I started selling caricatures for 50 cents at a school yard sale. The money was going to my club, Save Darfur, which raises money and awareness about the genocide in Sudan. Our ASB (Associated Student Body) adviser saw me drawing, so he asked me if I wanted to draw caricatures at the next dance.
It wasn’t too hard to draw caricatures because I’ve been drawing people for most of my life. I sketched couples and friends with pens and art markers. Each sketch took about 10 minutes, and it was nerve-racking because there was a crowd of people around me and I had to work fast. The dance had a “back to the past” theme and everyone had a cool costume, such as a Bonnie and Clyde couple and a couple dressed as Greek gods. Some of the people who got caricatures gave me more than the $2 I was charging. I made $40, which I gave half of to my club.
I decided to draw caricatures for prom as well. My friends urged me to raise the price (they said it was way too cheap) so I charged $5 per caricature and made $75. It was great to have friends tell me that their family really liked their picture, or tag me on Facebook with what I made for them, and thank me.
—Amy Fan, 17, Temple City HS
My best friend, Nishat, and I learned how to do henna tattoos because of my Pakistani and her Bengali background. Henna is a flowering plant that is made into a paste, which then can be used to create intricate patterns on skin. When the paste dries, it rubs off and an orange-colored imprint is left. The imprint lasts for two to three weeks. It’s like a temporary tattoo.
In ninth grade, my former English teacher asked if we’d work at the fifth grade picnic. The kids were excited by the tattoos we created on their hands and many parents asked us to work at their private parties. We decided it would be fun to create a business. We did picnics for our school, homecoming games, parties and summer camps. Everyone referred to us as the “Henna Girls” so we put that on the business cards we had made. We charge about $50 an hour or we charge per design, which ranges from $3 to $10 depending on how intricate. A small tattoo can take less than five minutes while a full hand tattoo can take 45 minutes. Usually, we’ll work four to six hours and make $100 to $150 each. At big events we’ve done more than 200 hands. We don’t get work often but I love becoming an artist for a few hours.
—Maria Khan, 17, Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies
Working for my parents
My parents own their own veterinary practice. Last May, my dad offered me a job as a veterinary assistant, working Saturdays and some weekdays. I thought it would be a good way to help out my family, and I thought it would be great to earn money. I also knew how hard it would be to get a job if I had to look for one on my own.
Although the title “veterinary assistant” sounds distinguished, I do basic cleaning jobs around the hospital. I disinfect cages, wash dirty towels and blankets, and take dogs out for walks. Because I have never been professionally trained, I don’t help with the more complicated procedures. But I do help with nail trims and holding animals for blood drawings. Every now and then, I get to bathe dogs, which I like because I can listen to the radio. I like earning my own money. It’s also nice to work for my parents because they have the experience to know if I need help, and don’t make a big deal out of my mistakes.
—David Garcia, 16, Monrovia HS
I never seem to have enough money to buy gifts for my friends and family on their birthdays or to pay for dates. Not being able to do small things for other people was not the way I wanted to roll.
I didn’t have time to baby-sit or a car to drive to tutoring. Getting a legitimate job would take up too much time and I cringed at the thought of being bossed around while flipping burgers.
A thought struck me at the beginning of last year as I watched classmates sprinting to vending machines and lunch trucks to purchase the sugary, salty snacks they would devour: the easiest way into a person’s pocket was through their stomach.
I began by buying four-packs of gum at the 99¢ Only Stores and selling each pack for a dollar and selling dollar candies like Hi-Chew for $1.50 each. In the first week I was making around $10 a day and increased to around $30 day. The best part was that I really didn’t have to do anything. I bought all of my inventory, which expanded to chips, soft drinks and instant Ramen, from stores that were on my way to sports practices and music lessons, and my customers found me at lunch.
But be warned: many schools consider selling candy against the rules. If you cannot sell candy without being labeled a glucose trafficker, then you might want to find another way to make money.
—We are running this story anonymously so the writer doesn’t get in trouble at school.
