Every February, I'm usually pretty timely about researching summer programs for my kids. I've enrolled them in art classes, academic summer school, swimming lessons, Hawaiian culture camps, soccer, and sports camps.
Not this year.
My oldest son is about to enter high school. Most of his classmates and friends enrolled in Summer School to get a jump on their high school courses. We decided to be rebels and didn't sign him up; we felt like he needed a break from the school year grind of getting up early, school, and sports.
But now, I'm stuck with the question: what is he going to do all summer long? We certainly aren't going to allow him to play Fortnite or NBA 2K all day. I decided to research ways to keep him busy during the summer. I figured that he could put in some real work and earn some real money, all the while learning money skills and entrepreneurship.
So, I compiled a list of what I thought was the ten best ways for teens to earn some real money over the summer. Most are low tech in an effort to get them off their devices, and they all (except one) involve minimal time, set up, and expenses, so they can get started right away.
Here they are:
1. Tutoring or Music Lessons
Time to get set up: Immediate
Monetary Investment: None, unless your teen wants to buy their own workbooks and study guides. If so, consider making copies so they don't have to buy multiple workbooks.
There are free resources online, or your child can borrow study guides and age-appropriate books at the local library. This article from Capterra School Administration has lots of free tutoring online resources: https://blog.capterra.com/6-free-tutoring-resources-and-tools-you-should-consider/
If your teen will be providing ukulele or guitar instruction, they should have their own instrument. With piano lessons, they'll probably be working one on one with the student in their home, using their piano.
Skills Required: An aptitude in the subject your child will be tutoring and lots of patience!
Amount to Charge: $10- $40 per session. If we take a number in the middle, say, $25/hour, your child can make $200/month just tutoring 2 children per week!
Additional Information: The age of the child they'll be tutoring should be considered. For young children (K-Grade 3), the sessions should be no more than 30 minutes. For Grades 4-5, sessions can run around 45 minutes. For Grade 6 and up, the sessions can be longer--60 minutes.
How Your Child Can Market Their Services: Have your teen tell all of their friends and their friends' parents. Tell your child to let their teachers know they're tutoring over the summer. They can also place a flyer outside the local supermarket or the local elementary school office (ask administration first). Word of mouth goes a long way. In my town, we tried to sign up my youngest son for a tutor—she was completely booked and couldn’t take on any new clients. She never advertised; she got all her clients through word of mouth.
Time to get set up: Immediate
Monetary Investment: None.
Skills Required: Patience, basic caregiving skills, and a desire to work with children. Your teen will likely be tasked with preparing meals (the meals will usually be pre-prepped, so they'll have to heat it up and serve it). They'll have to supervise and play with the kids, bathe them, help with homework, and put them to bed.
Amount to Charge: Between $7-10/hour. For an average parents night out (about 4 hours) you can charge $30-40/job. If your child found 4 babysitting jobs per month (one per weekend), they’d make $160/month!
Additional Information: The Red Cross has an excellent resource site: https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/babysitting-child-care
How Your Child Can Market Their Services: Talk to everyone you know that has young children. Your soccer teammates’ mom, your neighbor, your friends at school. Get referrals from family and friends. Have your teen go back and talk to their former teachers (elementary and preschool). They are the best referrers as they can vouch for your child's character.
3. Washing Windows
Time to get set up: 1 day to purchase supplies
Monetary Investment: Your teen will need some supplies to get started--a squeegee, several sponges, cleaning solution or dishwashing liquid, clean rags (or microfiber cloths), a ladder, and a bucket. They'll have to buy the following items if you don’t have some that he can use:
Dishwashing Liquid: Small bottle of Dawn $1-$2
Distilled White Vinegar (50/50 solution with tap water): $3 for a gallon jug
Mr. Bubbles Outdoor Cleaning Solution: $9
Clean Rags: Free
Microfiber Cleaning Cloths: $11.99 for a 12-pack on Amazon
Squeegee: $6.99 on Amazon or Telescopic Expandable Squeegee $8.48 on walmart.com
Sponge/Squeegee combo: $16.97 at Home Depot
Large Sponges: $5.97 for a three-pack at Home Depot
Step Ladder: $40-$50 at Home Depot
Bucket: 5-gallon bucket $5 at Home Depot
Total Investment if you need to purchase everything (hopefully you have some of these supplies around the house, so you don’t need to purchase them all): $95-100. However, your teen will break even after one job and will have the supplies they need going forward. If they work one job per week, they’d make $400 a month!
