a peek inside the fishbowl

11 Oct, 2011

Financial literacy for kids: part two of two (jobs for tweens!)

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Easy ways to make kids happy|parenting

Recipient Button SummerThis post is the second of two about financial literacy for tweens, the writing of which was supported by a Mom Central Canada Blogger Grant. (Thank you Mom Central! You can read more about the Blogger Grant Program here.) And in case you missed it, the first part of this post was here.

My first real job was as a cashier at a grocery store. I was 16 and I made $4.00/hour. I remember, very clearly, how much of an impact that made on me, especially as it pertained to spending decisions. When I was faced with something that required Potential Expenditure my brain would immediately calculate the “how long did I have to work for that” equation. Was that crappy movie and a bucket of popcorn worth my wearing a tacky polyester grocery store uniform while standing around on my feet and dealing with crazy customers, counting pennies, and handling packages of drippy meat for three hours? No siree. THE BUCK STOPS HERE.

So, yes. I think one of the best ways of improving a young person’s financial literacy and teaching them the value of a dollar is to help them find a way to earn their own money. The trick is to find a way to do it that matches their personalities. They’re more likely to stick with their jobs if they enjoy them.

I want to share a few tweenage moneymaking ideas we’ve had around here at Casa Fishbowl lately. The whole moneymaking idea is being driven almost entirely by my youngest, who is feeling slighted because she’s not old enough to babysit and has been desperate to earn some cold hard cash.

Not only do these kinds of activities encourage entrepreneurial spirit, but they require self-confidence, salesmanship, and money smarts. (Not bad skills to have in this world if you ask me.)

Some of the ideas below require a slightly higher degree of responsibility. As the parent you have to be the judge.

Mother’s Helper/Babysitting
St. John’s Ambulance offers a really great babysitting course. It’s a few hours a week for about 6 weeks (if I remember correctly). Emma took it so seriously that she sometimes spent her evenings rereading the handbook. But for kids that aren’t quite old enough to babysit while the parents are away, they could consider offering up their services as a Mother’s Helper. Being a Mother’s Helper means that they’re looking after the children while one of the parents is still home. (Sidebar: Emma was not even two when Sarah was born. I would have loved a Mother’s Helper, just so I could take a nap or have a shower!) Rates would be cheaper than for solo babysitting, but it is a great way to earn a little bit of money AND it’s a great experience for the up-and-coming babysitter.

Dog walker/pet sitter/cat wrangler
We all have friends who have pets that need walking and/or watering, especially over the summer months. You can help your child print up a flyer and pop them into the mailboxes of a few people you know in your neighborhood.

Snow and leaf removal services
We have our own yard maintenance crew (I’m referring, of course, to Mark and the kids) but many people don’t. It wouldn’t be too hard for a tween to knock on a few doors (of people you know!) who are living alone and might need an extra hand in this department. But make sure there’s follow-through! If they promise to rake and bag all the leaves, make sure they understand what that means.

Host a book sale or a yard sale
It used to be hard for the girls to part with their things, but now that they’re older they see the value of getting rid of some of the stuff they don’t play with anymore. In the past we’ve combined yard sales with an old-fashioned lemonade stand, which has worked really well. (We’ve sold slices of watermelon to go with it too!) It helps to hold it in a high-traffic area and to ask a few other friends to go in on it.

book sale

Plan ahead for church bazaars and craft sales
This is a biggie for us right now. Sarah’s school hosts a holiday craft sale in November. Many of the kids book their own tables and sell small handmade items of their own making. Sarah already has an action plan. She’s going to have a “garden table” and will be selling the following items:

  • Some pretty little vases she found secondhand… priced with a small markup! This is, after all, what many antique dealers do right?
  • Concrete stepping stones we’ll make ourselves (a bit more information about this can be found here)
  • Flower seeds that we will have gathered from the garden, packaged in pretty homemade packets of our own design
  • We also trimmed our spider plant and put the baby “spiders” in water so they take root. We’ll transplant these into pretty pots for people to buy.

Man. I hope this works.

Here are some other ideas for a tween Holiday Craft Sale table:

Now it’s your turn. I’d love it if you shared some moneymaking ideas, whether it’s something you did as a tween or your own kids have done in order to raise funds!

1 Response to "Financial literacy for kids: part two of two (jobs for tweens!)"

1 | Jennifer

October 14th, 2011 at 12:25 pm


I still do the “how long did I have to work for that” equation when I am contemplating purchases!! Too funny. My first job apart from babysitting was at a gas station and I don;t recall how much I made, but I do remember the OUTRAGE of the patrons when gas hit (I think??? But how could gas be sooo cheap?) 35 cents a litre. Good post – I think we could all do with a refresher course on finances every now and again.

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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