The minimum age for working most jobs these days is somewhere around 14 or 15 for most States and provinces. That can be pretty frustrating when you’re starting out the school year or killing time in the summer months with little to no cash in your pocket. Not everyone’s parents can afford to give them all the new phones, laptops, and Steam games they want, and not every kid cares if their parents give it to them – some just want ways to afford what they want themselves.
But what can you do if you’re just under the age limit? And are there ways of making money that aren’t a complete waste of time – taking way too long to earn the equivalent of even just one working day at minimum wage?
You’d be surprised how easy it can be to make money, even as an 11, 12, or 13 year old. And some of the odd jobs I’ve listed below you may actually find you’ll like a lot better than getting a “real” job in a few years time.
Some of the ideas I’ve listed are regular hour gigs that pay you 2-3 times more than a minimum wage salary. Other ideas can make you a ridiculous amount of money, but only a few times a year, and bank on the fact that you’re currently in school. Finally, some of these suggestions could quite frankly be the start of a full-time career after you graduate – if you happen to enjoy them enough. Those typically take a lot of work, time, and effort to pull off and scale to the point where they can be careers, but if they’re things you think you’ll enjoy doing, it’s worth giving them a shot from now.
Let’s jump into my suggestions now, but if you think up any ideas I haven’t listed, take a moment to leave them in the comments. I’m sure there are some genius methods for making money out there, even if you’re only 12 or 13, that I haven’t thought up or heard of yet.
How to Make Money as an 11, 12, or 13 Year Old
You knew this would have to be up on the list, so here it is up at #1. Don’t roll your eyes at the idea! When I was in university, I knew full well corporate life wasn’t for me. I wanted to hack it as a self-employed entrepreneur, but I wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted to do, and wasn’t sure if anything I tried my hand at would actually stick. After I graduated, I knew I needed to earn something while I waited for at least one of my companies to grow to a reasonable size, so I started tutoring on the side of my cashier day job. A few months in, I was earning 2-3 times minimum wage, so I quit to start tutoring full time. Then I raised my prices to around 4 times minimum wage. Then I stopped tutoring in person and only edited people’s essays online. (And yes, I 100% mean edited, not wrote papers for other people. I would never do that kind of thing, though there’s obviously a huge market for it if you’ve got the skills and are ethically okay with helping students cheat – I’m not).
Advice for those who are interested in tutoring? Think about classes you get really high grades in that others struggle with sometimes in your class. Then try finding out if anybody’s younger sibling needs a tutor in that subject. Once you have one or two customers, word will spread, and if you have as many customers as you’re comfortable handling, that’s your opportunity for raising your price. You can continue to do this job throughout high school and college/university, and if you like it enough, can even do it as a full-time gig after that. Want to maximize the money you make per hour? If you’re teaching the very same thing to multiple students, ask if they’d be willing to do group tutoring sessions for a cheaper price. Say you charge $15 an hour – asking both to pay $10 an hour for a combined tutoring session means you make $20 for the same hour, and means they get a sweet discount. Get one more kid in on the action and you’re making $30 for the same amount of time.
When I was in high school, I knew a kid who used to make $20 an hour when minimum wage was around $7. To my knowledge, he never worked for a company, just started out by going door to door around his neighbourhood (or to a neighbourhood he knew was well off), asked if they’d like him to cut their lawn for a certain price, started being asked to do other odd gardening jobs, and went from there.
Dragging a lawn mower across a lawn may feel like a pretty underwhelming job, but when you factor in the fact that most regular jobs include working with people you’ll probably hate, having annoying bosses breathing down your neck, and not being able to set your own hours, you’ll pretty quickly realize that boring and underwhelming is usually a lot better than the alternative.
3. Selling Notes
When I was in high school, I had a friend who used to make crazy detailed typed up notes, and by the time he was in around 10th or 11th grade, he had the genius idea of printing off extras of the notes he had for harder subjects, like bio and chem, and selling them off before exam time for around $3 a pop.
