How to Make Easy Money at 13

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Here’s a wake-up call: Nothing is easy when it comes to work. Sure, dropping newspapers on doorsteps looks like a sweet gig, but getting up at 4 a.m. every day? Not so much. Here’s a tip: Instead of figuring out how to make quick cash, replace the word quick with big. A few twists on common jobs have the potential to turn your enterprise into a success, even at a young age.

Get buy-in from your folks before considering your options. If your grades are pathetic or you play on six sports teams a year, chances are, everything will suffer if you get work – even the job itself. While you’re holding a pow-wow with the folks, set a long-term goal so you stay motivated. Make the goal big: a car down payment for your 16th birthday, a pricey racing bike or a 52-inch HD flat screen TV for your room.

Take your neighborhood into consideration to eliminate jobs that don’t lend themselves to certain occupations. Setting up a lemonade stand on a cul-de-sac that rarely sees traffic could be a recipe for discouragement. Security-tight high rises may have you whetting your lips at the prospect of hundreds of newspaper recipients, but if you can’t get in, your get-rich-quick scheme is going nowhere. Be realistic and work with what you have. As you get older, you can always expand your business outside the subdivision.

Put a new spin on an old job like the ubiquitous newspaper route. Pair the Sunday edition with coffeecakes. Sign customers for your “breakfast on Sunday” program. When you collect fees, query customers on their favorite coffeecakes. Cut a deal with a bakery or grocery store to buy coffeecakes at wholesale prices. Pick up the pastries on Saturday. Double the amount you paid for the cakes when you re-bill customers.

Become the consummate babysitter, but only if you genuinely love kids. Don’t show up ready to pat the kids on the head while you focus on texting peeps. Borrow age-appropriate books from the library and bring along a few art supplies. Devote your time to working with kids in your charge so parents are predisposed to choose you over sitters who--well, sit. Ask your charges to create a piece of art for their folks. Present it to the parents when they return.

Take a survey. Ask folks in your neighborhood what they dislike doing most around the house. If the answer matches your skills--washing dogs, planting flowers, vacuuming, etc.--negotiate responsibility for doing the task on a weekly basis. Keep a notebook so you don’t schedule the Meyers’ floor washing on the same day you agreed to weed the Donovans' garden or shovel snow from your next-door neighbor’s driveway. No fair charging your folks for doing these jobs, by the way.


About the Author

Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.

Photo Credits

  • Catherine Murray/iStockphoto/Getty Images