When I was younger, it was so much more difficult to make money as a kid than it is today. While that wasn’t so great for the kids of my generation, it is making life a lot easier for my own children.
My parents did a pretty good job of teaching my brothers and me financial responsibility. But, I learned as an adult that there were actually quite a few gaps in my financial knowledge base. As parents, we can only teach what we know. So, if there is something I don’t know about finances and money, I am much more tenacious in my education now.
I want my children to be more financially savvy than I was at their age. A big part of this education has been teaching them how to make some extra money, even when they’re young.
In-person ways to make money as a kid
For younger kids, ages six and up, making money can be a little more difficult. But, most kids have a fantastic social media network to pull from. And they have their parents to back them up and help them find money-making opportunities.
Anything your child decides to do to make money should be run by you first. After all, kids can’t get to a lot of these odd jobs without their parents’ consent, or transportation.
- Babysit. If your child is interested in babysitting even at the age of 10-12, then you, as the parent, can help find them babysitting gigs through your friends and neighbors. That way you are comfortable with the house your child will be left alone at. Sometimes what is needed is a mother’s or father’s helper, so your child would not even necessarily be alone.
- Create a yard sale. Helping your kids go through their old clothes, shoes, and toys is a great way to help your kid make money. Have them set up a yard sale and whatever money they make they get to keep.
- Have your kids work for your small business. If you are self-employed and have any tasks your children can help you with, then you can pay them to do so. The tasks can vary by age. But even younger children can help with things such as sorting and shredding mail.
- Organize people’s stuff. If your 11 or 12-year-old child has an eye for organizing, then they may be able to offer this service to others. You’ll need to help them find people that will let them organize for them, with your assistance, of course.
- Walk dogs. Walking dogs is something that most kids love doing, and most adults could use help with. Plus, if the two of you can do it together, then you both get some fresh air and exercise also.
- Wash cars. If your child is younger, they can offer to wash the neighbor’s cars. Once they get older and can legally work with a work permit, some car washes might be willing to hire them.
- Water plants. Help your child find families that are vacationing, work long hours, or are elderly and just could use a helping hand with their plants.
- Yard work. Yard work is something most of us need help with regularly. If you are willing to loan out your yard equipment to your kids, then this could be a great money-making opportunity for them in your neighborhood. Not to mention, it’s just easy money.
- Selling t-shirts. Designing and selling t-shirts together has never been easier than it is today. You don’t need a graphic designer and a screen printer anymore. There are plenty of websites geared towards creating your own t-shirts, marketing them, and selling them such as Shopify, Zazzle, Teespring, CafePress, and more.
- Become a product flipper to their peers. One of my stepchildren has been flipping candy and shoes to his school and neighborhood peers. If your child has a good eye for a deal, then this may be a good money-making option for them.
Read more: How to make the most money from your garage sale
Online ways to make money as a kid
If your child is digitally savvy, then they may be more inclined to find ways to make money online instead. Either way, your child should ask your permission before they embark on ways to make money. Since they are minors, they need parental permission to engage in these activities.
- Take online surveys. I love taking online surveys and so do my kids! These can be a lot of fun, and since the kids are on their devices more often than not, they might as well be making some money at the same time. Some of our favorite online survey sites are Swagbucks and MyPoints.
- Create illustrations. If your child likes to create illustrations, then they could make some money with this skill. Get them a decent illustrating tablet and intuitive software (I suggest Clip Studio Paint Pro) and they will be on their way. A great website to have them set up a portfolio on is Deviantart.
- Make crafts or jewelry to sell online. If your child loves to create jewelry and crafts, then selling them online may be a great way for them to make money as a kid. The most popular website for things of this nature currently is Etsy.
- Make YouTube videos. Our kids today are technology savvy, right? YouTube is a platform where some decent money can be made if your child loves to create videos. Kids can be product testers and make videos of them testing out products from different companies. Even if your kid just wants to make videos talking about particular subjects (video games, how-to-videos, etc.), they can place ads in their videos to start generating income. As a parent, however, you should be monitoring this money-making avenue closely.
