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How one Houston mom is raising entrepreneurs

HOUSTON – Teaching kids the value of money, about earning and saving, can be a difficult concept. One Houston mom turned the concept into a career with a literal job for her children.

Like clockwork every Sunday afternoon, the Jarvis children roll their trash cans and their neighbors' cans to the curb for pickup on Monday morning. They charge 25 cents for each can.

"They hide it under the trash," said James Jarvis, 5, as he explained how neighbors pay for his service.

Their garbage business is paying off. Brooke Jarvis, 8, said she has saved $320 so far.

Their mother, Jill Jarvis, believes the lessons her kids are learning are worth much more than the quarters they're saving.

"We didn't want the kids to feel entitled to money," Jill Jarvis said. "We would like them to know that if you work hard, you can get a good grade. If you work hard, you can earn some money. And just know that things aren't just automatically handed to you."

The garbage job started when big brother Joe Jarvis was just 4 and fixated on Legos.

"It was this constant loop of conversation of him asking for Legos and me saying, 'You have to work for money.' And it just wasn't going anywhere," Jill Jarvis said.

So she decided to show him. Joe got his own business cards, and "Garbage Man" Joe took off.

"It's been the best accidental parenting we've done," said Jill Jarvis.

It wasn't long before Brooke and little brother James joined the family business. Somewhere between the house and the curb, the teachable moments keep piling up.

"After a few weeks, you know, it got boring, and we didn't really want to do the trash can business," James said. "But we learned if we don't pull out the trash cans Sunday, our neighbors, who are our friends, are going to be stuck with stinky trash cans. So, we learned how to go do it, even when it wasn't our favorite thing to do."

Brooke said she used her money to buy a karaoke machine, James now wants the Legos and "Garbage Man" Joe has moved on to more expensive toys.

"Right now, I'm saving up for catching gear for my baseball season," Joe said. 

"If they earn the quarters and they blow it all when the ice cream man comes, then they don't have enough money to buy Legos," Jill Jarvis said.

Jill Jarvis is the founder of the blog Big Kid Small City. She has also turned Garbage Man Joe into an e-book. Download it to read all about how she got her kids a job instead of an allowance.