29 July 2010

Get Cash (without a regular job)

Hello fellow teens!

To begin: a sad but true fact: money makes the world go round. *sigh* Adorable hoodies, cute shoes, gorgeous earrings, why must you be so expensive? We underage folk simply don't have enough cash. (Unless you are one of the lucky ones with generous parents. No such luck here... shopping sprees come from my own pocket!)

So what to do?

Here are a few ways I earn cash for my little trips. I go to the mall maybe once or twice a month, and always have at least $40 handy. You'd be surprised how much that can buy!

$$$ Part One: Rake in the Cash $$$

Ready for the money to start rolling in? Here are my top 4 tips for Teens Without Allowance. (Population: me.)

1: Hard Labor
Last fall I printed out fliers stating: "Neighborhood HandyGirl! Rakes. Plants. Weeds. Mows. All for a very low price! Contact -------." I stuck them in every mailbox within a quarter mile of my house. I got some pretty good replies! One of my elderly neighbors not only paid me like $20 an hour (far above my minimum $5) to rake his leaves, but also employs me now to mow his yard and weed. Score!
How to make it work:
   • Set your rates low. People are more likely to tip you if you have a low wage. But be careful! Don't go TOO low and count on that tip... you might not get it!
   • Work hard. I know this is kind of a duh, but my clients GREATLY appreciate it when I work for them. As one said: "You should be charging way more than this. You work like an adult... BETTER than most adults!" Making a good impression goes a long way.

2: Watch the _____
Babysitting. Petsitting. Yardsitting, for heaven's sake! The options are endless. When it comes to loved ones, people are ready to pay top dollar... but only for top care! Be diligent and make yourself invaluable to your clients and they'll hire you again and again. For example: I babysit frequently for a nearby family. I am always paid a HUGE amount... usually for just watching one little girl who goes to bed early. Example 2: I recently was paid $20 just to feed two cats and take in someone's mail. For one day. Yay that!
Bonus: If you're a good enough sitter, and the family is wealthy, and go on vacation to cool places like Europe, they might take you along to watch the kids when you're on the upper scale of your teens. It happened to my uncle. Awesome...
How to make it work:
    • Be polite. Being rude is a stupid, stupid thing to do. Make a good impression.
    • Get certified. I'm a Red Cross certified babysitter... and I cannot tell you how much of a comfort this is to parents! It especially helps if you know CPR, mouth-to-mouth, and other lifesaving techniques.

3: Strike a Pose
This option is my least recommended. It takes a special kind of person to be able to do it, and even then it's incredibly hit-or-miss.
Yes, I am talking about modeling. And trust me when I say: it is nowhere NEAR as glamorous as magazines and TV make it out to be! I came home from a recent shoot with bags under my eyes (from waking up at 4AM to drive to a state park... ugh) and horsefly bites all over my bikini-burned body. Blah!
But if you work well with the camera and are reasonably photogenic, start looking for a modeling agency. I must warn you: I've been doing this since I was a baby (legit) and it's incredibly hit-or-miss. You might get flooded with jobs one week and be completely barren the next. Teenage girls are in high supply and low demand, so the chances of you making it are pretty slight. It's time-consuming and exhausting. But... it brings in an average of $150-300 per job... so it's great if you get it!
How to make it work:
    • Find an agency. You NEED a modeling agency to get your name out. Do your research... and beware of scammers! A REAL agent takes a percentage of your earnings... fake ones may demand up-front payment.
    • When you get a job, take it. Turning down a job (even because of scheduling) leaves a negative imprint in your agent's mind and you're less likely to get future jobs. Be polite, too.
    • Don't set your standards too high. You won't start out doing movies or runway. More likely you'll be doing small stuff for grocery stores and state parks (been there, done that!) Take ANY JOB YOU CAN... it all adds up to awesome stuff like celeb music videos! (Total awesomeness experience!)

4: Play to your Strengths
Are you good at a certain craft? Musical talent? Horseback riding? Photography? Use it! Teach lessons or sell your product (I use Etsy.com and a personal site for my photos). My friend Sammy has been selling homemade bath and body products for years and is making a FORTUNE on them!
How to make it work:
    • Advertise. Get your name out there!
    • Be good at what you do. Be honest with yourself... if you're not good enough at what you do, no one will want to buy it.
    • Be reasonable. Don't set your prices too high (look at the market around you)! And be serious in your business... aforementioned Sammy's little sister (age 10) is going to start an "origami business". I'm not sure that will fly!

$$$ Part Two: Stack It Up $$$

Okay, so now you've got a little moolah. It's really, really tempting to go out and spend ALL of it RIGHT NOW... impress your friends with your newfound cash by treating them to the movies and buy that sweater you've been admiring.

Let's see... Um, no.