- Sell their old stuff online. There are many different platforms for your kids to sell their old stuff online. Some of our favorites are eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Poshmark, and Amazon.
- Start a blog. If your child loves to write, starting a blog at a young age could potentially help your kids get to the point of monetization by the time they could really use it. Writing a blog can be a lot of fun, but it can take a while to start making money with a blog. So this could be more of a longer-term goal that kids can grow into over the years.
- Start taking photographs. Taking photographs can be a great way to put your child’s hobby to good use. Some of the best sites that might be willing to pay them for their photographs are EyeEm, Foap, and Scoopshot.
- Streaming. If your child is already big into watching streamed live content, then it may be time for them to start creating their own. Live streaming through Twitch is a great way to get them started.
- Selling digital goods. Creating an ebook or a course is a great way to begin selling digital goods with very little overhead.
- Making music. If your child has a musical ear, then this may just be the money-making genre for them. One of the best places to get started is Spotify.
- Create games. One of my children is huge into video games and is always coming up with ways for the games to be better. If this sounds like your child, then it may be time to investigate creating their own game and monetize it (trust me, it’s a lot easier than it sounds).
- App tester. Since most of our kids are very embedded in the digital world, it only makes sense for them to make some money by testing apps. There are quite a few places your child can begin doing this, but two of the best places to get started are TesterWork and UberTesters.
When can you start teaching your kids about money?
When kids are toddlers, they are extremely inquisitive and have a strong desire to learn. It is also during this timeframe that they begin to strongly mirror your behavior.
So, it makes sense to begin introducing them to the idea of money when they are in this frame of mind. Around this age, I began teaching my children about money a few different ways:
- Taking them to the grocery store to look at the price tags.
- Having them tell me how many fingers something costs.
- Showing them the different ways you can pay for groceries (credit/debit card, cash, check, EBT card).
- Buying a play cash register and plastic food to have a pretend grocery shopping trip at home.
If you start with basic lessons and pretend play like this, then building on this financial foundation is much easier as your child ages.
Benefits of teaching your kids about money
The benefits of teaching your kids about money are almost endless, especially in today’s society where most of us have more debt than income. If you can begin teaching our kids about money when they are really young, then they will grow up knowing more than you did.
The value of a dollar
One of the biggest, and easiest, lessons to teach your children about money is the value of a dollar. This lesson can begin with the grocery store example from above. A good way to do this, depending upon their age, is to tell them how much money you have budgeted for this particular grocery trip. Then, they can help you add up all of the items as you go.
When kids do this, they get to see a physical example of how much groceries really cost. Once this concept is grasped, the next step is to give them a small amount of money to spend on their own. Start with $1 or $2 to show them how far that little bit of money doesn’t actually stretch.
How to save for long-term goals
Opening up a savings account for your kids is a great way to help them begin to save money for long-term goals. When they are younger, they won’t have access to withdraw funds themselves, so you will be in charge of what they can take out.
A good way to drive this point home is to have them choose something big that they would like to save for. Depending upon their age, that can vary widely. But some items to consider may be:
- Video games
- Gaming console
Once you and your child have chosen their big item, then you can help them break down the total cost and how long it will take to save the money to get there. The deal is that they won’t be able to take the money out of the savings account until they have the full amount due for the item.
This can really help keep them laser-focused on the big goal and hopefully get them interested in finding other ways to make money as a kid.
What disposable income really means
As kids get older, they start to understand a bit more about bills and how much things cost. Teaching them about monthly recurring living expenses is a really good lesson to impart before they fly the coop. I know my first years as an adult were spent living hand to mouth and eating the cheapest foods I could find. This was because I had little to no money since almost everything I made went to living expenses.
