Young girl raking leaves in her yard.

Jobs For Kids: How To Do It The Right Way

Dan Rafter6-minute read
February 02, 2022

What’s the best way to teach preteens about money? Make them earn it.

The money that preteens earn from doing odd jobs or chores for you and your neighbors will come with an important lesson: Dollars are to be cherished because getting them requires hard work. Putting your younger kids to work – for a very limited number of hours, of course – can also help them understand the importance of not just earning money, but saving it. Having a first job can also get your children interested in financial topics such as investing and building a strong credit score.

What Jobs Can 11-year-olds Do?

It’s true that kids under the age of 13, and certainly those who are just 11, can’t bus tables at the local diner or push carts at the neighborhood grocery store. But they can take on other small jobs, anything from mowing neighbors’ lawns to babysitting to cleaning out cluttered garages.

How Can I Earn Money As A Kid?

Your children might be eager to earn money. You can give them an allowance, of course. But money is more meaningful when it’s earned. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities for kids to work for others.

Just look around your community: Plenty of your neighbors would probably pay your daughters or sons to mow their lawns, wash their cars, weed their gardens or rake their leaves.

Ready to teach your preteens about the values of work and money? Here’s a list of smaller jobs – appropriate for their maturity and skill levels – that can give them their first taste of the working world.

Tackling The Lawn, Shoveling The Snow

Younger children do better with simpler tasks, says James Canzanella, Fort Meyers, Florida-based founder of Internet Marketing Nights. That's why he recommends parents help their children set up snow-shoveling or lawn-mowing businesses. These are jobs that adults would often prefer to skip. But they're also uncomplicated, which makes them a good fit for younger children.

These jobs, especially if children perform them for neighbors, can also teach kids about the value of money and how hard it can be to earn it.

"It is my belief that the earlier that young people can earn, learn and appreciate money, the higher quality of life they will ultimately have, simply because they know how to create, save, grow and invest their money," Canzanella says. "That's a very big advantage nowadays."

The Neighborhood Helper

Cyrus Vanover, Abingdon, Virginia-based founder of the personal finance site Frugal Budgeter, says that children can earn extra dollars by tackling odd jobs in their neighborhoods.

"Many people have things around the house that need doing, but after working 40 – 50 hours, the last thing they want to do on their days off is more work," Vanover said. "Children can use this to their advantage to earn some quick money."

Some examples of these odd jobs? Vanover points to raking leaves, painting fences, trimming bushes, washing cars, emptying gutters and cleaning out cluttered garages.

"As you can see, the possibilities are nearly endless," he said.

Babysitting

William Taylor, Los Angeles-based career development manager at VelvetJobs, said babysitting remains a prime way for younger children to earn money. Parents are often desperate for a night out alone. Babysitting services, then, will always be in high demand.

There is a catch here, though: Not every child under the age of 13 is ready for the duties of babysitting. After all, babysitters are responsible for the care of actual living children.

"Before they take a babysitting job, they must be mature enough to deal with small children," Taylor says. "Some previous experience, such as with younger siblings, is ideal training."

Put Their Tech Skills To Work 

Young people, even those 13 and under, are often tech savvy. Michael Alexis, owner at Covington, Washington-based Team Building, said these youngsters can use their knowledge to help business owners market their companies and attract new customers.

Alexis gives this example: A preteen can contact a local massage therapist and ask if this business owner would like marketing help on a pay-per-customer basis. The therapist might charge $60 a person. The preteen can charge $30 for every customer that he or she brings to the business. This could be a good bargain for the massage therapist who could earn a significant amount of money from that new customer in the form of repeat business.

How can preteens find customers for a business? Alexis recommends that they print simple posters and post them on online community message boards. They can also post to sites such as Craiglist.

"Five customers per month could be $150 or more," Alexis said.

Focus On The Pets

We all love our pets. But they can be a lot of work, too, especially for adults who spend much of their time at the office and away from their homes.

Steffa Mantilla, Houston, Texas-based founder of personal finance blog Plantsonify, says demand is high for dog exercisers and, of course, doggie pooper-scoopers.

What's a dog exerciser? Mantilla says many pet owners might be hesitant to hire younger people to walk their dogs. However, they'd probably be happy to pay these youngsters to play with their dogs in the backyard, something that will provide their pooches with much-needed exercise.

"Children who love pets can play tug or throw a ball in the backyard of the client's house to tire their dog out," Mantilla says.

Then there's the pooper-scooper. This, obviously, is a job that even the most devoted dog lovers don't enjoy. Mantilla says that preteens can make good money by doing some dirty work.

"Cleaning up dog poop in yards is big business," Mantilla says. "Offering this service to neighbors is a good way to earn some easy money. The start-up cost of a poop scoop and rake are minimal."

Kid Jobs Near Me

Finding jobs for your kids can require some creativity. You won’t find any job listings for 12-year-olds on Monster.com or craigslist.

Again, the best place to start is with your neighbors. If your children are interested in starting a mowing service, post signs around the neighborhood and at local stores. If they want to start a babysitting business? Do the same thing.

And don’t forget to mention your children’s work plans to family members and co-workers. You never know who might need or know someone who would love a low-cost car wash or leaf-raking session. Check out the Rocket HQSM Personal Finance Learning Center for more articles like this one.

Dan Rafter

Dan Rafter has been writing about personal finance for more than 15 years. He's written for publications ranging from the Chicago Tribune and Washington Post to Wise Bread, RocketMortgage.com and RocketHQ.com.