Making ends meet these days is harder than it's been for some time - there aren't many Irish households that don't need to keep a close eye on their household budget and figure out how to get more money in the door and spend less. Yet an often overlooked source of household budgetary adjustment is the kids themselves. Here are our tips for getting the kids to help out more and start contributing:
- Kids are fast learners, but with a bit of training they can also make great instructors. Let's say you have an 8 year old son. As part of his weekly tasks, get him to give grinds in simple maths and languages to boys and girls a couple of years younger than them. Consider posting an ad in your local supermarket (it's free) so that you can scale up and take a few kids at a time. Be sure to have the TV off and provide a quiet room for the kiddies to learn. Apart from teaching useful tools for life, your son will also be giving great example and will be getting great experience in a leadership role. You could even charge for refreshments.
- Every parent knows that toys can cost a pretty penny, but often the real cost of electronic goods is in replacing batteries over and over again. For a small initial outlay, you can get a rechargeable battery pack that can be attached to your kids bikes with a dynamo. (Check out sites like ebay for rechargeable battery packs.) To help your kids with their task, mark out a large circle in a suitable area with clalk and tell them how many times they have to go around it. One child can be tasked with counting laps, and they can take turns on the bike.This idea also has the added benefit of requiring the kids to get active before being able to play with their toys, which of course goes towards their recommended daily hour of exercise.
- Extra-curricular activities: Make the case to instructors that your son or daughter's presence in the class benefits the other kids to such an extent that he or she should be able to attend for free. Moreover, if you can convince them that your kid's participation in the class generates a positive 'word-of-mouth' effect with other mums, ask them to pay you (this requires bit of pushiness, but needs must).
Other ideas for getting the kids to help out include loading up on high-demand (or banned) lunchbox treats which they can be resold in school at a premium (buy wholesale to maximise your margins) and insisting on cold hard cash at the door of birthday parties to contribute to costs - after all, who can refuse a 4 year old bearing a bucket?
Note: in the Republic, if your child earns more than €4,004 in any single year, there will probably be a tax/levy liability. Your child's income will need to be declared to the Revenue Comissioners in a tax return.
Published 1st April 2011