Life can be tough when you're a kid. You don't really get a say in what you eat, where you go, or how you get there. If you're lucky enough to get an allowance, it's usually a set amount, picked by mom or dad.
While there are lots of limits placed on kids, there is one way they can claim some independence. That's by picking up a few chores or odd jobs to make some extra money. Parents can encourage their kids to pick up a side job or two, as well. Doing chores for cash not only helps your child earn a bit of extra income. It can also help him or her learn some basic entrepreneurial and organization skills.
If you'd love for your child to earn some extra money while learning about responsibility and work ethic, I've got some ideas to help you get started.
Making Money on the Side
1. Dog or Cat Sitting
It's often a lot less expensive for a pet owner to hire someone to look after their cat or dog at home instead of sending the pet to a kennel. There's no reason why that dog or cat sitter can't be your child.
Depending on the animal, pet sitting can include everything from taking the dog for a walk, running to the pet store to get more food and supplies, and feeding and giving water to the animals.
One of the simplest ways to get started pet sitting is to offer to watch the animals of a friend or relative when they go out of town. Back when I was in high school, my best friend's parents would hire me to scoop their cats' litter box and give them some food when they'd go on family vacations. It was an easy way to make between $20 and $50, depending on how long they were gone, and involved spending less than 15 minutes a day at their house.
Older children who are ready to stretch their wings beyond pet sitting can branch out into babysitting. Depending on the children, the parents, and the setting, babysitting can be a pretty fun gig. Yes, sometimes it does involve eating ice cream while watching TV.
Obviously, the stakes are a bit higher when babysitting compared to pet sitting. If your child wants to show that he or she is really serious about the job, he or she can get a certificate from the Red Cross.
Certification shows that a sitter has gotten training in CPR, first aid, and other child safety basics. According to the Red Cross, parents are willing to pay a premium for trained and certified sitters. Your child might be able to charge around $10 to $15 per hour, depending on the number of children he or she is watching.
3. Lawn and Garden Care
Keeping the lawn and garden well maintained is one way to increase the value of a home, but who really has time to do that? Your kid does if the price is right.
I actually know someone who started a lawn care and landscaping business in his teens which brought in a lot of money. By the time he was in his early 20s, he was able to the sell the business for about $1 million. Not bad for a side gig!
Younger kids, who might not yet be able to handle a lawn mower or take on the task of landscaping, can make some extra money by watering people's houseplants or front yards when they go on vacation.
4. Cleaning Houses
Your kid might hate the idea of cleaning his or her own room. A neighbor who is willing to pay him or her for the job is a different story altogether. If your kid wants to make money cleaning, it makes sense for him or her to zero in on one particular skill.
For example, if your kid is good at doing laundry, he or she can market a laundry and ironing business around your neighborhood. Plenty of people will be happy to send out their clothes to be washed, ironed and folded if it means they get an extra hour or two to themselves.
If you've got a budding Marie Kondo on your hands, you can encourage your child to start a side gig organizing and decluttering people's homes. Lots of people have trouble getting rid of clutter themselves, but are likely to listen to the advice of others. Even if that other person is a 13-year-old.
5. How to Encourage the Entrepreneurial Spirit in Your Child
How do you encourage an entrepreneurial spirit in your child? Necessity can be the mother of invention. If you've been giving your kid an allowance, but you want him or her to be more independent, you can reduce or cut off the allowance or make it so that he or she needs to do some household chores to earn it.
You can encourage your child to brainstorm problems that need solving, and ways to solve them. Another option is to encourage your child to think of things he or she likes to do, then think of ways to make money from those things. A kid who loves sports can try coaching others for cash, a child who loves animals can pet sit, and a musical child can teach younger kids to play piano or another instrument.
While there are plenty of websites that let you advertise your services as a babysitter, odd-job doer or landscaper, it's probably safer for kids to take a direct approach. Have your child create fliers, then bring them door to door to the neighbors you know.
Put in a good word for your kid with co-workers who need some help around the house or with your relatives. Word-of-mouth referrals are still the best way to drum up business, whether you're a 14-year-old or a professional businessperson.