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Pre-teens and teens are perfectly capable of making some money on their own, even if they’re too young to get a real job. Side hustles are all the rage with adults who want to supplement their incomes with extra money or who love the flexibility of small gigs instead of a full-time job. Kids, too, can get in on the side hustle action.
I remember when I was 12 and my brother, who worked at a car dealership, offered to pay me $10 per car’s interior that I cleaned.
Usually I could get at least one done every hour, so I was making a solid $10 to $15 per hour and put in a few hours a day each weekend. I loved having my own money and I felt like I was becoming a responsible adult.
Your child can do the same by utilizing his skills and interests and your neighborhood resources to find some gig-worthy opportunities near your home. Let him be responsible and learn what it takes to earn some money. The best part is that he won’t be bugging you for cash for the movies this weekend!
Let’s talk about several ways that your child can make some extra money after school or during the summer (no, of them require opening a lemonade stand!).
The Benefits of Letting Your Kid Have a Money-Making Gig
I’m all for giving my children chores and an allowance. In fact, I’ve given my children chores and have taught them about finances since they could walk and talk – in age-appropriate ways, of course.
I’m also a firm believer that teaching your kids the importance of working hard and how doing so can affect their earnings. When a child reaches the pre-teen age, it might be wise to start letting her branch out of the allowance phase and let her find ways to earn some money on her own.
Once your pre-teen or teen starts a side hustle, she’ll begin to understand how hard work pays off. She’ll know that she has to work to earn money to spend on dinner and a movie over the weekend with her best friends. She’ll also see how much she’ll need to work to earn the amount she wants.
For families who live paycheck to paycheck, a kid’s side gig can give a family more financial freedom because there’s one more person earning some cash in the household, putting less pressure on parents to worry about bills and entertainment costs.
And, since a side hustle is much different than a regular job, your child could even gain an entrepreneurial mindset. Gig work is all about flexibility, creativity, and boosting your earnings by boosting your performance, much like starting a business.
Your child might even find a gig that he absolutely loves and can consider turning into a business that grows with him.
1. Taking Online Surveys
Most online survey panels require that their members are at least 18 years old to avoid getting into any hot water with minors and their parents. However, there are several that allow members ages 13 and up to participate in the panels with parental permission.
Surveys do take time and there’s a possibility that your child won’t qualify for many because of her age. A lot of surveys ask career or shopping-related questions that don’t apply to kids. But, some brands specifically look for teenagers to answer their surveys. Sometimes, teens are the age group the brand targets or wants to target.
Here are a few panels that allow kids or teenagers to join and participate for some extra cash:
- Survey Junkie (13+ – earn $5-18 per hour)
- MyPoints (13+ – $10 bonus when you earn your first $20)
- Swagbucks (13+ – $5 sign-up bonus)
- Toluna (14+ – $1 – $5 per survey)
2. Caring for Lawns
Lawn work isn’t the most exciting thing for kids (or adults) to do, but it certainly offers your child a lot of opportunities to make some cash. There are three reasons for this:
- Lawn work is something people need all year long. During the summer, you mow lawns, the fall is for raking leaves, you can blow or shovel snow in the winter, and spring is the perfect time to get yards ready for gardening or looking their best with some landscaping. Your child could potentially have a gig that he can do all year, after school or on weekends.
- You don’t need a lot of experience to take care of lawns if you’re not doing professional-grade work. Most pre-teens and teens are perfectly cable of doing all of the above with little to no help.
- Your neighbors can probably give your kid plenty of work. Neighbors are the perfect resource to tap into for virtually any kid-worthy side gig. You likely already know several of them who also know your child, so it’s not like you’ll need to hunt down potential customers.
I don’t suggest allowing your child go door-to-door asking the neighbors if they’d like to invest in his yard work skills. But, you could hand out some flyers or mention to your neighbors while they’re out walking their dogs or doing their own lawn work that your child would be glad to help.
3. Delivering Newspapers
Newspaper delivery is a traditional teen job that often gets overlooked while people try to find more creative ways for their kids to make money. But, the truth is that it’s still one of the best ways for teens to earn cash because it’s pretty flexible.
Newspaper delivery is something kids can do after school for an hour or two per day. It just depends on your local newspaper and its guidelines. You can drive them around if it makes you feel better or send them off walking or on their bike. It doubles as some extra exercise!
