee shop, but make sure they’re old enough to work in your state first. Also, have them take a look at this standard employment application to see what sort of information they’ll need to bring along when they apply for a spot. And if they’re applying for a position that requires a resume and cover letter, have them keep these tips in mind:
- It’s not necessary for them to include their street address on their resume or cover letter, but it’s a good idea to include the city, state, and zip code.
- When it comes to their GPA, have them include it if it’s the equivalent of a 3.0, or B, average or higher.
- Extracurriculars include things inside and outside school—and anything that demonstrates responsibility, trustworthiness, and specific skills or talents related to the job should be included.
- Encourage them to prepare for interviews in advance.
Find out more
As kids tackle money-making responsibilities, take time to talk with them about what to do with the money they earn. Encourage them to save a minimum of 20% of their earnings (with 30% being a great goal), and talk with them about how they might spend their money, donate some to good causes, or get started with investing (with a little help from you) with a Stash custodial account, available for $9/month with a Stash subscription on Stash Invest.
For additional ideas on how to teach kids about money, visit Stash101.
This is a UGMA /UTMA account. The money in a custodial account is the property of the minor. This type of account is a Non-discretionary managed account and is only offered through Stash Investments LLC (“Stash RIA”).