How to Help a Teenager Earn and Learn While Living at Home

My youngest son needs to earn a bit of money to call his own. That’s not so easy when you live in a rural area. It’s almost impossible if you are a parent unwilling to turn over the family car to a new driver, and are unwilling to buy a car for said teenager. I don’t believe in buying cars for teenagers, never have. But, if I ever saw a need for one, it’s now. Living this far out makes it difficult for the younger set to get an “after school” job and learn a bit about responsibility and working to earn.

But, as a small business owner, a net-junkie and an overwhelmed mom, I’ve come up with a way around these problems… A win-win for everyone!

Derrick has agreed to take some of my things and put them on eBay and sell them (and package them and send them and deal with all that for me). I’m going to give him a substantial percentage of any income from my items, and of course he has his own stuff that he plans to sell too. My only requirement is that he put 50% of anything he makes into an IRA. Since he’s under 18, I have to “sponsor” him per the eBay rules, but he’s mature enough it doesn’t really bother me.

He’s been working on putting money aside for his retirement quite a bit this year. I talked with him about the value of the dollar he can put in at this age, vs. the dollars he can put in at an “advanced” age of say…. thirty. Once he learned about the joys of compound interest and investments, he was eager to begin. So he started looking for ways to earn money and has asked me for any ideas I might have.

I’ve had him take over some of the housecleaning, and I pay him for that out of my personal account. (This is above and beyond the work he does that’s standard faire for being a member of the family — this is pay for him to do the stuff on my own list that I don’t want to do). I’ve also hired him to do the filing and organizing and some work in my office. That’s been paid out of the business account (and is a business expense… besides, his hourly rate is more affordable than having an adult come in to do the work, and some of the information is sensitive and I’d prefer strangers not handle it.) I hope to get him to help me achieve a true paperless office before he returns to school in a week. It’s going to involve quite a bit of scanning and organizing digital files. This will be paid out of the  business account as well.

All told, I think it will be a great way for me to stay more organized and productive while I minimize the “footprint” of my office. And, it will provide an opportunity for my ambitious son to help secure his future now. And, with the new eBay deal, maybe we can get rid of some of the stuff around here without overloading the local Goodwill (we have made about six sizable trips to Good will in the last couple of months). It will also teach my son how to plan and handle a small business, how to deliver on time, work with customers and how to
do taxes at year end. (All stuff I want him to know before he leaves home for college).

He’s collecting stuff as quickly as I am ready to part with it to begin working on eBay now. And, since I’m in the middle of another “minimize and shovel the place out” kick… it’s pretty easy “pickin’s”. And, it’s catching on… there are already members of the family that are interested in having Derrick sell items on commission for them too! So, it may be a great way for him to begin growing a small business that he can carry though college… and do from his own computer.

It may not be for everyone, but having my son work for me has been great for me… and for him. And knowing I’m helping him to learn makes it that much sweeter. I wish I’d put a grand or so away each year beginning when I was 16… I’d probably be a much more “well funded” future retiree if I had. 🙂