Last year I read The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies with my son, and I realized kids can do lots of things to not only make themselves some money, but to carry this sort of capitalistic mindset and work ethic throughout their lives. So, I did what any mom who wants to encourage her sons to dream big and fly high would do. I asked them what they love to do, and then started looking into ways they could make money with their talents.
My son was in a commercial with Kelly Ripa a few years back, earning the first (modest) income of his life. The year after, the royalties were his second, and since then he has garnered a few extra jobs here and there to make some small amounts money when he wasn’t busy with school, playing, and activities. All I did as a kid was babysit, and at 16 got my first job as a library page. The truth is, many young children are very smart, outside-the-box thinkers and very entrepreneurial, and many of the most famous, wealthiest enterprisers today started out as kids with nothing more than ambition and an idea- even if that idea was for just a traveling lemonade stand or renting out a snowblower. So when my sons asked me if we could set up a lemonade stand, start a YouTube channel for them, and if they could start doing neighborhood chores for money, I couldn’t imagine stifling their motivation and saying no. So, my sons make money 🙂
5 Legit Ways Kids Can Earn Money
… and what to do with the money they make
1. Sell things they make– on your front lawn, door to door, or on-line. You will have to check your town ordinances to ensure this isn’t something you need a permit for (sometimes commerce in the area gets testy about discovering their sales are being diminished by the kids in the corner house outselling them with superior homemade versions of the same thing and charging less). As long as it’s ok, let them set up a stand to sell things they make. They will learn about investment and business expenses (buying supplies to make their products for sale), and profits (pricing to make some money after expenses). If your children are talented in building or making things, you can also sell their items online by helping them to set up an online store or via a popular e-commerce site like Etsy or eBay. Many children look for demand and carry supplies (like lemonade) to meet the need (a work site with hot, thirsty employees that don’t want to waste their lunch break seeking out stores for beverages), and creative children tend to be able to come up with lots of ways to make money. Listen to them, and them help them set up!
2. Help the elderly in the neighborhood. My sons help older neighbors and relatives who aren’t able to do as much anymore by pulling weeds, raking, and other small chores. In addition to teaching them to help the elderly (they started with a few to be nice, were offered money for it, and now they happily let the word spread they are available on weekends), they are learning about a variety of chores that inform them how to help out around our house, and their own home in the future. Kids usually have to do chores anyway, but they’ve been learning to garden and use (safe) household tools indoors and outdoors that I never did and wouldn’t have been able to teach them about. They are paid per project or per hour, and since they charge less than companies, the elderly on fixed incomes really appreciate it.
3. Offer their unique talents My son is an amazing piano player, and fills our house with beautiful music that makes me so happy. He also does this for getting-married couples at our church, where he plays the wedding march on an organ during wedding ceremonies- often 3 weddings a Sunday. He is paid for each ceremony, and reads and studies during the ceremony while the couple recite their vows, then plays again for the wedding recessional. If your children have musical talent, artistic talent, etc there are people who may be interested in hiring them for parties, events, etc. There are also many skills your child could learn even if they don’t have a great voice or ear for music, such as calligraphy (for posters and invitations) and magic tricks (for community events). Think outside the box! I know a young lady who learned how to make exquisite balloon animals (not just your typical balloon flowers, dogs, and swords) and her unicorns are very popular now for children’s parties.
4. Let your child express their inner YouTube star. If you think your children have to be well-spoken, gorgeous, brilliant, or have odd talents to star on YouTube, think again. The most normal (read: ordinary) people strike it rich as they shoot off into the stratosphere just by chatting about stuff people want to learn about. I know a fellow mom who started putting up videos of her children talking about their toys, which happen to be popular and searched for a lot online, and as a result, her children have a huge YouTube following (mostly by other children), and earn more than their parents do. If kids are doing activities that other children are interested in learning about, playing with toys, talking about books, sharing how the make something, etc then video tape them and put in on their channel. Thousands of children are interested and searching for videos on what this toy looks like outside the box, and how to make that craft. Your kids can do it too. Kids generally really love the idea of doing this, so an added bonus is that it will be fun for them.
5. Support their dreams of stardom Some children can sing really well. Some children are natural inventors. Some children have incredible engineering skills, LEGO building skills, or some other talent that is both obvious and unusual- and can garner them substantial prize money if they have the chance to compete and exhibit their gifts. I am not the type of parent who thinks children should lose academic focus to chase fame, but I really do believe some children have natural abilities that may lead them in a unique direction, especially if it’s recognized and supported by their parents and other adults. If your child really does have something special, and really (honestly) has a desire to pursue contests, jobs, competitions, etc that are not parent-encouraged or directed, and it is within your means, why not escort them to that championship or contest that could earn them thousands in income or prize money for their future? There are spelling bees, writing contests, science fairs, dance competitions, chess tournaments, and more that offer both national recognition and prizes.
Your kid is making money… now what?
Now that your children have cash in their hands, what do you do with it? If they earn more than $6,000, you have to file taxes for your child, but most children are not able to earn this type of money during the few hours they work since they have school, need to rest, and deserve to have fun (and I’m pretty sure it’s not even legal to work more than a few hours a day until they are in their late teens, and even less on school days). But let’s be honest, even a few thousand a year is a lot of money!
So here are some ideas for safe-guarding their earnings:
* Save it for big purchases, and learn the value of hard work and saving to get things they want (and if they buy a computer or bike with their own money, they will likely cherish it more).
* Open up a custodial Roth IRA for them, as long as the money that goes in is earned income (not birthday money or money you want to give them).
* Sock it away for college in a 529 account, because student loans are the worst kind of burden for a young entrepreneur just starting out after college… parents and grandparents can also contribute to their 529s so consider matching everything they put in.
* Invest in education and supplies for expanding their business in the future, whether it be a better lawn mower, more craft supplies, lessons, or improved equipment for their YouTube channel. Let them grow, as long as it doesn’t interfere with other important aspects of their childhood.
* Let them spend some of it freely today to buy books, lunch at a favorite spot, toys, etc. Everyone should be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor, especially kids!
If your child has a mind to create a business, and can make a good income stream from their hard work and creativity and expertise, let them! Encourage them! And please don’t take their earnings from them (even if you insist you want to save it for them). I would not take any of it at all to donate, spend on others, or use for family expenses without their permission. You can teach them to share, have compassion, be charitable, but you can’t force them to be. Talk to them and let them ultimately decide what to do. It’s not their job to pay bills as minors (that’s the parents job- the parent who decided to have kids).
Instead, celebrate with them, tell them you are proud, and pat yourself on the back for raising such amazing kids ♥︎