How to Make Money (for Teenagers)

Four Methods:Working for YourselfFinding Work OnlineOther Tricks to TrySaving What You Earn

Despite the difficult economy, there are many ways for a teenager to make money. All you need is a good idea and some free time. Read these money-making ideas for inspiration.

Method 1
Working for Yourself

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    Work for yourself. Treat it like a program or business. You can work by yourself, or you can start a mini-company by joining together with your friends. Yes, group work means splitting up the funds, but it also means you can get a lot of jobs done quickly and, more importantly, safely, which means you will also be able to go more places.
    • When working with your friends, divide the tasks fairly and equally (rotating if it keeps everyone happy), take your group around the neighborhood after school or on weekends, and offer to get various tasks done quickly for a set price.
    • A lot of people will turn away a lone teenager knocking at their door for fear that it will look suspicious. If they see that you’re working as a team, however, they’ll know you can get in and out quickly without concerning the neighbors.
    • If you are raising money toward a specific goal (ex. buying an instrument, being able to go on a school trip), let people know; they’ll be much more likely to buy stuff from someone with a purpose and may even give you extra.
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    Consider the basics. Babysit, walk dogs, wash cars, or even record videos and put them online, with the right partnership company, there is a lot of money in it. Or mow lawns for your neighbors. You can make a lot of money, but it's hard work and could take up much of the weekend. If you get distracted or depressed, remind yourself that your hard work will lead to very real results.
    • Team up to do odd jobs like landscaping: One person mows, one cleans the gutters, one clips the hedges, one rakes up all the debris. Ask your parents and your friends' parents for all the necessary tools, or rent them from a supply store.
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    Shovel snow. Go to every house in a good sized neighborhood charging 10-20 dollars per driveway, or 30 dollars a week for shoveling the snow. (Charge extra when shoveling snow that has been driven on, which is packed down and very hard to remove.) Do this every time it snows. Someone may pay you in advance for a month if they know you, or if they like your work!
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    Do work around the house. Negotiate fees with your parents for extra chores around the house. Try to pick things they might hire a professional to do, like cleaning the toilets, and charge them half price. Ask your parents if you can clean the house each week. Do your laundry and the dishes.
    • Be sure to do the chores properly or your parents might not think it's worth their money.
    • If there isn’t much work to be done, you might even be able to work out some other kind of arrangement (ex. "If I work really hard to save water and electricity, will you pay me the amount of money we saved on the bill since last month?").
    • Parents are sometimes more willing to help out if they know what your plan is, so share all the details with them.
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    Run errands for an elderly person. Get groceries, do heavy lifting, troubleshoot the computer, or do any other tasks they might have trouble with. Try to have a good relationship with the person; remember that they might be lonely and probably enjoy spending time around younger people such as friends. (It makes them feel younger.) The better they feel around you, the more they'll be likely to give you for your services.
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    Take trash to the curb. On the day before trash pickup, hit up all the houses on your street and ask for a dollar from each house to take all the bins out to the curb. (Don’t ask for any more than this; it’s a super simple job, so you have to maintain a reasonable cost-to-laziness ratio to get anyone interested.) If it works on even twenty houses, that’s twenty bucks for almost no work.
    • You might have even better luck in a retirement community or an area where you know a lot of elderly people happen to live.
    • Don’t do this in sketchy areas or go into anyone’s house for any reason. You might be better off working with a partner in some situations.
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    Start a car wash. Car washing and detailing is another great money-making idea. This is done most easily with several people: one person rinses and scrubs, one does windows, two detail the inside. Remember to thoroughly vacuum the inside, hit the wheels with wheel wax, rub the inside with vinyl scrub (if the surface is vinyl), and do a thorough job. Remember, if people don't like your work, they can probably go to a professional and get the job done cheaper. Keep in mind who you're competing against.
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    Sell items at a yard sale. Even if you don’t think you have anything lying around that anyone will want, you’d be surprised by how quickly a lot of little sales can add up. Empty out your closet, attic, or basement and gather together everything you don’t want. Put all the small-ticket items into a group to be sold at a yard sale, which you can advertise with street signs and Craigslist. (Often, clothes in nice condition will sell at a yard sale. Worthless clothes, especially simple tees, can be cleaned and sold in bundles as shop rags.)
    • Make a little extra at a yard sale by offering simple, cheap beverages or snacks. If it’s nice weather, offer lemonade, individual baggies of popcorn (stove-popped, not microwave-popped, which is way more expensive), or other sunny day refreshments; if it’s cold or blustery, offer hot tea or cider. You can either sell these at a very low rate (it’s a yard sale, after all), give them away (making people more likely to buy out of niceness and good will), or offer them for free but accept donations (some people will blow you out of the water with their generosity).
    • If you have the time, you can also make or build things to sell. Just make sure that there’s room for profit! You have to keep in mind things like materials cost.
    • If you're serious about selling things, learn how to haggle.
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    Advertise your services. Place a cheap ad in the newspaper or online for something like babysitting, house-sitting, pet-sitting, etc. You can also pass out flyers and business cards for people who need help advertising. Craigslist is a great place to offer your services, but plan on having a parent or guardian accompany you when you scope for work; it's probably not ideal, but there are people out there who could try to take advantage of you, and you want to be prepared. It's nothing to worry about, but it's something to be aware of.

