When our son, Luke, was 11, my wife and I hired him to pull weeds from our front yard. He was paid $1 per plastic grocery bag that he could stuff full of weeds. He really liked the job, and we got rid of a lot of weeds!
One Saturday morning, he invited another 11-year-old friend over to our house. Luke told him about this opportunity and asked if we would pay both of them to pull weeds. We agreed.
A few hours passed before the two of them came to our door asking for payment on about 20 bags full of weeds. Ann was shocked because we didn’t have that many weeds in our yard! When she asked how they were able to get so many bags of weeds, they explained that these weeds did not come from our yard, but from a neighbor’s yard across the street!
We paid them both as we laughed at our enterprising son’s misunderstanding of our contracts for his services.
Our children need to understand and experience both halves of the equation when it comes to managing money. They need to know how to earn money from their labor and how to manage what they have.
In our home, we start the children budgeting or allocating all of their income when they turn 3. Any money they receive goes into plastic zippered folders for giving, saving, and spending. Even money given to them for birthdays and Christmas presents must go into their envelopes and be properly allocated. We adjust the available percentage for spending as they get older.
Additionally, we look for ways to teach them how to earn income. We use three methods that have worked well for our sons.
Contract for Hire
As the boys got old enough to do jobs beyond daily chores, we posted “Job Wanted” ads on our refrigerator. We pay the boys for doing work that needs to be done around the house like raking leaves, cleaning the garage, washing cars, or doing lawn maintenance. This gives us an opportunity to train them in their work habits and for them to learn the connection between labor and their income.
Our goal is to prepare them to be able to work outside the home when the day comes, and they can apply for jobs with a professional employer.
The job market is challenging for teenagers today. Many companies no longer hire teenagers for summer jobs. A great alternative is to seek a non-paid apprenticeship for your son or daughter in a field of interest to them.
Ask trusted friends from church or in your network if they would be willing to allow your child to work for them for free in exchange for training in a job skill. This is especially helpful for children who have an interest in learning more about a specific career field.
A retired man, who had a full shop at his home, apprenticed one of our sons in woodworking and taught him how to make cabinets. This skills has stayed with him into adulthood although he didn’t pursue it as as a career. It was invaluable for him to learn the difference between 1/16-in and 1/32-inch and to appreciate the joy of working with his hands.
In today’s environment, it’s important to give young people an opportunity to start a business. Many now go far beyond that iconic lemonade stand in the front yard with micro-businesses ranging from online stores, blogging, lawn services, pet sitting, selling speciality items on eBay, and talent-for-hire like photogprahy, video, or technology services.
Vacations, summer camps, and leisure shouldn’t consume summer time. It’s an opportunity to earn income and train your young stewards to earn and manage money. Be sure to let them know that the weeds you’re paying them to pull should come from your own yard, not the neighbor’s yard.
Article from HomeLife Magazine
Chuck Bentley has been a guet speaker addressing churches, business leaders, and radio listeners on biblical financial topics for over a decade. He serves as CEO of Crown Financial Ministries. Chuck and his wife, Ann, live near Knoxville and have four sons, a daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren.