Money during the middle years

During middle school your children may have more opportunities to earn some money on their own. They may be able to care for a neighbor's pets, deliver newspapers, mow lawns, baby sit, referee for children's sports, or numerous other jobs that use their talents, interests, and energy. If you follow some of the suggestions in the section Building work experience, your children will learn a lot about themselves, develop responsibility and other employability skills, and have a small income that they can manage for themselves.

As your children begin to earn money on their own, make sure you have agreed to your level of support. Will you let them use your lawnmower? Will you drive them on the paper route when the weather is bad? You can also use the opportunity to help them learn about the expenses associated with their job and the concept of break even.

This is also good age to take your children to the bank to open their first account - a savings account. If the habit of putting money into savings each time they are paid is established early, then it will be more likely to become a lifelong habit. They will learn that savings is a way to get what you want and that sometimes getting what you want requires planning and "delayed gratification."

As your children earn more independently, they should also be spending more independently. They will make mistakes, but we all have (and make sure you let them know that you have made mistakes, too). Help them learn about comparative shopping, learning about quality, cost, supply and demand, and alternatives.

Finally, this is also a time to learn about the joy of sharing. Using their own money to buy gifts, to contribute to charities, or even to share with family members has unique rewards. They find out giving comes in many forms, and giving of one's time and skills is often the greater gift.