A teen's guide to earning money

A Teen's Guide to Earning Money

Earning money is a crucial life skill. Buying food and clothes or even school supplies isn’t a one-time thing, but part of life. Since you need money to pay for things, you will need to earn enough money to cover those costs. As a teen, this might be the first time you’re exploring how to earn money and may not know how to start. Not to worry — Step is here to help! Below we’ll discuss some basic tips and advice to help you start earning your own money now, so you can see just how rewarding the process can be.

Easy access

The first place to start is by asking your family and friends for ways they might be able to help you start earning money. For instance, many families provide an allowance for contributing to regular household chores and responsibilities like doing the dishes or walking the dog. Additionally, there may be even bigger opportunities to earn money, including jobs like mowing lawns, washing cars, babysitting and more. If you’re unsure about a job or want to learn a new skill, YouTube is also a great resource! Consider earning even more by offering your skills and services to neighbors, setting up a recurring schedule.

Jobs for teens

The most consistent way to earn money is to get a job. However, the minimum age to get a job with an employer is 14, so you may be limited on the number of hours and types of places you’re allowed to work. The good news is, once you’re 16 you’ll have a lot more jobs to choose from. That said, we know it can sometimes be challenging to juggle school and work, so consider employers like retailers and restaurants that offer night and weekend shifts.

Starting your job search can be intimidating. One way to start is by looking at places that you like to shop or eat. For example, employers like Starbucks, Chik-fil-A, American Eagle and PacSun hire employees starting at age 16. Local grocery stores typically have a number of jobs available for teens and can be conveniently located between your school and home. Jobs are also listed on websites like Indeed and Snagajob.

Lastly, if you’re too busy or maybe not quite ready to commit to a regular gig, consider seasonal jobs during the Christmas or summer holidays when you have more free time. In the months leading up to Black Friday and Christmas, many retailers hire additional employees to help with the increase in shoppers. Similarly, in the summer, jobs as a lifeguard or camp counselor are great ways to earn money while you’re out of school.


Take a unique skill and turn it into a way to earn. If you excel at a sport, try coaching or giving private lessons to younger kids. Tutoring classmates in a subject you are passionate about can help you grow your own knowledge while making money. Teaching music lessons is another great option to turn your hard work into money.

There are also many creative online ways to earn. Marketplaces like Facebook, eBay and Letgo can be great places to arbitrage, the process of buying low and selling high. You can find items that are cheap or need a little fixing up and sell for a higher price. You can also turn your computer skills into money by offering your services for hire through Fiverr and Upwork. This could be graphic design, video editing, basic website skills or even copywriting.

If you’re a Step user, you can invite your friends to become users, too. When you do and they use your referral link to sign up, you both earn $1. The more friends that sign up with your link, the more money you earn! Don’t forget to check out our Step Squad program where you can earn $2.

Employment laws

It is important to know your rights as an employee. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour which means employers are required to pay this amount for every hour you work. Some states require that you get paid more. For example, Colorado, California and Oregon have a minimum wage of $12 per hour and Washington, D.C., is one of the highest at $15 per hour. Your employer is also required to provide five minute breaks that are included in your payable work time. Lunch breaks are required for shifts lasting longer than five hours but are not required to be included in payable work time. Some of these laws vary by state as well, so make sure to check them for your home state.

Getting prepared

In your job search, as you find opportunities that look like a fit, the next step is to complete an application to be considered for the job. The application is a way for the employer to learn more about you and your job history to see if your skills and experience make you qualified to do the job. If this is your first job then it is a great idea to include details about your experience with responsibility, accountability and trustworthiness. Are you on the student council, a volunteer, or a captain on a sports team? These are great examples to share in your application process. In addition to the job application, they may also request a resume. A resume is a short document outlining similar information including contact details, the school you are attending, and relevant work, life skills and your other experiences that showcase who you are as a person. It’s easy to pull one together using online templates or guidance from your parents or another trusted adult. Linkedin is another great platform to build your online resume.

Getting paid

The options include cash, check or a direct deposit. To get your money you will need a bank account to deposit the check, cash or receive the direct deposit. It is much more convenient to have your paycheck automatically delivered by direct deposit. Online payments from Fiverr or other jobs often only offer the option to link your bank account to receive your payment.

Step makes it convenient to not only set up direct deposit but also instantly send and receive payments with your parents, family or even neighbors. Your Visa Step Card makes it convenient to have access to your hard-earned money and to track your spending. You can open your FDIC insured Step account in less than two minutes.