Do you need more money? What a silly question: Just about everyone could use more money, right? Maybe you’re trying to beef up your emergency fund or pay off debt. Or perhaps you’re saving for a particular goal, like a vacation, a new car, or a home renovation project. Maybe you’ve carefully budgeted your income but it’s not enough, or you want to reach your financial goal faster than your income will allow. What should you do? Consider a low-effort side hustle. Side hustles aren’t just for people with weekend bartending jobs or mad coding skills they use to supplement their paychecks. The Internet abounds with easy money opportunities. Everyone should be cautious of scams, but know that there are plenty of legitimate ways you can beef up your bank account without taking on a traditional second job.
Get Cash Back
The first (and maybe easiest) way to make money is by earning money on the cash you’re already spending. Even as we save, we still need groceries/pet food/kid’s shoes/gas/etc., so you might as well make some money back on those purchases. For most of these programs, it’s as simple as downloading an app, signing up, and scanning your receipts. Want to maximize your cash-back potential? Download multiple apps. Here are some favorites:
- Ibotta: Ibotta allows you to earn cash back by scanning your receipts for in-store purchases, and you can also earn cash back on online purchases that originate through their app. In addition, you can link your store loyalty accounts with Ibotta and earn cash back automatically.
- Shopkick: Shopkick is slightly different in that you won’t get cash, but instead, you’ll earn gift cards. That’s a bit of a bummer, but the good news is that you can earn points without ever spending a dime. Just walking into certain stores and taking part in simple “scavenger hunts” increases your point total!
- Checkout 51: The great thing about Checkout 51 is that it lets you earn cashback on generic items like bananas or onions, making it an excellent choice for a person who spends a lot of money on basic essentials.
Get Paid for Your Opinion
Do you have an opinion? Would you like to make money from it? You have two options. Companies like Vindale Research, Survey Junkie, and MyPoints let you take surveys from your phone. How does it work? Each survey is looking for people with specific qualifications. A pet food survey, for example, might be looking for people under 35 who have a dog. Or a survey about real estate might be looking for empty-nesters who are thinking about moving in the next five years. Making money taking surveys at home will take some patience, and you aren’t going to retire off of your earnings. But the good news is that you can qualify for surveys and complete them while sitting on your sofa!
The other way to get paid for your opinion is by participating in focus groups. Focus groups are more or less in-person versions of surveys. You’ll usually qualify for focus groups by completing short online surveys. Focus groups are also looking for people who meet specific criteria. If you are eligible, you’ll go to an office and typically try a product before completing surveys about it. You can usually make between $30 and $450 for an afternoon’s work! Several companies run focus groups; Find Focus Groups can help you locate focus groups near you.
Do you enjoy taking pictures? If so, make some money off of your hobby! Upload the images you’ve already taken to Foap and you’ll get $5 every time someone purchases one of your photos. Or try websites like iStock or Stocksy, which offer the opportunity to make more money. You might also want to consider starting a part-time photography business. It’s fashionable now to hire photographers for family photo sessions, but you could also pursue corporate work (think headshots), real estate photography, or even weddings.
Sell Old Clothes
There’s never been a better time to sell your unloved clothing. Shoppers love to save money and to reduce their environmental impact, and buying used clothes satisfies both desires. The ease of shopping for secondhand clothes online only sweetens the deal. There are plenty of places where you can sell off your old wardrobe. Sites like ThredUp send you a bag for your clothes, you ship off your stuff, and they pay you for what they keep (ThredUp says they typically accept about 40% of the clothing sent to them). Sites like Poshmark require more work but offer a higher potential payoff. With Poshmark, you photograph and upload your clothing inventory yourself, and you set the prices, although interested customers can make counteroffers. If you have very cool clothes (or your aunt’s closet from 1993), you could also try DePop. DePop is aimed at the young and hip and could very possibly let you make some coin from that 25-year-old Disney World sweatshirt. People with lots of kids’ clothes can sell them via ThredUp or Poshmark but might also want to try Kidizen, which specializes in children’s clothing. Want to make more money selling clothes? Once you get a good feel for the secondhand clothing market, consider purchasing in-demand items from thrift stores or yard sales and listing them online.
Make Money by Driving
Most of us have to drive anyway, so why not make a little money while doing it? If you have a newer car and a good driving history, you could sign up to drive for ride-sharing sites like Uber or Lyft. If you prefer to ride alone, you could always spend a little time delivering food for companies like Grubhub or Postmates. Want more passive income? Try Wrapify, which pays you to turn your car into a rolling billboard. Don’t mind a little more activity? Become a grocery-shopper with companies like Shipt or Instacart. You’ll receive someone’s grocery order, do their shopping, and deliver the groceries to their home. Roadie also lets you deliver goods, but only to the area you’re already driving to, and you don’t have to do any shopping.
Get Rid of Clutter
Does your clutter go beyond an overstuffed closet? DVDs, videotapes, video games, and CDs are everyday items that are now often seen as space-hogging clutter. If you’ve moved to streaming your favorite flicks, it’s time to turn your old collections into cash with sites like Decluttr. If you have old baby gear taking up valuable space, then try goBaby, which lets you rent out your unused equipment. And Facebook Marketplace is a great way to sell large items (furniture, appliances, etc.) to local buyers.
Become a Paid Host
Do you have a spare room, finished basement, or other available space? Think about making money with the areas you’re already paying rent/mortgage/utilities for by renting them out via a company like Airbnb. You can choose to rent out a spare room, mother-in-law suite, or your entire home (if you have somewhere else to go!). Why would you want to do short-term rentals over getting a roommate? You’ll probably make more money, your home will endure less wear and tear, and you’ll have control over the schedule. Tired of having people in your space? Remove your listing until you feel ready to host again. And Airbnb isn’t the only game in town. You can also rent out spare rooms to traveling nurses.
Beefing up your emergency funds and savings is important, but even the best laid plans can be derailed by a serious financial emergency. When such things occur, understanding all of the alternative lending options available to you may help you make the best choice for your unique situation and help you to fill in financial gaps created by the unexpected.