Money-matching plan for children
Match whatever your child is earning, says Frank Conway
MONEY is a finite resource. This is a lesson that parents up and down the country are keenly aware of following eight years of crushing austerity.
In a recent survey published by the Irish League of Credit Unions, some 16pc of respondents said they would ration food in order to meet back-to-school expenses.
This is a very expensive and stressful time of year for parents as costs and responsibilities mount. With new schools to prepare for, colleges to be driven to and a raft of books, transport needs, uniforms, accommodation, the costs and time requirements can seem endless and insurmountable.
Unfortunately, while money itself is finite, the ways to spend it are not. Third on the list of costs for students at school are school lunches (whatever happened to taking lunch to school?).
Students can be given more responsibility in the cycle of expenses and this can start in the home. For example, parents must introduce the concept of budgeting and money management at an early stage and what better time than in the back-to-school period?
And what better way of doing this than introducing a money- matching plan? The concept is relatively simple and in effect, turns the concept of budgeting on its head. Instead of trying to encourage kids to be careful with their cash and spend it "wisely", parents work towards giving their kids a little skin in the game, or a sense of ownership but encouraging them to use some ways of earning a little extra cash.
When kids do this, parents match the amount of earnings.
It is up to the parents how much they wish to match. This achieves a number of objectives most parents only dream about; extra income, shared ownership and shared responsibility.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Freelance writing is one of the most flexible summer jobs for college students. While you won't earn much - high-paying jobs are usually reserved for established authors, experts in their fields and staff writers - you can make some cash. To get started, check out sites such as The Barefoot Writer or Freelance Writing.
Be sure to determine your strengths before you begin applying. There's no point blogging about cars if your automotive knowledge doesn't extend past paint colour.
It can be tempting to sit on your laptop and search the web for a part-time job, but the reality is you will need to burn some rubber and knock on some doors. There are lots of short-term jobs that never make it online. Your best means of reaching the person that you need to convince you are the right person for the job will be face-to-face.
An increasingly popular way for students to make money is to fill out online surveys. Research companies are always recruiting new members to answer surveys and test new products. For a few minutes of form filling, you can make a couple of euro which is paid as cash or in rewards. A few good ones to try are: SurveyCompare, SurveyMonkey, IrishOpinions, MySurvey.
Becoming a mystery shopper for a company can have its perks. There are a range of services that cover the UK and Ireland and while there is no age limit, mystery shopping companies typically seek parental agreement for those under age 18.
Using a computer or social media is a given for any student nowadays but there is still a 'digital deficit' when it comes to some adults and senior citizens. Teaching adults the basics of using a computer, setting up a social media account or composing and email will not only provide real help but also be an opportunity to earn some cash, who knows, it may even spark an entrepreneurial side.
Frank Conway is founder of MoneyWhizz.org, the financial literacy initiative and editor of the 'Irish Financial Review'.