Teens and money: Earning, saving, sharing and donating

Learn how your teenagers can earn money—the new-fashioned way.

As a child of the ’80s, I remember doing odd jobs around the neighborhood or scrounging up quarters from all parts of our home to go play video games at the local arcade. Earning money for teenagers of that era came in the form of morning paper routes, babysitting, lawn mowing jobs or summer retail jobs.

Fast forward to today, and it’s a vastly different environment for the typical teenager. Video games are at their fingertips and gratification is instant, be that rides, food or entertainment.

As most of us parents can attest, it’s never been easier for our teenagers to spend money. But given how busy they are with longer school days, increasing school workloads and more demanding extracurricular activities, how can teenagers make money on their own?

Here are a few tips:

Is your teen into creating crafts?

Etsy not only offers a marketplace to showcase and sell your teen's artistic and craft-oriented talents, but even features a forum for teens to learn business skills. Note: Minors age 13 and over may use the site, but they must have a parent or legal guardian manage their Etsy accounts.

Does your teen speak a foreign language?

For kids 16+, SameSpeak enables them to be an English tutor via Skype. They don’t need prior experience and they can earn money with every tutoring session.

Did your teen recently “retire” from sports?

Many local sports leagues hire teenagers to umpire, referee or otherwise officiate a sport. Also, sites like Youth on Course pay teenagers to caddy on hundreds of golf courses nationwide.

Is your teen good at teaching others?

Put those know-it-all skills to work! Your teenager can choose to tutor other teens with Enroll – (must be 15 years old and tutor fellow students 15-18 years old). They’ll choose their subjects, list credentials and availability, fill in a quick bio and, after an approval from the site, can start making money.

Does your teen have unused clothing?

A quick sweep around your teen’s room might reveal a bag full of clothing that can generate some quick cash on eBay or Grailed.

Is your teen good with a camera?

There are clever ways that your teen can put all those pictures and social media knowledge to profitable use. Have them reach out to local restaurants, flower stores or bookstores and offer to help them post new pictures and increase followers.

Is your teen constantly online?

There are hundreds of micro-jobs that teenagers (ages 14+) can do from the comfort of their screens. On sites such as Fiverr or Upwork, teens can find specific jobs to perform such as writing product reviews, graphic design assignments, sharing articles and more. Payment can range from a few pennies per assignment up to hundreds of dollars per month, depending on your child’s dedication.

Okay, they made money—so now what?

When your teens have had a taste of making their own money, it instills a sense of accomplishment and confidence in them. It’s also a great time to talk with them about proper savings, spending and charitable habits.

Pay them to save

Encourage them to put aside some of these newfound earnings by offering to match 10% of their savings. It helps them learn the value of compounding interest.

Explain, then explain some more 

Have a sit down with your rambunctious Rockefeller and talk about the differences between concepts such as debit and credit. Outline for them how debit draws from money that already exists in the bank while credit serves as a loan.

Teach them to donate 

This is a great time to show them the importance of philanthropy. Again, using matching as an incentive, tell them that you’ll match 50% of any donation they make to a worthwhile cause.

The days of working at a soda shop after school might be numbered, but it’s clear that there are no shortage of ways for teenagers to earn money, even with their hectic schedules. Who knows, the next time you see them on their “screens” they might be making money, not wasting time!

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