Another View: Tips for earning holiday money

By: Roger S. Peterson
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Hiring may be slow, but Rocklin teens can use their smarts and imagination to make some money for Christmas ... and beyond. Here are eight solid suggestions, and maybe other readers will add some in coming weeks.

1: Yard and lawn care: I dearly wish some 15- or 16-year-old would knock on my door and say, “Mister, hire me to pull your weeds and mow your lawn.” Hired! I live in the Argonaut area, where houses were built in the 1960s. Original owners are retired. I’m not, but I’d rather hire an unemployed student than pop ibuprofen from the aches and pains of yard work, pool cleaning and window washing.

2: If you know basic carpentry fix-it routines, those same homeowners may need some help with stuff, especially if the resident is older and living alone. (But leave the electrical and plumbing problems to an expert.)

3: Look up in the trees! See all that funny stuff hanging off branches? That’s mistletoe. It’s poisonous and it kills trees. But at Christmas, people hang it over doorways and kiss under it a lot. Don’t ask why – just get a long pole, pull that stuff down, cut it into small branches and add colorful ribbons. I know a kid who made $45 in one day doing that.

4: While we’re talking Christmas, many baby boomers debate each year whether to get out the lights and decorations ... or just skip it. They often wait until the week before Christmas. Well, you’d be out of school then. Target the houses with a flyer saying you and a friend will do it. (Home owners will need help taking down the lights too, and you’re off that week, as well.)

5: If you are a workout freak, find some baby boomers who need some extra encouragement. Get them to dust off those barbells in the garage and get them on a schedule. Baby boomers are also becoming big yoga fans. You could easily make $10-15 per hour coaching.

6: Can’t leave the dog by himself without someone who is trusted to feed and walk him.

7: I hate washing the car. Haven’t done it in months. The inside needs vacuuming. $10 a car and you are on your way.

8: Get some stencils and black paint. Some people’s addresses are no longer visible on the curb. Police need visible ad-dresses. Target neighborhoods where houses are 30-40 years old.

Get a partner to work with you; you’ll need the extra hands and solid encouragement. Print a flyer outlining your services. Tell prospects you are a RHS or WHS student trying to start a small business. Make sure you get a peddler’s permit from City Hall and carry it with you. Customers will want to meet your parents, and your parents will want to meet the customers. If you get one customer out of 25 houses, you’re doing well. 

Good luck ... but call me first!

Roger Peterson is a business writer and long-time Rocklin resident. Email him at