What's worth the cash and what isn't ...
By Cinse Bonino
In the summer, cash = fun. Okay, okay, I know - there are picnics, hikes, romantic walks, biking, and all that other free-to-you-and-me hoopla that everyone is always pushing. And it IS true, you can have fun without much money, but most teens feel you can have a much better time with it. Who am I to doubt the wisdom of teens?
So once you decide that you DO want more cash in your pocket, how are you going to go about getting it? What kind of job are you willing to take? What makes a job good anyway?
Remember, we're talking about spending money, fun money, go-and-have-a-good-time-with-your-friends money. You're not trying to earn money for food or shelter. You just need some cash so you can play. If you wanna play, you gotta work. But, you don't want to work too hard; you don't want to do anything too unpleasant either. But, even though this isn't about basic survival, it just might be about social survival. It's pretty hard for younger teens to get real jobs - your choices aren't that great, but you have to be willing to work at something. Here are a few choices and a few things to watch out for. . .
Babysitting is an old stand-by. It can be a breeze. You go in, play with the kids a little, get them to bed, then munch on yummy snacks the parents leave out for you and watch way cool movies on their cable or satellite networks. BUT, babysitting can be less than heavenly if the kids (OR the parents) in question are less than angelic. Here are a few things to watch out for...
1. Kids that are in their terrible-twos or ferocious-fours
2. Parents who want to pay you the same hourly rate to watch two kids instead of one
3. Kids who scream for Mommy the whole time she's gone
4. Houses that feel scary when it's dark
5. Parents that don't want you to eat anything while you're there
6. Boyfriends that insist on stopping by and getting you in trouble
Maybe your local recreation department or other organization offers a babysitting certificate.
Being a mother's helper goes beyond being a mere babysitter. You are on-call for whatever is needed. You're kind of like a second mom or big sister. If there are two kids in the family, you'll probably handle one while the mom handles the other. Maybe you'll make Suzy a P&J sandwich while MOM puts Joey down for his nap. Sometimes the mom takes off and leaves you with the kids, but usually she's around too. Be prepared to go with her and the kids to the pool, the park, or the beach. You'll probably do a lot of walking or strolling too. Lots of mothers' helpers sleep over, but many go home each night. It can be a great way to feel welcomed into someone else's family - and it's extra special to be the big sister if you don't have that role in your own house. Here are some things to beware of...
1. Moms who can't decide how they want you to help them
2. Dogs or other pets that are just as much work as the kids
3. Moms who expect you to do the work of a maid too
4. Kids that think you're there for them to terrorize
5. Moms who want you to watch the kids at night for free
6. Not having enough time to eat lunch like a human
Yard work can be as simple as cutting someone's grass or as intense as planting a huge garden and keeping it watered and weeded for the entire summer. If you like to dig and plant, this is definitely the job for you. You get to be outside in the sun doing something you like AND you get paid. (Not to mention how strong and beautiful your arms and legs will become!) Lots of elderly people and busy moms would love to have help with their veggie gardens or flowerbeds. Just make sure things don't wilt - look out for...
1. Agreeing to do jobs you really don't know how to do
2. Not having the right equipment to do a job well
3. Over-watering, pulling out good plants instead of weeds, and other day-dreaming disasters
4. People who expect backbreaking labor for next-to-no pay
5. Making time commitments you can't stick to
6. Wrecking your good clothes
PET WALKING & SITTING
If you like animals then dog walking or pet sitting could be the perfect job for you. Or, if your parents won't let you have a pet at home - you can fantasize that your customers' pets are really yours. Make sure you get really good instructions if you're pet sitting and decide whether you want to watch pets in your home or theirs. Meanwhile, watch out for the following...
1. Losing the key to the pet owner's house
2. Pets that hide when their owners go away
3. Dogs that pick fights with other dogs when they're out walking
4. Getting in trouble for forgetting the poop-bag
5. Not charging enough to take care of a pet that requires a lot of work
6. Pets that nip, bite, and scratch
Those wire and bead earrings or those clay-bead necklaces you make might just earn you a pretty penny if you figure out how to market them. Speaking of markets, a booth at your local farmers' market or crafts fair might be just the place to show your wares. A cool, hip clothing store that sells to older teens and college students might sell your work on consignment. You give them the jewelry and tell them how much you want to make on each piece. They price the jewelry and try to sell it in the store. When someone buys one of your pieces - you get paid. Some stores might even be willing to pay you upfront for 10 or 12 pieces. This is a creative and exciting way to make money, but watch out for...
1. Shops that want to give you less money because you are a kid
2. Paying so much for your booth at a market or fair that you end up making almost no money
3. Not charging enough for your work
4. Making your stuff so that it falls apart too easily
5. Asking a friend to help sell at a booth with you and then paying them too much
6. Charging so much for your stuff that no one will buy it
Check out this article from Zanda with lots more ideas on how to make money. Some are for adults but you will find plenty that are useful to you.