For children to grow into financially literate, financially responsible adults, it’s important that they begin learning lessons on how to make smart decisions with their money when they’re young. Good financial habits as children will help them have good financial habits as adults. Few schools offer any kind of personal finance classes as part of their regular curriculum, despite the push in recent years to make it mandatory. Thus, it’s likely that the financial lessons parents teach their children are the only lessons they’ll get before they enter the job force. So it’s important to set up your pre-teen to make money in a way that will leave a positive financial impression.
Pre-teens can greatly benefit from learning about their finances and how to save money, long before they’re responsible for paying bills. However, most businesses can’t hire kids under the age of 16, so that eliminates a job working at local stores or fast-food places, but they’re probably not ready for that kind of work anyway. Fortunately, there are many age-appropriate options for your pre-teen to make money and start learning those financial basics.
Babysitting has always been a tried and true way for pre-teens to earn money, but these days, not all parents feel comfortable with a pre-teen caring for their children. There are still a lot of babysitting opportunities, though. If you can’t find a job babysitting while the parents are out, look for a job babysitting while the parents are in. Many parents would love the opportunity to get things done around the house or even some time alone while your pre-teen occupies their children with them still close enough for peace of mind.
2. Senior Helper
Helping an elderly person with some simple chores around the house such as sweeping the floor and light housekeeping not only helps them by doing things that have become difficult to do, but it also gives the seniors some much-needed companionship. This type of job will allow your pre-teen to make money and they might even gain more respect for the elderly and all they have to offer too.
3. Dog Walker
Dogs get cooped up inside all day while their owners are at work. Often when dogs get bored, they get destructive and begin chewing anything they can find. Many dog owners would jump at the opportunity for their pooches to get out and expend that energy in a better way.
4. Pet Sitter
Speaking of dogs, summertime is vacation time, and many people don’t like the thought of putting their dogs in a kennel. In addition, if they have pets other than dogs, it can be difficult to find a facility that’ll board them. Pet sitting is great for neighbors, especially if your children will have to take care of them several times a day.
This can be mowing the lawn, trimming bushes, watering flowers, or pulling weeds. Neighbors will welcome someone willing to do these tedious chores for a few dollars.
6. Car Washer
Going to a car wash these days is expensive, and that’s without having the interior touched. Washing the exterior, the windows, throwing out any trash, and vacuuming the interior can turn into an easy way for your pre-teen to make some money.
Financial Lessons for Kids
Now that your kids are earning their own money, the time is right to teach them about making responsible decisions with it. Even if they’re earning very little, they can learn how to make decisions with it that’ll help them understand what to do with their finances later on.
The Value of Money
When you give your kids money, they spend it without a second thought. As far as they’re concerned, you’re an ATM with unlimited funds. When they’ve spent their time and effort working for it, this attitude toward money miraculously changes. It’s harder for them to spend their own money. Remind them of this the next time they hit you up for your hard-earned money.
How to Budget
Show them how to give themselves a weekly spending allowance and how to stick to it. That way, they’re money will last longer than the job that may be done at the end of the summer.
The Importance of Saving
Encourage your kids to set aside some money out of their paycheck, and show them how it can grow over time. Show them how putting aside a little each week will allow them to buy something more expensive later. If you have a summer trip planned, encourage them to set aside money to spend on the trip.
Your children probably aren’t earning enough money to invest in stocks, but you can still teach how it works. You can help them learn this by adding a dime to their savings for every dollar they put in, and do the math to calculate how much they’ll have if they do that until they’re ready for college.
Smart Spending Once You’ve Set Up Your Pre-teen To Make Money
This isn’t the same as saving. After all, they want to spend it. Maybe they should buy a good-quality item that costs a little more but will last. Maybe the best buy is a bunch of cheap things that are likely to break and end up in the trash quickly. Is the item of interest something that will still be interesting a week from now? Teach them to consider each purchase carefully so they’re not throwing their money away.
Teaching kids about financial literacy doesn’t have to be boring. Find ways to make it fun. If they’re saving for something, stick pictures of it on the fridge and make a colorful chart to track their progress. Talk with them about people they may know who made good decisions with their money, such as musicians, TV or internet celebrities, and sports figures. (Hint: It’s usually not the ones who throw their money around on “bling.”)
Your children may end up with no money left at the end of the summer, and that’s okay. The goal is to help them to begin to understand and develop good habits that they can carry on into adulthood. When your children are over 16 and get that first real job, you can have the expectation that they’ll start putting aside money for the future. If you started teaching them its importance when they’re young, they may already be doing it anyway.
Until then, teaching your children that true value and handling the money they’ve worked for properly will go a long way toward smart financial decisions in the future.