Save your money for something important... a shopping spree with a friend you haven't seen in a while, or fashion-forward back-to-school stuff. I always have an "emergency fund" (aka, milk bottle) with at least $60 should I have a money emergency.

Don't spend your money on frivolous things like ice cream and candy. Once in a while is okay (I stock up on gum every so often) but everyday spending should be nixed. I find it easier to do this if I separate my money so it's not all in one place... some in a jar, some in my purse, some in those jeans I never wear (haha, just kidding about that last one. Though once I was cleaning out my closet and found $50 wedged in the bottom of a decrepit old purse... cool!).

Don't forget college! As excruciating as it is, put away some money — a few hundred dollars, perhaps — in  a closed bank account with maximum growth. You can't access the account for a few years, so the temptation vanishes... and then you have a nest egg for your college fund, in case all you wonderful geniuses and star athletes don't get full scholarships. ;)

$$$ Part Three: Shop Smart $$$

1: Go for the Sales!
I know, I know... who shops the sales rack? Truth: sales shopping is THE best way to make your dollars stretch. PacSun and similar stores always have mega-sales... go check it out. Using coupons or discount codes is also a great way to save money. (Example: Delia's has a once-a-year promo where if you try on [not buy, even!] a pair of jeans, you get $10 off your entire purchase. Woohoo!)
WARNING!  Don't get sucked in by snazzy 2-for-1 deals and the like. Chances are, the real product is priced way, way high to accommodate this type of sale, and you often end up spending more money.

2: Name Brand Tizzy
Okay. So I appreciate to the fullest extent the gratification in wearing the Abercrombie moose around everywhere. It makes me feel expensive and luxurious and chic. But the truth is? Some things just aren't worth the extra $40 just because they're from an expensive store. Let's face it: Nobody's going to know if your underwear comes from Target or Juicy Couture. So why waste the cash? Other things like camis and stockings are similarly ridiculous... if you can't tell anyway, why pay more money for the exact same thing?

3: Outlets Are Your Friends
No, not the electrical kind. (Zzzt!) Store outlets, especially for big-name brands, are THE best place to shop. Everything is wayyyy lower priced than in the real store. (True story: I recently got an AMAZING Abercrombie jacket at our local Outlet for $18 that was originally like $86. Gack!) Sometimes outlet stores have their clothes specially made and stand alone from the real store; sometimes they are last season's pick.
WARNING: Beware for damaged goods! Outlet stores aren't as careful as the real thing.

4: Control Yourself
Okay, yes, that sushi bar in the mall food section is tempting. And the ice cream is looks delicious... and low-fat, too! But mall food is ten times more expensive than regular food. Don't blow your hard-earned cash on something that stupid... eat before or after, or bring a snack (if like me you have a high metabolism and are starving 15 minutes after scarfing down a full-on buffet).
But don't faint from hunger, either! The mall cops won't thank you for that. Find a balance. Know your limits. That cool stuff.

5: Consider
This is probably the most important. Sure, that sixteen-layer skirt looks lovely in the store, despite its $60 price tag... but will you actually wear its rainbow-y goodness out in public? What about those futuristic sunglasses? You know they're against school dress code. And sure those jeans look incredible NOW... but you know you're having a growth spurt, and by the time it's the first day of school, they'll be three inches above your ankle.
If you won't or can't wear it, DON'T BUY IT. It's as simple as that... but a difficult thing to remember when you're surrounded by the glitz and glam of the consumerist world.

Well! I think you are now suitably equipped for your best money experience EVER, whether you shop at big-brand stores or teeny vintage shoppes (I do both!). Remember: $20 may not seem like a lot, but it only takes five twenties to make a hundred. Think about that as you grouch about your measly earnings. It'll get better! Honest!


  1. I also write for this website called Triond (triond.com) where you can write basically anything- poems, articles, stories, etc, and you get paid for the amount of page views you get. I've earned 16 dollars so far. If your parents have a PayPal the money can be paid to that.

  2. Great tips, Olive Tree!
    I'll be considering what you've said whenever I want to make a little cash or need to spend less ;)

    Hugs & Blessings,
    Jessica Nicole

  3. Kiki: Interesting! Thanks for the tip, I'll have to check it out. I have my own PayPal due to Etsy and blog design... that might be neat!

  4. You leave good advice Olive Tree! Though I get allowance it isn't much, although it is when I don't receive it for several months. I load up my money, and find that it is sooooo hard to spend. Though my friends will save up $300 dollars, then spend it all on an iPod or something, or buy a $100 purse, I find that I hate spending... That could be a good thing... Or a bad one.
    As for the earning money idea, I will occasionally weed my elderly neighbors beautiful garden, or have a lemonade stand.
    I've never really gone to outlets, and that seems SO cool. Sometimes I go to places like GoodWill and you can find some stuff there-- like this adorable purse my friend bought, or this sooo cute shirt I have. I find that I can never find jeans that fit me, except for Nordstrom, so thats where I buy my jeans, but the ones I like are (luckily!) pretty cheap.


