I grew up financially in what I would consider a smack dab in the middle of a middle-class family. We weren't rich, nor were we poor. I'm sure we experienced tough times, but my parents did a good job keeping us blissfully unaware of any financial troubles we might have gone through. I sometimes got the things I wanted; other times, I didn't.
Even still, I learned early on that money is essential, and I liked having it. So I always found creative ways to make a buck. Some of these ideas are for younger kids, and some are for older ones, but they are all things I did or heard about doing to make money when I was a kid/teenager, and they still apply today.
When I was young, I found that most adults appreciated seeing kids seeking ways to make money rather than asking for it outright. Making money as a kid teaches them how to start managing it and learning to spend wisely on a small scale so that when they are older, they have some skills in place for adulthood.
24 Money-making Opportunities for Kids
1. The Allowance
Growing up, I was never given an allowance, mainly because my parents didn't ask much of me, my brother, or my sister. I remember, on occasion, they would bribe us with the possibility of an allowance. We'd be more inclined to do some chores around the house only to discover on payday that we'd only be getting 50 cents, so I wasn't that motivated by their bribes. Some parents, though, pay BIG, so negotiate your rate and get to work. (Anna said she had a friend who earned $10 a week growing up… now that's big time.)
2. Lemonade Stand
I remember trying this once. I didn't grow up in a “neighborhood,” so to speak. Our house was (and still is) situated about 100 yards off the road, and the houses weren't close together. We didn't get much (if any) foot traffic and I wasn't set up in a convenient spot for people to pull over, so it was a complete bust for me sitting in the woods 100 yards off the road… but if you're a kid living in a nice suburban neighborhood, this could be a tremendous entrepreneurial enterprise on a hot summer day.
Think outside the box and offer something other than lemonade to set yourself apart from neighborhood competition. (When Anna was growing up, she says that they -her sisters and some neighbor kids- sold their art on the corner.)
3. Christmas and Birthdays
When these days roll around, it's like winning the lottery when you're a kid. My Christmas list, among other things, usually just included a simple request for money. As I got older, my grandparents and other extended family members stopped getting creative with gifts and just started to give me cards with “cold hard cash” in them. If kids play their cards right and spend conservatively, they can leap-frog from one holiday to another and not have to find ways to hustle for work.
4. Report Cards
I never got paid for my grades (it was more that I just didn't get grounded if I did well). But academic excellence is a thriving business if your parents motivate with money.
I remember some kids scoring big when they brought their report cards home, getting upwards of $5 an A. Report cards can equal a very lucrative paycheck, depending on how many subjects you have and your grades.
5. Summer Jobs
I supplemented my weekend job with landscaping jobs during my summers. I was the “trimmer” and could weed whack the hell out of any lawn. I made $10 an hour at this job, which I thought was pretty sweet. There are tons of summer job positions out there. Lifeguard, work at an amusement park, be a camp counselor, it doesn't matter.
6. Bake Sale
We've all had to sell something at some point in our lives. I remember peddling around boxes of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups to raise money for my baseball team. We were required to sell a certain amount, and I have no idea where the profits went. We always seemed to have the same crappy equipment and smelly uniform, so rather than sell things to raise money for other people, whip up a batch of cookies or brownies and sell those goodies to the same people and keep the money for yourself.
7. Sell Your Toys
Since I officially didn't buy most of my toys, I had to ask my parents before I sold them (and it was nice that they let me keep the profits), but I made a pretty penny selling my old Sega games. I mainly sold them so I could upgrade to the Sega Genesis, though. As I got older, I sold all types of things to my friends who desperately wanted what I had. I remember selling: B.B. guns, slingshots, and action figures. If I wasn't emotionally attached to a toy, and someone wanted it, I sold it. Big profits come when the said object is something the other parents forbid that kid from having. Sure, you risk major trouble if you (or they) get caught, but sometimes money talks.
My dad and I collected cans for years, and everyone we knew saved their cans for us. We'd crush and stash them in huge black garbage bags behind the house. Then, we'd take them to the recycling center a few times a year. I don't remember how much money we'd get, but I remember getting a loot cut. Plus, it helps the environment, so you get to collect.
9. Sell Candy
My best friend growing up, had quite an enterprise selling Candy at school. His parents would go to Sam's Club and buy Jolly Ranchers in bulk, which in turn, he'd sell to desperate kids needing a mid-day sugar rush. He was making 20 bucks a day. Your school may have rules preventing this, but if they don't, or you choose to rebel and break the rules, you could bank some nice coin.
10. Mow Lawns
Mowing lawns was my bread and butter (Anna has told me this is how she and her siblings banked the most money too). I made a living mowing my great-aunt Effie's lawn. She supported me through my early teen years, and I consider her my first employer. She was overly generous regarding compensation, paying me way more than I deserved. Usually in the $20 range, extra if I did the trimming. As I got older, I went into business with my Grandpa, and our lawn-mowing empire expanded from one lawn (my aunt's) to two lawns (my next-door neighbor's farm). It was a pretty good deal. My Grandpa would provide the riding tractor and gas and mow the areas around the house. I was responsible for cutting the back acreage. The money was good, usually $20-25. We always hoped to pick up a few more lawns but never grew beyond those two yards. If you find the right clients, you can roll your lawn mowing service into other areas of opportunity throughout the entire year (see the next couple of suggestions).
