Don’t Slump in the Summer – Learn to Earn

By Rachel Caballero, Community Development Manager at TruWest Credit Union

Finally, school’s out for summer break! You’ve worked hard and now you’re looking forward to some free time. You probably have all kinds of ideas for what you’re going to do — go to the movies, head to an amusement park, spend all day with your friends. But, that all costs money. So, how do you earn some bucks and what should you do with them? Summer break is the perfect time to learn to earn, and manage, your money.

Make Earning Fun

Working over the summer doesn’t have to be boring. There are plenty of ways to earn some extra cash while having fun. Putting on a yard sale is a great way to repurpose things you don’t need anymore. Host a lemonade or baked-goods stand. Be a pet sitter or dog walker for neighbors. Offer gardening, mowing, or housecleaning services. You could even have a car wash. If you’re not ready to get out there, talk to your parents about things that can be done around the house to earn. Maybe picking up some extra chores to help out more or sharpening your reading skills could be earning potential. Get creative!

Save first, Not Last

So, what do you do with the money after it’s earned? A good rule of thumb is to follow the 3 S’s: save, share, and spend – that’s the order you want to manage your money in. If you spend then save you will not help yourself in the long run and may have less savings. Set a number for how much you want to put away for each category. A good example is to save 20%, share 10%, and spend 70%. This will allow you to start building your riches by saving, help others by sharing, and allow you to have fun by spending.

Make SMART Goals

Now that you are earning and managing your money, it’s time to set goals. Goals are important and can help us define and track our money to reach something we want to achieve. You want your goals to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. For example, you want the new Minecraft game and it’s $30.00. You earn $20 per week mowing Mrs. Smith’s lawn and walking Mr. Brown’s dog. $14 of that is for spending (after putting your saving and sharing money aside). If you hold $5 of that aside for your game, you’ll have enough to buy it in six weeks. Your SMART goal would then read as: “I will buy the new Minecraft game in six weeks by putting $5 of my earnings aside each week”. Pretty neat, right?

This is a good plan to spend the summer break to build new skills and learn how to earn and manage your own money, while still using some for summer fun. Don’t stop there! Many of these “summer” jobs can be done year-round for continued earning to help you set and achieve even more goals.

About TruWest Credit Union

TruWest Credit Union is headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, and operates as a cooperative providing its members with a lifetime of quality financial services and a culture of caring for its members, employees and communities. TruWest is a strong and sound financial institution with more than 93,000 members and assets totaling more than $1.5 billion. TruWest® Credit Union has 12 branch locations – eight in metro Phoenix and four in Austin, Texas. For more information, visit