I’m a dog walker
I started walking dogs a year and a half ago. My mom’s friend Lynette had recently gotten a new dog and needed someone to walk him. I didn’t like dogs all that much, but I wanted money to buy video games, books and to have when I go out with friends.
Lynette paid me $10 a week to walk Bello four times for 10-15 minutes. About a month later, I ran into a woman walking a dog named Bai-li. Bai-li was afraid of me and ran off. But when I saw the two of them again Bai-li didn’t run. When her owner found out I walked dogs, she asked me for my number. I get paid $15 to run with Bai-li four times a week for 10-15 minutes. After that I realized that business cards could help me get more clients, so my mom helped me make cards on her computer. I met Chloe’s owners this past summer when I was walking Bello. When she asked if I was a dog walker, I gave her my business card. She called me a few weeks later and I started walking Chloe regularly. Chloe’s owners pay me $20 a week for four 30-minute walks. Picking up after the dogs isn’t fun, but it’s the law.
—Henry Studebaker, 16, Hamilton HS
Cleaning is tiring, but it pays
When I was in ninth grade, I wanted to make money but I couldn’t find a job because I was only 14. I hated to clean but when my grandma offered to pay me to clean her house, I agreed. I would clean her house at least once a month for about six hours. It was tiring and I really hated cleaning the bathroom and dusting. But my grandma would pay me $40-$60 each time.
Around the same time, I convinced my mom to pay me $15 to wash her car. I started washing her boyfriend’s, my dad’s, his girlfriend’s, my aunt’s and my grandma’s cars too. It usually took me two to three hours to wash each car. I would dry the car with a towel and then clean it with Windex so there wouldn’t be any streaks. It was fun because I could play my music loud on the car stereo. It doesn’t pay a lot or give you a set schedule, but I thought it was the perfect way to earn money when you’re young and inexperienced.
—Jennifer Gonzales-Romero, 18, University of La Verne (2011 South Gate HS graduate)
Helping other students learn history
When I began applying to colleges, the cost of tuition and room and board haunted me. I wanted to find some way I could save money for college.
I couldn’t get a real job because my schedule was too busy. And I didn’t know anyone who needed a baby sitter. But when the school year began, my AP European History teacher from my sophomore year, Mr. Schnaufer, asked me if I wanted to tutor some of his students. I said yes but I didn’t know what I would have to do.
For $15 an hour I help students prepare for their tests by reading the assigned chapters with them and explaining what happened in a simpler way. When I compared the French Revolution to the Occupy Wall Street protests, the students were able to understand it better.
At first I was tutoring only two students, but as they began to do better on their exams, more kids wanted to be tutored. Four months later I was holding group tutoring sessions for three hours at a time and charging $20 for each student. I’ve made close to $1,000 tutoring three to four days a week after school.
—Kiera Peltz, 18, CHAMPS (Van Nuys)
Making big bucks baby-sitting
One afternoon my mom called me asking if I could baby-sit her co-worker’s daughter. “Sure, why not, I have nothing else to do,” I said. My mom then asked, “How much would you charge? … Are you CPR certified?” Luckily, her co-worker found other arrangements because I wasn’t ready to baby-sit then. But after thinking about ways I could make money it was clear that baby-sitting would be the way.
I wanted to get CPR certified to prove to parents that I could be responsible in an emergency. I took a Red Cross CPR class for $75. My mom is a preschool teacher so I let her boss know that I would like to offer my services to all the parents. A few hours later I had six responses and was excited to get started.
I have been baby-sitting for about seven months. I set my own prices ($10 per hour for one child and $11 per hour for two children) and I work when I feel like it. Most of the time the children are asleep and I have time to myself. When they are awake it’s like being a kid again or just a responsible older sibling—we have so much fun! We go to the park, play in the backyard, ride bikes, read books or play games until it’s dinner time (which the parents have usually prepared), bath time or bed time. Over winter break I made $390 working only 36 hours. Baby-sitting is an easy and enjoyable way to make money.
—Sarah Singer, 17, Star Prep Academy (Culver City)