Many young kids want to start making some money, and often their parents want them to do so as well. Encouraging your children to earn their own money is a great way to foster creativity and innovation, promote independence, and begin to teach them about key financial skills like budgeting, saving, managing money, and investing. (For more on teaching kids about money, read Nolo's articles An allowance for Your Kids? and Kids & Credit Cards: When Are They Ready for Plastic?)
Teenagers can work a variety of part-time jobs. But what if your kids are not old enough to get hired by an employer? Don't give up -- you can help them find other ways to begin earning cash. Here are some suggestions on ways that kids can make money.
Start at Home
Consider tasks that need to be done around your home or at your work that go beyond basic household chores. Does the car need washing? Are there leaves to rake or snow to shovel? Or can you delegate to your kid a task that you would ordinarily do yourself, like gift wrapping, typing an email (which you can dictate), or making greeting cards?
If you have a family-run business, consider ways to get your child involved that are age-appropriate and would give your child a sense of accomplishment and involvement.
Look to Your Community
Most jobs are found through word of mouth, so encourage your child to let relatives, family friends, and neighbors know that he or she is in the market for work. Offering to do odd jobs for trusted neighbors -- like yard work, lawn mowing, dog walking, pet sitting, and baby sitting -- is a great place to start. Or encourage your kid to sell old toys or books at a family or community yard sale. Increasingly, neighborhoods are having block yard sales where neighboring families can all take part -- offering a great way for kids to meet each other and participate. By encouraging your child to sell or donate unwanted items you are also teaching valuable financial skills.
List Skills and Abilities
If your child expresses interest in getting a job, sit down together and write a list of your child's skills, abilities, likes, and dislikes. This brainstorming exercise is great for kids and adults alike, and encourages your child to think creatively.
If your child enjoys art, why not make and sell greeting cards? If your child enjoys cooking, why not hold a bake sale or even start a business selling cookies? If your child is more academically minded, suggest a tutoring or teaching job. Tutoring is a great way to reinforce your kid's existing knowledge and will help develop interpersonal and mentoring skills.
Encourage the Young Entrepreneur
Kids are increasingly showing interest in learning about investing and starting their own businesses. There are a growing range of educational tools, websites, and investment programs available, with organizations even offering camps for young entrepreneurs. Be sure to do your research before deciding on a particular website or camp, to ensure that you choose one that is right and appropriate for your child.
Helping your kid discover creative ways to make money is just one of the ways that you can begin to teach key financial lessons about budgeting, saving, and investing for the future. For more tips on teaching kids about money, get The Busy Family's Guide to Money, by Sandra Block, Kathy Chu, and John Waggoner (Nolo).