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5 easy ways for kids to make money

If you're tired of opening your wallet every time your kids ask for something, it's time to help them earn their own money. Children learn valuable life skills by earning, saving and spending money. Some of these skills include working towards a goal, delayed gratification, budgeting, decision-making and being independent. As a parent, you probably don't want to simply hand your children money, so you may have to help them find opportunities to earn it. Here are 5 easy ways to help your kids start their own cash flow, although some of it may still come from your wallet.

1. Babysitting. Once your children are around age 11, they can begin babysitting. Children mature at different rates. Some children may not be ready for the responsibility of babysitting until they are well into their teen years. Help your child learn to be a fantastic babysitter by giving her experience in your home and teaching her how to take care of children, do simple cooking and household chores and plan for emergencies.

My daughter took a Red Cross online babysitting course to help her prepare. Then she made fliers and distributed them to families we know with small children. Her business is up and running, and she's happy to be earning money.

2. Yard work. From weeding to lawnmowing, children and teens can do yard work to earn money. I have paid my kids for picking up snails and weeding if it's beyond what I expect them to do as part of our family. Kids could also ask neighbors and family friends if they'd like a weekly lawnmowing service, or weeding and other yard clean up on a regular basis.

Help your children decide on a fair wage (by the hour or per job) and make sure they clean up after themselves and take good care of the equipment they use. If you allow your kids to use your lawnmower, consider having them pay for gas out of their wages.

3. Pet sitter/walker. Pet sitters and walkers are always needed. My daughter loves animals, but we can't have pets due to allergies so she likes to seek out jobs walking dogs and looking after animals. When people go out of town, they like to know their pets are taken care of. Sometimes working people want their pets to get outside or have someone to play with during the day. This job can be done by a responsible child who can be assertive with animals.

4. Odd jobs. I tell my children I always have extra jobs available for them to do to earn more money. These jobs include things like cleaning the garage, dusting blinds, organizing closets and cleaning baseboards and walls. I've seen ideas online for job charts with money attached, like this “work for hire” board. Neighbors and relatives might also be willing to pay your children to do jobs around the house.

5. Allowance. Parents seem to have strong opinions about allowance. We give an allowance monthly if our children are obedient and contribute to our household. It's important to me to have my children learn how to save money and spend it wisely (or learn from spending it unwisely.) Discuss with your spouse whether giving allowance is a good option for your family. My sister pays interest weekly on the money her children save thus incentivizing them to learn to be savers. Here are some more ideas on how to encourage children to save.

Child labor isn't always a bad thing. Help your child find ways to earn his own money and watch him feel confident and successful as he learns to work and enjoy the benefits of his efforts.

Amy M. Peterson, a former high school English teacher, currently lives in Oregon with her husband and four children. She spends her days writing, reading, exercising and trying to get her family to eat more vegetables.