Post by Contributing Writer, Rachael
Summer in North America usually means more sun, less school and hours of time to fill. Even though school is out, don’t let your kids stop learning.
With all the time you have with them this summer, I want to encourage you to make it a summer of financial fun!
Kids can learn to earn money and learn how to budget it regardless of their age. Below are some ideas for how your children can earn money and some tips of fiscal training based on their age.
Starting with the little ones…
Age 2 – 5: Pick Up Sticks
Toddlers, Preschooler’s and Kindergarteners are sponges. They can follow instructions, know their shapes and colors and are ready to “help out” in any way they can.
If you have a yard, garden, deck or alley, instruct your little ones to pick up sticks, leaves or other debris. Give them a box and a time limit. For every item they collect they get paid (in our family it is .01).
Financial Fitness: Small kids need a basic budget. Our idea is to give each child in this age group three mason jars. One labeled “Spend”, one labeled “Save” and one labeled “Give”. Then count out 10% for give, 10% for save and the rest goes to spend.
Kids will take great pride in buying their own ice cream cone, making their own deposit in the bank at the end of the summer and being able to give their own money to church or a charity of their choice.
This also opens up opportunities for them to show you what they know by counting and asking questions when they are unsure of what to do next with their funds.
Age 6 – 9: Mother’s Helper/Father’s Assistant
Children in 1st and 2nd grade are exploring their independence. They are also trying to be “big kids” which usually means mimicking an older sibling or parent.
Take advantage of this stage by engaging your kids in activities with you. This could mean doing dishes, sorting laundry, watching younger siblings (with your help) or other unique summer household chores. Weed the garden together, wash the car together, paint the deck together or build something together.
Financial Fitness: This state of budget training is less about how much you pay your child and more about your child understanding what things are worth. As you do these tasks with your child begin to explain to them what you pay for things like dish soap, paint or water.
Ask your kids what they think is a fair price to be paid for the task and come to a mutual decision on what is appropriate payment and why.
Make sure your child is budgeting their money as well, but focus on cost and effect!
Age 10 – 13 Lemonade Stand
Right around the 3rd grade kids start learning about money. Not just what each piece is but its worth. Kids between 10-13 also begin to have greater opportunities to spend money during summer sports, church camps and family vacations.
Now is the time to help them earn their own money. The classic lemonade stand!
Lemonade stands don’t have to be comprised of just lemonade. As kids we sold water on weekends where there was a town event, brownies or popsicles, just depending on the weather and our preference.
Work with your kids to build, buy, market and earn at the stand of their choice. First, make sure they know that it costs something to sell something. To build a stand, buy lemonade or make brownies there is some prep work required.
[Michele’s Note: Rather than a lemonade stand, our family has often paid local kids in these two “middle” age groups (10-15) to help do supervised tasks around our home, such as yard work or house projects (such as flooring, etc), since we don’t have older children of our own yet. This allows them a productive time of learning- and, often, quality time with us, rather than just selling something.]
Financial Fitness: Show kids how to keep a basic ledger. Write down what it cost them to start their stand and then help them tally their profits. At the end of their selling time make sure that they have paid for their supplies and prep before taking a profit.
Help kids understand what they can do to cut cost or charge a fairer rate for their product.
Side Note: Also, for the first several times around make sure you are present and aware of what is going on at the stand. This doesn’t mean sitting at the stand with them but it does mean making sure they are in a safe area, understand about stranger danger and know how to count proper change.
Age 13-15 Babysitting/Lawn Mowing
The early teen years are a great time to start letting kids earn their money from someone else. In most states they cannot be legally employed but they can earn cash for odd jobs.
For girls, encourage your daughters to babysit. Most Red Cross locations offer a babysitting course that also includes CPR. Help your daughter (or son if they are interested) learn the basic skills of babysitting, set a rate for her time and discuss with her guidelines for her job (who, where, when, etc.).
For boys, encourage your sons to get outside and work off some of their energy! Mowing, raking, gardening, etc. is a great way for them to by physically active while earning extra money.
Make sure you have practiced at home the best way to care for a lawn. Encourage your son to volunteer for some elderly neighbors in order to get some experience and recommendations. Talk with your son about what a fair rate is and what that includes.
Side Notes: Make sure that you and your child are comfortable with the parameters and have discussed all the details for each job. Allowing them their independence is wonderful but their first time around still needs a guiding hand.
Financial Fitness: Earning cash from others presents a great opportunity to talk about two things with your child.
First, helping your child set a rate of pay that is reasonable and competitive is very important. Very much like being a parents’ helper, children need to learn the value of their time. It is your job to talk through what that means and how to value their time and money side by side.
Second, this is a great time to talk about financial ethics. Encourage your children to not only charge for their time but give of their time. Perhaps your daughter babysits for a single mother who cannot afford a babysitter or your son mows the lawn of a disabled or elderly neighbor.
Financial fitness is not limited to how money is earned but also how time is valued. Above all, people are still the most important thing and should always be a part of the cause/effect discussion when it comes to finances.
Age 15 + Time for a “Real” job
In most states children can obtain a work permit starting at age 15. This means that a child is allowed to work a certain amount of hours for a company that will issue them a W-2 at the end of the year.
Kids can continue to work odd jobs and earn cash or enter the workforce. I would encourage you to sit down with your child and discuss both options.
Which option would help your child make the most money? Which option fits into your families summer schedule better? What would your child like to do or learn to do in the future?
Personally, I would encourage kids to become employed in a W-2 position if they can earn some extra income and it works with your family. Reason being that our first jobs are where we learn about “real” life.
Working for someone on their terms forces us to have a boss, work with co-workers, engage with customers and maybe do work that we prefer not to. Jobs like this grow kids and help them understand what it means to have a good work ethic which includes showing up on time, dressing properly and learning an immense amount of respect for people different from you.
Financial Fitness: Now is the time to take budgeting to the next level. Go the bank and open a joint checking account and savings account (if you haven’t already) with your child. Take time to walk with your child through each line of their first paycheck so they understand exactly what they earned and where it goes.
Let your child have control of their finances with your guiding hand in place. Help them set a financial goal for the summer or year. Help them think through what they may want to save for or different ways that they could give a portion their money to others.
Regardless of your child’s age it is never to early to start earning money and becoming financially fit! Find creative ways to engage your child’s interests and age so that they may grow into wise stewards of their money.
Have more ideas on summer jobs? Let us know what they are in the comments below!
Rachael shares financial tips from her kitchen table surrounded by her two active toddlers and her husband. God has called her from corporate life into His grace as an at-home wife! She shares about her passion for motherhood and life five days a week at To Be a Mom…
If you have a financial question or topic you would like us to discuss leave a comment or send us an email!