Ways to Save and Make Money

Teens and Their Money

By Selena Maranjian

Once you're fired up about investing, dreaming of all the money you can make, you may suddenly realize something: You need money to invest!

There are two main ways to gather that moolah:

  • Make more money.
  • Save more money.

Here are a bunch of ideas that can help you do both.

Making Money

The most common way that most young people get money is through an allowance. Not every teen gets one, of course, and your parents' beliefs or financial situation might mean you get little or nothing. According to various surveys, the average allowance for teens is anywhere from $20 to $50 per week. If yours is a lot lower, perhaps try negotiating a raise.

Here are some more ways to get money:

  • From your family. Your parents might pay you for getting good grades in school, or for reading a certain number of books, or for doing various jobs around the house. You might even earn some money from siblings, if you offer to do some of their chores.
  • Selling things. If your closet or basement is full of belongings that you no longer need or want, consider selling them. (These might include toys, games, comics, and clothes. Don't get rid of things you have a strong attachment to, though, such as your old Furby or your Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lunchbox.) You could hold a yard sale in your neighborhood. You might even offer to sell other people's knickknacks, for a small fee or a percentage of the price. Another option is selling items online, such as on eBay.
  • A job! This is perhaps the most obvious way to earn money, and teens frequently land part-time or full-time summer jobs.

Jobs for Teens

Believe it or not, there are many, many jobs you can find or create. You have more choices than just working at McDonald's or babysitting. Here are lots of ideas, a few of which might appeal to you.

  • Pet-sitting. When someone in your neighborhood goes on vacation, there's often a pet that needs looking after. Also, with people working longer and longer hours these days, some will pay you to visit their pets during the day and take them for a walk.
  • Working for your parents. If mom or dad owns a business, they might be able to use your help. Even if they work for a company, they may be able to hook you up with a part-time job there. (Check with your parents' friends, too.)
  • Tutoring. Some teens report that they earn anywhere from $5 to $20 per hour tutoring. If you're good at a subject, you may be able to earn money by helping others to understand it.
  • Lifeguard. In some parts of the country, there are shortages of lifeguards. Some have been earning $10 per hour or more. If you have the skills needed, consider this option.
  • Camps. If you look into it early enough, you can line up a job at a summer camp -- you might work with kids, tend the grounds, prepare food, or do any of a number of things.
  • Jobs matching your interests. If you enjoy working with young children, see if any daycare centers near you need help. If you like the great outdoors, check with your local parks department. If you like movies or recreation, look into movie theaters or amusement parks.
  • Mowing lawns, raking yards, shoveling snow, gardening. These can all be part of the same job. Once your customers know you and the good work you do, they may use your services doing other jobs in other seasons.
  • Department stores. A big perk with these jobs is that you often get to enjoy employee discounts (which can be substantial, often 20-30% off) and commissions on items you sell.
  • Create websites. If you know enough about computers to create well-designed websites, you can make some good money. Many small companies and organizations pay thousands of dollars to have websites built for them. You might charge very little at first, but once you have a few impressive websites to show potential customers, you can hike your rates. Some small companies might also pay you to help maintain their sites, adding content, and solving problems that arise.
  • Be crafty. If you enjoy arts and crafts, you might make jewelry or other items and sell them -- perhaps on eBay, where you'll have instant access to a large customer base. Some painters and photographers are making money selling their work online, too, although that can be harder to do.
  • Serve the elderly. Not only might you find work in a nursing home or retirement community, but you might also serve older people in your neighborhood. Many older people can't get around much. They may welcome your services delivering groceries, running errands, or doing odd jobs around their home.
  • Be a computer guru. Many people buy computers and have a lot of trouble setting them up and trying to use them. Even if you have an intermediate familiarity with computers, you might offer your services as a local computer consultant. You can set things up, solve problems, answer questions, teach programs, and show people how to send and organize email, upload digital photos, buy something on Amazon.com, use Instant Messaging, and conduct online searches (with Google or other search engines).
  • Caddy at a golf course. This not only helps you learn more about a sport you might enjoy, it also gives you the chance meet a lot of adults from whom you might learn more about the business world. They could be turn out to be valuable connections that help you land other jobs.
  • Delivering newspapers. If you sign up to deliver a lot (which may be more possible in areas with apartment buildings), you can make a good bit of money. Some teens make $100 or $200 per week or more.
  • Use your skills. Think about what you're good at and try to teach others -- adults or children. You might offer piano lessons, horseback riding lessons, or Spanish lessons. Maybe you can juggle and entertain at children's birthday parties. If you play an instrument, perhaps you could play at weddings or other events. If you write, you could try to sell articles to magazines or newspapers.
  • Volunteer! If all else fails, or even as a first choice, consider volunteering. Don't just do the first thing that pops into your mind, though. Be a strategic volunteer. Think of a field or company you'd like to learn more about. If you're really concerned about hunger in the world, volunteer at a food bank. If you're thinking about becoming a doctor (perhaps one who treats the elderly), consider volunteering at a hospital (or a nursing home).

