savings

Young Kids Can Earn Summer Cash Too

You don't have to be in high school to make some money this summer. Parents and kids can brainstorm ideas and work together to market the child's services around the neighborhood.

  • I'm only 12, but I'm tired of sitting on my behind all day. Please help me find a job.

  • I'm 12 and want my own money. Do you have a job for me?

  • I just turned 13 and I need a job to get a new cell phone. My mom said I have to earn it and I can't ask my grandparents for the money. What would be a good job for me to get in a hurry?

To all the 11- to 13-year-olds who write me letters like those above, I'm sorry but I don't have a job to give. What I do have is advice, and my advice is to show this column to your parents so I can talk straight to them.

Mom and Dad, I get dozens of letters from 11- to 13-year-olds who'd like to earn money but are too young to get a "real" job and don't know where to start. That's where you come in.

If you don't want them to sit on their behinds all day, help them get off the couch. Give your kids ideas about what kinds of services people in your neighborhood would be willing to pay for, and how much they'd pay. A few thoughts: watering plants, pulling weeds, hauling recycling bins to and from the curb, organizing bookshelves, feeding the neighbors' pets while they're away, lending a hand at toddlers' birthday parties.

Some of these things sound obvious, but to kids they're not. Youngsters also need help marketing their services via community bulletin boards, fliers or word of mouth.

Or make sitting on the couch profitable. When one of my co-workers was a teenager trying to earn money for a school trip, her mom designed a read-for-pay system, offering a fee for each book read (the bigger the book, the higher the fee). "We'd spend a lazy Sunday afternoon with a good novel and turn it into a payday," she recalls. "It was a pretty sweet deal for everyone."

I love to get letters from kids who've come up with a plan. "I'm 12 and here is my idea for a summer job," writes one young lady. "Twice a week my friend and I can meet at the park. We'll schedule games and snacks for younger kids. We'll keep them busy and even help them learn to read. Do you think parents will go for it?"

You bet I do.

Last week: Tips for Teens to Land a Summer Job

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