earn your keep

earn (one's) keep

To perform sufficient work or help in exchange for money or housing. If you're going to live here rent-free, then you need to earn your keep by helping out with the cooking and cleaning. That boarder earns his keep by doing maintenance in the building.
See also: earn, keep

earn your keep

be worth the time, money, or effort spent on you.
See also: earn, keep

ˌearn your ˈkeep

be useful, helpful, successful, etc. enough to balance any costs that you cause: Jill more than earns her keep with the help she gives me around the house.Though it’s expensive to buy and maintain, the new computer is earning its keep as we’ve been able to reduce the number of staff.
See also: earn, keep
References in classic literature ?
I'll expect you to earn your keep, and no mistake about that.
Also an active performer, Whitten was quoted in Philadelphia Music Makers stating: "If you earn your keep as a teacher, you can be tempted to sacrifice your art, but you really can't.
I had another name When you were born I became Mum To feed you when you'rehungry I wiped your tears When you cried I took away your fears Sleepless nights walking the floor I am Mum I take you to school Leave you at the door Tears in my eyes You don't need me anymore Growing up leaving school Going to work to earn your keep When you're out late I never sleep I am Mum When you leave home I will feel all alone Like a rose losing its petals The pain I feel is like a sting From nettles No matter where you are Near or far You will always be near in my heart With the love I have had From the very start.