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What a side hustle can teach your child

Earn money now, learn lessons that last well into the future.

Most Americans agree that 15 is the best age for a child’s first job, but what if your third-grader starts asking for ways to earn cash beyond their weekly allowance?1 You may have a hustler on your hands—a side hustler.

Having a job at a young age can benefit your child now, and in the future. Earning money can provide valuable lessons about managing money and budgeting, and influence the financial choices your child will make as they grow older.

Learn more about what having a job and earning money can teach your child—and how to make sure the lessons stick.

Take this quiz to see if your child is ready to work and earn their own money.

  1. 1. Lesson 1: How to start a business

    children holding bake sale as business

    Could your child become a successful entrepreneur as an adult? One way to help them explore that path is by starting a microbusiness.

     

    Work together to write a simple business plan, asking your child: What do you want to sell, and will people want to buy it? Will we take custom orders, or do we need to build up an inventory? Who are the customers we want? How will we get the word out and advertise?

     

    To get the business up and running, you can provide some startup capital in the form of a loan or a gift—just make sure your child understands the difference between the two. If you give them a loan, set terms for payments, and possibly interest. Then, encourage your child to use part of their earnings to continue to pay for overhead. Help them set up and maintain records on expenses, pricing, revenue and profit. Meanwhile, remind your child that learning to run a business is just as important as making or losing money.

  2. 2. Lesson 2: How to turn talent into earning power

    children practicing yoga in studio

    Your child might not yet know what they want to be when they grow up, but turning a hobby or skill into a side gig may help show how the things they enjoy can lead to a career. Whether they excel at school, the arts, or sports, your child can turn that into an opportunity to earn money—and be inspired.

     

    Once they have something in mind, help them research what adults doing similar work earn in your area, then adjust down a bit to match their age and experience. For example, while an established tutor might be able to charge as high as $85 an hour, your teen could charge $40 for tutoring services.2

  3. 3. Lesson 3: How to do good by doing business

    child contemplating apple purchase as responsible customer

    If your child wants to start a business to meet a community need, chat with them about what it means to be a social entrepreneur. Show them how they can design a business that addresses a cause or issue, and that uses sustainable practices in keeping with their values. For example, selling baked goods made with local eggs, apples and honey means satisfying a customer’s sweet tooth and earning a profit all while promoting local business and minimizing the fossil fuel needed to get the ingredients. And they may even want to donate a portion of their profits to the cause their business model supports.

     

    By encouraging your child to pursue business goals in a way that positively affects the community, you can help them become a socially-responsible and successful entrepeneur.

  4. 4. Lesson 4: How to fundraise for a cause

    children petting cat at animal shelter

    Whether your child is inspired by local causes, such as animal rescue shelters, or global ones, like international aid organizations, encourage them to help by exploring different ways to give. What’s right for your activist? Most nonprofits use a mix of techniques.

     

    Suggest some ideas to get them started, perhaps organizing a raffle featuring a few choice prizes, such as goods or services. Or, they could hold a garage sale and donate the proceeds. Ask customers to “round up” their purchase total for a cash donation to the receiving charity.

     

    Finally, show your child how to research all of the nonprofits related to their favorite causes. You can help your young fundraiser choose the best option by taking a closer look at what the nonprofit does to help the cause. This includes reviewing the nonprofit’s finances, including overhead, track record, accreditation and income spent on charitable programs.

  5. 5. Lesson 5: How to plan ahead with money

    child riding his new bike

    Even as a child, making money means a chance to practice financial planning. It’s an opportunity to set goals and learn how to pursue them. Your child might not be saving for a home or retirement yet, but they may be inspired to save for that sweet gaming system, BMX bike or pair of soccer shoes they’ve been wanting. And you may even want to suggest a more substantial goal—saving for their future education.

     

    Help your child decide what they need or want most, then talk about how earning money can help them get it. Of course, goals need to be realistic, so talk about savings and timelines to help your child figure out what’s possible. Finally, be their cheerleader when it comes to reaching their goals—let them know you’re there to help them stay on track. They’re counting on your experience!

     

    For teens, teach them that saving for a goal differs from investing. Bring in specific comparisons if you’re comfortable getting into the nitty gritty, with concepts like investment fees and rates of return.

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