An important aspect of helping kids develop into responsible adults is teaching them the value and rewards of hard work and earning their own money. Through this, they gain self-esteem, come to understand the real value of a dollar and become more thoughtful in the way they spend money. Share the list below with your preteen or teen for a variety of ways kids can make money.
The grass is always greener – What better way to soak up the sun, get fit, and make spare cash all at once than mowing lawns? Create some fliers, and be sure to mention you live in the neighborhood. Include your fees based on yard size, and try to keep the rates below the cost of professional services. Also, don’t forget to include your phone number. Then you can deliver the fliers to the homes in your neighborhood lodged between doorknobs or tucked under mats. Never place anything in mailboxes because it’s illegal.
Young entrepreneur – Make the most of neighbors’ garage sales by setting up a refreshment stand in your own front yard. You’ll need a small table and a handmade sign: “Cookies and Lemonade – 25 cents each.” Set out a pitcher of lemonade or Kool-aid, disposable cups, and wrapped cookies. At the end of the sale, add up your profits, and divide them with your partners.
Too old for toys and games? – If so, clean out those you’ve outgrown, and hold a sale. Make a cardboard or wooden sign to attract neighborhood kids and passersby. Then lay out blankets in your front yard, and spread out your goods. Keep your prices reasonable. And don’t forget a 25-cent box filled with odds and ends.
Kiddie care – Are you old enough to stay home alone? If so, babysitting for other children is one of the top ways kids can make money. Spread the word through family, friends, and neighbors. Once you’ve gained experience, post fliers on the library, grocery, or laundromat bulletin boards. When babysitting, play games and do activities with the kids. Avoid talking on the phone or watching TV. Parents love sitters that keep their children busy. Also, don’t forget to clean up and wash dirty dishes.
A little dirt never hurt – Garage cleaning is a big chore, especially for the elderly. So offer your services to relatives and neighbors. When you get a job, be thorough. Move everything into the driveway or yard before you begin. Remove cobwebs with a broom. Sweep ledges and the garage floor. Then hose the garage concrete (with permission) to loosen ground-in dirt. When it’s dry, neatly arrange everything back into the garage.
Fence finishing – Wood fencing requires ongoing maintenance. So offer to assist your neighbors in sprucing up their yard by painting or staining their fences. The homeowner should supply the paint or stain and the necessary tools. Be sure to follow directions. Also, take your time to do a careful job.
Window washing – Offering your services for this dreaded task is sure to be a success. If you get the job, make sure your parents know the homeowner and approve of you going inside. Clean the interior of all windows, including doors. Also, don’t forget to open the windows and clean the ledges and tracks. Offer to do exterior windows you’re tall enough to reach without a ladder. Ask permission to hose them down to remove loose dirt. Then wash and dry them by hand.
Life’s a zoo –Pet owners who don’t like to kennel their pets are often in a dilemma at vacation time. Pass out fliers in your neighborhood offering to pet sit. Do the sitting in your home, garage, or fenced yard, if your parents agree. Otherwise, make regular visits to the pet’s home. Be responsible, and do exactly as the pet owner instructs, for both your safety and the pets.
Weeds away – Are weeds taking over your neighbors’ flower beds? Then offer to get them back into shape. Before you get started, find out which are plants or flowers that haven’t yet bloomed. When in doubt, ask before you pull them. Wear gloves to protect your hands. Hose the ground lightly to loosen roots. Pull weeds from rock beds, shrubbery, and cement cracks. Then dispose of them properly.
Dollars for duds– Have you hit another growth spurt? Ask your parents if you can consign your clothing and split the profits. This is one of the easiest ways kids can make money. Look for consignment shops in the yellow pages under “resale,” “clothing – used,” or “consignment.” Find out their policies. Then get your clothing ready. Wash and de-wrinkle, then hang or fold it neatly. Don’t forget shoes, jackets, and pajamas, too.
Errands for the elderly – Are there handicapped, disabled, or elderly persons in your neighborhood? If so, they’re apt to need some help. Offer to run errands within walking or biking distance. Attach a basket to your bike, or carry a backpack for easy transporting. If you have your driver’s license, offer to do more distant-runs.
Who’s walking who? – If you’re looking for a new summer pal, why not make it man’s best friend? Pass out fliers to offer your pet walking services. Never run a dog unless the owner agrees. And if the dog starts panting or doesn’t want to run, never push it. Dogs can easily overheat.
Make it shine – Here’s one of the coolest ways kids can make money, literally. Round up your friends, and get ready for some cool, wet fun! Hold a car wash in your driveway or a parking lot with permission from the property owner. Make a large colorful “Car Wash” sign. Include your cost, no more than your local car wash charges. Have your supplies handy: a bucket of soapy water, rags or sponge, a hose, and plenty of dry towels.
News courier – Hop on your bike or blades, and spread the news—that is, deliver the news. Apply for a route with your local newspaper, or add your name to the waiting list. Place newspapers either in a newspaper box or on the front porch to make sure they’ll remain dry. It may even increase your tips.
A volunteer vacation – Summer camps are always in need of volunteers. So contact those you’d like to attend, and ask how you can take part. You’ll need to know the age requirements, duties involved, and what activities you’ll be able to participate in. Summer camp staff and volunteers generally are not paid. But the experience and the week away may be well worth it.
Old McDonald had a farm … You don’t have to be raised on a farm to make a good farmhand. Although it’s certainly a bonus. One of the ways kids can make money is to visit area farms and offer to help. Work may include laboring in fields to feeding and caring for livestock.
At your service – Offer home cleaning services to your neighbors. Plan to do the following tasks, unless other arrangements are made: dust furniture and window ledges; vacuum carpet and stairs; sweep and mop tile, linoleum, and wooden floors; scour sinks, bathtubs, and toilets; shake out rugs; vacuum upholstered furniture; and make beds. Ask if straightening up is expected. Also, find out which cleaning products (supplied by the homeowner) to use on fixtures, appliances, and furniture to prevent damage.
Pool patrol – If sunbathing is your thing, then this is one of the great ways kids can make money! Find out the age and certification requirements for lifeguard duty. Then apply at your community pool, YMCA, or nearby beach. While keeping an eye on swimmers and soaking up the sun, keep your skin safe by using a good sunscreen.
Daycare duty – Do you love little kids? I mean lots of little kids? Then contact daycare centers and home daycare providers, and find out if they need a young assistant. Look up daycare centers in the yellow pages. You can find home daycare providers in classifieds, on bulletin boards, and through your state-licensing agency. Tasks may include assisting with crafts and activities, reading stories, helping with lunch and snacks, and cleaning up.
Nurturer of nature – If you’re a nature lover, don’t forget about your local parks. Possible positions may include assisting with planned activities and events, maintaining park grounds, and tending ticket booths. Call area parks to find out what jobs they offer and how to apply.
Tips for business success
Follow these tips to keep the loot rolling in and to play it safe.
- Get your parents’ permission before accepting a job, and make sure they know where you’ll be.
- Dress for the type of job, and wear old clothes if they could be ruined.
- Discuss payment in advance to avoid disputes or hard feelings.
- Do your best. Not only will you earn respect and feel good about yourself, it will likely affect whether you are hired again and can use that person as a reference.
- If you make a mistake, don’t ignore it or try to cover it up. Inform your employer, offer your apologies, and ask what can be done. Your honesty will likely make your employer overlook the error.
- Be on time. Call right away, if you’ll be late or can’t make it.
Kimberly Blaker is a professional freelance writer.