What do you do if you are nine years old and want to earn more money? This was the challenge facing T – and consequently his Dad and me – this weekend. If you have a kid who’s got that entrepreneurial spark, what are the kinds of jobs that are good for a pre-teen?
T has had his heart set on a Nintendo DS for months now. On Saturday, we looked at the different console options. The new Nintendo 3DS at $250 was out of his reach so he decided on a Nintendo DSi XL at $150.
“How much money do you have saved now?” I asked. He ran to get his Savings jar.
“$140,” he reported with shoulders sagging a little.
“OK, you need $150 plus tax for the console and then you want a game at $40 plus tax, so let’s estimate you need around $200 to do this,” I said.
“You get $3 spending money per week,” I continued. “How many weeks will it take you until you get another $60?”
“Twenty,” came the reply as the shoulders sagged further. He’s already had to say No to several things in recent weeks as he’s been saving his money. Having nothing to spend for another twenty weeks was not something to look forward to.
“Well you could also look for ways to earn extra money,” I suggested. This perked him up. He looked around. “I could cut the grass or prune the trees,” he offered.
I called his Dad in and explained the situation. We came up with ways for T to earn extra money with us. Z suggested we call them jobs and that we have a list up in the kitchen. Z and I then went off to discuss how much we’d be willing to pay.
T looked up hopefully as we came back in. “We’ll pay you $1 to fold and put away one basket of laundry,” we announced. His whole body sagged and a little sigh came out but he immediately rallied and said “How about $10?”
“Great negotiation buddy,” I replied. “I like that you didn’t accept the first offer. But no deal.”
“Well, how about $1 per item of clothing,” he asked. His Dad and I both laughed. “More like five cents per item,” said Z and there was a few moments of negotiating on this front until I put my foot down and said the offer was $1 per basket. There was a load in the dryer so T would have an immediate opportunity to earn some money.
T then started brainstorming ways to make more money. Maybe he could cut grass for the neighbors? Maybe he could start a business with his friends and they could call themselves Lawn Boys?
“How will you get the lawnmower to the different homes?” I asked. I half expected him to ask his Dad to drive him, but he decided that he would just use the equipment at each home.
I’m not convinced nine year old boys will get much business as grass cutters so I threw out some other suggestions:
- doing the washing up at our house after dinner
- washing the car
- lemonade stand
- having a yard sale and selling toys he no longer plays with
- mother’s helper (T is very sweet with babies and toddlers)
We looked for more inspiration online. Online surveys where they need kid panels? Hmm, was that safe, I wondered. I showed it to T and explained that this involved answering lots of questions and giving his opinion on things, like new toys and video games.
T pounced on the key phrase. “Video games?” he asked. “You mean I could be a video game tester? Oh, I definitely want to do that.”
I tried to backtrack quickly. “Well, not video games, but other things.”
“No, I want to be a video game tester,” said T. “Let’s write to the CEO of Nintendo and tell him.”
I may just let this one play itself out. It would be a good exercise for him to compose the letter and do the research to figure out where to send it.
In the meantime, I trained him on folding his first batch of laundry. “This is hard work,” he said. “It’s taking a really, really long time. I think it’s worth $5.”
“You’ll get better at it over time,” I said. “And then it won’t take you so long. It might take you 20 minutes now, but soon you’ll be getting more efficient and then you’ll be earning that dollar faster.”
In the meantime, I’m on the hunt for other money-making ideas for a nine year old. Any suggestions?