My son is 12. What can he do (realistically) to earn money?


When I was a kid, children could get paper routes or other little jobs like that to earn some money. Now those things don’t seem to exist, at least around here. How would you suggest he goes about starting his earning? We don’t live in an area where we can really do much with neighbors or bike riding. There are too many “ghost bikes” in our area for me to be happy about that.

Just FYI, we have an allowance system whereby he can earn a little each day and can increase his earnings by doing extra.

I’m simply curious to see what the modern equivalent of “When I was a kid I had a paper route to earn money!” is.


Mow lawns. Walk dogs. Water plants. Babysit. Weed gardens. Shovel snow (location dependent, obviously).

Or start blogging. The @WhiteCoatInvestor has published a couple guest posts from his 12-year old daughter.


Agree with POF, rake leaves, wash cars, general yard work, etc. my kids over the years asked our neighbors how they could help them around the house to earn money. My youngest son also starting selling his old toys and video games on eBay to earn extra cash too.


If getting to neighbors is difficult, as you mentioned, because of distance or safety, would you consider driving him back and forth on occasion? Yes that’s more work and cost for you, but it’s really worth it for the opportunity that you’d be giving him.


Babysitting can be a good one - I did that for a couple years when I was young (11/12). Otherwise, reach out to friends and colleagues to see if they have any opportunities. I got hooked up with a job picking up garbage in parking lots through my Dad’s business associate when I was 12 - it paid great money and was certainly something a 12-year-old can do.


Babysitting is great. As is general yard work. But if he’s really interested in earnings more and business, it is a great age to try his hand at running his own business. I know a few friends with 12-14 year old kids that work as social media managers for local businesses. Relatively easy for them and valuable for a local restaurant or shop who might not have the time or knowledge.


I can’t seem to get the link to work. Is that just an issue on my end? I’d love to read the post!


An entrepreneurial 7th grader in our junior high created a proprietary compound of glitter, talcum powder and pepper which he sold to fellow students as “itching powder” back in the days before fidget spinners - it was a big hit, and a profit center, although modern kids caught with many plastic baggies of white powder might face scrutiny of a different kind.

Lemonade or popcorn stand at sports events in the local park?

Envelope stuffing at the office of a trusted acquaintance, the local neighborhood watch group, community center or YMCA?


At age 12 I was doing every odd job possible. Cutting grass, pulling weeds, buying Pokémon cards in bulk and selling the individual packs to kids at school and in the neighborhood. I also use to buy candy and snacks in bulk and sell them during lunch and recess.

Paint a fence (Tom Sawyer). Clean houses. Wash windows. Power wash homes. Wash cars. Walk pets.


I don’t recall the minimum age, so this may not be applicable for a 12 yo. When I was around 14 or 15, I took a USSF referee course and became a certified soccer referee. Back in the early 90s, it paid around $50/hr to ref youth league games and around $100/hr to ref youth tournament games.

It’s a great gig for adults, as well. You can ref a few games a week. High school games pay very well for part time work. It also ensures you get exercise as you have to run up and down a field for an hour.

I also umped little league baseball games when I was around 14. I don’t believe there was a certification process for that, though.


Hmm, it is working for me. Does this one work better?


First off: love that you’re doing this!!! Wow, you’re setting your kid up for success.

By 12, I was mowing lawns - tons of them, all over the place. It was awesome. Brutal but lucrative work. And it’s the best work-related learning experience of my life, to this day; I essentially founded and ran a business and it blossomed.

Also: anything. Go around and solicit neighbors, or people he can get to, and people you trust. As someone said, I’d do any odd job that came up. One time, we moved a man’s property from storage to somewhere. Got stung by bees after I put my hand into a nest, but made extra money and didn’t care. (Also learned that pulling your shirt away from your body as they fly at you will save your hide - literally!)

The key is if he can get to customers. If he can ride a bike or walk and it’s safe, then find anything they need. Clean out yards, for instance. Minor car stuff, even. Asking around may well lend itself to opportunities.

FWIW, I carried a mower and tied a weed eater on, then tied a rope to the back of my bike, put on my big straw hat, and pulled that mower all over the area. I’d ride a bike 10 miles each way to my next job back and forth - whatever got me there. (Granted, it was pretty safe…although looking back, maybe not all that safe.)

Another idea: working at places that do more cash business. E.g., skating rinks might hire a kid that age. Or other kid-friendly places that have lots of kids and are mom & pop shops. Just a thought. But he’d have to have transportation - that’ll be your limiting factor. (Unless you want to turn him loose on the internet, and for that, there’s plenty of input elsewhere re: side gigs…)

Best of luck to you and your son!!!


One contract job I did, the owner was hiring a 12 y.o. to help w/ some database stuff…apparently the kid really knew his stuff and people on the different forums where the geeks w/ questions hang out didn’t believe he was a kid.


I got it. I was trying at work. I’m at home now and there’s no issue.


I hope that is a 100% true story, right down to the straw hat. Awesome! And always age-appropriate for a 12 year old, I’d say.


Make custom TShirts and sell’em on the Internet. My son made some good bank doing that as a youngster. Hint: target the grandparents :slight_smile: :


Let works on the Internet, there are many ways how to make money without leaving home. Streaming, YouTube, freelancing.


When I was 12 I got a job working on a farm in the summer. I detasseled corn. During the school year, I babysat. I did that until I was old enough to get another business to hire me. When my oldest was 12 he started babysitting and dog walking.



Haha, it is. In fact, a family friend told us she wished she had a photo of it - she knew from that moment that I was going places. (I ended up going many places after leaving our small town, though to keep the blog anonymous, there’s only so much I can talk about.)

Definitely learned a ton about business. My eventual partner walked off the first day of work, I learned about equipment/inventory, and I learned about managing schedules and inventory. In fact, I’m writing up a post on this exact story for the blog - I’m mainly waiting to see if my mother can ever find the old photograph she took of me doing it. I’ll post it here once it’s up.