Method 2
Finding Work Online

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    Sell at online listings or buybacks. If you find any big-ticket items, sell them individually through the classifieds and/or Craigslist to attract someone who’s specifically looking for that item; they will be willing to pay a fair price for it (compared to people at yard sales who are usually looking for cheap deals and might try to haggle your nice item way down). Again, make sure to talk about Craigslist-transaction safety with your parents beforehand or, better yet, have your parents present wherever the sale takes place.
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    Offer to sell stuff on your parents’ behalf'. They probably have nicer stuff than you but less time and energy to deal with it. For a certain percentage of the profits, offer to sell the pricey items for them on eBay and the rest in a yard sale. Make sure to pre-agree to things like what each item should cost and how much you should be allowed to drop the price if someone tries to haggle you down.
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    Sell stock photos. If you have a decent camera and know how to compose an image, try taking stock photos and selling them online. They don’t usually make much per sale, but it’s a fun, passive way to make a little cash while developing an interesting hobby. If you have a nice camera, take black and white pictures, develop them yourself (or get them developed), and sell physical copies, with or without frames.
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    Work via an app. If you have a smartphone, hunt around for apps that ask you to perform small tasks for pay (or will set you up with local businesses that will). A lot of these tasks don’t pay well but are ridiculously simple (ex. taking a photo of yourself at a certain establishment – likely for marketing research) and add up quickly. GigWalk, WeReward, and CheckPoints are three such examples. Make sure that the program accepts teens before signing up.
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    Do online surveys. Market research is very important for big businesses and many sites will pay you for your opinion. Hunt around for sites that accept teens (not all do), don’t ask for cash up front (completely unnecessary), and offer cash (or points you can redeem for cash). Read How to Make Money with Free Online Surveys for more information.
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    Work via YouTube. Videos that are high-quality and that reach a wide audience can be easily monetized. That's because YouTube begins showing advertisements before the video if it's popular, and you are entitled to cut of whatever advertising money they make. You'll probably have to invest in a video camera, editing equipment, and know what makes a video go viral, but it could be worth it.

Method 3
Other Tricks to Try

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    Host a party and collect all the recycling. Ask everyone to bring bottled or canned soda (no need to explain why), provide the chips and dips (and a clearly-marked recycling bin), and when it’s over, take the loot to the recycling center. If you aren’t allowed to host a party at your own house, do it at the park and bring Frisbees, a soccer ball, etc. Alternatively, go to a friend’s party and offer to stay behind to help clean up.
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    Make crafts to sell. One friendship bracelet, bag of paper beads, or whale made from a plastic straw won’t do much to your piggy bank, but fifty of them sure will (and each one will be faster and easier to make than the last). Since you probably aren’t allowed to sell on campus or in most public places, make a nice collection of these items and include them in your yard sale or, if they’re unique, post them on a craft site like Etsy.
    • Gather crafts to sell. Crafty people love incorporating natural items into their work. Do you live in the boonies, have a backyard, or know someone who does? Try collecting dried branches and vines. Believe it or not, people will pay good money for manzanita branches, curly willow sticks, birch twigs, sections of gnarled grapewood, budding cattails, and pretty much anything else with an interesting shape. (Look around on a few craft sites for ideas and see if anything in your area stacks up.)
    • If the holidays are coming up, gather mistletoe (with gloves) and/or pinecones, tie them into bunches with ribbons and cheap bells, and sell them as decorations. If you want to do a more elaborate project and have access to a fallen tree or log, have one of your parents cut it into thick slices, drill four candle-sized holes into each slice, decorate them with fir branches, holly berries, mini pinecones, and/or ribbons, and sell each arrangement as an Adventskrans, a traditional Scandinavian Yule candleholder. You should do this already in November, as they are used through the entire month of December.
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    Participate in local studies. Not all will be open to teens, but whenever you do get a hit, you can make a decent wad of cash for a very small time investment.
    • Look for focus groups in your area. Focus groups are simply group surveys done in-person for marketing research – and, unlike online surveys, often pay between forty and one hundred dollars an hour. Since teens are seen as a very valuable marketing demographic, you might be eligible to participate in your area.
    • Look for medical studies in your area. Before you get weirded out, know that not all medical experimentees are forced to take trial medications or get injections in their eyeballs; some studies are as simple as being monitored while performing a task on a treadmill or even serving as a healthy control for an experiment regarding an illness. Search with a local medical research center or medical college for legitimate studies and, if possible, ask to be put on a call list for simple, non-invasive experiments.
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    Get paid to do something you’re already working on. If you're talented at sports or games, participate in tournaments. You might even be able to get a weekend job officiating sporting events. If you’re very good at a sport or a subject in school, find out what the local rules are for charging a small fee for tutoring. You may not be able to work or advertise on campus, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work privately with another student at a public library or one of your houses, for example.
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    Hold a fundraiser. If you’re committed to a worthwhile personal cause (i.e. not creating an iPod fund), consider coming right out and asking people for money. Make sure to clearly outline your ultimate goal, your step-by-step plan for raising the money, and exactly how the funds will be used; nobody wants to throw money at a half-baked concept for someone they may not even know. Go door-to-door, throw a bake sale or car wash, do a jog-a-thon, or even try to raise money on an online fundraising site like GoFundMe. Ask for your parents’ advice on how to do this tastefully and non-intrusively, as they’ve probably dealt with fundraisers before and can give you pointers on what works and doesn’t.