4. Becoming a Party Character
How much fun would it be for a kid to get dressed up like different famous characters, head to a kids’ birthday party and be the center of attention? Most kids would have a lot of fun with it. But, it’s not all just fun and games – they can also get paid a decent price for their time!
Check out this article on Thumbtack, which shows what a few people charge for dressing up as kid-favorite characters and making an appearance at a party. Prices range from anywhere between $50 and $200 or more per hour.
Your child doesn’t have to be an employee of a company to do this, though. Does he have a Spiderman costume from Halloween? Have him wear it, snap a few pictures, and post about it on local Facebook groups.
Charge $25 instead of $50 per hour and he’ll probably have locals lining up to score his services at upcoming birthday parties.
5. Washing Cars
A lot of sports teams use car washes as a way to raise funds for uniforms, traveling, and other expenses. Your child can cash in on washing cars himself, though, if you don’t mind fronting the costs for soap, wash mitts, drying towels, and other materials he’ll need to get started.
Don’t forget – he can always reimburse you once he starts having some money come in.
Try setting up a weekend car wash in your driveway. Put up signs around the neighborhood like you would for a yard sale or advertise it in Facebook groups. You might even suggest that your child has some friends join in to make it more fun, and they can all share their earnings.
UrbanSitter’s 2017 survey on babysitting rates noted that the national average rate for babysitting is $15.20 per hour. This number includes babysitters of all ages, though, so your teenager should probably lower that rate to somewhere between $8 and $10 per hour.
Babysitting is the first job for a lot of teenagers, especially girls. If your family knows another family well, it’s possible that your child can start babysitting their children at a younger age than a teen who has never met the kids before.
For example, I started babysitting when I was 13 for a family my family knew well. The mom trusted me with her little ones because she knew how well we already got along and how much I loved them.
Talk to your friends and neighbors you know well to see if they might consider your kid as an after-school or weekend babysitter. Your teen, if he or she is between 14 and 17 years old, can also sign up for a parent-monitored Care.com account to find more babysitting opportunities locally.
7. Pet Sitting or Walking
What kid doesn’t love animals? Pet-related work would be a dream job for many children and teens because it’s fun and gives them the companionship of furry friends.
Dog walking not only gives your child the opportunity to get outside and get some exercise into his day, but it’s starting to become quite the lucrative side business. According to Chron, dog walkers can typically charge anywhere from $10 to $15 for a half hour of walking, depending on the area in which you live.
Dog walking does come with some risks, though, like the possibility of your child being unable to handle a dog if it becomes aggressive or pulls too much on its leash. Therefore, it’s a good idea to only allow your child to walk dogs that he knows well.
Or, stick to pet sitting. Your child can offer to watch the dogs of neighbors or family friends when they go on vacation or will be out of the home for the weekend.
On the other end of the animal spectrum, there’s poop-scooping. No, it’s not very luxurious. Still, this is a legitimate business that adults are making work for them. There’s no reason that your child can’t do the same.
Just look at DoodyCalls, a pet waste management service that cleans up dog poop from residential and business yards and community properties.
This is definitely a service that your child can market easily by sticking an ad in the newspaper or advertising it in local Facebook groups.
9. Creating Artwork or Crafts
Most children have some sort of hobby, and many of them are craft-related. I’ve known girls who love to make hair bows or create sculptures and boys who put together model cars in record times or make gorgeous wood furniture and décor items.
Your talented kiddo could potentially turn their craft into a business. He might be able to sell his crafts at a yard sale or flea market. But, if you don’t think you have enough sales opportunities locally, you might consider setting up an Etsy account for him to sell his art online.
You’ll need to set up the Etsy shop because minors aren’t allowed to sell. That’ll mean a little bit of work for you responding to messages and reviews and monitoring orders. However, your teen can likely package his items to fulfill and ship orders on his own.
Do you have a child who excels in school? Not only can she help other students do well in her subjects of expertise, but she can also get paid to tutor them.
Some schools have peer tutoring sessions for students to tutor others after school. However, some parents want more intense tutoring on several days per week, or even for a couple of weekend hours, if their kids are really struggling.
According to Care.com, teenage tutors can expect to earn anywhere from $12 to $20 per hour tutoring others.
