Money Doesn't Grow on Trees


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Chances are, you know that money doesn't grow on trees. There are only a few ways you can get money. You can find it, win it, receive it as a gift, and earn it.


In this lesson, you will explore the ways people get money. Then you will create a plan for earning extra money.


Find it
handful of cashHave you ever found a coin on the sidewalk? Or maybe under the cushions of a chair? Money can be lost anywhere. If you are alert, you might find it. Of course, if you find a wallet or a lot of money, you will want to try to find the owner.

Win it
lotterySome people win money in a contest. Others win money by gambling. Buying a lottery ticket is one way people gamble. When you gamble, you have to spend money to try to win. There is no guarantee you will win more money than you spend. In fact, there is no guarantee that you will win anything. You have a better chance of getting hit by lightening than winning a lottery. Also, in most states, you have to be at least 18 years old before you can gamble.

Receive it as a gift
money envelopeSometimes people receive money for a special occasion such as a birthday, holiday, or graduation. When money is given and nothing is expected in return, the money is a gift. If you get money as a gift, be sure to send a thank-you note in return. In your note you might mention what you plan to do with the money. Be sure to follow through with your plan. Having a plan and following through will show that you are a wise money manager. People are more likely to give you money again if they think you are a wise money manager.

Earn it
You can't count on winning money or getting it as a gift. Most people get their money by earning it. Do you get paid money for doing work at home? Some young people are paid an allowance for doing chores. Others get paid for good grades or the amount of time they spend practicing a musical instrument. Remember, if you are given money and nothing is expected in return, the money you get is a gift. You did not earn it.

piggy bankOnce you have some money, you can use it to get more money. You can save or invest your money. You do this by letting someone else borrow your money. Banks, credit unions, businesses, and even the government will pay you to let them use your money.

When you work for money, you are getting earned income. When your money earns money, the money you are paid is called unearned income. This is because you didn't have to do a job to get it. Your money did the work for you! This lesson focuses on earned income. You will learn more about savings, investing, and unearned income another day.

Activity 1
Think of something you would like to have but need more money to buy. How much more money do you need? If you don't get an allowance, may want to ask for one. If you do get an allowance, you may want to ask for more. In 1999, Kids Money did an allowance survey to find out how much kids are paid. Check this information out. It may help you talk with your parents about the size of your allowance.

If you ask for a bigger allowance, you will want to explain why you want the extra money and what you will do to earn it. Of course, the work you do for your raise would be in addition to the regular chores you are already doing. To earn a regular income, you might offer to dust every week, care for a pet, or handle recycling chores. Other jobs are good for extra cash once in a while such as cleaning windows, washing the car, and sweeping the sidewalk.

Answer the following questions and print out your results:

  1. Do you receive a regular allowance?
  2. What must you do to get your allowance? (Choose One: Household chores, Nothing, I don't get an allowance)
  3. If you do work to get your allowance, list what you must do.
  4. How much allowance do you get each week? Put "None" if you don't get an allowance.
  5. How do you spend your allowance?
  6. Are you expected to buy school lunch or other things with your allowance money?

After all of your classmates have completed the survey, use graphs to show your answers:

  1. What proportion of students receive an allowance?
  2. What are the different sizes of the allowances?
  3. What are you and your classmates expected to do to earn an allowance?
  4. How are allowances actually used?

Think About It

  • How does the dollar amount of allowances in your class compare with those reported in the Kids Money Survey ?
  • What might explain any differences?

Activity 2
moneyIf earning money at home doesn't look very promising, don't sweat it. There are plenty of other ways to earn money outside your home. Is there something you can sell that other people want? You might be able to sell toys you no longer use. Or is there something you make that you could sell? Lots of kids have sold lemonade. You could also sell your services. You might deliver newspapers, walk a neighbor's dog or run errands. It's a good feeling when someone who isn't your family thinks you are responsible enough to hire you for a job. Before you do any of these things, be sure to check with your parents first!

Heather wanted to have a birthday party but she didn't have enough money to pay for the expenses that would involve. She decided to earn money outside her home. Read Heather's Story to find out how she solved her problem. With your classmates, brainstorm a list of other ways for Heather to earn money.


Wouldn’t it be nice if you won a million dollars on a television game show? Or maybe someone would give you a lot of money as a gift? Of all the people you know, how many people have been so lucky? Most people get their money by working for it. If you need some extra money, earning it is usually the best route to choose.


  1. Now it's time to find out whether you understand some of the vocabulary people use when talking about money. Can you complete the sentences on this worksheet?
  2. Prepare a plan for earning extra money to buy something you want to buy in the future. Elements of your plan should include the following:
    • The item you want to purchase
    • The cost of the item
    • Jobs you can do to earn the money needed
    • A realistic estimate of what you can earn each time you do a job, plus an estimate of how long it will take to earn all the money needed
    • A statement of how you will avoid the temptation to spend the money earned on something else before you reach your goal

    Think about each of these things then click here to give the details of your plan.