The following is a guest post by Shawna Davies.
Help your kids learn valuable skills while saving money
As every parent knows, getting teens to connect the dots between “work” and “getting what you want” is one of the biggest challenges of raising responsible kids. There are all sorts of ways to teach this lesson: some parents do a fixed allowance, some offer incentives for chores, some don’t do allowance at all—and each strategy can be effective and healthy. My strategy was to help my son start his own small business. Here are a few of the cheapest, simplest ideas we came up with along with some helpful tips to keep kids organized once they start.
This is a quick task that can be done either alone or in a group, and all you need are shovels. Single driveways usually go for $15 to $25, but it all depends on the neighborhood and how deep the snow gets. As with all of these jobs, your child should start with neighbors and friends, and always carry a cell phone for safety.
If your child loves animals, this can be a great small business; it’s easy to expand, and can branch off into other services like washing and grooming. A teenager can keep prices well below what a professional service or pet store would charge, and still make a tidy profit.
Bikes are relatively simple machines, but most people don’t invest the time to learn how they work. There are simple repair guides available online that can teach your teen everything he or she needs to know to fix up a bike. Especially if you live in a bike-friendly city, or close to a college campus, your teen can find more customers than they know what to do with.
If your child is a math whiz or loves to write, a tutoring job can be a great way to meet new people, learn communication skills, and earn a little money on the side. Every school has parents who will gladly pay for their child to get a leg up, and it can be tremendously rewarding to help a classmate do better.
Computers are likely far less mysterious to your teenager than they are to the general public, and simple tasks like removing malware, backing up data, installing additional RAM, or defragmenting a hard drive can earn a surprising amount of money for a savvy teen. Obviously, reputation matters for this one, and teens will probably have to keep their prices low in the beginning, but with some skill and salesmanship, this can be an easy way to earn some spending money.
Etsy businesses are a great way for artistic young people to make money. If your teen likes making jewelry, clothes, or other accessories, it’s easy to set up an account with Etsy or Craftster, advertise on Pinterest, and access customers all over the world. It’s rare that these projects result in a hugely successful business, but it’s easy to make the kind of money that a teenager would need to buy gas, go to the movies, etc.
For any of these jobs, your teen will get a lot more business if they’re able to swipe credit cards instead of taking cash only. Check out online payment services so they can accept credit cards and even secure direct transfers online.
If your child doesn’t have a phone, it’s a good idea to open a new line for them (they’re usually $10 a month if you already have a family plan). If they can’t afford it right away, you might consider paying their bill for 6 months or so, and then letting them take over once they’ve started earning money.
Help your teen create letterhead with a phone number and the name of the business. When people feel like they’re receiving professional service, they’re more willing to pay professional prices.
Shawna Davies is a staff writer for Going Cellular. She has a talent for organization and helping people navigate new technology. She’s a confessed gadget freak, but when she gets out of the house, she loves spending time at the lake with her husband and teenage son. They live in Beaumont, Texas.