Build Your Own Summer Job

Posted on Posted in Finance

It is the time of year when high school students are wrapping up their year of academia and college students are hitting the road for home.  The seasonal job market is flooded with labor and the openings are few.  Summer is the perfect time for a self-starting student to make some extra cash by building their own summer job.

A few words of warning about my ideas…

  • If you can’t get yourself up and going, building your own summer job probably isn’t the best idea.
  • You probably won’t get rich with any of these ideas but you can make some money and keep a very flexible schedule
  • Many of these activities should be done with a buddy…there is safety in numbers

With those few warnings out of the way let’s toss around a few ideas.


cost of lightingI always have folks I know who are wanting me to help them get their stuff listed on Craigslist or eBay.  It’s not hard but some folks seem to be terrified of listing their own items.  I have gotten to the point where I politely decline people who ask me to list their items.  But this makes a great opportunity for the high school or college student who wants to make some extra cash as a Craigslister.

You could start small by helping around the house.  Talk to Mom and Dad and find out what items they have around the house that they are wanting to get rid of.  They set the price, you list it and get the item sold and take 25-30% commission for your effort.

A few selling tips for Craigslist:

  • The item you are selling is mostly likely used, don’t ask the new retail price for it.
  • Setup a separate Gmail account for Craigslist and consider using the free Google Voice service on your smartphone to keep your personal number private.
  • Be quick and efficient with your communication
  • Meet in public places, preferably with a friend along for the ride
  • Don’t take checks and ignore any messages about PayPal, etc.
  • Great pictures sell items

Perhaps your family has a good and trusting relationship with a family friend who is looking to clear out years of built up possessions.  A student could spend an entire summer helping someone sort, research, and sell items.  Did you catch the word ‘research’ in that last sentence? Be careful to do some searching online to find out what similar items are selling for.  Negotiate a fair percentage of sales as your compensation for your work.  This could be a great help to an elderly friend of the family and a good learning experience for a student.


Our society of excess leads to some pretty good opportunities to scavenge and make cash.  I have no problem picking up an item that someone has left on the curb for trash pickup.  In fact, when I see people toss perfectly good items I feel I am helping the environment by getting those items back into use.  Again, you won’t get rich as a scavenger but you can find some interesting things and renovate or re-purpose them to make some money.  Again, this is a good activity to do with a buddy.  Here are some tips on where to look and what to look for…

  • The “Free” category on Craigslist is a good place to start.  Good things move very quickly so you have to be willing to get up and go at a moment’s notice when you make contact with someone.
  • Keep track of the mileage on your vehicle.  Know how much you are spending on fuel to make sure you are making a fair profit margin.
  • Know the trash pickup schedule.  The evening before trash pickup is a good time to find furniture and other large items on the curb.  I would advise hunting at dusk and calling it a night once it gets dark.  Newer neighborhoods and areas where people move in and out a lot tend to be good hunting grounds.
  • Avoid electronics of any kind.  Wood furniture and metal outdoor furniture can be flipped quickly.  Even things like loose drawers, etc. sell well for crafty folks.
  • If you can’t get it sold quickly put it out on your curb for trash pickup or recycling
  • Metal prices are high.  Aluminum is running around $0.60 a pound.  Keep an eye out for metal and learn about scrapping from your local scrap yard.

Final Thoughts

There are obviously a few logistical issues that need to be thought out with both of these ideas, but it is easy to start small and build steam during the summer.  Traditional fast food jobs and the like seem soul draining, so I wanted to present some other options.  These ideas aren’t for everyone, but perhaps they will spur on your entrepreneurial spirit.  From mowing lawns to babysitting there are lots of other great options out there for the self-starter.  The key is trustworthiness, initiative, and professionalism.  The future job market that many students will be entering will require initiative and motivation.  Summer is a great time to learn some lessons about the real world.

My 10K Update

May was a brutal month in my efforts to ‘flip’ items and make some extra cash for a 2015 goal for our family.  I took some huge hits on auction items that I would have usually avoided.  I have always thought electronics are a bad idea to buy at auction and now I have proven that to myself in a very expensive pair of lessons.  The good news, I still made a profit in May but I didn’t hit my $1K goal for the month.  Sales as a whole have been down but it is that time of the year.

The running portion of the 10K challenge is pretty much non-existent at this point.  I have something in mind for this month that will hopefully help spur things on in that area.  I still walk and work many miles each week and I can last all day out working on the property…don’t feel out of shape but the test will be in the running.  More on that later.