Ten Ways to Make Money as a Teen

Paige Geis Bradshaw

The American Dream. The daily grind. Bringing home the bacon.

No matter what you want to call it, it’s what inspires us to pursue an education, pushes us to work, and motivates us to make our dreams a reality.

I was influenced by this way of thinking as young as 14 years old! I begged my parents to let me work at the local amusement park or as a custodian at my junior high school—both of which they promptly shut down. I had limited options at such a young age, but I wanted so badly to work, make my own money, and buy my own things.

Whether it’s for something fun or something they need, it’s natural for a teen to want to make money of their own. Earning money teaches teens essential money management skills and offers a feeling of independence.

But between school, sports, and other obligations that tie up your teen, having a job can be a hassle. Here’s how to make money as a teenager without a job:

1. Open an Etsy Shop

If your teen has a knack for making jewelry, candles, quilts, clothes, or any other handcrafted item, consider allowing them to open their own Etsy shop.

Etsy offers an excellent opportunity for artists of all ages to share their creativity with the world—and make a little money on the side. Watch your child develop skills in customer service, business management, and finance all while honing their craft.

Click here for more information to help your child open an Etsy shop!

2. Resell Thrift Store Items

As they say, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!” Accompany your teen to the nearest thrift store and be on the hunt for valuable, gently used, or brand-name items in good condition.

Vintage finds are all the rage these days. Books, vinyl records, clothes, shoes, furniture, toys, artwork—digging up the treasure is half the adventure! Once you’ve secured your bargains, help your teen sell on online platforms like eBay or Facebook Marketplace, or track down some local markets and set up shop.

For tips and tricks to tracking down profitable pieces at thrift stores, click here!

3. Start a Babysitting or Pet-sitting Service

Encourage your teen to offer babysitting or pet-sitting services to friends and neighbors! From parents needing a weekly night out to families embarking on long vacations, there’s always a pool of people who could use the help.

No one in your network with a need? Try online services like Care.com or Sittercity for local babysitting gigs and Rover or Wag for pet-sitting opportunities. Put up flyers around town or place an ad in the local paper, too!

4. Teach Music Lessons

If your teen is musically talented, why not encourage them to offer music lessons? Especially for parents of little ones who aren’t quite ready to commit to a certain skill, teens are an affordable option for basic music instruction.

5. Offer a Unique Service to Neighbors

Has your teen identified a common need in the neighborhood? Maybe some lawns need mowing, weeds need pulling, windows need washing, or snow needs shoveling.

Nudge your teen to come up with a business plan, determine fees, and set a schedule before getting started. They can go door to door, hang flyers around the neighborhood, or advertise by word of mouth!

Not only can they make a little money on their own, but running this kind of show teaches your teen all about accountability. They’ll have “clients” that rely on them to get the job done!

6. Clean Out the Closet

No two teens are the same, but many share a love of shopping. A lot of clothes are coming into their closets, but not a lot of clothes are going out!

If your teen’s made a habit of doing this, share with them the incentive of cleaning out their closet. (And it’s not making room for more!)

Especially if they have new, hardly worn, or trendy clothes in the giveaway pile, they can stand to make a pretty penny by selling their clothes to a local consignment shop. If that’s not an option, try online platforms like Poshmark or ThredUp! Whatever doesn’t sell, they can simply donate to a local secondhand store or donation center.

7. Start a YouTube Channel

From discussing hobbies and interests to showcasing talents and skills, YouTube is well-known as an outlet for creativity and self-expression. For many, it’s also a lucrative career!

Now, we’re not suggesting your teen drop everything and jump into making YouTube their job. But if they’ve got an idea for a YouTube channel, let ‘em run with it! If nothing else, it could be a source of enjoyment and a little extra money.

Click here to learn more about helping your teen start a YouTube channel!

8. Become a Tutor

Does your teen excel at a certain subject? If so, they can be a big help to struggling students.

Academic tutoring is a great gig for a teen. It can be done in person, online, at home, or at school! But whatever path they choose, make sure they meet with each set of parents to talk about goals and expectations before getting started.

9. Have a Bake Sale

If your teen can’t stay out of the kitchen, encourage them to take their talents to the business sphere!

They can set up a good old-fashioned lemonade stand in front of the house, lay out a delicious display of desserts in front of a supermarket, or participate in a local event and sell pre-packaged goodies and treats.

It doesn’t have to stop there, though! Maybe they can make meals for a few busy neighbors. Or perhaps they could whip up some cupcakes for a kid’s birthday party!

10. Take Online Surveys

It may not be much, but participating in online surveys can be a quick and easy way to bring in a little extra cash. (Just be sure to teach your teen how to protect their personal information online first!)

However, instead of cold, hard cash, some surveys pay their participants in rewards or gift cards. But hey, either way, it’s more than what your teen had before!

Here are some popular survey sites your teen can try:

Your teen doesn’t have to hold an inflexible after-school job or let homework fall to the wayside to bring in some bucks. Have your teen try these solutions the next time they’re begging for more money!

Do you have any teens who make money without a job? Tell us all about their strategy in a comment below!