Skills Required: Ability to put in some good old-fashioned hard physical labor.
Amount to Charge: Professional window washers are expensive. In our area, we won’t pay less than $250. Your teen can charge anywhere from $100-$150 and they’ll be booked solid in the neighborhood!
Additional Information: Ensure that your teen knows they should not take a job with potentially dangerous conditions, such as second story windows.
How Your Child Can Market Their Services: Everyone needs their exterior windows washed, and no one wants to do it. Have your teenager walk around the neighborhood and advertise his services. He should let anyone in his circle know that he's providing these services (parents of teammates or friends). To make the job really fun, he can enlist the help of a friend and split the profits.
4. Dog Walker/Pet Sitter
Time to get set up: None
Monetary Investment: None, except they'll need some plastic bags to pick up after the dogs.
Skills Required: The love of dogs.
Amount to Charge: In our area, dog walkers charge $13-15 for a 30-minute walk. Check out this awesome website, rover.com, to price services in your local area. You have to be 18 to apply to be a dog sitter or dog walker on the site, but it’s a great place to price out services. If your child charges even $10 for a 30 minute walk, they could make some serious cash. If they found two dogs to walk 2x/week (at $10 per 30 minute walk), they’d make $160 per month for around 12 hours of work!
How Your Child Can Market Their Services: Ask your local veterinarian and nearby pet stores if you can place a flyer inside their office/store. Hand out flyers at the local dog park. Your teen can approach people walking their dogs in the neighborhood. Tell your teen to let their family and friends know they're providing this service and ask for referrals.
5. Yard Work/Plant Sitting
Time to get set up: None
Monetary Investment: None
Skills Required: No specialized skills required.
Amount to Charge: $10-$15/hour to pull weeds, water lawns, etc. If your teen is comfortable operating a lawnmower and blower, he can charge $30-35/yard (and possibly more), depending on how big the yard is. If your child only mowed one yard per week, he’d make $120/month. He could add extra services, such as pulling weeds and watering lawns, and up his game to $160/month or more!
How Your Child Can Market Their Services: Again, walking around the neighborhood would be an easy way to get started. A lot of folks are too busy to tend to their yards and would rather pay someone to do it. Tell your teen to let their friends, teammates, and their parents know!
6. Car Wash
Time to get set up: 1 day to purchase supplies
Monetary Investment: They'll need some car wash solution (don’t use homemade solutions for other people’s cars!), some large sponges or a car wash mitt, a bucket, and drying towels or microfiber cloths. They'll need to buy these items if you don’t have any at home. They can arrange to borrow a hose if providing mobile services.
Car Wash Solution: $5-10
Large Sponges or Mitt: $5.97 for three-pack of sponges at Home Depot or $5-10 for a car wash mitt
Bucket: $5 for 5-gallon bucket at Home Depot
Drying Towel or Microfiber Cloths: $11.99 for a 12-pack on Amazon or use old t-shirts (free!)
Poster Board: $10
Stakes to post your “car wash” sign in your neighborhood
Total Estimated Investment (if you need to purchase all supplies): $43
Skills Required: No specialized skills required to wash a car!
Additional Information: This is for a simple car wash (exterior only). If your teen wants to add on interior vacuuming, they can charge a bit more (perhaps $20/car) but they'll need a shop vac.
Amount to Charge: $15-20 per car. $25-$30 per SUV/Large trucks. If your teen washes 5 cars on a Saturday, he could make $100 that day, and more for larger cars! If he chose to do this twice a month, he’d make $200/month!
How Your Child Can Market Their Services: Have your teen go door to door to solicit your neighbors. They could also set up a large sign on the main thoroughfare in your neighborhood, advertising their car wash for the day. (You can work with your child to schedule a set date and time. I like this idea better than having a sign advertising car wash services with their phone # to call, as you probably don’t want your child to be going over to unknown people’s houses.)
7. Sports: Referee/Umpire/Caddy
Time to get Set up: Your child will need to prepare in advance if this is something they want to do during the summer. They'll need to pass the certification exams and have the proper gear in order to referee their first game.
