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Summer Money: Smart Ways Kids Can Earn Their Own Cash

Summer seems to be high season for the “give me” syndrome. That’s the affliction that kids develop during long school breaks and involves pestering parents for money.

Maybe it’s for candy. Maybe it’s for the latest video game. Maybe it’s time you encouraged them to start earning their own money!

Federal and state laws dictate the age when minors can work. The Fair Labor Standards Act generally says that 14 years is the minimum age for employment.

But, let’s face it, landing a gig at a sandwich shop or summer camp isn’t as easy as it once was for teens. According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the trend in summer employment for teens has been spiraling downward since the late 1970s when manufacturing and blue-collar jobs started disappearing, forcing adults to take the jobs that once went to teens.

Still, there are money-earning opportunities for teens, tweens and even younger kids. Here are five ways kids can earn money this summer.

kids summer money 2

1. Sit: Kids can help out their friends, neighbors and family in big ways through caring for kids, pets, the elderly and houses. Of course, an eight-year-old can’t babysit the neighbor’s triplet infants. It’s generally babysitters should be at least 12 years old.

But younger children can help out. Kids can work as a Mother’s Helper, letting a parent get work or chores done at home while they entertain younger children. In the same way, they could spend an hour playing cards or reading books to a neighbor’s aging parent.

Houses and animals need looking after too. Kids can take in the pet goldfish; feed the cat; bring in mail; or watch for packages when a neighbor is on vacation.

2. Labor: Depending on their age, kids can help out with yard work and some home maintenance. Tweens can help a neighbor pack up for a move. Teens can help fill the moving van with boxes and furniture. And, it doesn’t just have to be manual labor. Teens and tweens can put those long hours on computers and gaming systems to good use -- hiring themselves out to help download software or set up a new smartphone.

kids summer money

3. Teach: Teens who are strong students can help others gear up for the coming school year. Even tweens can help a younger child with reading, math games or simple kitchen science experiments. Just an hour or so a week can add up to big gains for kids who need help … and for the kids who need some cash.

4. Make: Etsy and other online platforms have opened up the world to crafty kids. Just ask LeiLei Secor, who opened an Etsy shop as a high school student and has since earned more than $100,000 to pay for college. If your child does sell on Etsy, just make sure she follows the rules for minors on the site.

5. Sell: The lemonade stand is the quintessential summer sales opportunity for kids, but they probably have lots of other things to sell. Encourage them to clean out their room and sell old games, toys and clothes they no longer need. They could band together with other kids to hold a yard sale. Stores such as Plato’s Closet or Gamestop also let customers sell or trade items.

Colorful Display Of Lemons In Market

Regardless of what they choose to do, encourage your kids, where appropriate, to approach neighbors about the services that they offer. Help your kids make fliers to post. And reach out to your own network to let them know your child is looking for work. You never know. Like LeiLei Secor, your child’s idea may just put her through college!

Consumer Education Services, Inc. (CESI) is a non-profit committed to empowering and inspiring consumers nationwide to make wise financial decisions and live debt free. Speak with a certified counselor for a free debt analysis today

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