You’ve heard it a million times – you have to live “beneath your means” if you want to establish the positive cash flow that allows you to save. It doesn’t matter if you want to save for retirement, college education, or a vacation to Disney World. If you’re living hand-to-mouth and constantly playing catch up with your debts, then you’re never going to make it happen.
I know how hard it can be to do this, though, especially if you’re trapped in a mortgage after being laid off. The job market is in the toilet, and many people have been forced to take on jobs that pay less than what they were making when they took on their current lifestyle. While paying down (and completely eliminating) your debts is an important part of any successful financial strategy, increasing your income can have an equally positive effect.
I’ve put together a collection of methods you could use to generate some extra income on the side, without having to quit your day job. They’re not all suitable for every reader, but there’s something here for everyone.
Make Extra Cash without Leaving Home
All of these suggestions require a computer and an internet connection. Seeing as you’re already reading this post, you’ve got them covered.
Collect Interest from a High Yield Savings Account
If you’re not stashing your spare cash in a savings account that pulls in at least 1% interest, then you’re not making as much money as you can. Of course, putting your money in a high yield savings account isn’t the best way to grow your nest egg, it provides far more liquidity than most other investments, and there’s usually no minimum to open an account. You could also consider banks that offer interest-bearing checking accounts.
Thanks to sites like Hubstaff Talent, Media Piston, and Demand Studios, it’s easier than ever to start making money as a freelance writer. Heck, you don’t even have to be that good (I’ve seen some of the work that comes out of these places, and some of it is just god-awful!). The rate of pay can be miniscule, especially if you’re not a fast typist – but it won’t cost you anything to get started, and you could realistically earn some money today.
Sell Your Old Junk on eBay
This is, of course, an old-school, tried and true method to make some extra cash. Of course, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could end up wasting a lot of money on fees. Before you delve into the world of buy-it-now auctions and featured listings, check out eBay’s very own guide to successfully using their service.
I hesitate to recommend this method, because it really doesn’t provide a solid financial return for your invested time, but it’s super easy. Sites like Amazon’s Mechanic Turk provide “micro jobs” that can usually be completed in just a few minutes.
Some jobs only pay a penny, and others may pay a few dollars. They range from performing simple searches on Google and sending in screenshots of the results, to verifying someone’s address and phone number. Check out Reddit.com’s Beer Money forum for similar opportunities to make money with crowdsourcing.
If you have even the most rudimentary graphic design skills, you may be able to make some money providing them as a service. You can search sites like Elance.com or oDesk.com for available gigs. You could also turn to sites like 99designs, where clients make a request and designers compete by submitting mockups, sketches, or even finished products for the client to choose from. It’s a competitive field, but if you have some skills you could make a lot of cash. 99designs tends to pay out around $1.5 million each month. Wowza!
Freelance Web Development
It can be very tough to find people to pay for this service, but if you know how to set up a website by installing a content management system (like WordPress), then you could charge a few bucks for a few minutes of work. If you convince your clients to sign up for hosting through an affiliate link, such as that provided by HostGator.com, you could even start to build a solid stream of recurring monthly revenue that doesn’t require you to do a single thing.
And, if you’re a good graphic designer, you could combine those talents and really start bringing in some serious cash.
Virtual Assistant Services
If you don’t have any particularly useful skills, but know how to work your way around the computer and internet reasonably well, you could offer your services as a virtual assistant. VA’s handle all sorts of tasks. You can find these opportunities on sites like eLance.com, oDesk.com, and plenty more.
Start a Blog
If you have a hobby or interest that you’re absolutely passionate about, you could start a blog and eventually start making some money from it. It takes time, lots of research, and plenty of skills that you might not have right now – but some exceptional bloggers can earn tens of thousands of dollars a month.
Become an Amazon Affiliate
You don’t need a blog to make money from the Amazon.com affiliate program. If you’re looking for an easy way to start saving for a vacation, retirement, or even to help put your kids through college, you can sign up and have all of your family members buy the things they’re already buying through your affiliate account.
If you have a blog, you could make even more money by promoting your affiliate links there.
Create and Sell an Information Product
Sites like ClickBank.com serve as retail marketplaces for digital products. If you have any level of expertise in a hobby or profession that someone else might be interested in, you could create an e-book and start selling it. The good news is that other people will actually market your book for free in exchange for a commission. The bad news is that it’s a competitive marketplace, and you’ll have to work hard to get others to start promoting your product.
Can you help others with small projects? Do you have talents as an artist? Can you sing happy birthday while wearing a Minnie Mouse costume? Maybe you’re willing to hand out flyers at the local community college. All of these things have been done on Fiverr.com in exchange for a five spot. Well, actually a four spot, because Fiverr.com takes $1 from every gig you receive. It can be low-paying and grueling work – but if you can identify something that you can create quickly, or sell over and over again, you might be able to make some fast, easy money.
Make Extra Money Around the Neighborhood
All of these methods require you to actually get out there and start soliciting your friends, family members, or neighbors to hire you. The savviest among us will actually figure out how to market these services and could grow them into a full-time business.
It’s a good idea to look into your local legislation before embarking too far on any of these journeys, though, as you could get yourself into hot water pretty quickly – especially if you’re not insured.
Remember when you were a teenager and you wanted to make some extra money? Babysitting was often one of the only gigs you could get. Thankfully, as an adult, you’re far more trustworthy (and able to make more per hour). The good news is that you don’t need any licensing to babysit one or two kids in most areas, and you could easily make an extra $20 to $50 a night keeping an eye on the little ones while mom and dad go out for a date.
