Should I Make A 13 Year Old Get A Job?

My oldest daughter is just about to turn 13, and I can’t believe she is a teenager already.   As I always have money and personal finances on my mind, I kept thinking SHOULD I MAKE MY 13 YEAR OLD GET A JOB?     When I was a kid growing up in New Jersey we raked lawns, shoveled snow, babysat, and walked the neighbor’s dogs.   Anything that it took to earn a few bucks so you could get that pack of baseball cards, new comic book, or save enough money to get a video game for your Atari system.  Certainly there is no game combat on your Wii gaming system today.

In today’s culture kids have pretty unrealistic expectations about money and bills.  Pay for the $39 a month cell phone bill, get me an i pod so I can listen to the latest tunes, or give me $20 bucks so I can see a movie and get some popcorn with my friends.  When should the workload be burdened by your kids to chip in for their fair share (and we aren’t talking about clay pottery on Father’s Day)?

There are so many varying schools of thought as you try to help your child manage schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and growing through the formidable years of being a teenager.   Can my child handle all of the stress of these challenging times, and on top of it am I really going to make them get a job?

The thing I can share with you is that nothing is worthwhile unless you have skin in the game.   Recently, my kids asked me to buy a ping pong table for the house.   I very quickly asked them to take their saved up money and put in half of the price of the table and I would match the other half.    Now, that ping pong table has become their prized treasure because they had skin in the game.

I can remember as a teenager how rewarding it was to put in some work whether it was raking leaves, babysitting, or waiting tables and how that began to teach me the value of a dollar.     Jobs teach you a lot of things about failure, success, and life.    I believe you value what you earn not what is given to you.   My 13 year just secured a 4 hour babysitting job on Saturday night.   Looks like I am going to put my 13 year old to work.    I guess it is only work if it feels like job, and kids love making money!

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About the author  ⁄ Ted Jenkin @ Your Smart Money Moves

Ted Jenkin @ Your Smart Money Moves


My friends and family all think I’m a workaholic, but I say I’m just a guy that loves to help people do better in life.

My mother is still the only one that calls me by my real name Theodore Michael, my wife calls me Teddy, but for the rest of you it is just plain old Ted.

Ever since I was a little kid, I always loved money and being an entrepreneur. In fact, I still have cassette tapes of me talking to my grandmother at the age of five and my mother tells me all the time how much I played with money as a kid...

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Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express. He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial. You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

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  • Avatar
    William McLendon
    August 17, 2010

    As Mr Jenkin Stated in his message ” their prized treasure because they had skin in the game” this is a truism from the ages. All responsible people want ownership, whether it is an idea, tangible object or just a project for the neighborhood. I have three children of my own and all have worked for their stuff. My son took out a loan (with simple interest) from the bank of Mom&Dad to buy a boat and motor with a trailer.No matter that he could not drive somewhere to use it, he owned it and still does. He worked nearly every Saturday with me at our family business to make his payments. He has learned nothing worth having is free and is doing well as a student at U.G.A., working to make ends meet and taking the lead financially with the group renting the house with him. If your child can’t find work then make jobs (Real Jobs)for them so they can start out life ahead of the other ones who have just waited on their handout.

  • Avatar
    August 18, 2010

    I think it’s never too early to instill money values in our children. My four year old “works” every day. When he makes his bed, and helps his dad take out the trash he gets a weekly paycheck (allowance). Yes, he’s horrible at making it and I go behind him and tidy it up. But I am teaching him that in order to receive money, he has to work for it. When we go to Wal-Mart, he asks if he can have a toy. I tell him, “Sure, but you have to use your George Washington’s to get it.” Sometimes he buys, and other times he decides that the toy is not worth it! I say put her to work!

  • Avatar
    The Dick Dujour
    September 4, 2010

    Our kids are 5 and 9. They receive an allowance equal to 50 cents per year they are old ($2.50 and $4.50). They have a divided bank which allows them to have money for spending, saving and charity. Between that and birthday money, etc they saved enough to pay for half of a Wii. You’re right, ownership matters. They have also “sponsored” an animal through the national wildlife foundation. We have had an awful time finding a teenage babysitter, perhaps because there are not as many parents out there like you.

  • Avatar
    September 22, 2010

    Thanks for being a great parents, and making the kids of our future better money managers!


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