I recently gave an interview on the radio about how to raise kids who are financially literate. While it wasn’t about summer jobs per se, in the interview, we talked a lot about teaching kids about working and work ethic,(because I feel like people miss this connection) and summer jobs can help kids make that connection.
Parents teach their kids about saving money or give them an allowance to teach them how to handle money. They might even teach them how to write a check or how a credit card works. However, what’s lacking in most financial education is this crucial, crucial connection between work and money.
Kids have to understand that for the vast majority of us, you have to do work in order to get paid. The better your work ethic is, the higher your income can go. If you can combine a strong work ethic with an ability to handle the money you do make, then the sky is the limit.
Why Work Ethic Matters
The reason work ethic matters so much is that it gives kids respect for money. If you just give them money as an allowance, there is no incentive to treat it well. However, if they had summer jobs that required them to rake leaves or scrub the kitchen floor, they feel every bit of that money they earned, which will make them more likely to think about how they spend (or save) it.
So, with that said, here are some jobs your kid can do this summer to earn extra money while also developing a strong work ethic.
Cutting The Grass
Physical labor definitely helps drive home the message of work ethic, and there is perhaps no better summer job for a teenager than cutting the grass. The great thing about cutting the grass is that it gets your kid out exercising. Not only that, but if they work for a lawn service company or decide to start one of their own, they can learn a little bit about entrepreneurship, getting clients, getting paid and keeping track of their income.
Working outdoors in the summertime can be hard because of the heat, but there’s no better time for your kid to do this than when they’re young. It sure beats sitting inside watching TV all day, and it can build some lifelong skills in the process.
Becoming a Lifeguard
Many people think that being a lifeguard is an “easy” job because many lifeguards sit in their chairs all summer long. However, becoming a lifeguard requires some important training that can be useful in the future, when kids are done with having summer jobs.
*Related: Need to buy your child a cell phone? Read our guide on the best prepaid phone plans for kids that won’t break the budget.*
For example, if your child wants to work in the medical field someday, be an EMT in college or go to medical school in the future, CPR and first aid training will be useful. Being a lifeguard is really the first step to learning how to keep people safe, and in the event a lifeguard does have to use his or her training, it can make their job extremely worthwhile.
Being a Busboy or Busgirl
The restaurant business is notoriously tough, but that’s why it’s such a good job for an older child, perhaps one who is between the ages of 16-18. The reason being a busboy is advantageous is that many restaurants require waiters to spend some time being a busboy before waiting tables. With experience working in restaurants as a high school student, your child could go on to work at expensive restaurants while in college and make as much as 10x what their friends are making in their minimum wage jobs in college.
Although the work can be grueling, it’s less about the work itself and more about viewing the work as a stepping stone to higher paying jobs and of course instilling that sense of responsibility and work ethic.
Ultimately, the statics when it comes to financial literacy and child obesity are staggering. In a recent international financial literacy test, teenagers in the United States fell well below their peers in other countries when it came to their understanding of basic financial topics. Not only that, but according to the CDC, “more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese in 2012.”
So, if there is a way to get your child out of the house, earning an income, and at the same time, having them being physically active at work, you’re combatting numerous problems at once. Then, they also get to earn money, which they can then spend or save, something you can also help them with.
Ultimately, there are many choices when it comes to summer jobs for your child; these certainly aren’t the only options out there, but the ideas above are a good place to start.
Did you have a summer job as a teenager? What type of work did you do? If you received an allowance as a child, did you have to work for it? Did doing chores around the house help you understand the connection between hard work and earning money or do you wish you would have had a physically laborious job to help you understand that?