A teen's guide to earning money

A Teen's Guide to Earning Money

Why it's important to make money as a teen.

Earning money is a crucial life skill. Buying food and clothes or even school supplies isn’t a one-time thing, but part of life. Since you need money to pay for things, you will need to earn enough money to cover those costs. As a teen, this might be the first time you’re exploring how to earn money and may not know how to start. Not to worry — Step is here to help! Below we’ll discuss some basic tips and advice to help you start earning your own money now, so you can see just how rewarding the process can be.

Start asking around for work

The first place to start is by asking your family and friends for ways they might be able to help you start earning money. Some smaller examples of work that you might be able to do for your family are:

  • Regular household chores
  • Doing the dishes
  • Walking the dog

These types of work opportunities go beyond just your family also. Utilizing your community connections as a way to make money is a great idea. Here are some jobs that you can offer to neighbors or families in your neighborhood:

  • Mowing their lawn
  • Washing their car
  • Babysitting
  • Raking leaves
  • Shoveling snow
  • Pet sitting

Starting with one of these jobs is a great way to get your foot in the door, and from there you can set up a recurring schedule. This helps bring in a more reliable stream of income. Once you start asking around if people need help, you’ll find that most of them would really appreciate it.

If you’re unsure about a job or want to learn a new skill, YouTube is also a great resource!

More job opportunities for teens

The most consistent way to earn money is to get a job. However, the minimum age to get a job with an employer is 14, so you may be limited on the number of hours and types of places you’re allowed to work. The good news is, once you’re 16 you’ll have a lot more jobs to choose from. That said, we know it can sometimes be challenging to juggle school and work, so consider employers like retailers and restaurants that offer night and weekend shifts.

Starting your job search can be intimidating. One way to start is by looking at places that you like to shop or eat. For example, employers like Starbucks, Chik-fil-A, American Eagle and PacSun hire employees starting at age 16. Local grocery stores typically have a number of jobs available for teens and can be conveniently located between your school and home. Jobs are also listed on websites like Indeed and Snagajob.

Getting your driver’s license can also open up a lot of opportunities. Restaurants always need delivery people, and the great news is that the demand is even higher with companies like DoorDash and UberEats. Plus, if you require a job with more flexibility because of your school situation or other responsibilities, these types of gigs allow you to work on your own schedule.

Lastly, if you’re too busy or maybe not quite ready to commit to a regular gig, consider seasonal jobs during the Christmas or summer holidays when you have more free time. In the months leading up to Black Friday and Christmas, many retailers hire additional employees to help with the increase in shoppers. Similarly, in the summer, jobs as a lifeguard or camp counselor are great ways to earn money while you’re out of school.

Hustle like an entrepreneur

Having a job can actually be enjoyable. Take a unique skill and turn it into a way to earn:

  • If you excel at a sport, try coaching or giving private lessons to younger kids.
  • Tutoring classmates in a subject you are passionate about can help you grow your own knowledge while making money.
  • Teaching music lessons is another great option to turn your hard work into money.

There are also many creative online ways to earn. Marketplaces like Facebook, eBay and Letgo can be great places to arbitrage, the process of buying low and selling high. You can find items that are cheap or need a little fixing up and sell for a higher price. You can also turn your computer skills into money by offering your services for hire through Fiverr and Upwork. This could be graphic design, video editing, basic website skills or even copywriting.

If you’re a Step user, you can invite your friends to become users, too. When you do and they use your referral link to sign up, you both earn $1. The more friends that sign up with your link, the more money you earn!

Know your employment laws

It is important to know your rights as an employee. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour which means employers are required to pay this amount for every hour you work. Some states require that you get paid more. For example, Colorado, California and Oregon have a minimum wage of $12 per hour and Washington, D.C., is one of the highest at $15 per hour. Your employer is also required to provide five minute breaks that are included in your payable work time. Lunch breaks are required for shifts lasting longer than five hours but are not required to be included in payable work time. Some of these laws vary by state as well, so make sure to check them for your home state.

How to land the job

So you’ve found a job that you like, now what? You need to apply for it. Depending on the job, there are multiple steps to the process. However, these are the general steps:

  • Application: The application is a way for the employer to learn more about you and your job history to see if your skills and experience make you qualified to do the job. If this is your first job then it is a great idea to include details about your experience with responsibility, accountability and trustworthiness. Are you on the student council, a volunteer, or a captain on a sports team?
  • Resume: In addition to the job application, they may also request a resume. A resume is a short document outlining similar information including contact details, the school you are attending, and relevant work, life skills and your other experiences that showcase who you are as a person. It’s easy to pull one together using online templates or guidance from your parents or another trusted adult. Linkedin is another great platform to build your online resume.
  • Interview: The interview is where you and the employer have the opportunity to meet and learn more about your skill set and what the job will entail. This is a great way for you to elaborate on points listed on your resume or in your application. The interview should be a two-way conversation. Not only is the employer seeing if you are a good fit for the role, but you are also able to learn more about the position and make sure it is a good fit for you.

Getting your paycheck

There are a few ways your employer can pay you: cash, check or a direct deposit. It’s important that once you receive your money, that you have a bank account to deposit it into. For that reason, direct deposit is definitely the most convenient way to receive your paycheck, because it goes directly into your bank account. Online payments from Fiverr or other jobs often only offer the option to link your bank account to receive your payment.

Get paid up to 2 days early with Step

When you set up direct deposit with Step, you can get your paycheck in your account up to two days early. Step makes it convenient to not only set up direct deposit but also instantly send and receive payments with your parents, family or even neighbors. Your Visa Step Card makes it convenient to have access to your hard-earned money and to track your spending. You can open your FDIC insured Step account in less than two minutes. Plus, if your job does pay you in cash, like a babysitting or lawn mowing job, you can easily deposit your cash into your Step account at one of the 70,000+ retail locations nationwide.

In preparation for your job search, download Step to jumpstart your financial future and have all of your earnings in one place.