Children can start learning about money as early as age three. One of the best ways to do this is by not always buying something when you go into a store. If your kid wants something, you tell them “there isn’t enough money right now for that, but if we wait patiently, we will eventually be able to buy it.”
Children are better at reasoning through these things than we give them credit for. They will make the connection between the waiting and the money and the eventuality of buying even if they can’t see or understand actual numbers yet.
Now, your kid may not have an entrepreneurial bent as early as 3 years of age. At some point, they will want a “lemonade stand” in their life. You should be ready to help them achieve their little entrepreneurial dreams. It’s entirely possible for your little one to learn about work and money beyond a mere summer drink stand. Here are a few ideas.
1. Pet Sitting
Pets are a big responsibility. You have to feed them, water them, walk them, clean up after them, fix them (or use money to fix them). If your kid is old enough to understand the responsibility of owning a pet, they could make some candy money by taking care of someone else’s pet.
In the mobile app age, it’s fairly easy to hawk your pet sitting services. Rover.com is one of the most popular platforms. You could quickly set up a storefront on the app for your kid. Of course, you’d want to be the one monitoring and vetting clients.
If you’re uncomfortable about a wider platform, you could simply find neighbors willing to let your child pet sit. Even if it’s just feeding a fish once a week, your kid will learn a valuable lesson about what it takes to even earn a little bit of cash.
2. Door-to-Door Cookie Salesman
If you have a little introvert, I wouldn’t recommend this one. Those stupid little elementary school fundraisers terrified me as a child. But some kids just love talking to strangers.
This one will definitely take a small investment on your part. You don’t want your child knocking on doors alone. Stranger danger is a real thing. But you’ll be surprised at how many of your neighbors have a sweet tooth if you go around asking for homemade cookie orders.
3. Device Wizard
When I was a kid, I surprised my parents by taking our old Macintosh Performa monitor and hooking it up to my mom’s new mac clone. My parents hadn’t bothered to buy a monitor yet and I was an impatient seven-year-old who wanted to play with the new machine. Kids will always be lightyears ahead of their parents when it comes to new tech.
You wouldn’t think this was necessary in the 21st century. But many elderly adults still don’t know how to set up a Blu-ray player or even how to plug in a desktop computer. Your techy genius kid who is lightyears ahead of you will be able to help the grandpa down the street set up his new 4K UHD screen that barely fits on his wall.
They could charge a bit of money for that and maybe find out if they want to go into I.T. someday.
4. Photo Blogging
When we were children, all we had were disposable cameras. Sure, you could go to the library and maybe scan in and upload from there. This was only possible if your library actually had the tech.
Today, anyone can become a blogger. Even a six-year-old could use a digital camera and upload to a blog.
While they may not make much money this way, they are sure to learn the discipline of blogging.
5. Selling Art Online
Abstract art is still a popular option. And what better way to teach a kid about art than having them create and sell abstract paintings.
Now, you probably shouldn’t just give them a paintbrush and say “Go.” You might just end up with a bunch of stick figures. This is an opportunity to teach about the significance of color in any painting even if its abstract.
Take a marble, a large box top, and sheet of paper or canvas. Dip the marble in paint, explain the significance of the paint, place it in the box with the canvas in the bottom, and let your kid roll the marble around inside.
They get to choose the direction of the marble and where the line leads. It’s like a Jackson Pollock but better.
Open up a store online and start selling.
6. Pooper Scooper
Not all kids will find this fun. But some might see money in crap. This is another valuable lesson for anyone. Adults probably need this lesson too.
Some of the best money can be made in doing the dirty work others don’t want to do. And what’s worse than cleaning up poop?
If you’re in a neighborhood where people care about their lawns, you’re more likely to find neighbors willing to shell out cash to avoid using a poop rake.
7. Sell Their Old Stuff
Of course, this has to be something they choose to do. Ownership is also a valuable lesson for children and if you just take away their stuff without asking, you’ll cause lasting damage.
But if they have stuff they don’t use, you might help them see the value in selling old toys, clothes, and other items. Give them incentive to sell old things by showing what they could buy with the money they make from selling it.
Out with the old and in with the new is alway a good lesson for young people. You don’t want to wind up with a little hoarder, do you?
8. The Classic Lawn Business
Of course, they need to be large enough to push a mower. The service area can only be as large as you’re willing to drive. Yet, there are two lessons your young person could glean from a lawn business.
The work it could take to earn money. The overhead of running a business including things like gas, advertising, and time.
They’re going to end up sweating and having to keep appointments. They can’t shirk the responsibility once they’ve promised to mow a lawn weekly. If they don’t work, they lose the job.
9. Vending Machines
Vending manchines are *almost* passive income. Yes, you must keep up with inventory if you want to make money. But you really only have to check on your vending machine once or twice a week.
If you know of a local business willing to house a machine, you could purchase one and have your kid earn money through a snack machine. Eventually, they could purchase more vending machines with the money they earn and outsorce the stocking to some other kid.
10. Shoveling Snow or Raking Leaves
Both of these options could cover a large chunk of the year depending on where you live. While this market might be saturated and people might want to do their own work, there will be someone out there who doesn’t want to break their back.
It might take some door-to-door work, so don’t terrify your little introvert this way. But like lawn mowing, they could learn a pretty good work ethic this way.
My wife made enough money when she was in middle school to buy a tv. She earned the money by tutoring the neighborhood kids and teaching them English.
Is your kid a genius? Are they good at one thing in school that all other kids struggle with? They could start earning from their smarts. This could be a great way to teach your kid the value of knowledge.
Perhaps they’ll end up being teacher or professors someday.
12. Collecting Cans
Some states have charge a soda tax you can get back when you return the cans to certain locations. People will often not bother with returning them and will just throw them away.
An easy way to make a bit of extra cash in these states is by going around finding cans to recycle. And even if you don’t want your kid tossing trash cans looking for empty cans, you can just give them your cans to recycle. Let them keep whatever comes out of the machine for candy money.
13. T-Shirt Design
With the etsy revolution, you can sell any craft online now. Merch by Amazon gives anyone the tools to design a t-shirt and sell it directly online.
Plenty of other kids would love to have the art their peers make on their person. And even so, plenty of parents will think its cute. Have your kid capitalize on this and they’ll have a blast putting their art on t-shirts.