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The Money Messenger -- Prepping for Winter: Teen Job Options and Winter Chores
December 05, 2008


Welcome to Issue #11 of The Money Messenger!

The Money Messenger brings you the latest on your kids and money.

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The Money Messenger

In This Issue

The holidays have begun! This month's articles on chores and teen jobs focus on managing both during the holidays. Is it possible to keep a chore program going during these busy holidays? And what about holiday jobs? There hasn't been much good news about any job lately, so is it really possible to get one - now?

A reader's question on the best way to start an allowance program for a 14-year-old who hasn't had one before

What's next?

Note from Jennifer

This month's newsletter focuses on the coming winter holidays and how that can affect your chore program and what teen holiday jobs are available. (I know I said we'd get started on the new year - but there are folks who just want to get through the holidays, so I put the new year stuff on hold for a bit.) Plus, there is a great question on starting an allowance program for a teen - who isn't used to living on a budget.

I still need YOUR help to get your stories. Everyone wants to hear more from each other! Personally, reader stories are my favorite part of any newsletter or magazine so I can't wait to make this addition. But I need your help! Please drop me a note at to tell me your story (and you can remain anonymous if you like).

Feature Article
Should Chores Take a Holiday Too?

The list of things to do just seems to get longer. And, there - towards the bottom - is the item about getting the kids to do their chores. Ugh. Who needs one more thing on their to-do list at this time of year? And if it hasn't happened to you yet, there will likely be a time that it will. It may not be the holidays. It could be during summer vacation or after you've been sick for 4 (or is it 5) days. Is it possible to stay on track during these times?

It is...or at least mostly. Here are some tips to help:

  • Focus on why the chore program started. Was it to teach the kids more responsbility? Or to help instill the value of work (paid or not)? It helps to remember the key to why it's even on your list. That will help you with the next couple of tips.
  • Review the chore list and rank the chores in order of importance. Let's say that there are 5 chores on the list. Which one is most important? Give it a "1." Give the second most important and "2" and so on until all the chores have a ranking.
  • Give the bottom 2 chores a holiday. Or maybe it's three or only one. That will really depend on how many there were to start with and how important they are to running the household.
  • Figure out when the chore holiday is over. Just like the other celebrations, the chore holiday should come to an end. The traditional end to the U.S. holiday season is New Year's (or the day after). Maybe this works for you, too. Or maybe it needs to be when school is back in full swing. The key is to pick a date - and stick to it.

Will a chore holiday work for you? Why not give it a try and see? I'd love to hear what happens. Just drop me a note at!

Feature Article
Teen Holiday Jobs: Is It Too Late?

In last month's newsletter, one of the feature articles covered teen winter jobs as an employee. A number of them related to the holiday, but there are even more great ideas on teen holiday jobs. If you (or your favorite teen) are still looking for a holiday job, consider these ideas:

  • Take holiday portraits - either at a store or on your own. There are LOTS of people who get holiday portraits taken even if they don't have them done any other time of year. They can range from the photo store in the mall to a discount store to you with a digital camera in front of someone's fireplace. With the popularity of electronic greeting cards and sites like Shutterfly, creating your own little holiday portrait business can fill a need for those less digitally inclined. Alternatively, the photo shops may be overwhelmed with appointments and need extra help to get through the rush.
  • Check out local winter attractions. Ski parks and ice skating rinks are just gearing up for their seasons which run through at least spring break. And you don't need to be an instructor to work there. Many of these have shops, ticket counters and plenty of things to do for non-skiers.
  • Consider the alternative attractions. Do you have an indoor water park nearby? Not everyone wants to be out in the cold for their fun. The demand for most indoor attractions goes up in the winter. This can also apply to swimming pools, movie theaters, bowling alleys and indoor skating rinks.
  • Help people get ready for tax time. Seriously. Most people don't like taxes: paying them or doing them. Offer your services to organize data or even to do tax returns if you are qualified. You could do them on your own (with a computer and a good software package) or work for a preparer service. Or you could simply help people get their paperwork in order. There is confidential information involved, so keep in mind that some people may be reluctant if you are not working for H&R Block or Jackson Hewitt.

What kind of teen holiday jobs are in demand in your area?

Ask the Editor!
Here's where I answer your questions. Susan writes that her teenage daughter hasn't been on an allowance or chore program in the past. And now it's time for her daughter to take on more responsibility by earning money through chores. What is the best way to start these programs? Here's the advice:

Congratulations on taking such a big step with your daughter! It is sure to bring dividends to you both in the future. But that doesn't mean that it will be easy to start with. Based on the fact that this is new to both of you, we need to focus on a couple of different areas:

  • Developing an allowance amount along with a weekly budget; and,
  • Helping your daughter learn how to use her money wisely
These are critical steps in her money education and allowance program. Adding these to a chore program that you noted you will be doing should help her realize the value of money and of things.

To develop the weekly allowance program and budget, sit down with a piece of paper. List out all of the expenses that you expect the allowance to cover - and how much each one costs. Don't edit them - even if the list seems to get too long - at this point. Next, determine which expenses are needs and which ones are wants. Now, rank each category (so 1 through 5 needs and then 1 through 5 wants or whatever number works for your list). Add up the costs and see how that compares to what you can afford out of the family budget. If part of the goal is to get a handle on the spending (and to stop feeling like a parental ATM), your daughter may be in for an adjustment period.

I encourage you and your daughter to either prepare the lists together or to complete them separately then compare each of your results. This will help you get the allowance program on the right foot by getting on the same page together. She may not realize how much she is actually spending - or how long it takes to earn that much money. The next step then is to determine how she will actually earn the money in her allowance.

I can't tell if you intend to pay her for chores or if the allowance program and the chores are separate. Either way is fine - it's really up to your family (and some chores, such a making her bed aren't done for pay). But if you are going to pay for chores, your next step would be to sit down and figure out how much each chore will be worth. That will help link the chores and allowance more firmly to each other. It can also result in the allowance being smaller in some weeks if things don't get done. That can be tough, but it can also be a good responsibility lesson.

Good luck to you and your daughter...and let me know how it goes!

If you need help getting your own allowance program started, visit the allowance basics page. To get your question considered (about allowance programs or any other topics), contact me here.

Coming soon...
the next issue of The Money Messenger

January's issue will focus on getting ready for the new year, including feature articles on reviewing allowance and chore programs and kid and teen job ideas for teens who want to work for themselves - inside!

PLUS, watch for new free reports on the site or in your email as bonuses for subscribers.

Comments or suggestions?

If you have any comments or suggestions for future newsletters, please let me know. I want to be sure that this newsletter meets your needs. Feel free to provide your comments using this contact form.

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