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How to Make Money as a Teen

YNAB team members share clever ways their teens have made bank and memories at the same time.

School’s out, and the hunt for the perfect summer job is on for teens! As a parent, you want your pride and joy to not only make some extra money, but also gain valuable life skills. This means helping them find a lit summer job that will motivate them to break from TikTok, earn some serious coin, and buy their own dope stuff to flex about instead of spending your hard-earned dollars.

I realize that teen slang sounded forced (and maybe a tad outdated?)—whew, times have really changed since our glory days. As of May 29, 2023, the average hourly pay for teen summer jobs in the U.S. is $15.73. Can I get a resounding, “Guffaw!”?

My mom reminisces about her first teen job slinging burgers at A&W, where she proudly pocketed $0.84 per hour working alongside her best friends. Move over minimum-wage-nostalgia, because today’s teens can have the best of both worlds: they can make bank and memories at the same time. Squad goals.

When I was younger, I started a rollerblade café in my house. Yes, it was branded with signage posted on all doorways to pump up my customer base. I’d zoom around the kitchen on wheels (no brakes), taking orders from my unsuspecting family and family friends. Then, using my parents’ ingredients—because let’s face it, I was a disaster in the kitchen—I’d pass the cooking duties to them. Talk about a genius plan: customers paid for both the ingredients and the “service.” Pure profit. My sweet parents went along with it twice, but once I hit my teenage stride, they nudged me to explore more sensible ways to make some money to save. Say hello to your friends, Baby-Sitters Club!

With summer knocking at our door, teens are on the hunt for jobs that won’t suck the soul out of their sunny days. Whether they want an online job or something onsite, the possibilities for creative ways to make money are endless these days. It’s time to inspire your teens to think outside the box and embark on the most epic money-making adventures.

But it’s not just about teaching them how to make money. Encouraging your teenager to find a summer job or supporting them in starting their own business helps them learn important money management skills from a young age. They’ll understand the value of giving every dollar a job, making informed spending choices, and will learn to save money for their future goals. You can teach your teen the four rules while they earn income, giving them personal finance know-how that will stick with them long after the summer ends. This is your time to shine as a parent!

How to Make Money as a Teen

Admittedly, I’m not a parent myself (although, I am a former teenager). That’s why I asked YNAB team members with teens to share clever summer employment ideas. From creating a dog walking business to mastering the art of customer service in a local pizza joint, these summer jobs for teens go beyond the ordinary and ignite a spark of creativity in your teen’s entrepreneurial spirit. Read on to unleash your teen’s potential to fill up their own bank account and have an unforgettable summer experience.

Start an Easy-Breezy Dog Walking Business

Help your teen turn their love for pets into a thriving business. They can offer dog walking services in your neighborhood and learn essential skills like budgeting, paying helpers, and managing a small business. Plus, incentivizing money-making with animals makes it easier to get them away from video games and into the great outdoors.

My daughter is very into dog walking… she’s able to do it for neighbors, it’s fairly easy, and it’s easy to fit around her sports and extracurricular schedules.

Go Where the Friends and Food Are

Encourage your teen to join a local pizza or sub shop—even better if their friends work there too. Not only will they earn a competitive wage (averaging around $13 an hour), but they’ll also develop invaluable skills in phone etiquette, scheduling, and prioritization. And who knows, they might even master the art of crafting the perfect slice for you.

My daughter has a job working at a local pizza and sub shop. She loves it… mostly because her best friends work there too, so it doesn’t feel like work! This job is teaching her basics like customer service, interpersonal skills, and teamwork.
– Shannon F.

Freelance as a Fixer-Upper

Your teen can learn anything on YouTube, right? Flat tires, deflated pool toys, and dying garden beds are the bane of every parent’s existence. Your teen can come to the rescue! Offer their services as a fixer-upper to family friends, and you’ll be surprised how many parents are willing to pay for repairs, yard work, odd jobs, and general handy(wo)man services. It’s a flexible job that teaches responsibility and puts some extra green in their pockets.

I would be very willing to pay a teenager (or anyone!) to fix my kids’ bike tires when they go flat… $20 per tire is well worth it to eliminate the headache.
– Melissa

Polish Up Those Pet Sitting Skills

Pet sitting is a low-risk way for teens to learn responsibility and earn money—or even exercise their way into some dollars. They can offer their services to neighbors and slot them perfectly into their sports and extracurricular schedules. From walking dogs to herding cats, your teen will be a pet-sitting pro in no time.

Pet sitting teaches my girls how to be responsible for another living thing, as well as basic life skills: responsibility, communication, and taking ownership over your work.
-Ashley T.

