How Can Kids Earn Money?

Updated on September 22, 2019
S.P. asks from Mc Lean, VA
20 answers

Often when we walk into a store my kids - 9,7,5 - want me to buy them something. In the last year I always but you can buy it with your own money. We don’t pay for chores in our house and haven’t gone the way of allowances yet. They get money on their birthdays from grandparents and collect loose change for their piggy banks (money boxes) but they really want to “make money”. Any suggestions for how kids of this age can make money without too much parent involvement?

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answers from Boston on

My kids got an allowance and earned extra money by doing extra work. They would have to keep their rooms clean and put their clean laundry away but could earn extra money by folding the laundry for the entire family or cleaning around the house.

I would pay them an allowance and then pick some bigger jobs and set a price for those big jobs. Things like some yard work or extra chores around the house that benefit the family like washing floors or sweeping.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

Would you consider doing an "allowance?" You could always begin now and institute an allowance. It does teach kids to manage money.

We do the same as others have suggested. We have regular choirs that they always have to do - dishes, cleaning the bathroom, picking up the living room, vacuuming, etc. We come up with extra things they can do to earn money. Sometimes is mowing the lawn (mine are 10 & 13), working in the yard, readying recyclables for us to take to the recycling center. Sometimes we don't give them an option, but we still pay them :-) Hey, sometimes we genuinely need their help! They still earn it. Sometimes you don't have choices at work, either. We just try to be fair.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Toledo on

I think it's great that you're looking for ways for them to make their own money and buy their own treats, but please keep in mind that they do deserve the occasional, spur of the moment, "Mommy, can I please have … ?"

I'm just saying, don't say no every time. It's ok for them to spontaneously get a yes.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Abilene on

We did allowances. It wasn’t related to chores and it was a small amount. I believe the only way kids learn how to handle money properly is to have it.

You could do a garage sale where they get rid of toys they’re no longer using. Lemonade stand and/ or bake sale. Lemonade stand was great because they learned what it cost to make a cup of lemonade and then knew what they had to price it at to sell.

Like the others, I had more difficult jobs for them to do when they wanted to earn $. In our business, the kids learned what tools their dad needed and would take turns getting them for him on a job. We paid them for that. Result - my kids learned the metric tools and eventually moved to apprenticeship in our business.

Allowances stopped @ 11 when they were capable of earning money by mowing or other odd jobs.

I disagree that allowances don’t teach them anything but entitlement. My kids knew when we went into a store they were welcome to buy “extras” with their money, but because I gave them an allowance I was no longer responsible for extras. That experience taught them about instant gratification, saving, and really deciding what’s important.

My son right now works extensively in our business. He saves that money for parts he needs for his 73 charger he’s rebuilding with his daddy. He mows and uses that money as his “blow” money.

Kids can’t learn about money unless they have it. A great series I used with my kids to help teach them is Dave Ramsey’s kids series. He’s a great teacher and we agree whole heartedly with his debt free ideology. Never too early to start training in finances.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

The 9 yr old is old enough to rake leaves or walk dogs for neighbors.
7 and 5 is a bit young yet.

An allowance is useless for teaching the value of money.
All it does is to train up little consumers who get into a habit of spend spend spend before they have a clue how hard it is to really earn money.
How many who grew up expecting regular handouts from parents went on to get into trouble with credit card debt? - way too many.

Doing chores for you is not something they should get paid for - it's just that everyone who lives there helps out.
Doing chores for neighbors is a great way to earn some cash.
Raking leaves, shoveling snow, etc

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

We never paid for chores either - you help out and that has always been expected.

Our kids are not really shoppers - but we're not either, so some of that you may be able to avoid by your shopping habits. I have friends who shop, so their kids shop. For instance, they go to the mall a lot, or go to stores like Walmart or Target a lot, so their kids have ample opportunity to ask for things (toys, etc.) a lot. We don't take our kids to those places. If I had to go get things, I left kiddos home with Dad when I ran errands etc. It was just easier.