Teaching your kids about what disposable income really means is exceptionally important. This message can be taught in a few different ways. But, a great way to show them is to have them go through your budget with you. This way they can see what your recurring expenses are as well as any remaining money, or disposable income.
Read more: How to make a budget: our step-by-step guide to managing your money
How much retirement might cost and how to save for it
When it comes to retirement, I suggest telling your young kids to include this number in their monthly recurring expenses budget. This way they will be sure to put something away towards retirement every single month and not let it fall by the wayside.
How much retirement costs will vary depending on where your child chooses to live and what they have planned for their retirement. The conversation will look different depending on the ages of your children as well. No matter their age, even if they are saving only a few dollars per month toward this far-off goal, they will nonetheless be developing habits that will keep them on good financial footing throughout their lives. And as they get older and begin to earn more they can begin to save more.
This will be extremely helpful to them due to the magic of compounding. If only I had known about compound interest when I was a teenager. Oh, how I would have made different financial choices!
Read more: The beginner’s guide to saving for retirement
Overall financial independence
The biggest benefit your children will get out of you teaching them about money at a young age is the ability to achieve financial independence. This is a big one! Especially because a lot of us, as parents, haven’t even achieved this.
Since we, as parents, want our children to live a better life than we did, helping them to achieve financial independence only seems natural. And one of the best ways to teach them that is to get them involved in making their own money as kids.
Read more: Financial independence in your 30s: How realistic is it?
How your kids can put their hard-earned money to work for their future
Once your kids start earning some of their own money, there are many things they can do with it. Of course, they could spend it on a lot of things they may want right now. But, it makes much more financial sense for them to put their hard-earned money to work for their future.
There are a few different ways you help them learn this lesson. Some of my favorite options (and we have done all of these) are:
- Put money into a high-yield savings account. High yield savings accounts can range in the APY, but they are always higher than your typical brick-and-mortar savings account.
- Open an investment account. Helping your kids open an investment account is a great way to teach them about the stock market. This is especially true while they are younger when the stakes aren’t as high with regard to them losing massive sums of money. Some very user-friendly options are Public and J. P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing, both of which offer commission-free investment options.
- Put gift money into a UTMA account. When the kids are getting money gifted to them from a family member for holidays and birthdays, they should put it into a UTMA account. You can set these up as custodial accounts which will then be rolled over to them once they turn 18. These types of accounts let you help your kids choose which ETFs and/or mutual funds they want to invest in after they have deposited the money into their UTMA account.
- Invest in a Roth IRA with their earned income. One of my favorite retirement savings strategies for kids is a Roth IRA. However, your kids must have earned income in order to contribute to one. These types of accounts can be opened as custodial accounts, just like the UTMA accounts. You will deposit your kids’ earned income into the account and then they, or you both, can choose what they would like to invest in. This has become one of our favorite financial games around our house since our kids like to see whose investment choices are performing the best. Some great options for Roth IRAs are Fidelity, Vanguard, and Charles Schwab. Not all investment firms offer custodial Roth IRA’s, so your choices here may be a bit more limited than opening a Roth IRA account for yourself.
Read more: Roth IRAs for young adults: why starting early pays off
Disclosure – INVESTMENT AND INSURANCE PRODUCTS ARE: NOT A DEPOSIT • NOT FDIC INSURED • NO BANK GUARANTEE • MAY LOSE VALUE
Teaching your kids about finances and how to make money are extremely important lessons. Embrace the challenge with your young children as they become budding adults!
While you may not know everything about personal finance, learning new things together might just teach you both something valuable. And if your kids can learn to make extra cash now, when they are still children, then they will ultimately be much more diverse and adaptable in terms of managing everything financial later on. Plus, they’ll get a little so they don’t have to keep asking you for $20 every time they want to go to Starbucks.
That’s a win-win in my book!
Disclosure – INVESTMENT AND INSURANCE PRODUCTS ARE: NOT A DEPOSIT • NOT FDIC INSURED • NO BANK GUARANTEE • MAY LOSE VALUE