My kids seem to think that I have an unlimited supply of money hiding in my closet or under my bed. I remember hearing the same lament from my parents when I was a kid: Money doesn’t grow on trees! I’ve found that the kids’ wants are often above and beyond the limitations provided by their allowances. To teach them the value of a dollar earned (oh my, I am sounding like my parents more and more!), I’m going to encourage them to start their own businesses this summer. Not only will they earn a bit of money, but they’ll also learn a little about overhead and good business practices, and as a bonus, it may alleviate some of the summer boredom that drives kids (and parents) crazy. Here are a few ideas:
- The Lemonade Stand
This is the quintessential picture of summertime entrepreneurship: Lemon-flavored kool-aid sold by the dixie cup from a front yard lemonade stand. You may need to front the money for supplies; be sure to make the kids pay you back when they’ve sold a few cups. Help them determine a fair price. Most people will smile and willingly pay 50 cents, or maybe a dollar for a large cup, but you don’t want your neighbors to feel like they’re taking advantage of their good natures, so don’t let them price-gouge the refreshments. They can also sell cookies, brownies or coffee, if they so desire. One caveat: look into local zoning laws; while chances are slim that anyone will report young lemonade-stand managers, you never know, and you don’t want to unwittingly break the law.
- Yard Work
If your child puts out the word that he’s interested in working as a jack-of-all-trades, neighbors and extended family members might be happy to put him to work in their yards. From bringing garbage cans to and from the curb each week, to weeding, to mowing and trimming, your child’s physical strength and stamina is all that stands between him and extra money this summer! Keep safety in mind; kids under 12 or 13 shouldn’t use mowers or trimmers, and make sure that he’s not overexerting himself. Send him along with a bottle of water and don’t forget the sunscreen.
- Helping Another Mom
Your pre-teen might not be old enough to babysit, but she may be interested in acting as a mother’s helper to a mom with younger children. Moms who work at home or who may simply be missing the reprieve that school offered from September often welcome middle schoolers into their homes to help entertain the little ones while they’re otherwise occupied. This is great practice for future babysitters, and gives you the assurance that your child has another mom at an arm’s reach if anything goes wrong while she’s watching her charges.
Other ways that kids can make money include dog-walking, making crafts to sell at craft fairs later in the year, and feeding the neighbors’ cats or watering their plants when they go on vacation. Make sure they they reimburse you for any supplies or transportation costs that you cover, and use the opportunity to talk to them about applying part of their profit to future expenses. In time, you’ll have created a true entrepreneurial spirit in your child, which will serve him for years to come!
What summertime business has your child tried?