How to Make Money as a Teenager: 12 Ways Your Teen Can Make Money Without a Job

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Written By Colin Graves

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A few months ago, my youngest daughter came to me for help. She was looking for a way to make some extra money. Her school had cancelled classes due to COVID-19, and she was facing a long summer holed up due to a global pandemic, with the prospect of not being able to see her friends that often. 

At the ripe old age of 14, she wasn’t quite ready for a job at the local grocery store, so we began brainstorming ways for her to make money. As someone who has plenty of experience with side hustles, I knew one thing going in. If we were going to come up with a business idea, it needed to check 3 boxes: 

  1. It had to be FUN. 
  2. It had to align with her SKILLSET
  3. It had to be PROFITABLE 

If it wasn’t fun, she wouldn’t stick with it for long. If it didn’t align with her skills, she may get easily discouraged. That’s not to say that she couldn’t pick up some new skills along the way, of course. Lastly, if the business couldn’t make money, well, that would defeat the entire purpose. 

My daughter is quite artistic and loves making crafts, so I suggested that she open an Etsy store to sell handcrafted jewelry. She loves making beaded necklaces, bracelets, anklets, that kind of thing. She loved the idea, so we sat down and began to plan things out.  

It took a few weeks to get the Etsy store up and running. My daughter came up with some cool, beach-themed designs as well as a brand name and logo. She then set up an Instagram account to promote her products. We purchased enough material to get started, and I helped her get the Etsy store fully functional. 

How to Make Money as a 14 Year Old

In just over a month, this 14-year old budding entrepreneur has sold more than $400 of product. Along the way, she’s learning how to run a business, which is no small thing: product design, pricing, profit margins, copywriting, customer service, marketing & promotion, social media, tracking income & expenses – all skills she’s picked up over the course of the summer. 

It’s gone so well that we’ve decided to launch another online store in a few weeks, featuring her very own designs on tee-shirts, hoodies and other apparel. 

The experience got me thinking about the many different ways teens can make money. Of course, being a personal finance blogger, you know it’s going to end on the blog. So, without further ado, here’s the list I’ve come up with so far. 🙂

1. Open an Etsy Store 

If your teen is into arts and crafts, they can make money by selling their handcrafted goods on Etsy. While Etsy does not allow minors to own their own store, children between 13 and 18 can use Etsy’s services with their parent’s permission. The parent must be listed as the store owner, and the child can fill the role of creator or designer. This is how my daughter and I have set up our store. 

Etsy lets you list your items for sale and set your own prices (including shipping). Here’s a tip:  when creating your listings, make sure you include lots of high quality pictures of your products, as they will need to stand out in order to generate sales. 

Once your teen has products to sell, they can begin promoting their store on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook etc. Opening an Etsy store is free, but they do charge $0.20 to list each product for 4 months, and take a 5% cut from each sale. This is a great opportunity to teach your teen how to price their product, accounting for the associated costs. 

2. Sell Your Stuff 

If your teenager wants to make money fast, encourage them to sell stuff they no longer use. My two oldest kids have made lots of money this way. Clothes, video games, sports equipment, you name it, all of these items will be in high demand, providing they’ve been kept in good condition. 

You can list items for sale on sites like Craigslist, Kijiji, or even your local community’s Facebook Buy and Sell Marketplace. What I don’t recommend is trying to sell stuff in a yard sale, as they won’t get nearly as much for their items. Instead, sell them one-by-one. 

3. Earn Rewards on Swagbucks 

If your teenager has time on their hands, they can make extra money with Swagbucks. This is a rewards website that pays members with gift cards to stores like Amazon and Walmart when they fill out surveys, shop online, watch videos and play games. You can also earn cash in the form of Paypal gift cards. 

Swagbucks won’t make your kid rich, but it will help fund their junk food habit, or cover a streaming subscription or two. What I like about Swagbucks is that, unlike other rewards websites, they allow anyone 13 or over to join! Of course, minors should always get permission from a parent prior to signing up.

