PBS Kids GO! It's My Life
Making Money: Offering A Service

When you offer a service, you're performing a task that will make somebody else's life a little easier. Here are some ideas for services you can provide for neighbors, friends, and even members of your own family:

Indoor Ideas

Household cleaning and laundry: Do extra chores at home or ask friends and neighbors if they need a little help around the house.

Babysitting: If you're old enough (at least 12) and very responsible, get paid by the hour to watch a neighbor's younger child. Make sure to follow all the rules of the family's house. If you do a really good job, you might land a regular gig or get calls from other parents. Before tackling this big responsibility, you may want to check out books on babysitting or take a course from a local organization.

Petsitting: When neighbors are away, you can drop by their house to feed the fish, play with the cat, or take the dog for a walk. You could even run a dog walking business, where you show up at people's houses the same time each day to take their hounds for a stroll. If you love animals, this is a great way to make money; however, since people's pets are very important to them, it can also bring a lot of responsibility.

Plant care: Use your green thumb to keep a neighbor's plants alive while she or he is out of town.

Organizing: Spiff up someone's house by organizing the closets, shelves, or storage areas. If you know someone who's moving, offer to help organize and box things to go on the moving truck.

Tutoring: If you're really good in a certain subject, offer to tutor someone your age or younger. Help a kid build study habits, score higher on tests and quizzes, and get better grades.

Typing: If you're good with a keyboard, earn cash by typing papers, reports, or letters for others.

Outdoor Ideas

Yardwork: This of course includes mowing lawns, but even if you're not old enough to handle a lawnmower, you can still rake leaves, pull weeds, and sweep patios.

Gardening: Move beyond basic lawn mowing and take care of a neighbor's flowers, shrubs, or vegetables. Get down into the soil and plant seeds.

House painting: Use a brush or roller to help a friend or neighbor slap some nice new color. If you're not old enough to be on a ladder, you can paint the bottom part up to where your arms can reach.

Window washing: A lot of people hate to wash their windows, so a hose, bucket, sponge, and a bottle of window cleaner could be all you need to make big bucks. Remember never to get on a ladder without a parent's permission.

Car washing: Perfect your waxing technique, and you can earn cash by making your neighbors' cars sparkle and shine.

Shoveling snow: If you get a lot of the white stuff where you live, be the first person a neighbor calls to help clear a driveway or sidewalk.

Coaching: This is a lot like tutoring, but with sports instead of academic subjects. If you're a good athlete, pass on your skills to those who need a little help on the field or court.


How much should you charge?
Now that you have an idea for a service, you have to figure out how much to charge for it. Here are some places to start:

  • Check with the pros. You shouldn't charge as much for your yardwork as a professional lawn service does, but it will help to find out how much they charge so you have an "upper limit."

  • Check with your friends and other peers. Who else your age is doing the same kind of work? How much does she get?

  • Check with your parents. Ask them, "How much would you be willing to pay for someone to mow your lawn?"

Once you decide on a fair rate, stick by it. If someone wants to pay you less, or to pay you the same for lots of extra work, it's okay to politely say, "Thanks, but no thanks." The same goes for special situations, such as when the family you babysit for asks you to watch their visiting cousins' kids as well, but for the same amount of money. By not letting people take advantage of you, you're sending the message that your time and energy is valuable, and you deserve to be paid fairly.

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