11. Rake Leaves
Growing up, we lived in the woods, and when fall rolled around, raking leaves quickly became a full-time job. I never got paid to rack. I racked for the more selfish reason of creating massive piles to jump into and probably, did more work for my dad. If I had demanded payment for pulling leaves, I would've just been denied, but some people, especially older people, love help around the yard, so start asking around.
12. Shovel Snow
Again, I made a killing shoveling snow for my Aunt Effie. Ironically, she didn't know how to drive, so I'm not sure why she always wanted her driveway shoveled, but on snow days, I'd race up to her house (hopefully beating my brother to the gig) and shovel out her driveway and sidewalk. The pay scale was again in the upper $ 20s and was usually accompanied by a cup of hot chocolate. A bonus was given if I shoveled out her mailbox on the opposite side of the street. I made enough from her pay alone that I didn't need to shovel anyone else's driveway, but if I had made a few bucks, I would have defined out more snow removal jobs.
13. Start Your Enterprise
My friend took this concept to the extreme one summer when he and his dad invested in an old beat-up ice cream truck. The company was called “King's Cream,” I was briefly an employee. The concept was shorted lived, lasting only one glorious summer (because we ate more product than we sold), and any profits he did make, he had to give to his dad to pay for gas and inventory. I didn't get paid, either. I took my compensation in the form of Choco Tacos and Klondikes. Hey, it worked for me. The truck soon became nothing more than a novelty to have sitting around at family picnics, but the idea was good. Clean pools deliver groceries; it doesn't matter; if you have a good idea for a small business, try to start it up.
14. Become a Tutor
Honestly, I was usually tutored….math always got me. Teachers typically guided me in school during recess, but I remember my parents shelling out money to my brother's 5th-grade tutor. So if you have the brains, put them to good use and start charging people for your knowledge.
I never babysat any kids; it wasn't my thing, but my sister did quite often and made a lot of money doing so. Start with family members, then try expanding your services to the neighborhood. You can have a lucrative gig if you're reliable, have competitive rates, and are CPR and 1st aid certified.
16. House Sit
I did do my share of house-sitting. In most cases, it was usually just for vacationing family members, but I still got paid and ate everything they had in the fridge.
17. Dog/Pet Sit
Usually, when I house-sat, watching a dog (or other pet) was included in my services, but it can be a separate business. People love their pets, and when those pets can't go with them on vacation, they want the best possible care for them and will pay big for their care.
18. Dog Walk
I never had a dog growing up, and the dogs I did know usually just ran around freely, so they were never in need of walking, but if you live in the right area and see a lot of people with dogs, dog walking is one of the easiest ways to make a quick buck when you are a kid. When you are back at the person's house, try this add-on technique: tackle the dreaded job of pooper-scooper-upper and clean up their backyard. It's not pleasant, but charge by the turd, and you'll make a killing.
19. Paper Route
I never had a paper route, but my cousin did, so my brother and I ventured along with him a few times. It seemed like a lot of work, and then there was that time when a bird crapped on my head, and my brother beat me with the straps of my cousin's newspaper satchel. That experience ended my paper boy career, but just because it wasn't a good fit for me doesn't mean someone else wouldn't enjoy a paper route and profit enormously from it.
My dad always had some garden growing; most years, I'd help him tend to his crop. Some years it was better than others, but the harvest usually consisted of various peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes. He'd usually freely share the bounty, but that's not to say you couldn't sell your produce to neighbors and friends.
Your hobbies could net you some serious cash. I attempted to collect many things throughout my childhood: baseball cards, coins, stamps, comic books, you name it. I never stuck with managing one specific thing for too long, though. My interests constantly changed, and I wasn't serious enough about collecting (unless it was Garbage Pail Kids cards), so I wasn't good at it. But if you are a serious collector, check your inventory because you could be sitting on a gold mine. If you don't want to sell your collection now, you could set yourself up for a nice bonus when you are ready to part with your valuables later in life.
22. Wash Cars
I washed my mom's car a lot. Usually, it wasn't for money but to sweeten her up before I asked to borrow it but washing cars for cash can be profitable. Charge more by offering to clean the inside of vehicles as well.
23. First Job
I'm not into robbing a kid of their youth, but I wouldn't stop them if they want to get started on their independent financial journey. I got my first job when I was 15 (Anna did too). I was a cashier at Mobil Mart and worked the weekend shift. I started at $4.75 an hour. I kept this job through high school and my first year of college. When I quit, I was making roughly $6 an hour.
Laws vary from state to state, but most fast food joints hire almost anyone, and I think you only need to be 14. If fast food isn't your thing, bus tables at an upscale eatery, washing dishes, bag groceries, whatever…the job opportunities when you are 15 are endless (even if there are limited hours that you're allowed to work).
P.S. Looking to make more money? CLICK HERE for over 195+ side gig ideas