Teach Grandma Zoom: 12 Ways for Teenagers to Make Money

This illustration shows teens doing dance moves they learned on TikTok.
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Your teens want the latest version of PlayStation or maybe a Nintendo Switch. Maybe he covets a pair of Adidas Yeezys and she is hot for Kendra Scott’s newest earrings. It’s time they make like Warren Buffett and start to make — and save — some money. And there are plenty of business ideas for teens to get them started.

The billionaire CEO of Berkshire Hathaway — now in his 90s — bought his first stock at age 11. By the time he was 14, Buffett used $1,200 that he earned from paper routes to purchase 40 acres of land, which he leased to farmers. (Maybe don’t tell your young entrepreneurs that Buffett never spends more than about $3 for breakfast and still lives in the Omaha, Nebraska, house he bought for $31,500 in 1958, according to CNBC.)

12 Money-Making Business Ideas for Teens

Today’s business ideas for teens may not involve paper routes, but there are still plenty of old-school, low-tech money-making ideas that require zero startup capital.

Those include pet sitting, baby sitting, gift wrapping and washing cars. But these days, high school students can go beyond family and family friends to make a living off their special skills, among them mad tech skills, to earn real money.

Bonus: Many of these jobs don’t involve leaving the house which has been helpful during the pandemic.

These 12 ideas can set them on the path of transforming from teen entrepreneurs to the next Warren Buffett.

1. Zoom Tutoring

Teens are hitting the tutoring scene hard because it pays well and it’s easy to get started. Companies like Varsity Tutors, Kaplan and Tutor.com offer around $20 per hour for teens to tutor in subjects ranging from the SATs to math or writing (basically, you’d tutor in your specialty subject).

They can also find tutoring clients via local Facebook groups or via word-of-mouth from teachers, coaches or family members. They will need a strong, dependable Internet connection, solid organization skills and an expertise in an academic subject and the report card to prove it.

2. Tiktok and Video Trainer

My 12-year-old finally put her TikTok skills to good use. She asked me to post on Facebook asking if any local kids wanted to learn the latest TikTok dances. Ten third graders signed up for her class, paying $3 weekly for my daughter to teach them how to TikTok. We cleared out the living room so they’d all have space to dance, and she was good to go.

TikTok is the hottest new social media platform. Users share short videos — no more than 60 seconds  — that are mostly entertaining but have recently become educational and inspirational. There are dozens of videos showing how to make what’s now called the TikTok feta pasta dish. Can your resident TikTok expert teach food bloggers how to make food videos to broaden the content on their sites? Maybe some local business folks need help reaching a younger audience.

3. Dog Walking and Pet Sitting

A job as old as time, this one is still legit and thriving. Expect to make $5 to $10 per day for dog walking, depending on location. Teen entrepreneurs specializing in pet care can book their business by creating a Web site and adding additional services (washing the pet or playing/tiring him out in the park) for extra fees.

4. Streaming Entertainment Coach

Imagine the horror of not being able to binge the latest Netflix craze or being flummoxed by the signup directions for Hulu (or Disney + or Amazon Prime or …). And for some people, the remote for the new smart TV seems more like an instrument created for a NASA astronaut than a way for an earth-bound mortal to change the channel.

Teenagers who know of such things can offer their services to neighbors or even the grandparents (or parents) of friends. It’s a sure bet that if if they do a good job, they will be asked to help set up new computers and printers, give quick laptop lessons and even show clients how to use the portrait mode on smartphone cameras.

How to set the price? That takes some trial-and-error to decide whether it’s by the job or the hour.

5. Vintage Clothes Seller

This one is easy for teens to do, as there’s no age minimum. There are also plenty of places to sell and as vintage/used clothing is majorly trending, they could make a lot of money this way. Poshmark is a great place to sell used clothing, as it’s essentially a social media marketplace. Instagram is another. Get advice from others who’ve perfected this side hustle on various sites.

On Poshmark, the more people you follow, the more business you’ll likely receive. Set your own price, receive a prepaid shipping label from Poshmark. It’s free to sell, and Poshmark receives $2.95 for items less than $15; and 20% for anything above $15. Depop is Poshmark’s competitor and another option. Which one is better? Depends.

The RealReal is another possibility if your teen is selling designer or trendy clothing (brands like Lululemon and GoldenGoose are hot). This site takes 15% of sales, and they accept everything from clothing to jewelry. Of course, old standbys like Craig’s List, EBay and Facebook Marketplace are always great selling options.

6. Artist for Hire

Good at art? Love to make friendship bracelets? These talents can be turned into profit by selling goods on Etsy. Etsy users pay 20 cents to list each product, and Etsy takes 3.5% of all sales. Teens ages 13 and up can sell via Etsy as long as their shop is managed by a parent or a legal guardian.

7. Language Teacher

Teaching English online is a popular side gig that teenagers can get in on. While some online companies require a degree from their teachers, there are many that don’t. You can also take a TEFL certification course (3 months, about $1,000) to bump up qualifications. Sounds too pricey? These can often be found on Groupon for less than $100.

If you plan on teaching online in China (this is the largest market), you’ll be required to take the online TEFL certification course. Once you snag an online English tutoring job, you’ll typically make your own hours — but these hours will often be requested in the early morning, due to the time change overseas. You will make around $10 per hour. Legit English teaching platforms include Cambly, PalFish and SkimaTalk.

8. Camp Counselor

According to ZipRecruiter, the average summer camp counselor makes $10 per hour but some pay more. Choose a local day camp or spend the summer at a sleepaway camp. Most sleepaway camps have counselor-in-training programs for kids who are between the ages of 12 to 16, though these typically don’t pay or they pay just a small stipend. Anyone older can be a counselor.

9. Refreshment Entrepreneur

Think your teen is too old to have a lemonade stand? How about they sell a different product, like Shirley Temples, mocktails or kombucha? The other teens won’t judge them for this one — especially if the drinks come in plastic martini glasses. Make sure to check your city ordinances before setting up the pop up. Some cities may require registration or a license.

Also, consider elevating the mocktail stand: Encourage them to hire themselves out as a mocktail bartender for a friend’s birthday party. Or even for a neighborhood kids’ party.

10. Paid Computer Player

This one should be an easy sell. Go onto Swagbucks to answer surveys, shop online and watch videos  and you’ll be rewarded with everything from money to store gift cards. Swagbucks is available for anyone 13 and older. They won’t make your fortune doing this — most people make about $1 per day but if they’re already sitting in front of your computer watching videos, they might as well make some cash doing it.

11. Golf Caddy

Most golf courses in the United States will hire teens 14 and up to caddy. They’ll be outside all day, making between $20-$30 per hour. They don’t need to be a golf pro, but should know the basics of the game. Apply at a local golf course or country club.

12. Mobile Device Teacher

Your teen’s a tech pro. Or perhaps she simply understands how to capture a screenshot, copy & paste and check a book out of the library directly to an e-reader. This is a talent! There are plenty of adults that wish they were as tech savvy — and would pay good money to get there. Advertise on a local Facebook page or give them a hand by spreading the word to your friends. Perhaps a class all about navigating an e-reader, or one about how to use social media to your best advantage? And it may seem like everyone can take a Zoom call, but they can’t. Show the grandparents down the street how to video conference call with the grandkids across the country. They may pay handsomely.

The Penny Hoarder contributor Danielle Braff is a Chicago writer who specializes in consumer goods and shopping on a budget. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Real Simple and more.