"I'd really like to earn some money, but I'm not sure how. I'm too young to babysit, and I can't do the common jobs like "selling lemonade" and stuff like that. How should I earn some money?"
There are a number of ways that kids can earn money, but without knowing your exact circumstances, it’s hard for me to be sure of what methods might work for you and what wouldn’t. And of course, you should make sure to have your parent’s approval for any type of money-making enterprise you try. That said, I’ll list some ideas, and hopefully you’ll be able to put something on here to use!
While you said too young for babysitting, a similar option (but one that carries less responsibility with it, so you/your family/your potential clients may be more comfortable with it) would be being a “parent’s helper”, wherein there’s still an adult home in case of emergency, but you keep an eye on the kids and play with them so that the parent can get some work done, have some time to themselves, etc. This way, you do largely the same things as a babysitter but without quite as much responsibility as if you’re the oldest person present; a parent’s helper would usually be paid less than a full babysitter, but it’s still a great way to have a bit of an income, spend time with kids, and, perhaps, ease into babysitting, if that’s something you’d want to do in the future when you're older.
If you do go into the line of business of childcare/parent's helping, I definitely recommend starting with just relatives, neighbors, or friends—people you already know well—both for safety reasons and because it’s often easier to be in charge of children you already know, so you’re not plunged into the deep end, per se.
It’s amazing how many people have pets but lack either the time or the inclination to devote to properly caring for them. If you like animals, I definitely recommend considering this. Create a flyer, or just get the word out by word of mouth, that you’re available to feed people’s pets when they’re on vacation, change the cat’s litterbox, walk dogs, etc. Even if you limited your business to just, say, walking dogs, you could well have a neighbor or two who’d be interested in hiring you!
Lots of people don’t have the time or energy to spend on the upkeep of their own lawns, so that’s where you can come in! Many kids or teenagers earn money this way, and if you’re up for putting in some effort—especially if you like being outdoors—this can be an excellent source of income. Depending on where you live and the time of year, the form yardwork takes could vary from raking leaves to shoveling snow to weeding a garden to mowing the lawn; you could hire yourself out to do any or all of these jobs. Tell your neighbors, or design a flyer and stick it up around the neighborhood. Just make sure you’re willing/prepared to follow through and actually do the work. :)
- Sell something you make
I’m not certain exactly what you consider “typical”, when you say, “I can’t do the ‘typical’ thing you hear about in storybooks.” However, there are plenty of things you could make to sell other than lemonade! (Or hosting a bake sale, which also seems like it might, perhaps, be considered a “typical” way of earning money?) If you like some kind of art or crafting, you could try selling some of your creations in your neighborhood or to other people you know. What form this takes would of course depend entirely on your interests and skill sets, but could be anything from knitting winter hats to baking cookies to beading jewelry to sewing dolls to making homemade photo frames (S2S mentor Kate provides instructions for the latter in this blog post!)—or anything else you like making. When my brother was younger he was very into designing cool patterns and making woven potholders, and he created a whole business plan for selling potholders on our front lawn. (He never followed through with said plan, as it happens, but that’s beside the point. xD)
If you try doing this, keep in mind to think from the perspective of your potential clients and think what they might want to buy; generally speaking, I find people are more likely to buy things that are useful and/or well-made (even if they only serve an aesthetic purpose), so if you’re making something to sell, be prepared to put time into the making of it—the more your effort, the better the quality of the product is likely to be.
- Have a yard sale
This is definitely something to discuss with your parents, but if you have old clothes, toys, or other belongings that are still in fine condition but you no longer want, need, or use, one option might be to host a garage sale or yard sale for your things. Look through your closet or old boxes, and there’s a good chance you’ll find quite a number of things that you don’t really have any real reason to keep.
Of course, a yard sale is far from the only way to dispose of these old belongings—you could also give them to friends, donate them to a homeless shelter, thrift shop, etc. But, if you’re looking to make some money, and if you and your parents are comfortable with it, this might be something worth considering.
- Teach/tutor something
Offering to share whatever skills or knowledge you have with others people is a great way to earn money by helping others. For instance, love music. I’ve studied both flute and cello for several years—so I’ve given people music lessons. The form this takes for you could vary as anything from offering cheap tutoring in a school subject you’re good at to helping someone learn to dance, play a sport, play music, etc.—pretty much any area that you’re experienced in and feel ready/able to teach or share with others. As a bonus, this can also sometimes let you develop your understanding of the subject in question even further, since there’s a different angle involved when you’re addressing an area from the perspective of teacher instead of the perspective of student.
Some of these are things I’ve done firsthand, others are just ideas. And needless to say, there are many more ways to earn money than I’ve included here, but I hope some of these suggestions are helpful!
If anyone else has earned money by doing something on this list or through another way, please share your ideas and experiences in the comments below! And bear in mind that, while earning money can be fun and convenient (not to mention a good way to prepare for having a “real” job as an adult!), do try not to get too caught up in your financial enterprises; there’s a lot more to life than that. ;-)
Hope this helps—and best of luck with earning some money!!