Additional Information: Several of my friend’s kids referee soccer games. Your teen will need to inquire with the individual leagues to see if they pay their referees and umpires, and to find out what the process is to go about getting certified. In community (recreational) sports, the referees are generally unpaid volunteers.
Skills Required: A love of the game, knowledge of the rules, usually an official certification or passing an exam, and a thick skin (parents of players can be vocal and borderline abusive to game officials).
Monetary Investment: They'll need to take the certification exams (if applicable), for which there may be a fee. Also, once they pass the exam, they'll need to get uniforms and gear.
Soccer: flags (this may be supplied by the league. If not, they’re around $17 on Amazon, cards (red/yellow) $3-5, roster cards (this may be supplied by the league), a whistle $5, and a stopwatch ($15-20). Any kind of simple digital watch will do, as long as it has the stopwatch function.
Basketball: Whistle $5 and referee uniform
Baseball: An umpire indicator/“clicker” (to count the balls/strikes) $5 on Amazon, and a plate brush $7 on Amazon. In addition, if you’re the ump behind the plate, you’ll need special gear such as the face mask (Wilson Dyna-Lite mask on Amazon $51) and chest protector (Champion Sports $57 on Amazon (price varies by size).
The pay (Baseball/Soccer/Basketball): the pay can be quite good. In our area, you can get paid $25 to referee a U8 soccer game, and the pay goes up from there. Some leagues pay up to $60-70 per game in the upper divisions. A baseball umpire can earn $25-50/game. A basketball referee’s starting pay is usually in the $15-20/range.
How Your Child Can Market Their Services (Baseball/Basketball/Soccer): Once your teen has passed the exams and obtained the necessary certification, they should put your name on a list at the respective clubs and leagues. Also, have your child speak with the Head Referee of the organization to be sure they know your teen wants to officiate in their league.
Golf: They'll need to abide by the Club’s dress code and will need towels to clean clubs and golf balls.
The pay (Golf): A golf caddy can make around $100-$120 for 18 holes, and sometimes they'll get tips on top of that. Not too shabby for a day’s work! If your child worked every weekend, they could stand to earn $400 a month!
How Your Child Can Market Themselves as a Golf Caddy: Your teen should approach the manager at the local golf course to ask if they can assist hobby or amateur golfers. If you know an avid golfer who knows the management at the local golf course, have your teen ask for an introduction.
8. Camp Counselor/Summer Program Counselor
What's Involved: Teen camp counselors help with planning and leading campers. If your teen has knowledge or skills in sports, art, or wilderness/camping, they may be able to get a teaching job at camp.
Time to get set up: This one is an exception to the jobs on this list that take little to no time to get set up. Camps begin hiring in the winter months (November and December in the year prior to summer). So, if your child is interested in becoming a camp counselor, they'll need to begin their search and apply for jobs well in advance. They'll also need time to gather references to put on their application.
Monetary Investment: Generally none. However, many applications are taken online so they'll need access to a computer and internet connection to apply.
Skills Required: They'll be tasked with caring for and looking after young campers, so your teen must be patient and willing to work with kids. It’s probably a good idea to know first aid. Babysitting, volunteering, and coaching experience can help to bolster your teen's application.
The pay: Around $300/week for a day camp. Pay will depend on the specific camp you are hired at. The pay is good, but remember….this is for working all day, every day, and will be a commitment!
How Your Child Can Market Themselves for a Camp Counselor Job: Search for local camps in your area and reach out to the camp director for information. Do research and apply online on camp-specific websites such as CampJobs.com, CampChannel.com, and CampPage.com. Also, CoolWorks.com is a great site for summer job listings. Reach out directly to local camps. Contact your local YMCA.
9. Online Surveys
What's Involved: Your teen signs up to complete surveys online for compensation. This is a legitimate way for your teen to earn money, but the pay is low and it will take some time to earn enough money to get a PayPal gift card. Sign up with caution and with the full knowledge that your child may be on their laptop or phone a lot more than you’d like if they are doing surveys.
Time to get set up: You’ll need to register on the survey site. Registration takes a minute.
Monetary Investment: All of the sites I’ve listed below are free to join and register. They’ll need a computer (laptop or desktop…I’m not sure if these sites work on mobile) and an internet connection.
