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Helping Teenagers Make Money

three cups books kids and money

When it comes to the decision of whether to give out allowance or help teenagers make money through part-time jobs, parents have a wide variety of opinions. I’m the the parent of four teens, and while my husband and I don’t want them to miss out on their youth, we also want them to take responsibilities for their wants and needs.

Needless to say, it can be a challenge to find ways for our teens to earn their own money.

In our house, we don’t pay them to do anything that is a part of normal, family-life activity. Most daily household work–like doing dishes, cleaning bathrooms, putting away groceries, and cooking dinner–are not things for which we would pay them.

Sometimes our teens will have an opportunity to help a neighbor or grandparents and make a little money. Still… it isn’t always a regular gig. So here are five things we do to help our teenagers make money to fund their activities and expenses.

5 Ways for Helping Teenagers Make Money

1. Think of jobs that you might pay someone else to do if the kids weren’t there.

We have a few jobs we pay for like grass mowing, painting, and fence mending that we will “hire” the kids to do. We don’t feel obligated to pay them a full wage since they use our equipment. They are generally less capable than an adult and they benefit personally from the work because they live here, but we will pay about half of what an independent contractor or other work-for-hire would charge.

2. Keep a list of small paying jobs to help when they need money.

I have a list of things that I am willing to pay for, but might not necessarily need them done immediately. Some of these might include washing my car, sweeping the baseboards, cleaning under appliances, dusting the table legs, and vacuuming under furniture. Anytime the kids need money for something and I want to help them, but I feel they would benefit more from earning it, I give them one of these types of jobs.

3. Keep a chart of work done.

My kids do so much work around here that I like to be sure nothing slips through the cracks. I want them to be willing to do anything for their family and not get paid, but I also respect that they need money. So I have a chart with their names down the left and blank spaces across the top. This way they can write in any work they do for me that they think might be a paying job and once a month I go over the chart and decide what to pay them. They trust me to give them what the job is worth and they know that if they were to take advantage of this system it would go away.

Teens and money

4. Start a home-based business.

My husband and I both have home-based businesses (He is a CPA and I run and we pay the teens to help us. Using a similar system as above, I have a chart of shop jobs that they can do. The main difference between this and the above chart is that the jobs are already filled in across the top and they add tally marks when they complete a task. I may have them do anything from sweeping my shop to organizing inventory. Some of the jobs they do in my shop only pay 25¢ (like peeling off sticker labels) but those quarters can really add up!

5. Teach them to manage what they have.

The very best way to have money is to know how to use it wisely. Sometimes they will have to learn the hard way, but as much as you can spend time guiding them to the best ways to manage their own money. If you are the parent of younger children, the book Three Cups is a great picture book full of tips for learning personal finance management.

Talk About It

There are dozens of way to help teenagers make money that will empower them to take more responsibility and be able to afford the things they want. How do you help your teenagers make money?