If you want your kiddos to learn the value of making money but still want them to help out at home and not to expect to be paid for it, you can do what we have done - which is extra chores/work for pay.

My kids this time of year raked leaves - helped put things away for fall/winter, helped with yard work (beyond what is just typical help). Anything I did not want to do, that I could assign to a child - I would say "Who wants this job for (a few dollars)" up to $10 for a bigger job.

The thing is, once your kids are old enough to mow the lawn, that's something I would pay for. Then they can charge neighbors for it. Ours did. Some kids actually make a fair amount doing jobs like that. So one of ours did yardwork/maintenance as part of his summer job this year - wasn't hired for it, but because he knew how to do it (doing it for us for years for these $5 odd jobs), he got picked to help out the boss, and was the chosen kid for many odd jobs at work this year.

You don't feel like doing that project you've been putting off? Pay two of your kids to help organize something for you - give them a couple of bucks each.

Things like loading dishwasher, setting table, etc. should be part of regular chores (in my opinion) but things that make your life easier ... pay them for. Why not? They need to learn these skills anyhow for when they are out on their own.

Has worked for us. Good luck :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I used to come up with out of the ordinary jobs around the house because we didn’t do allowance either. I think one was using the small hand held vacuum and doing the steps, or pulling weeds in the flower bed or sweeping the deck, driveway or sidewalk. I would tell him what he could earn for one or multiple jobs and let him decide. It gave him a sense of responsibility, accomplishment, pride and work ethic.

I bought him one of those cheap snowcone makers at bed bath and beyond and he had a great little business going until one of the sourpuss dads complained because his kids kept coming in asking for dimes. :)

He did a lemonade/cookie stand. His first one was actually responsible for the return of the neighborhood block parties. Everyone was gathered around and started talking about it.

At around 10 or 11 we made a flyer and walked down our block dropping them at mom-approved homes. He had his own little pet/house sitting business. He watched dogs and cats and watered gardens and collected mail and newspapers. He got quite a few jobs. Now as he is getting older, word got out and he is getting calls for snow removal and yard work from some of the older folks in the neighborhood.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New London on

Kids should be doing some basic chores like putting their laundry in their drawers, picking up dishes after meals, etc....Because this is what a family does as a unit.

Getting paid for extra jobs gives a child an allowance. This way each child can learn about money.

Have an "Extra Task" chart and how much allowance each job will be. Have a family meeting and go over this.

Have the kids go through their old toys/clothes, etc and have a tag sale.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I think Lori H. has great perspective. How can they understand the value of a dollar and make choices based on priorities if they never have the chance?

I agree with you that basic chores should not be for pay. Routine, ongoing tasks are part of the responsibility of being a participating family member. However, I think there are special jobs, beyond the daily/weekly maintenance, that kids could take on. This does a few things - it makes them understand how hard it is to work for an hour (or 3) for a small amount of money, it builds skills they can use elsewhere to start working for neighbors and then a small business in town, and it gives them an option so that they are choosing to have less money (rather than complain that you don't give them enough). So, if their regular chores include things like picking up their rooms and setting/clearing the table (or whatever your assignments are), perhaps you have special jobs that can be done on an as-needed basement: cleaning the garage, sorting old toys/clothes (perhaps for sale/donation), going around and cleaning the cobwebs from the corners/ceilings, vacuuming radiators, cleaning out the silverware drawer (the counter where sandwiches are made always has drawers with crumbs in them, I find!), cleaning out the lunchboxes & washing in soapy water, making sandwiches for the others for the week (freeze and label), cleaning the hall closet and organizing boots/shoes in pairs, going through cabinets for expired products, rinsing trash cans, weeding gardens or pulling crabgrass, picking up sticks that clog up the lawnmower, organizing big stuff for recycling (our town organizations do periodic textile recycling and styrofoam recycling)... You get the idea. You could post a list of tasks and their dollar value (pay by the job, not the hour!). There are also some clever things some parents have put up on Pinterest and similar sites - job jars, or those big popsicle/craft sticks with jobs written on them in Sharpie - sometimes they're attached to the big lost-and-found bin, so kids have to do a job to reclaim something of theirs that Mom has pitched into the bin because it was left where it shouldn't have been.

