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The Money Messenger -- Teen CEOs?
May 06, 2010


Welcome to Issue #030 of The Money Messenger!

The Money Messenger brings you the latest on your kids and money.

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The Money Messenger

In This Issue

It's May! Besides the May Day holiday, there are plenty of other things going on...Cinco de Mayo (along with Celebrate Salsa Month) and National Family Month all capped off by Memorial Day (which is a great time to celebrate National Barbeque Month). It's going to be a busy month...

In the middle of all that, it is also Teen CEO Month as well as Young Achievers of Tomorrow Month. The timing couldn't be better.

We're heading into summer, and teens are starting to think about how to earn money during the break. They may have even started looking for a summer job only to find them hard to come by. Working for themselves may be a great option. So, even if you are still checking out last month's newsletter on financial literacy, this month's articles might be a great way to talk to your teen about their summer plans.

A reader's question on how to balance summer jobs, summer sports, family vacations and a little relaxation

Helpful links and resources

What's new and what's next?

Note from Jennifer

As we get into May, it can be tempting to think about the end of school and winding down on all kinds of responsibilities. Me? I'm counting down the days until we are not shuffling school field trips (to which they should wear their T-shirt from the play in October?!), 2 sports per child and seemingly endless birthday parties. This is followed by a collective collapse and big sigh of relief for all involved!

But not for long.

Summer kicks into full gear almost immediately. For me and my family that means a relocation for a couple of months. This is a new adventure for us (and next month's newsletter will find us just landing in our new summer home). It also means that my kids' will have to get really creative in earning money...and they've already started their list of ideas.

Getting creative may apply to more than just kids and teens who move for the summer. Even though the economy seems to be picking up steam, there is still plenty of competition for jobs plus some local economies are still cutting back - drying up budgets for city pools (and teen lifeguards) and other summer jobs. It may be time to consider summer entrepreneurship, and that's where this month's articles can help. Let's dig in!

Feature Article
Summer Teen Entrepreneurship:
Trying It On For Size

Some teens are self-starters, great natural salespeople and have always wanted to be in business for themselves. Others not so much. No matter what your teen's result from taking the teen entrepreneur quiz, most teens will find that working for themselves has benefits. For those reasons alone, working for themselves can be worth a shot.

Taking a little time to look at what teens will want in a summer job can be a great first step. Then you can move into the options for summer jobs for teen entrepreneurs. Teens can also check out teen business ideas as a way to get started.

There are several things to keep in mind to help make this summer entrepreneurship experiment successful:

  • Have realistic expectations. Not everyone is going to start a summer business and turn it into a babysitting or lawnmowing empire. If that happens, that is awesome! If not, focus on the learnings and the earnings.
  • Set a realistic schedule. Your teen mogul may think that they can earn big money selling their one-of-a-kind art. That may be true, but if it takes them 12 hours to produce one piece and they sell it for $50, they have really earned $4.17 per hour. Maybe that's fine, but they likely can then only make a limited number of pieces which won't add up to much in total. Depending on the goal, that may also be acceptable. Just make sure that the hours don't get out of control to try to compensate for a bad business model.
  • Do something you love. Adults hear this all the time..."Do something you love and the money will follow." Maybe. Teens have an advantage though - they can do something they love to see if they can make it work. They usually have the fallback of not needing to earn much money (although that's always nice). At the very least, there are some good lessons to be learned.
  • Keep everyone in the loop. Any business decisions - including whether to start one - should involve the teen and the parents. What happens to the business during the family vacation? Where does the money come from for the initial expenses (if there are any)? How much time is this really going to take? These are all part of a discussion that starts now and continues throughout the summer.

These are just some of the basics to get started on the teen entrepreneur path. There will be other things to consider based on the teen business idea chosen. But don't let those get in the way of having a great learning experience - just take them in stride and see them as part of the process.

Feature Article
Teen Entrepreneur Inspiration is a great site for teen entrepreneurs. The site was started by a Nick Tart (as a college student) who had plenty of teen entrepreneur experience in the lawnmowing business. In fact, he wrote a book about it.

One of the best parts of the website is the interviews section which profiles and interviews a wide variety of teen entrepreneurs that can inspire ideas in all of us. Here are just a few of them:

  • Lindsay Manseau started her freelance wedding photography business when she was 14. That was about 6 years ago. She's also in the process of developing a website. Read her interview here.
  • Jacob Cass first began earning money through eBay. Still, his love was in graphic design where he got his first freelance job at 16. From there, he started a series of blogs devoted to his passion. Read more about his thoughts and ideas here.
  • Think you're too young to get started? How about someone who got their first taste (literally) at only 4 years old? That's how Ben Weissenstein got his start with a lemonade stand. From there he got into a garage sale business called Grand Slam Garage Sales. Be sure to check out Ben's interview for great tips on getting started out right.

Don't think that all teen entrepreneurs have to be online or just focused on making lots of money, though. Two great examples:

These are just a few of the inspirational teen entrepreneurs that are making their own way. Who do you know? Is the next teen entrepreneur your teen?

Ask the Editor!

Here's where I answer your questions. Steve would like his 16-year-old son to get a job this summer but is concerned about how to balance that with baseball, household chores, the family vacation and a little downtime. Is there a way to make this all work?

Yes, but it may not be easy.

One of the best ways to start thinking about summer jobs for teens is the way you think about school when it is in session. While most summer jobs won't require those kinds of hours, there is the same idea behind required attendance and consequences for not showing up. The difference is that summer teen jobs are not required while school is.

Don't get me wrong. I believe that a key part of teen money management is having them earn at least some of it. What your family needs to decide is where the priorities lie for the 16-year-old. Is a job more important than baseball (and what that means to the teen's place on the team and the team's reliance on the player)? If it's a summer teen job working for an employer, can a week off for family vacation be worked out up front?

Another good alternative is finding a teen business idea that has him working for himself. He can find an option that he enjoys but still lets him have time for the other activities and chore responsibilities.

There are pros and cons to working for yourself, and not everyone is a born entrepreneur (take this quiz to find out). But, there's not much harm in giving it a shot at this young age. So many things that he will learn will serve him in his next job - even if it's working for someone else. What about other readers - do you have ideas that could help Steve? Send them to me via this form or via email at

Useful Resources for You

While strives to provide all the information you need to help educate your kids, teens and family on money matters, there are other great resources to help you. This newer section of the newsletter highlights those that I've found that provide solid, understandable and usable information.

Teen entrepreneurs (heck, all entrepreneurs) stand a better shot at success by having the right resources in place. Here are some great ones to check out:

What's New?

Be sure to check out the latest blog posts at the site. With a new post nearly every day, there are lots of quick bits of information that might be just what you need.

Coming soon...the next issue of The Money Messenger

June will find me and my family in a completely different state (and state of mind!). It's also a time for many families to start taking family vacations and really enjoying summer fun. Next month's issue will focus on saving money on summer activities and some fun frugal summer ideas! If you have questions you'd like to see addressed for that issue, just use the Contact Form or email me at

Talk to you soon!

Comments or suggestions?

If you have any comments or suggestions for future newsletters, please let me know. I want to be sure that this newsletter meets your needs. Feel free to provide your comments using this contact form.

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