Frequently people come up during breaks at No Debt No Sweat! Seminars with questions about their kids. I guess they assume that because I teach money management in churches around the country -- I've got it all together in my own life. Ha! Like you, I am a far from perfect parent. Thankfully, we have a perfect Savior. With His guidance, and some trial-and-error, the Diggs household has learned a few things about kids and money management that I'd like to pass on to you.

Invariably, one of the first questions most parents struggle with, is whether or not a child should have a job. Of course, this is a question that will find different answers in different families. The child's age and temperament, where you live, job availability, and your lifestyle as a family all play into this decision.

But, I believe wise parents should look for ways to help their kids earn at least part of their money. This can take many forms. Personally I like jobs that can be done at, or at least close to, home. It's a dangerous world out there. Too much can happen to children without proper supervision. Jobs near the home front can give younger children (usually those under sixteen) the experience they need without as much risk.

I encourage parents to be involved. Become your children's partner. Make it a game. Look for a job that fits the individual child's temperament and skills. Let your youngster's imagination soar. I am still grateful that my parents rarely told me that I couldn't try out my ideas. I'm sure it embarrassed them the day their 6-year old son struck out into the neighborhood offering to do carpentry work on their friends' homes. But I still remember the pride and confidence I felt when Mrs. Simons hired me to fix her wooden lawn chair. By the time I quit it wasn't in much worse shape. But she made me feel like a star, and paid me with a pack of gum and 6 cents to buy a Popsicle.

There were other ventures that my folks probably blushed at. I'm still not sure that they ever knew that I tried to start a pottery business by forming little containers from the red clay I dug up in the backyard.

Business Ideas For Kids

Your family is unique. What fits into the culture of one family may be wrong for yours. Obviously, as a parent, you will have to apply common sense and caution as you determine which of these ideas might fit your kids. And, depending on where you live, some jobs may require special permits, inspections, etc. But here are some ideas for how kids can earn money from, or close to, their homes:

• Dog walking for the neighbors. This can be expanded into washing and grooming services as well.

• Plant a vegetable garden. Sell the produce to neighbors or a local grocery store. You might even talk to the grocer and ask if there is a specialty item he has a hard time keeping in stock that you could grow. We have a friend who found a grocer who was glad to buy a variety of small salad tomatoes that she grew in her backyard.

• Making or baking a product to sell. One family in our church makes bread and bakery products for a number of their friends who are too busy to bake.

• Babysitting. This can take place either at the other children's home, or in your own home so you can monitor and advise your children.

• Yard work and light landscaping. Of course this has been the genesis of thousands of profitable life-long businesses nationwide. By teaching kids to watch the weather reports and schedule their work accordingly, parents can teach valuable lessons about planning and operating a small business.

• Breeding tropical fish. Years ago, my brother-in-law ran a profitable business out of his home raising various types of fish and selling them to pet stores in the area.

• Car washing and waxing. This was another way I made money in my teens. On Saturdays, our backyard became a car wash and wax shop. I made good money and controlled my hours. Of course, this is another business that can grow into a full detailing operation with very little overhead.

• Snow shoveling.

• Computer training. Today most kids know more about computers than their parents do. Why not offer a course in the basics of computing for a few dollars an hour?

• Product assembly services. Kids with a mechanical bent can make money assembling grills, inexpensive boxed furniture, and other items that most adults hate to fool with. Why not print up some handbills or cards and see if a local office supply or hardware store will let you post them?


Steve Diggs presents the No Debt No Sweat! Christian Money Management Seminar at churches and other venues nationwide. Visit Steve on the Web at www.stevediggs.com or call 615-834-3063. The author of several books, today Steve serves as a minister for the Antioch Church of Christ in Nashville. For 25 years he was President of the Franklin Group, Inc. Steve and Bonnie have four children whom they have home schooled. The family lives in Brentwood, Tennessee.