What classmate could turn that down? Friends bought them, kids who were barely passing bought them, kids who were getting straight A’s but wanted to make sure they weren’t missing something bought them – and in around a week, off of notes he was already making for himself – he probably earned $300-400. Remember, he was selling these around the time min wage was around $7 in Ontario, it’s now around $14. Earning 300-400 would be the equivalent of having worked 42-57 hours back then; all for the “hard work” of waiting for his printer to finish making copies.
If you use this technique, remember you can set the price at whatever you want, but if it’s too high, people will probably start making photocopies of your notes for their friends instead of paying you. You can do note bundles – charging $3 per subject, or $5 for three – and if you happen to be terrible at taking notes yourself, you can always pay someone you know takes amazing notes for theirs at a flat rate, then sell those notes for a profit.
4. Setting Up Websites
Whether or not you’re good at web design, chances are if you know a thing or two about how to set a website up, you can make some money doing this for small businesses that don’t have an online presence live yet. Most every small business understands the value of a website these days, and typically what’s holding them back is technical limitations (not understanding how to do it themselves) or cost (feeling like it’s too expensive to get someone to do it for them), so swooping in with the right price, like $200-300 to set up an entire website, could be an easy sale for you.
It’s ridiculously easy to get a WordPress blog up and running these days – takes moments to install and probably an hour or two to get a website looking the way you want it. And with the amount of premium themes available these days for pretty reasonable prices (my favourite are Genesis child themes) it can be exceptionally easy to customize the look and feel of a website with little to no experience with actual web design yourself. Just show your client some pre-made theme options and plop in his or her favourite one.
Get good at doing this? Buy a premium theme package so every premium theme you install for a client will be free for you forever. Raise your price to double or even triple. Work with a photographer, or take pictures of your client’s products yourself and charge them extra for the added customization. Ask them if they’d like you to make a custom logo for them, and buy one of the sort they want off of Fiverr. You can definitely make a career out of this – again, even with little to no experience with web design yourself.
5. Start Selling Other People’s Stuff on Craigslist for a Commission
Lots of people have junk at home. Not many people like taking the time to sell that junk, even if they know they could make a healthy profit. It takes time and a little bit of effort to take all those pictures, craft a good listing, then make appointments with buyers – time most people don’t have.
If you know enough people with stuff that’s pretty easy to sell, but who don’t want to bother to sell this stuff on their own, ask them if they’d be willing to let you sell their stuff for a profit. 50/50 is a good way to go if you can get them to agree to it, but if they won’t, haggle down your fee from there. If you get good at this, figuring out the best things to sell, how to get people to click on listings, and what prices to list items at, it can be way more lucrative for you than a regular job throughout highschool and college/university. And for very little effort at all.
Other Ideas for Making Money as an 11, 12, or 13 Year Old
I think you get the picture with regards to how some of these ideas work and ways you can scale them into actual careers if they turn out to be something you actually enjoy doing. In case you want some more ideas, however, here’s a rapid fire list:
- Selling candy, soda, or chips to classmates.
Figure out things your classmates like to eat, and if they’re not for sale anywhere on campus, try selling them out of your locker. Be careful with this one, as my guess is you may get into trouble for doing this if teachers find out.
- Buying trading cards in bulk on eBay and selling rare ones to classmates.
Back when I was in high school, I knew of two classmates who made a lot of money selling rare Magic cards this way. Obviously, a trading card game has to be popular at the the time, you have to know what you’re doing, and be willing to stomach the cost if you don’t get lucky with the bulk cards you buy online, but it’s definitely a way to make money.
- Trying to hack it as a blogger, a YouTuber, or an Instagrammer.
As a heads up, this isn’t at all an easy thing to do, otherwise everyone would be doing it. But if you feel being a blogger, a YouTuber, or an Instagrammer is a career choice you’d be happy with in the future, you might as well start giving these career options a try now.
- Pet sitting, feeding cats, or dog walking.
- Car washing, attic cleaning, odd jobs.
- Paper routes.