Ideas for How Kids Can Earn Money


April 30, 2021

Ideas for How Kids Can Earn Money

April 30, 2021

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The importance of raising kids who understand basic concepts about money, finances, and investing can’t be understated. These lessons can carry through into adulthood, helping your money-savvy (grown) child make smart financial decisions. While an allowance can help your child understand the fundamentals, there is no substitute for earning money through a job. They learn valuable career-boosting skills, like work ethic, accountability, time management, and how to receive feedback while earning their own money—something to be proud of. Starting early can also help mitigate the bit of shock that occurs when they transition to adulthood and the rigors of a 40+-hour work week.

Unfortunately, research from Pew Research Center has shown that the number of teens with jobs (summer or otherwise) is declining. Starting in 1948, 56.5% of teens were employed in the summer; this trend continued until the mid-2000s, when summer employment began dropping, culminating in 29.6% of teens employed in the summer around the Great Recession. Despite post-recession economic gains, only around 35% of teens obtain summer employment in recent years. The employment average for the rest of the year mirrors the summer employment trends but is around 5–10% below the summer employment percentages.

But why are fewer teens heading into work in the summers? “Researchers have suggested multiple reasons why fewer young people are working: fewer low-skill, entry-level jobs, such as sales clerks or office assistants, than in decades past; more schools ending in late June and/or restarting before Labor Day; more students enrolled in high school or college over the summer; more teens doing volunteer community service as part of their graduation requirements or to burnish their college applications; and more students taking unpaid internships,” according to Pew Research Center. The types of teen jobs are changing also; traditionally, retail was the largest employer of teens, but this has slowly changed to the hospitality industry—restaurants, hotels, and other hospitality services.

Luckily, despite declining teenage employment numbers, there are still many options to help your kids start earning—and learning about—money young. Keep in mind that each idea has its own benefits and challenges; please ensure you evaluate which jobs are age appropriate for your child and research any applicable local, state, or federal laws (especially employment and tax laws) to make an informed decision before allowing your children to undertake any of the following activities. As always, take any and all necessary steps to ensure your child is protected, especially when performing a job at someone else’s home, working with animals, and working online.

Kids & Jobs: Where to Start

  1. Teach your kids about money. Building basic money knowledge and skills and expanding their education as they grow older—and likely make more money—is a good starting point. Read our article here for more information on how to start and continue the conversation.
  2. Set financial goals. Help them develop a budget and use the three buckets—giving, saving, and spending—to allocate their earnings.
  3. Determine how much time they can dedicate to their job every week and when. It’s important to find a balance between education as their top priority and their job. This is a great opportunity to discuss time management and accountability, too.
  4. Have a conversation about what they enjoy doing and their future goals. This conversation can and should continue throughout their childhood as their hopes and dreams will likely change or further develop. Find jobs that appeal to your child’s strengths and interests.
  5. Develop a plan. This is a great time to teach them about marketing, budgeting, billing, and customer service at a minimum.
  6. Stay involved. While you’re helping your child grow and manage their business/job, you should be with them every step of the way. They’ll likely need frequent guidance and occasional intervention from you to keep them on track and safe.

Here are some of ways your children can make money:

Neighborhood Jobs – sites like Nextdoor and Craig’s List can help your child advertise their services

  • Dogwalking and/or petsitting
  • House cleaning and/or maintenance, including window washing, watering plants
  • Babysitting
  • Yardwork (including leaf removal, weeding, and yard cleanup) and/or snow removal
  • Painting or other small “handyman”-type jobs
  • Washing cars
  • Help prep for and hold garage sales
  • Organize people’s homes
  • Wrap Christmas and/or birthday gifts
  • Recycle cans
  • Sell baked goods or other prepared foods
  • Help out seniors by running errands, cleaning homes, etc.
  • Holiday decorator

Possible Part-Time Jobs

  • Lifeguard
  • Grocery store cashier and/or bagger
  • Fast-food worker or restaurant server
  • Camp counselor
  • Movie theater attendant
  • Retail salesperson
  • Employ them in the company business
  • Paper route
  • Light construction work
  • Farmwork
  • Sell at a farmers’ markets

Online Jobs

  • Start a YouTube channel
  • Sell services on Upwork or Fiverr – video editing, writing, podcast editing, graphic design, etc.
  • Sell on Etsy – crafts, handmade items, garage sale finds, etc.
  • Flip items on eBay or Amazon
  • Start a blog or write for someone else’s blog – sponsored posts, ads, and affiliate income are all ways to earn money from a blog
  • Start photography
  • Take online surveys on sites like Swagbucks, SurveyJunkie, and Opinion Outpost
  • Make music and sell it online
  • Create video games or other digital goods (e.g., e-books)
  • Offer social media services to local businesses
  • Online tutoring
  • Test apps
  • Start a podcast
  • Video game streamer

Whether your child is six or 16, there is likely an option on this list that they are interested in and can turn into a money-earning venture. The digital age has made so many more options available for people of all ages to use their skills and earn money. Lean into your children’s tech savvy and help them create a profitable business that they can leverage as they grow older. Financial independence is within arm’s reach if you encourage your children to work and begin building a business. Refer to this article for saving and investing options to explore with your child.


Every strategy is dependent on a variety of different factors, so make sure you read the fine print.

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