I started searching for my first job when I was 11. I couldn’t wait to start working. The idea of being able to earn money and then decide how I wanted to spend it (or save it) was so exciting. Of course, at age 11, there weren’t a lot of employers willing to hire me – but I persisted.
Finally, I was hired as a dishwasher and sandwich maker at a local cafe. I loved it. Not only was I making extra money but I also got free sandwiches — could life get any better?
While I realize not many 11 year olds are thrilled by the prospect of a job, I do think there is so much value in getting into the workforce early. Working teaches kids about organization, responsibility, and work ethic. It’s also a great opportunity to teach them about financial literacy, long-term goals, and money management.
I should mention that by today’s standards, 11 might be too early for your child to find a “real” job and join the labor force; most employers require employees to be 14 years of age. However, there are still many ways younger kids can earn money, whether it’s around your house through paid chores or even outside of your home working a part-time job in your neighborhood
How kids can start earning money doing household chores
One of the first ways kids can start to earn money is by doing age-appropriate chores around the house. This is a great way to start teaching kids the concept of paid work and to exercise some of the skills they can use to find a job outside of the home. There are tons of small tasks you can pay them to do:
- Wash the dishes
- Wash, dry, and fold their laundry
- Walk to the dog
- Watch their younger sibling
- Cook a meal for the family
- Clean the bathroom
You can even have them help out with special tasks that pop up only occasionally, like helping prepare for a garage sale or assembling holiday cards.
I mean, the possibilities are endless, so have some fun and use your imagination! Many families create a chore chart to track progress on recurring tasks.
Once you’ve come up with some creative household chores, the new question might be, “should I really be paying my kid to help out around our house, shouldn’t that just be their contribution to the household?”
I’m not going to get into this discussion here because we’re talking about ideas for your kids to actually earn money, but it’s a good question and one you will have to think through.
When it comes to figuring out how much you should pay your kids the short answer is, it’s up to you!
If you’re looking for a simple strategy you can use an age-based payment method. Kids who are 12 get $12 per week. Kids who are 14 get $14 per week.
If this amount seems too low, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants found that parents are paying an average of $30 per week in allowance — maybe this seems more fair for your family.
Jobs kids can do in your neighborhood to earn money
Once your kid is old enough to be released from the home and into the wild, they can use their newfound skills to earn extra cash around the neighborhood.
Future entrepreneurs will always find a way to run their own lemonade stand, whatever form that might take, but if your child doesn’t want to set up his or her own business, here’s a list of possible money-making jobs to look for. (If your neighborhood has any social media groups, that’s a smart place to look for ideas and potential clients.)
Landscaping and yard work
What’s better than earning money while getting a good dose of vitamin D?
Landscaping and yard work jobs provide a great opportunity for your children to use up some of their boundless energy. They can start by mowing lawns, picking weeds and trimming hedges. When summer turns to fall they can keep things going by raking lawns and bagging leaves. With winter comes a great opportunity to make extra cash shoveling walks and even helping people put up their Christmas lights.
The pros of yard work include working outside in the beautiful sunny weather and being physical. The cons, working outside when the weather is crummy and the fact that you have to get dirty (this could be a pro or con depending on your child).
Babysitting was my main way of making money from age 12 all the way into my early 20s. I loved it. I had at least 10 families in my neighborhood that were fighting for my child care services on any given weekend. This was my debut into entrepreneurship. I picked my clients, named my price, and kept all of my profits.
Babysitting comes with its highs and lows. For me, the highlights included watching cable (I’m dating myself here) and eating copious amounts of junk food (you might not like this but your kid probably will) while getting paid for it. The lows, definitely diapers and children who didn’t want to go to bed when they were supposed to.
If babysitting doesn’t appeal to your child then maybe the role of pet-sitter is a better fit. This is an awesome job for kids that love animals. During my time as a “professional” pet-sitter, I experienced my share of ups and downs.
The ups included getting paid to spend time with adorable animals. The downs, getting dragged down a gravel road by my client (an overzealous border collie), searching for runaway pets, and getting my hands and face ripped to shreds while trying to inject a diabetic cat. Never a dull moment!
Newspaper and flyer delivery
If your kid dreams of being ultra-rich then a job delivering newspapers might be the right fit. You can tell them that multi-millionaire and multi-billionaire investors John Bogle and Warren Buffett both got their start delivering papers.
My sister and I did this for about a year and I have to admit, I didn’t love getting up at the crack of dawn to deliver papers in the freezing cold. However, I did love the Christmastime tips that many people left for us — it made those cold, early, winter wake-ups feel worth it.
Coach or referee
If you have a child that is super into soccer, hockey, football, or any other sport, maybe they’d enjoy earning extra money as a coach or referee.
When I was in middle school I was an assistant coach for young kids at a gymnastics club. I had a great time interacting with the athletes and teaching kids a sport that I really enjoyed. The only real downside was that I wanted to be a participant more than a coach!
I always dreamed of lifeguarding at a beach for my summer job. Unfortunately, the fact that I could hardly keep my head above water or swim in a straight line prevented this dream from becoming a reality. If you have a strong swimmer on your hands and they like the idea of part-time work at the beach or pool then this might be a good money-making opportunity. (You have to get certified to be a lifeguard).
Though I have no first-hand experience with this job I can guess that the pros include working in a great location and helping to keep people safe. The cons, bad weather, getting really bored when not much is going on, and experiencing the odd sunburn if your kid forgets to lather on their sunscreen.
Is your child a whiz in math or super into science? Are they bilingual?
If your child loves to learn and teach then tutoring is a great way to earn extra cash. There’s always a demand for tutoring services from kids that could use a bit of extra help with their school work.
While I never earned money as a tutor, I was a paying client. Let’s just say math was not my favorite subject and I required some additional help. And, based on how much my parents paid my tutor, your kid will make some serious pocket money with this part-time gig.
Selling their games and toys
Some older kids might jump at the idea of making money by selling their toys they’re no longer interested in. A garage sale is a good place to sell gently used toys, games, and books. If your child is into gaming, stores like GameStop will pay in cash or store credit for used videogames, consoles, and other electronics.
The best way to pay your children for their work
It’s so easy to use a debit card or credit card these days that paying for anything with cash can seem novel. But forking over physical money in exchange for your child’s labor is a great way to teach them the value of a hard-earned dollar. It makes the concept of money less abstract.
Once they’re earning, the next step in teaching children money management is to open a savings account for them! You can even take them to the bank when you open the account.
Talk to your kids
If you’re searching for some fun and easy money-making ideas for your kids, start by asking them what they enjoy. Then you can help look for a job that’s a good fit for your child’s life.
If they like to work outside and get their hands dirty (literally), then a job in landscaping, newspaper delivery or lifeguarding might be right.
If they’d rather stay inside, away from the sun and dirt, then help them advertise their babysitting or tutoring business.
There are tons of opportunities for kids to make money and I bet once they get their first paycheck, they won’t be as eager to turn to the bank of mom and dad. It’s a win for the whole family.
–-By Jessica Martel