11. Writing or Blogging
Most teens use social media rather than blogs. But, if your teen enjoys writing – research-based or creative – then a blog could be a good starting point for becoming an entrepreneur.
Eva Baker was a 16-year-old regular girl who started a blog called Teens Got Cents. Within a couple of years, she was able to turn it into a business and now earns more than $5,000 a month from her blog alone, just five years later.
Blog monetization is usually a slow-and-steady process, but if your writing-lover starts one now, it’s possible that it can be a consistent money maker within a year or two.
In order to get started with a blog, you’ll need a domain name and hosting. When you sign-up for Bluehost, you get hosting for as little as $3.95/month as well as a free domain your first year.
12. Creating Videos
Kids as young as preschool age are making money creating YouTube videos. The most popular way to monetize a channel for young children is by reviewing or unboxing toys. However, there are so many directions children and teens can go with this (pending parental approval and supervision, of course).
One 16-year-old YouTuber named Tanner Braungardt shot to stardom on YouTube after creating videos about pranks, stunts, and more. He now has close to 4 million subscribers, which can generate a lot of revenue from ads.
Other teen YouTube stars get major views from things like makeup tutorials, dance routines, singing (think: Justin Bieber), and more.
13. Live Streaming
Live streaming games has also become a lucrative business for teens. If they’re going to play video games, they might as well make some money off it!
Twitch.tv is a popular live streaming service that allows teenagers to join with parental permission and supervision. Not only can you live stream gameplay to others who want to watch, but you can make money through ads. Much like YouTube, the more viewers you have, the better your ad revenue will be.
If your teen develops a good subscriber base, she can also sign up to be a Twitch.tv partner. Through the program, she can earn $2.50 per month for every subscriber she has.
14. Performing Arts
Many towns – even small ones – have opportunities for people who are into the arts, such as dance, theater, or music. A lot of performing arts theaters ask for volunteers for performances. But, that doesn’t mean that there’s no chance for your child to make money.
You can always ask your local theater if there are any paid spots for your child to perform or even help out backstage. Or, if your child is crafty, you might be able to get a local museum or art gallery interested in buying something he’s made.
There could also be some community contests that award cash prizes for artwork, talent shows, and more. It’s worth checking out.
15. Scavenging for Recyclables
Some recyclables can really pay off, especially if your kid doesn’t mind getting a little dirty to find things worth some money.
Some states, for example, offer cash back for cans and bottles that you turn in. California will pay 5 cents for most bottles or cans up to 24 ounces, and 10 cents for larger ones, while Oregon pays a flat 10 cents for bottles.
Your child can also rummage for scrap metal, which pays differently depending on the type of metal it is. You can use the iScrapApp to find a scrap yard near you to inquire about their prices for each type of metal.
16. Designing T-Shirts
T-shirt businesses are huge right now. Several sites let you use an online designer program that requires little to no designing skills. They’ll even take care of printing and shipping your shirts. Then, you get the difference between the cost of the shirt and what the customer pays. It couldn’t be a simpler business model.
The trick is to find a niche that’s not overly-saturated. If your child wants to go this route, suggest that he focuses on one interest that he can branch out of, like shirts related to his favorite sport.
Some sites will require that a parent sets up and maintains the shop, so be sure to look over the Terms of Service before getting started. Here are a few online t-shirt companies that will let you sell quickly and easily:
17. Selling Photos
Do you have a photography fanatic on your hands? There are several websites and apps that will pay for pictures!
Foap is an app that your child can use to upload photos straight from her cell phone to sell to others. Some brands even create missions for themed photos and the winners can receive prize money.
Or, try some of the following websites that will pay your teen when someone downloads her photos:
18. Visiting Seniors
The elderly love the smiling faces of young children and teens. For those living alone or in nursing homes, having kids come visit them can prevent depression and comfort them.
Families of elderly people might be open to paying your child to visit their family members after school for an hour or two. She can play games, read to, or just enjoy the company of her senior friend. You can also check with local nursing homes to see if they have any paying programs available.
Earning his own money is a crucial step toward your teen developing a sense of work ethic and financial stability. He’s much likelier to be a wise spender with his own money than with yours. He’ll start to connect his work with the value of a dollar.
Let your budding entrepreneur have a shot at one of these side hustles. Wait and see what she can do – she might surprise you!
Do your children or teens have side gigs they love? We’d love to hear about them! Leave us a comment below.