Make sure it's not punishment. It's a kid's choice to have money or not, a kid's choice to purchase something or not. No money left? "Oh well, welcome to the real world, kids. This is what Mom and Dad go through every day."

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

You've gotten some good suggestions. I'll add one thing.

Now might be a good time to sit down with your kids and let them know that you will provide for their basic needs (food, a house or apartment to live in, heat, running water, clothes, transportation, etc). You can also remind them that they'll have treats like cookies (or whatever treats they like). And they'll have birthdays and holidays with special gifts from people who love them.

And then tell them that if they ask for treats, candy, or toys on the spur of the moment (walking into Target and begging for a soda or just random things they see and want), the answer will be NO. If they feel they need something, they may tell you at home ahead of time. For example, Johnny needs new binders or notebooks or pencils for school. He doesn't announce that just as you've walked into Walmart. He tells you at home and together you make plans to buy new supplies on the next shopping trip. Or the kids let you know that the snack shelf in the pantry is getting empty. You tell them that you will put snacks on your grocery list. If they want something bigger (like the new coolest backpack), they can let you know and together you can come up with ideas for them to earn the money for the backpack, by doing some extra chores that aren't part of the usual household routine, and they can keep track of the backpack fund as it grows.

It just seems to me that even more important than earning money for extra treats is self control, not begging for things they see and want. It teaches kids to plan, to control their impulses, to develop patience, and to curtail the instinct to beg for whatever looks appealing.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

Can they do a lemonade stand on the weekend? They won't make much, but they will make a little. My daughter takes care of the neighbor's rabbits and a friend's cat when either of them are out of town. Both these things take a little parent involvement to make sure they know what they are doing.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

You’re asking for ideas of something a 5 year old can do “without too much parent involvement”...?

Then the answer is: paying for good behavior, an allowance.

But there is a slippery slope with allowance-related “issues”, which is discussed on here frequently in various forms. Major points to consider:
(1) what counts as something they should do for free versus something you would pay for?
(2) will they have complete freedom to spend the money as they please, anything legal is fine?
(3) will you “charge” them for things you now pay for? (choosing the “cool” crayon set instead of the basic one needed for school, etc)

Beyond allowances - the general YMCA babysitting class is usually offered for age 10 and up, so, your 9 year old could do that soon.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

kids should do household chores without pay, but we always let our boys earn extra money for bigger jobs- helping to dig and weed the garden, clean the inside of the car, stack firewood, build fences and so forth. they both had lemonade stands at various times. my older was very enterprising, going around to the neighbors with his shovel when it snowed, finding farmers who wanted help stacking hay etc. my younger was less motivated but still bestirred himself to find paying gigs when he really wanted something.

we did do allowances, though.


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

Allowance. There really is not any other consistent way for kids that young to earn money. We have a chore list and they only get paid for what they do. We do give them a chance to correct things they missed before docking money though. At 5 their chore list might be smaller but by 7/9 mine were doing the dishes, their own laundry, dusting, vacuuming, sweeping etc and getting paid to do so.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


My kids have been paid an allowance since they were in kindergarten.

I don't pay my 17 year old an allowance any more because he earns his own money. My 19 year old is in college. I am hoping he gets a job at the school, but until then, I give him an allowance. And yes - he has applied and interviewed - but they chose a "junior" over him twice.

We gave them $5.00 a week for their chores. We paid them for their quarterly grades as well.

