In aNew Era article on mission preparation, President M. Russell Ballard said the following about paying for a mission:
"Prospective missionaries need to learn how to work. They ought to have a job and save money for their missions. Every mission president would concur with me that the missionary who has worked and saved and helped pay for part or all of his or her mission is a better-prepared missionary. Working and saving for a mission generates enthusiasm for serving and gives a young man or a young woman a good work ethic. Whatever else missionary work is, it is work!"
Although the typical after-school, Saturday, or summer job at the shop or restaurant down the street is a good option for many striving to earn money for their missions, some busy teenagers and younger children find that they need to be a bit more creative in finding alternative ways to make money for their missions. Here are a few ideas:
1. Sell Your Handiwork
Pros: If you're creative and have a knack for figuring things out, the variety of items you could make and sell is endless. My brother made and sold outdoor picnic tables. Also, there are a variety of platforms you could use to sell your stuff. Most cities and towns host a farmer's market in the summer, and internet sites such as Etsy can help you reach more people.
Cons: Keep in mind that if there isn't a demand for your work, you won't sell much. It's best to think about needs and interests of those in your own neighborhood and community or in a specific online niche. You'll also want to make sure that the time and money you put into making an item is worth the return.
2. Elderly Assistant
Pros: You'll get to create a special relationship with the grandma or grandpa that you help with errands, cleaning, cooking, or company. You'll probably have a variety of things to do, and you may find that your job often involves nothing more than lending a listening ear—a great missionary skill, by the way.
Cons: You may have to help shoulder some heartache. Sickness, loneliness, memory loss, and physical limitations are just a few of the challenges that the elderly face. But just remember that we have promised to "mourn with those that mourn . . . and comfort those that stand in need of comfort" (Mosiah 18:9).
3. Garage Sale/Sell Items Online
Pros: Instead of packing away clothing and items that you may or may not use when you return home from your mission, you can turn them into cash. Big ticket items—a bike, a musical instrument, a bed—might be able to fetch you a fair amount, but even a collection of cheaper items can add up. You could even take this idea one step further by purchasing used items, restoring them, and selling them for a profit.
Cons: To sell stuff, you have to have things that people want, and parting with your treasures could be hard. But if you're really crunched for time and need to pay for a mission, just remember: "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and thieves break through and steal; But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (3 Nephi 13:19-21).
4. Paper Routes
Pros: Delivering papers is an early-morning pursuit that can happen before school and extracurricular activities, and you'll be well prepared to wake up early and consistently as a missionary. The learning curve is minimal, and you can earn great tips around the holidays if you treat your subscribers right.
Cons: Over the years, newspaper subscription rates have dropped dramatically, and since paperboys are at the end of the food chain, they're definitely feeling the hit. Also, having a paper route is a daily commitment, meaning that even on weekends and the holidays, you'll be up at the crack of dawn. And if you go on vacation, you have to find and train a sub. If you look at these as good chances to learn how to work and be responsible, then these cons are actually pros.
5. Breeding Animals/Pet Care
Pros: Depending on the breed, selling puppies or other pets can fetch you a decent sum of money. You get to adore and care for cute baby animals, and duties like feeding, cleaning, and veterinary appointments teach responsibility and generally don't take up large chunks of time. Also, if you're good with animals, you might be led to additional side hustles like walking or training others' pets.
Cons: You do have to say goodbye to the puppies, and cleaning up animal poop (with worms, after their vaccines) is not everybody's cup of tea. The upfront cost for dogs can be expensive, you have to have adequate yard space at home, and in some states, you may be required to have a license to breed animals. Also, keep in mind that "payday" comes all at once when you finally sell the puppies and that you'll have to dish out some dough for puppy chow, shots, and other expenses before the cash rolls in.
6. Lawn Care
Pros: You get to spend time outside and get a great workout on the job. You can work at your own schedule, set your own rates, and take as many or as few jobs as you need to. Lawn care is seasonal, so you can work summers when you're out of school.
Cons: If you're looking for stocking up funds all year round, you'll have to try something else in the winter (i.e. shoveling snow or putting up Christmas lights). Also, you may have to make an early investment in expensive equipment such as a lawnmower, edger, and a trailer. But if your parents already own these items and are willing to let you use them, you're all set.
7. Cleaning Service
Pros: You can turn all of those years of doing chores into a marketable skill! Plus, cleaning is something many don't like to do but always need to do, so there are usually lots of opportunities for business. You can listen to music, podcasts, or general conference talks on-the-job and set your own schedule.
Cons: Cleaning itself might be a con for you, but just think about how good it is to learn to do hard things. You may have to transport supplies, depending on the deal you set up.
Pros: Babysitting can be a lot of fun. Not only do you get to play with kids but after they are in bed most babysitters are free to do homework, watch a movie, read, etc. until the parents come home. You can take or decline jobs on a case-by-case basis and you practice great skills for parenthood in the future.
Cons: Kids can also be tough. You may have to do some disciplining, change some diapers, or even deal with an emergency. In order to get jobs, you may have to sacrifice some weekend evenings. And unless you know a family who asks you to tend regularly, you may find yourself super busy one weekend and unable to work the next.
9. Mommy Helper for Others
Pros: Unlike babysitting, when you're just acting as mom's extra pair of hands, you don't have to take full responsibility for the house or the kids. You will probably be doing many things you're required to do at home—folding laundry, cleaning the bathroom, or playing with baby Kate—except that you get paid for it.
Cons: Once again, unless you're able to get a standing gig, it may be hard to predict when you'll have a job and when you won't. Also, many moms will probably want help during the day, so if you have school or other obligations, your schedules might not line up.
10. Rent Your Stuff
Pros: If you have a little more time and don't want to part with items you may need following your mission, renting out your stuff could be a good option. This works well with prom dresses or larger items like bikes, skis, or camping equipment.
Cons: You might have to deal with damaged, lost, or even stolen items if you rent out your stuff.
11. Paint Address Numbers on Curbs
Pros: You'll get really good at knocking on doors.
Cons: Nobody likes door-to-door salesmen.
12. Host a Kids' Camp
Pros: You get to share what you love—be that music, sports, crafts, or science—and you can set up your camp during school breaks—be that summer vacation, spring break, or teacher work days. You can also make a decent amount from an hourly standpoint because you're helping multiple clients (kids and their parents) all at once.
Cons: Even if you have a large pool of children interested in your class, you'll be limited to how many camps you can hold. Most camps will probably be a once-a-year event.
Pros: Similar to hosting a camp, tutoring allows you to make money doing something you love (or are good at). You can accept/decline jobs as your schedule allows, and there are flexible location options—your own home, a public library or cafe, your student's home, or online.
Cons: Depending on the subjects you tutor in, your workload may ebb and flow with the tide of major tests and school breaks. And if you're tutoring kids your own age, you may feel a little bit like a know-it-all.