4. Teach Music Lessons 

If your teenager is musically inclined, they can make good money teaching music lessons. There are no shortage of people out there wanting to learn how to play piano, drums, or guitar.

It’s ok if your teen isn’t a super accomplished musician, they just need to be a couple steps ahead of the person they’re teaching. It can be a lucrative gig, as even new music teachers can charge $20-$30 per hour.

To find students, spread the word in your local Facebook Community Group, or put up posters around your neighbourhood. 

5. Babysitting 

Babysitting has always been a great job for any teenager who loves kids, especially younger teens who aren’t quite old enough for a “real job”. All parents know that a good babysitter is worth their weight in gold.

When our kids were young, my wife and I always made sure our top sitters were well compensated. All three of our kids have made money babysitting over the years, often returning home with $50-$80 in their pocket for an evening’s work. 

6. Tutor Younger Kids

Tutors are a hot commodity right now, with thousands of kids not returning to the classroom this fall, due to COVID-19. This could be a great way for your teenager to help younger kids with their studies while making extra cash during the school year. They can get the word out on Facebook, or let their school know that they’re available to help. 

Should You Help Your Child Buy Their First Car?

7. Freelance on Fiverr 

I’m amazed at the skills kids possess nowadays. Audio and video production, music creation, photography, graphic design, drawing, coding, kids can do it all. The cool thing is, it no longer has to be “just a hobby” because they are young.

Your teen can get paid by offering their services on freelance websites like Fiverr. As long as they have the ability, there is no minimum age requirement. The money won’t be great at first, as it takes time to build up a portfolio of work, the potential is there to create a lucrative freelance business.

If you haven’t heard of Fiverr, I highly recommend checking it out to see what’s possible. 

8. Referee Minor Sports

If your teenager loves to play sports, I’m willing to bet they can make some extra money working as an umpire or referee in their particular sport. To get started, there may be some volunteer work required, but as they gain experience, they’ll be asked to officiate more often, and at higher levels, where the pay is better.

One downside of refereeing is having to deal with the occasional unruly parent, but it is bound to be a character builder.

9. Dog Walking

This one tops the list of easy ways to make money as a teen. If you have a dog in your own home, chances are your teenager knows how to properly care for them.

Okay, that may not always be the case. But if they love animals, and have experience with dogs in particular, they can make money by offering to walk a friend or neighbor’s dog on a regular basis. Even if it’s not big money, the hours are likely going to be flexible, and it’s time outside.

10. House Sitting

Older teens may get the opportunity to house sit for families who are travelling out of town for a few days, or longer. Every year, my wife and I hire a teenager we know to stay at our house while we’re gone on our annual summer road trip.

It saves us from having to bring our dogs to a kennel, and our house sitter appreciates having their own place for a couple of weeks! 

I don’t think there’s a standard pay for this job, it’s something that can be negotiated. We always stock the fridge with food, and give them a hundred bucks or so, in cash and gift cards. Trust me, it’s worth the peace of mind while we’re away.   

11. Lifeguard 

Lifeguarding can be a great summer job for teenagers. It pays very well, and the job looks fantastic on a resume. Of course, this one requires some planning, as your teenager will need to have the proper credentials to be hired as a lifeguard. 

12. Lawn Care 

This is one of the ways I made money when I was a kid. I mowed lawns for homeowners in my neighborhood. I only made $5 or $10 per lawn, but heh, it was the 1980’s, way back when Tears for Fears ruled the airwaves, and a Big Mac meal was $2.50.

Today, it’s still a great job for teens. It’s a bonus if you have your own equipment, but you can usually use the homeowner’s mower. Spread the word around your neighborhood and you’ll have customers calling in no time. 

Final Thoughts on How to Make Money as a Teenager 

There you have it, 12 ways your teenager can make money without a job. In closing, I’ll say this. By encouraging your teen to think outside of the box when it comes to their finances, you’re not only teaching them to be creative, but how to be resourceful as well. In other words, you’re setting them up for a lifetime of success.

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