1. Sell flowers and flower arrangements. This project has many levels. It will not only keep your child very busy, it will hopefully generate an interest in gardening as well as sales and marketing. I collect cute small recycled containers throughout the year. These can include teacups, salt and pepper shakers without the lids, small vases, shot glasses or any small glassware. We start in early spring by planting interesting looking seed packets. When flowers are blooming, the kids gather whatever is growing in the yard, make arrangements in the containers and set up shop. A stand on a busy corner is ideal and timing is everything. Always keep in mind Mother’s Day, May Day and any other “flower” holiday.
2. Sell used tennis balls at the dog park. There’s nothing like the power of convenience. My daughter and her friend called local tennis centers to get used tennis balls. Once they had gathered enough balls they made a cute sign (“Be green, buy a used tennis ball”) and set up shop at the entrance of a nearby off-leash dog park. Dog owners were motivated by a convenient product, generosity to buy a product to have on hand for other dogs, or just wanting to support a local “very small” business. Sales were great, especially when the kids learned to make eye contact and be generally approachable.
3. Have a kids’ run garage sale. At the end of the summer when I am out of ideas and my kids are bored, I suggest they have a garage sale. The whole day before is spent cleaning out their rooms, making signs and getting ready for the big sale. The next day they are in charge of putting out signs, selling their items and making change. They love to be in charge. I supervise from a distance but for the most part it is their sale. They learn negotiation skills, math skills, sales and marketing skills (sign placement is key) and best of all they clean out things they no longer want. This is a great 2 day project which in the end can result in some big time cash. I usually throw in a few big household items that I no longer want to sweeten the pot.
4. Play an instrument at local farmers markets and coffee shops. We are fortunate to live 3 blocks away from a year round farmer’s market. When my kids are feeling broke, which is often (they play the sax, trumpet and flute) they round up their instruments and head to the market. My son and his friend (who also plays trumpet) often make up to $20 each per hour. Not only are they earning money, they are practicing their instrument, gaining experience in public performance, and learning marketing skills.
5. Sign up for Market Research. There are a couple of nearby market research groups near us. One of them specializes in kids. My kids have regularly worn sneakers and participated in toy studies. They get paid anywhere from $15 to $50 for their opinion and product testing.
6. Sell your old toys/games/bikes on craigslist. This will require parent supervision but it will teach your kids to keep their things in good condition. My kids have sold everything from video games, doll houses, bikes and American Girl Doll items. They are in charge of cleaning up their item, staging it for a picture and writing a description. This works best for bigger items or groupings of smaller items. With a little help my 7 year old daughter was able to sell a dollhouse she no longer played with, save money through other odd jobs and buy a brand new American Girl doll.
7. Be a Tutor. When my daughter was in 1st grade she needed a little extra help with reading. I hired the 4th grade girl across the street to come read with her for 30 minutes a couple of times a week. My daughter loved this. I did the same thing when my son needed help with math. I hired a neighbor boy a couple of years older to come and help him out.
8. Collect bottles and cans. Our state, like many others has a bottle and can deposit. This job is probably best for an elementary school age child or a desperate enough teen. We live near a high school. It is easy pickings to head up there after an event at the field. The kids can collect bottles and cans while I walk the track. We also live near a Frisbee golf course where disc golf and beverages go hand in hand, especially on a hot summer evening. It’s just money sitting there waiting for someone to work for it.
9. Be a pet sitter and dog walker. Get the word out that you like animals and are responsible. Parents can help with this by letting friends and neighbors know that their kids are ready for this kind of job. Even if your child earns $1.00 walking a dog for ½ hour, that is a dollar in the piggy bank plus ½ hour of exercise for your child too.
10. Weeding and general yard clean up. When my daughter wanted an ipod recently and it became clear to her that I wasn’t about to run out and get her one, she took matters into her own hands. She cranked out handmade fliers. Each was individually written out and hand colored. (I didn’t mention that it might be quicker to make just one and have photo copies made since it kept her so busy- and out of trouble). She delivered them to neighbors she thought might like some yard help. It paid off and she soon was working for a couple of hours each weekend. It turns out she’s a pretty hard worker.
See also this related article “7 Part Time Jobs and Money Making Ideas for Teenagers”