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Kids have earned money for generations by selling lemonade, walking neighbors’ dogs, and mowing lawns. Those ideas still work, but maybe your kids want something a little more clever or out-of-the-box. Here are six unconventional ways kids can make money.
Every spring homeowners around the country dig holes in their yards and insert plants… That they bought at the local garden and home center. There’s no reason they couldn’t have given that money to your kids for plants they grew in the basement over the winter.
There is some investment involved – seeds, potting soil, and plastic trays. And there is definitely work involved. But you don’t need to be a horticulturalist and own a greenhouse to grow plants from seed, and the experience of growing these plants will probably be more valuable to your kids than the money they earn from selling them to neighbors.
Cookies, cookies, cookies
Does your kid like to bake? There’s money in that skill. Here are two ideas: First, the next time you or anyone in your neighborhood has a garage sale, have your little baker set a table with cookies and lemonade. Garage sales attract people with money to spend, and they’ll be pleasantly surprised to see cookies available at the garage sale.
The second idea is more ambitious. All moms need cookies for lunches and class parties, and many don’t have time to bake. Your child can do that work for them, on demand. The neighborhood kids will benefit from homemade cookies, and your kid will benefit from a well-fed piggy bank.
This one isn’t for every child, but if your teen son or daughter did well in sports at ages 6-8, he or she could capitalize on that skill. Many parents of T-ball players and little soccer stars are seeking an edge for their developing athletes. Professional coaches give lessons starting at $40 for half an hour; your kid could teach a young T-baller basically the same skills for half that.
Not all good players make good coaches, but if your child likes working with younger kids, sports lessons may be an enjoyable, satisfying way to earn a few dollars.
Does your son do well in math or English? Is your daughter a chess whiz or a first-chair clarinetist? If so, then they can take advantage of those skills by tutoring younger kids. Most people think of tutors as adults, but your child may have a better perspective on teaching young kids than an adult – who has probably been out of school for many years – does. And younger kids look up to older kids more than they look up to adults.
Starting a tutoring business can be as easy as talking to teachers in the appropriate lower classes. They may be willing to pass on the names of prospective tutors to children they know could use the help.
School survival handbook
Starting a new school can be terrifying. Your kid can capitalize on that by writing a “guide to survival” for his or her particular school, and selling it to incoming students (well, their parents). This guide, which can be just a 15 or 20 page pamphlet printed on copy paper and stapled into a booklet, should contain inside tips on how to succeed at your kid’s school.
Welcome advice can include tips for pleasing certain teachers, maps for getting from the lockers to class, the best things to choose for lunch, the coolest places to meet friends at recess, and countless other things that only a veteran of the school would know. Of course, the pamphlet could also include good general advice, such as how to make friends and how to schedule homework, but the key to success of this booklet is its insider perspective.
Turning history into money
Most homeowners are somewhat curious about the people who previously lived in their houses. Your child can turn that curiosity into profit by preparing simple historical packets about neighbors’ houses. Here is what can be included in this packet and where it can be found:
- Previous owners. This information can be found, sometimes online, in your county recorder’s office, register of deeds, or the equivalent in your community
- Newspaper articles. Articles that mention the property or previous owners can be of great interest. Libraries usually have microfilmed newspapers that can be searched, and many newspapers are now online.
- Historical items. Items related to the history of the neighborhood itself (e.g., from newspaper archives or interviews with older neighbors) can be of great interest.
The bottom line
Any time you’ve ever thought “I could do that!” or better yet “My kid could do that!” there’s bound to be an opportunity lurking nearby. What do your kids, or your neighbor’s kids, do to earn extra money?