Additional Information: Many of the survey sites compensate participants with gift cards, with no option to earn cash. The ones I’ve listed here allow you to cash out via PayPal or check. My 14-year old son signed up for the two below.
1. Slice The Pie (www.slicethepie.com). This site pays teens for reviewing music, fashion, commercials, and accessories. Your teen can earn cash, deposited into a PayPal account (minimum $10 earnings). After registering and filling out some demographic information, my son opted to review music. You need to listen to at least 90 seconds of the song before submitting a review. My son listened to a song (which he instantly disliked). He wrote a paragraph about his thoughts and a pop-up window appeared, advising him that he earned….$0.01 for the review.
He tried it again. He wrote a review for another song and earned….$0.01 for it. He wrote a few sentences the second time and was told he couldn’t submit the review because it was too short. It took him a while to think of what to write to make the review long enough to submit.
My Honest Take: It seemed hardly worth it to submit a review for a penny. It’s not very motivating for someone to continue submitting reviews for a penny. I'm not sure--perhaps you earn more after establishing some credibility on the site, but I think there are better ways to earn cash over the summer. That being said, this is a legitimate way to make a few bucks from the convenience of your home, with zero upfront investment. And you can “work” as much or as little as you want.
2. Swagbucks. (www.swagbucks.com). My son signed up and was immediately asked to verify his e-mail address to earn 5 Swagbucks. He was then taken to a home page where he could select from two different surveys to complete; a 3-minute survey for 5 Swagbucks, or a 20-minute survey for 80 Swagbucks.
How it works: You trade in your Swagbucks for gift cards and cash via PayPal. To give you an idea of the redemption criteria, a PayPal $25 payment requires 2,500 Swagbucks. You can earn a Playstation Gift Card, iTunes gift card, Target, Amazon, and Wal-Mart $10 gift card for 1,000 Swagbucks.
The Swagbucks system makes it confusing and difficult to figure out how long it’ll take you to make $25 cash to be deposited into your PayPal account. But fear not, I tried to simplify it so you can evaluate whether it's worth it for your teen to go this route.
When he signed up on the site, my son was offered a 20-minute survey to earn 80 Swagbucks. Based on that formula, it’ll take 625 minutes to reach the 2,500 points to get a $25 PayPal gift card. This breaks down to 10.41 hours. 10.41 hours to earn $25?
My Honest Take: Like Slice The Pie, I think there are better (and more profitable) ways for your teen to earn money over the summer. However, it's a legit way to earn some money online, in the comfort of your own home.
If your teen is interested in doing surveys, here are a few other survey sites that look professional (we did not sign up for these so I don’t have any personal experience with them):
Branded Surveys: www.brandedsurveys.com
Mind Field Online: www.mindfieldonline.com
MySurvey (16 and older): www.mysurvey.com
10. Reselling on eBay
Time to get set up: Minimum of one day to get set up, and possibly longer if your teen needs to source items to sell from outside your home.
Monetary Investment: You (parent) must sign up for an account on eBay. Your teen can’t open their own account as eBay members must be at least 18 years old. The account is free to open. They’ll need to be able to access eBay, either on mobile or desktop/laptop computer, and they'll need an internet connection.
Your child will also need items to sell. This doesn’t need to cost anything—your teen can look around the house for new and unopened toys, used toys in good condition, DVDs, video games, new or used clothing, shoes, and accessories. This should give them enough to start with. Also, your teen will need to know in advance how they'll be shipping the items, and gather the appropriate supplies (packing tape, tissue paper, mailing envelopes, boxes and a postage scale).
Your child's upfront investment will be the cost of goods to sell plus the supplies needed to ship the items after they sell.
What They Get Paid: Depends on what they're selling. There is a “final value fee” assessed for each item they sell. For most items, it’s 10% of the price of the item + shipping.
How Your Child Can Market Their Items on eBay: Set up shop on eBay, list the items, and wait until it sells! The beauty of eBay is they have a built-in audience of millions of shoppers (171 million, to be exact), ready to buy. If the items your teen lists for sale are desirable and are priced right, it WILL sell.
I hope you found this post helpful, and I sincerely hope it's useful to you and your teenager. If you have any other great summer job ideas for teens, please let me know! Pin this post to your Pinterest boards, or share it with a friend on Facebook.