By Rachel Caballero, Community Development Manager at TruWest Credit Union
Kids have been working hard all year and probably looking forward to the long-awaited break. No more homework. No more tests. No more school… for a while. Summer is finally here! They might have all kinds of ideas lined up for what they want to do — going to the movies, amusement parks, spending a day at the mall with their friends. But, that all costs money and summer break is the perfect time to teach kids how to earn and manage their own money.
Fun Ways to Earn
Working over the summer doesn’t have to be boring. There are plenty of ways children of all different ages can help earn some extra cash while having fun. Putting on a yard sale is a great way to repurpose things your family doesn’t need anymore. Little kids can host a lemonade or baked-goods stand after helping in the kitchen. Tweens and teens can be a pet sitter or dog walker for neighbors, offer gardening, mowing, or housecleaning services, or even get together with a few friends and have a car wash. You can even offer small earnings for having the kids help with extra things that can be done around the house.
Save first, Not Last
So, how do you teach kids to be responsible with their money after it’s earned? A good rule of thumb is to follow the three S’s: save, share, and spend. These are alphabetical for a reason – that’s the order in which kids should manage their money. If it’s done in the other direction, they will spend it all and not have any left to save or share. Set a number for how much they should put away for each category. A good example is to save 20 percent, share 10 percent, and spend 70 percent. This will allow them to start building their riches by saving, helping others by sharing, and allowing them to have fun by spending.
Make SMART Goals
Now that they are earning and managing money, it’s time to help them set goals. Goals are important and can help them define and track their money to reach something they want to achieve. Encourage your child to set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely (SMART). For example, let’s say they want the new Minecraft game and it’s $30. They earn $20 per week mowing Mrs. Smith’s lawn and walking Mr. Brown’s dog. $14 of that is for spending (after putting the saving and sharing money aside). If they hold $5 of that aside for the game, they’ll have enough to buy it in six weeks. Their SMART goal would then read as: “I will buy the new Minecraft game in six weeks by putting $5 of my earnings aside each week”. Pretty neat, right?
There you go. Summer break can be a time to build some solid new skills as you teach your child to earn and manage their own money, while still using some for summer fun. Don’t stop there! Many of these “summer” jobs can be done year-round for continued earning to help kids set and achieve even more goals.
About TruWest Credit Union
TruWest Credit Union is headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, and operates as a cooperative providing its members with a lifetime of quality financial services and a culture of caring for its members, employees and communities. TruWest is a strong and sound financial institution with more than 93,000 members and assets totaling more than $1.5 billion. TruWest® Credit Union has 12 branch locations – eight in metro Phoenix and four in Austin, Texas. For more information, visit truwest.org.