Method 4
Saving What You Earn

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    Save as much as possible. Remember, a penny saved is a penny earned. Cut down on unnecessary spending, and you will have more money as a result. No one ever regrets having saved money. Balance out your immediate needs with longer-term goals.
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    Set a savings goal. Shoot to put away half of what you make. If your parents support you, this shouldn't be too hard. Make $100 detailing a car on a Sunday? Put $50 of it in savings automatically and give yourself the rest of the cash to spend. If you have a defined goal of how much you want to save, it'll be easier to reach that goal, and you'll have something to work towards
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    Set up a savings account. Look for a nice savings account. If you just hold onto money in a shoebox under your bed, it sits there and tempts you to spend it.
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    Save for something. If you give yourself something to save for, this will help keep you motivated. You can save for a new Playstation or you can save for something like a cool community college course you want to take. Whatever motivates you to save, save for that!
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    Invest later, not now. Don't worry about investing your money yet. Unless you're 18 and want to start stashing away money for retirement (in which case, kudos to you!) just put your money in savings. You don't want to risk losing your money before you have time to put it to good use!


  • Whatever you end up doing, do an excellent job or they might not pay you. People are skeptical of teens’ focus and dedication as it is; don’t prove them right.
  • Don't lend money to friends unless you’re prepared to lose both the money and the friend. Just because someone gets along with you doesn't mean they’re automatically trustworthy or reliable.
  • Try to dress sensibly. This will help you look responsible and dedicated.
  • Money adds up, so don’t focus so hard on big-ticket projects that you miss out on all the little ways of making money. For example, even if you only make $2 a day, that’s $14 a week, over $56 a month, and $630 a year.
  • If you are able to make a product, sell the product for about 10-20% more than price of production.
  • Work for more than money; work to learn. Even flipping burgers presents opportunities; watch who they pick for management, how the workers are organized, anything. Rich people own businesses, they don't work for them. Money is temporary, knowledge is permanent.
  • Make a poster to say that you are donating 25% to a good cause (like charity). This way people will want to buy more. But donate the money so you don't rip them off.
  • Don't just go putting fliers under a door. Instead, try going house to house introducing yourself. Example: Hi, I'm [your name]. I live on the court just down the street, I'll walk some dogs for money.
  • Sometimes you can get work at a summer camp. This is useful because it's rewarding and doesn't interfere with school at all (unless you have a year-round school).
  • Try making flyers on your computer and, if it’s legal where you live, hanging them on telephone poles. Some places (for example, many supermarkets) will allow you to hang ads on a board of some kind. Be sure to add in your flyer how much you charge for each service; that way your customers know what to expect, and there aren't any surprises when it's time for you to be paid.
  • If you live in a small town, go to a local cafe or anywhere with a lot of business. If they have a cork board posting, hang a flyer. It could get you started!
  • Predict sold out tickets. Do you think everyones favorite concert tickets are about to be sold out? Quickly buy them before that happens! When they do sell out, sell them for more money.
  • Enter giveaways. Entering giveaways is easy with your parents permission just find one that is giving away money and enter.
  • Enter contests. Same with a giveaway... With your parents permission just find a contest that's giving out money and enter.
  • Cash in gift cards. Don't like the gift card someone gave you for your birthday? Cash it in!
  • Return items you never used or liked. Bring in your item to the store you bought it from with it's box and receipt and ask to return it for money.
  • Don't use slang when dealing with older people. It might cause confusion and break down communications.


  • Be careful when doing online surveys; some are scams and will give you junk e-mail and/or viruses!
  • Make sure you have permission for everything you choose to sell. You don't want to sell something your parents still want! Also, consider an object's personal value before you sell. It might only be worth $10, but if you would rather have it than the $10, then you should definitely keep it.
  • Putting fliers directly in mailboxes is illegal in the USA and carries heavy fines.[1] Instead tape the flyers to the front door of the house, a door, or a window. You may put your flyers in the boxes intended for newspapers, since the federal government does not regulate these.
  • Be careful about using eBay. PayPal will charge you for selling equipment, and since funds will be moved to your bank account, be careful as parents look at your accounts all the time.
  • Selling at school may be frowned upon or even be illegal; please check before trying this.
  • Posting flyers on power poles is illegal in the USA, and carries heavy fines.[citation needed] Get permission before posting flyers.

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