  5. Great tips, Olive Tree! I will have to remember those!

  6. SofieRose: I'm with ya on the Goodwill thing! Our community is incredibly wealthy so there's always good pickings at our local GW.

  7. Hey! Awesome tips! I agree, outlets are AWESOME!!! I always try saving my money up for outlets because the only one I go to is in Massechusetts and we only go once a year. So I go wild there. :) I wish I could babysit more, I've only done it once, AND I took the babysitting class! Lucky for me we have some new fresh blood, I mean, potential customers (jk) on my street that I can babysit! :)


  8. Oh, if I can just say one more thing: You don't have to publish this, but I'm just saying that if anyone who reads this comment wants to try modeling, DO NOT look into Industry Model and Talent Studios agency. They're HUGE scammers! I just wanted to let everyone know, cause I found out the hard way!

  9. Yeah, we have several other stores like that. When I was five or six my dad and I went to GW and found a stack of Nancy Drew books in fantastic condition. We had been reading ND, and so I was excited. You can find ANYTHING there. My sis wants to go find a bathmat there she can cut up to put pieces of on the bottom of these slippers she made. I haven't been to GW in a long time, but we donate there all the time. LOL my basement is FULL of stuff we need to give away, so thats where it goes. I have two stores like that I can walk to, and for Christmas I gave my sister a snowglobe I found at one of them. She collects dog snowglobes, and I found an adorable one, in pretty good condition.

  10. Great post! I don't get allowance either! I depend on photography sessions. I don't do sessions a lot but at least it's some money! :)

  11. Good tips! *sigh* I wish *I* could go on 'shopping sprees' like that. All my money is going towards a car. =(

  12. Great money saving, spending, and earning tips! I actually have trouble spending sometimes! I am a saver, which I guess is a good thing! :)

  13. Awesome tips Olive!

    The only thing about modeling is, sometimes they expect you to wear some pretty skimpy outfits...

    But I'd like to give the ones I haven't tried a go!
    God Bless

  14. Wonderful tips, Olivia. *smiles*

    I teach piano and make $10 for every 30 minute lesson. Babysitting is great too and my mom will sometimes pay $5-$10 for a hard job that she needs to get done.

    I have almost $400 saved up, and I'm trying to reach $1000 by next July so I can go to a month-long summer "camp". I've been working hard.

    Anyway, I love the good-will too and sale items. 90% of all of my clothes come from Target anyway... *smiles*

    I know what you mean by working hard and making an impression. For my high school service project, I volunteer every week at my favorite little book store. I work so hard while I'm there that the owner came out one day and practically offered me a job when I'm just a little bit older. I was blown away.

    Have a blessed weekend my dear friend!


  15. Laurea: yep, that's why I warned against scammers! Hint... usually nationwide companies are more likely to be scams. Go local instead.

    Cassie and Allie: Nice! I added a section about playing to your strengths... good ideas! Allie, that is extremely awesome... mind sharing your secrets? ;)

    Gwenea: Well, you'd actually be surprised. Most of the jobs I get are for "wholesome happy" type things. So that's nice. :)

  16. Great advice! :) I'll be sure to follow it if I want to get out and make some cash.

  17. Very wise and helpful, Olive Tree. I'm not a teenager, but I find your thoughts useful!

    Stella Velox
    Scribe of the King

  18. My parents are big anti-allowance:D Which, doesn't sound good at first, but actually I am really appreciating now that I have to work for everything I make. Babysitting is a huge one for me;)

    Oh, and another tip: Since I have been making money, my parents have made me divide it into three parts. One goes into my college bank fund, one if for a short-term fund (e.g. vacation, a laptop etc.) and one is my SIN (haha, don't you love that sin?) or spend it now fund. That would be the money I use for shopping etc.

  19. Woot! I just wish I could do that kind of stuff in my neighborhood-or anywhere-right now. I'm only 12 so I'm not old enough for a quote 'real job' unquote. Summer heat in Florida may be the best time to do work, but it's so hot it seems like it could kill you in a second to walk a dog or pull some weeds! I'm not old enough to babysit people I don't know, an I don't know anyone who has a baby. That dream is crushed till I'm 15 (even though I have taken a class and am "certified").

    Now, your idea for selling my art and what-not isn't a half-bad idea for me! I like art, photography, and writing. I can sell those! And I would like to model accept I don't think I could afford an agent. Oh well *sigh*. Maybe I'll get an Esty like you! But before I sell my photography I'll have to get a REAL camera.

    Thanks for all the tips! You sound like me pretty much. I don't get paid from my parents for chores either.



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