Helping Kids Earn Extra Money
(ARA) - Kids always seem to be asking their parents for
money. Whether it's an increase in their allowance, money to buy the latest tech toy or a
cool outfit for the first day back to school, one thing's for sure -- they want it. And
the older they get, the more they want.
By the time kids reach their teens, they're spending an
average of $84 per week of their own and their parents' money, according to a study by
Teenage Research Unlimited, Northbrook, Ill. Additional statistics show that the average
household spends $550 per child on back-to-school shopping.
With youth spending on the rise, when is it appropriate for
kids to start earning money?
"Parents should start teaching the concepts as early as
possible," says Pam Patrick, a professor of psychology and human services at Capella
University, and a family counselor with Counseling and Family Services in Daytona Beach,
Fla. "Earning money links with demonstrating greater responsibility, and the home is
the perfect training ground. If kids don't learn that concept early on, it's more
difficult to grasp in their teen years."
"Encouraging children to earn extra money not only
eliminates the standard question, 'Mom/Dad, can I have some money?' it also teaches your
kids how to respect money, stick to a budget and make choices," says Randy Schuldt,
vice president of IHateFinancialPlanning.com, a Web site that offers easy money management
tips to the three out of four Americans who hate financial planning. "However, before
even thinking about teaching kids about money, parents need to identify and agree on the
financial values they want their family to have."
To help your children get started on the road to financial
responsibility, IHateFinancialPlanning.com offers the following tips:
Play shopkeeper. "There are some simple
games you can play with kids as young as 3 and 4 that will both entertain them and build a
basic understanding of money," Schuldt says. "For example, play shopkeeper. Use
play money, and let your little shopkeeper place the sales revenues in a toy bank."
Settle the allowance question. Kids usually
start to get a little more sophisticated about money between the ages of 9 and 12, when
their 'desire to acquire' kicks in big time. When it's real, not play, money they want,
it's time to decide whether an allowance is appropriate. Some parents believe in giving an
allowance for household chores, while others think kids should do chores regardless,
according to a recent IHateFinancialPlanning.com poll. If an allowance is in your child's
future, set your expectations. Decide if you'll permit your child to earn extra money
above and beyond a weekly amount. And if you're unsure how much allowance to give your
child, IHateFinancialPlanning.com has a suggested monthly allowance chart for children of
Ways to earn extra money. Be creative. Many
of the ways to earn extra money that were around when we were kids may not exist any more.
Sure, some of the old standards still apply: selling lemonade, mowing lawns, raking
leaves, shoveling snow, painting fences, etc. But there are other ways to earn a few extra
bucks. Your child could serve as a computer tutor for another child -- or even an adult or
grandparent. Busy two-income families in your neighborhood might welcome a plant- or
pet-sitter while they're out of town. Other options include selling handmade greeting
cards, cultivating a garden and selling homegrown vegetables, or helping out at a garage
Jobs for teens. When kids are old enough to
join the workforce in earnest, they may need a little help getting started. "Far too
many teenagers have no connection at all to where money comes from, other than it spills
from Mom or Dad's pockets," Patrick says. "When that's the case, parents may
have to reduce the flow of money from the spigot, so kids get the idea that they have to
start earning it. But once kids make the link, it isn't that hard."
Here are some things parents can do to help their teenager
get started or continue in a fiscally responsible direction (translation: get a job).
Determine interests. Encourage teens to
apply for jobs that fit their skills and interests. A high school guidance counselor could
administer an interest inventory to help your teenager determine what summer job might be
of interest. And school or public libraries offer a host of information about jobs -- what
they demand and the kind of training they require. Many have easy-to-use computer programs
that match skills with jobs. IHateFinancialPlanning.com also has a "teens only"
section of its Web site designed to help them learn how to earn and manage their money,
from determining what kind of job they want, to tips for successful interviews.
Find out what jobs are out there. Word of
mouth is one of the best ways of finding a job. Suggest talking to friends, relatives,
neighbors, teachers and counselors. Point out help wanted signs in store windows, and news
bulletin boards at libraries, community centers and neighborhood businesses. And don't
forget about job fairs held at local shopping malls. (They love the mall anyway, so why
Help them balance their time. This is about
earning a little extra money. It's not about sacrificing every ounce of their free time to
obtain what they want. Help your child set up a schedule that allows adequate time for
school, for work and for play. Sometimes kids over-commit themselves because they simply
haven't yet learned the art of juggling their time.
Lead by example. There's a lot more to work
than showing up. As a parent, model the work behaviors you'd like your child to develop.
Stress being on time, dressing neatly, being courteous to others. When you come home from
a rough day at the office, don't flop on the couch and complain about how the world is
unfair. Your child will learn a better work attitude if you demonstrate how to handle
day-to-day setbacks in stride.
Track performance. Just as your employer
tracks your performance on the job, set up a periodic review of your children's ability to
manage their money, whether it's through an allowance, a part-time job or both. Arrange a
time to talk with each child individually. It's the perfect time to reinforce the positive
behaviors and inspire your child to continue them. It'll also reduce squabbling among
siblings about who earned more and why.
Consider a financial match. "Helping
your child learn financial responsibility isn't just about earning money -- it's about
managing it as well," Schuldt says. Open a savings or mutual fund account for your
child. Then offer to place a certain dollar amount in it for every dollar earned (not
unlike some 401(k) plans). You'll not only encourage responsible investing, you'll also
reinforce a concept that's often foreign to teens -- delayed gratification.
"Even if your child hasn't yet learned financial
responsibility, you can play catch up," Patrick says. "Sometimes kids can get
angry and view it as punishment, but it's just a delayed life skill lesson. Be willing to
weather the storm. It's never too late."
Courtesy of ARA Content, www.ARAcontent.com, e-mail: info@ARAcontent.com
Tell a friend
about this site