Also - my kids knew not to ask for stuff when we were shopping unless we were there for them. Otherwise? We did our shopping and that was it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Hmm. It's been a while but I remember one of the biggest things I did when my kids were little was to not take them shopping at all. Yes, I know this isn't always possible (and it wasn't for me either!) but if you try to get most of your shopping done while they are in school, OR, if you leave them home with daddy on a Saturday morning not only will you get more done in a shorter amount of time, you avoid all of the temptation that surrounds children in stores.
When you MUST go with the kids, there should always be a plan. For example when we went to Target there was always a treat of pizza and soda. They loved this because we didn't do soda at home. We also didn't go into the toy area unless we were buying a birthday present or looking for something specific, like new pool toys or a board or video game we we wanted to try. They understood the concept of "window shopping" early on lol!
Mine were a little older, like 5th grade, when they REALLY wanted money to spend. I had them do stuff like pulling weeds, cleaning out and vacuuming out the car, sweeping the garage, etc. Once they were 12, 13 they were able to make money pet and babysitting for neighbors, bringing in mail and watering plants when they were out of town.
I feel like allowances are tricky because chores should be done without payment and why just give away cash for nothing? I don't know. It's tricky in our consumer driven culture. I feel like the more you can keep kids OUT of the whole shopping experience in the first place the easier it will be.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

At that age I think it’s too young to have them do anything outside of parents giving few dollars,

they are kinda young.. one of my suggestions would have been walking the neighborhood dogs when people are on vacation. I found someone in my small hoa to do that. But her kids are 13 and 14, mom or dad goes with them since they have my keys.
My boys this summer will take a reffing course and will be able to be refs for younger games.
Another way is if there are some things they no longer wear and in good condition you might be able to sell it for them on poshmark and give them some of the proceeds.
Otherwise I see nothing wrong with giving kids few extra dollars for doing extra chores.

My kids fold laundry, clean up game room after their you get siblings ( I have 2 older boys 23 and 22 and 2 smaller kids 4 and 19 Months), set the table and sometimes babysit their brother and sister. Oh and older two take turns loading the dishwasher every night. Helping out at home is a must for my kids. It also helps them appreciate things. They get about $20 each ( older boys).

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I don’t pay my kids for chores or behavior - that’s just a basic expectation in our home.

We DID start all of our kids with allowance in Kindergarten. I don’t view it as “throwing money at them” or spoiling them. It’s teaching them how to handle money. We give a monthly allowance, this allows them to “feel broke” for a few weeks if they spend it all at once.

This is our breakdown:
K-2 $20 per month
3-5 $30 per month
Middle school $40 per month
High school $50 per month

They also get $100 for straight A’s throughout the school year.

Allowance stops when they get a job. My oldest is almost 17, and has been working since mid to late March. He’s already saved several thousand dollars, while keeping up with his responsibilities at home, and continuing to pull straight A’s in mostly AP classes.

I was worried that he might be a spender since we provided him with a new car on his 16th birthday, but he’s really taken to heart what we’ve taught him over the years and his goal is to save $20k before he graduates high school. No specific thing he’s saving for, just saving.

But over the years, he’s been allowed to make his own decisions with his money, and feel the consequences, both good and bad. He’s spent just to have something, then later wished he still had his money to do or buy xyz. He’s also saved and been able to make larger purchases, planned and unplanned.

Now that he works for his money, he spends very little.

I’d really encourage you to start providing an allowance so your kids can learn to manage money. Maybe offer bonuses for certain tasks, but at their ages, it’s past time to start learning while the consequences are small.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

We don't pay for household contributions but everyone gets an allowance. Kids need pocket change to learn how to manage money. They are too young to have a job. They can sell lemonade on your property

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

An allowance. It's a great in-home tool to teach them how to earn money,
You can always have them to things that they just must do that are simple like:
put your dish in the sink, put your shoes away etc.
Then for an allowance they can do extra things like help with folding towels, folding their clothes (the 9 yr old can put her clothes away), helping with a sibling, putting plastic cups away from the dishwasher, tidy up toys on the carpet etc.
Have them save birthday money to save up & buy something they really want.

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