If you’re particularly enterprising, you’ll find people who work third shift and watch their kids overnight. You could make $100 to $200 a week just for keeping an eye on the brats while they snooze.
If you know how to nail things to the wall, install curtain rods, caulk the bath tub, or do any of the other stuff that little-old ladies can’t do for themselves, then you’re about ready to go into business. It’s not just granny that needs your help, though. Anyone who isn’t comfortable handling these tasks on their own could use your help, and you could be charging $20 to $40 an hour, depending on where you live.
IT Support / Computer Repair
You don’t need to be a guru to make some money helping others out with their technology. You could offer your services as a computer tutor, setting up peripherals (like printers and digital cameras), or fixing minor issues. Once you develop a reputation, you’ll start being referred to new customers, and you’ll be able to make plenty of extra cash.
Here’s an article that will teach you how to turn a single visit into a recurring monthly appointment. It focuses on computer repair businesses, but could be applied to plenty of other service-oriented companies, too.
Pet Sitting and Dog Walking
Don’t like kids, but love critters? Then you could lend your services as a pet sitter or dog walker. Kennels can be expensive, charging $20 to $50 a day. Let your neighbors know that you’re available for both services and you could find yourself making some extra money pretty quickly.
If you have a college degree, you could start tutoring students in your area. Don’t just limit yourself to tutoring people who need help with your major, though, as you might find that you’re able to help plenty of other people. Craigslist can help you find a few jobs to get started, and there are also sites like Care.com.
Grow and Sell Organic Vegetables
If you’re already doing this, then you might as well start selling the extra vegetables you’re growing instead of giving them away. It’s also a great way for you to start saving money on your groceries, which will help to improve your cash flow situation (which is really the purpose of this article).
Even if you’re not already doing it, you could get started as long as you have some space for gardening. It can be a fun and rewarding hobby, too.
Install Christmas Decorations
You might not think it’s possible to make serious money putting up Christmas lights for people in your area. The good news is that if they’re willing to pay you to do it this year, they’re almost guaranteed to pay you to do it again next year. Some people are earning a six figure income with just three months of work. There are more details about how to do it on the Savingadvice.com forums.
Tailoring and Sewing
A good friend of my mother has been offering her services as a seamstress for years. She doesn’t make a ton of extra money – last time we talked, she told me she was making about $100 a week from it – but she loves doing it. You don’t have to be a tailor to get into this gig, either. Simple hemming, sewing buttons, and patching up old jeans all fall under her area of expertise, and plenty of people are thrilled to pay her to do them.
Start Cleaning Houses and Offices
I have two close friends that make a decent amount of money providing cleaning services. One only handles small, residential jobs. The other started out the same way, but eventually found her way into cleaning doctor’s offices. She conferred to me that her average contract is worth about $25,000 per year – and only takes three to four hours of work each week.
Haul Away Junk
If you have a pickup truck, cargo van, or something bigger, you can start offering your services as a junk hauler. Your primary customer base is going to be real estate agents that focus on foreclosures, but there are plenty of other people who need this service, too. If you pick up a small trailer, you might even be able to haul away old cars and make some cash by selling them to local scrap yards.
Avon. Mary Kay. Team Beachbody. Amway. Herbalife. Regardless of how those companies make you feel, the reality is that every year their independent direct sales agents bank millions (if not billions) of dollars. If you can get involved and figure out how to position yourself as a go-to person for what they supply, then you can start generating easy money on the side.
Bring Home Extra Bacon with Part Time Jobs
We’re not all interested in starting a business, and many of us just need a little extra money to help us pay off a bit of debt or to hit a savings goal. Some of us are looking to supplement our income from self-employment while receiving benefits. If that’s you, you might want to consider grabbing one of these part time jobs.
Did you know that some pizza delivery companies reimburse their drivers $2 for each pizza they deliver? Did you know that most customers who order pizza will tip their delivery person $1 to $5? When you add the minimum hourly wage, you might be surprised to learn that some pizza delivery drivers make as much as $50 an hour. Sure, that’s in the higher range of the spectrum, but even pulling in an extra $25 an hour with a part time job is a good start.
Become a Bartender
While you might need some experience to get the best bartending gigs in your town, it’s possible to bring home some serious coinage serving drinks. Consider the fact that the average tip is $1 or $2, and you could see how a bartender could make a few hundred bucks on a busy Friday night.
Noticing a trend? The best part time jobs for anyone hoping to make some real money are those that involve collecting tips. It’s easy to get a job waiting tables, but it’s not so easy to do so at a restaurant that’s likely to generate serious amounts of tip money. Even at your local Longhorn Steakhouse, though, you should expect to make $10 to $30 an hour in tips.
Deliver the Newspaper
I really hesitated to make this recommendation, as it requires a lot of time and effort to make any substantial amount of money delivering the paper – but I know a few people who are doing it. You’ll have to pick up a large route for it to make sense, and that will require you to use your vehicle. Make sure you do the math and make sure it’s worth it.
The good news is, you’re likely to be the most reliable applicant for the position, considering the fact that the majority of your competition is 14 years old.
Work at Starbucks, Barnes and Nobles, Wegmans, Costco, or Whole Foods
It can be incredibly difficult to get a job at one of these places – and there’s a good reason for that. Most of them start offering benefits, (401k eligibility, paid sick days, and health insurance), as long as you work at least 20 hours a week. They also generally pay more than minimum wage for those starting out, and some even offer substantial employee discounts.
What Are Your Thoughts?
If you have any experience with any of these methods for making some extra money, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below. If you have other ideas that have worked for you in the past, share, those, too!