Cultivate a Love for Lawn Mowing

Help your teen channel their inner landscaper and offer lawn mowing services in your neighborhood. Not only will they enjoy the outdoors as they’re out mowing lawns, they’ll also learn the value of hard work and taking ownership of their tasks. Plus, nothing beats the satisfaction of transforming an overgrown yard into a manicured masterpiece. (Just ask our resident landscaping enthusiast and YNAB Budget Nerd, Ernie.)

Tee Up a Golf Course Job

Some people pay big bucks to hang out on a golf course all day—your teen could make big bucks by working at one. Whether it’s landscaping duties, cart maintenance, or working as a golf caddy, golf courses are often looking for an extra set of hands during busy the busy summer season, making it an ideal place for high school students to spend their days.

Land a Summer It Job as a Lifeguard

If your teen has pool or open-water skills, becoming a lifeguard is the summer job. Not only do they get to enjoy the great outdoors, but they’ll also earn good money (since lives are on the line and all). In many states, they can work up to 40 hours a week during the summer as a lifeguard.

My 15 year old foster daughter got a job as a lifeguard and loved it. Our area is so short on lifeguards that our pool paid for her certification class (which is normally $400-$500), so that was an awesome benefit. She gets to be outside, work with friends, and do something she actually enjoys. It also pays better than most jobs—she’s starting at $15.50 an hour.

Usher in Art-Lovers at a Local Arts Center

For the creative teens out there, working at a local arts center can be a dream come true. Whether it’s ushering or selling concessions, they’ll be surrounded by like-minded individuals and get a chance to catch some awesome shows.

My 16 year old works at our local arts center. I think it’s about $11-12 an hour, but it’s not hard work. He ushers, serves, and gets to hang out with other teens. I give him a small monthly allowance, and anything he spends beyond that is money he earns over the summer.

Shine as a Side-Hustle Superstar

If your teen has a unique talent or passion, encourage them to turn it into a side-hustle. Whether it’s graphic design, playing gigs as a musician, teaching music lessons, making YouTube videos for their own YouTube channel, acting as a virtual assistant, running sound and lights for events, doing social media management, or even acting in commercials, they can monetize their skills and have a blast doing what they love.

My other kids developed more side-hustle type work. Liam is a drummer, so he’d play gigs for money. El learned to run sound and lights through the theater program at school, and would get hired to do that for dance recitals and other events hosted at the school. They’ve also done commercials and other acting gigs, which is where they all made the majority of their money as teens.

Spark Creativity by Starting an Etsy Shop

Let’s not forget about the wonders of the digital age! If your teen has a knack for crafting, why not unleash their creative genius and turn it into an online cash cow? Whether it’s handcrafted jewelry, quirky ceramics, screenprinted t-shirts, or funky crochet creations, your teen can set up shop on Etsy, the virtual haven for all things handmade and unique. Selling their crafts online not only hones their entrepreneurial skills but also introduces them to the world of making money online, product copywriting, and social media advertising.

Start a “Sell Stuff Initiative” at Your House

Here’s an idea from Lindsey at YNAB: Hire your teen to sell the stuff you’ve been meaning to sell. Got a garage giving you clutter anxiety? Feed two birds with one scone! Instead of tackling that daunting yard sale yourself, why not enlist the help of your entrepreneurial teen? They can take charge of selling your stuff on online marketplaces like Facebook Marketplace, Ebay, Amazon, or Poshmark and then plan a garage sale to get rid of whatever’s left over—turning your unwanted items into cold, hard cash. This clears up space in your home and provides an incredible work-from-home, part time job for your teen.

Inspire Young Adventurers as a Summer Camp Counselor

I considered this the ultimate summer power move as a teenager: becoming a camp counselor! It’s not just a job—it’s a crash course in personal growth and leadership. Watch as your teen transforms into a communication maestro, conflict-resolution guru, theater performer, and all-around superhero for younger campers. They’ll cultivate life skills like responsibility, teamwork, and problem-solving, all while creating a magical camp experience for others (and getting their own camp experience paid for).

As a parent, you want your teen to thrive and succeed. What better way to help than by empowering them to make their own money and learn the value of financial responsibility? As summer unfolds and your teenager looks for ways to make the most of their free time, encourage them to get creative.

With the right attitude and a sprinkle of creativity, your high schooler can turn their hobbies, talents, and passions into a lot of money—well, a lot more money than you probably made as a teen.

From babysitting to making money online, it’s not just about the extra cash—it’s about the valuable experiences, friendships, and lessons that they will carry with them into adulthood. We’re rooting for your next generation!

Did you know you can invite up to five loved ones to join your YNAB subscription at no extra cost? Share budgets and your YNAB subscription with your teen and help them avoid the classic teenage money mistakes.

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How to Make Money as a Teen