Once You've Made Some Money, Save Some!

How much should you save? You actually may be able to save 100% of your money. Does that mean you should? Not at all. The best way to develop good saving habits is to make saving a regular part of your life, along with spending.

Here's a few ways you can save:

  • Save before spending. Whenever some money gets into your hands, from a job or your allowance or whatever, take your savings out immediately, before spending any of the money. The beauty of this system is that once you've removed your savings, you're free to spend the rest.
  • Negotiate with your parents. This may or may not work for you, but it's worth a shot. See if they'll "match" your savings, in order to encourage good saving habits. If they match your savings dollar-for-dollar, for example, that would mean that for every $25 you plunk into savings, they'd plunk an additional $25.
  • Consider the "opportunity cost" of purchases. Opportunity cost is an economic term that applies to many parts of our lives. It essentially refers to the cost of giving up one alternative in order to act on another. Imagine that you can either buy concert tickets for $50 or you can invest the money. If you invest for 10 years, and your investment grows by an average of 11% per year, your original $50 will become $142. So your decision can be framed like this: "Would I rather have these tickets now, or $142 in 10 years?" If you're thinking of buying a pair of shoes for $75, consider whether it's worth the opportunity cost of $600 in 20 years. Perhaps it is. If so, then by all means, buy the shoes.

Tips from Teens on Saving

Here are some more suggestions on how to successfully get into the saving habit, from a bunch of teens and a few folks fresh out of teenhood.

Ben Sheppard, 18: Don't carry any cash, if possible.

Clayton Smalley, 16: I used to be weak when it came to money. I couldn't go into a store without buying something. I'm glad I'm not that person now. I taught myself discipline by keeping a $20 bill in my pocket, walking around the mall all day and not buying anything. Now I don't have any urge to buy stuff when I go into a store. It worked for me.

Tacy Holliday, 19: When you buy something, only use dollar bills. If you buy a magazine for $3.25 and you pay for it with a $5 bill, you'll get back $1.25 in change. Put the dollar back into your purse (or pocket) and keep the 75 cents separate. Only spend the bills, not the coins. Put all the coins in a jar for savings. That way you'll always be saving a little.

Daniel Carroll, 16: I have a little bank that I put spare change and bills into. Whenever I have a significant amount in there, I'll invest it or put it in the bank. It's important to keep a routine. Every time I get money, I put some away.

Donald Hoang, 14: I deposit my money into a bank instead of my wallet, so the money is not there. and I have to take an extra step to get to it.

Jason Hart, 18: Take only what you really need for spending, and put the rest of it somewhere that's difficult to get to, such as long-term CDs or money market accounts. Making it inconvenient to get to your money might help you avoid the urge to spend it all. Also, decide exactly what percentage you will spend and what you will save, and follow your own rules.

Robert Morgan III, 17: Carry very little money at all times. You can't spend money if you don't have it. A candy bar would be nice, but without a dollar, you can't get it. Little things like that really add up quickly. I like to see the number of shares of stock I own going up, too. That's a great motivator.

Deborah Sperling, 14: When considering a major purchase, wait a week or so, at minimum. This will help you make sure you still want the item, and, as an added bonus, the price might go down.

Adam Kaufman, 15: Start with small amounts. When I first started saving to invest, I was saving $1 to $2 each day, so by the end of the month, I had $30 to $60, depending on what kind of month it was.

Jason Ramage, 20: I take advantage of automatic withdrawal from my bank account into my investment account, so that I'm always investing, and I'm forced to make do with a slightly tighter budget.

These ideas should help you get started. If you have some questions about anything you've read here, or would like to trade ideas about making or saving money, drop by our Teens and Their Money discussion board.

This article was adapted from The Motley Fool Investment Guide for Teens: 8 Steps to Having More Money Than Your Parents Ever Dreamed Of. For many more ideas and guidance on how to make and save money, check out the book. It also includes a lot of tips on how to land jobs and succeed at them.

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