Did you have a plan to make more money this year? How’s that going?
More than one-third of Americans make money-related New Year’s resolutions, a Fidelity Investments survey found. More than half of people wanted to save more, while spending less and paying off debt were also common goals.
Resolving to be better with your money is one thing, but turning that goal into reality is another story entirely. Saving more, spending less, or paying off debt sounds simple, until you confront the reality of tight budgets, high expenses, and tiny paychecks. If you’ve already cut back on frivolous expenses and are still having trouble making ends meet, it’s time to look into ways to earn more money.
The best ways to boost your income are to ask for a raise, get a better-paying job, or head back to school so you can transition into a more lucrative career. But those are long-term solutions to your cash-flow problem. What if you need some extra money right now, perhaps to pay down your holiday credit card bill or save for a big vacation? Well, you’re in luck. Never have there been more ways to earn a little extra money on the side, thanks to the growth of the gig economy and apps that make it easy to sell your stuff (or your services) to willing buyers.
Whether you’re a dog lover, clotheshorse, or online shopping addict, here are 16 quick and easy ways to make extra money.
1. Switch banks
Switching banks can be a big hassle, but if you play your cards right, it may be worth it. You might be able to squeeze a little more out of your emergency fund and cash savings by switching to a bank that pays slightly higher interest rates. Some banks will also pay as much as $200 or $300 in bonuses when you open new accounts. For example, you can earn $300 for opening a Signature Advantage account at SunTrust bank.
2. Clean out your closest
Clearing out your closet may be on your to-do list, and if you’re lucky, it could turn out to be a pretty lucrative chore. Apps and sites like Poshmark, Thredup, Tradesy, and eBay make it easy to sell your gently used and unwanted clothes and accessories — and use your earnings to fund a wardrobe upgrade, if you want.
3. Pare down your library
Face it, you’re never going to crack open that copy of Middlemarch again. You probably won’t make big money (unless you’re sitting on first edition of The Great Gatsby), but you can pick up a few bucks by selling your old college texts or other books. Start with a site like BookScouter, which will provide you with quotes from a variety of buyback sites. If you’re a real book hoarder, you can set up an account on a site like Amazon or Abebooks and sell off your library directly.
4. Declutter your media
Back before virtually every movie or song in the world was available with one click on Amazon or iTunes, you may have spent time and money accumulating a lot of DVDs and CDs. Though more and more people are fully digitizing their media libraries, you can still find people who will pay you to take those unwanted discs off your hands. Decluttr will buy your CDs, DVDs, and video games, as well as books and old electronics, putting money in your pocket and helping you Kondo your shelves in the process.
5. Become a flipper
No, we’re not talking about flipping houses (though you can do that if you’re an ambitious risk taker). Flipping, or reselling, involves scouting thrift stores, garage sales, and discount racks for items you think you can resell for profit. It’s a side gig that requires a good eye and some patience, but if you can tell a genuine Louis Vuitton purse from a cheap knockoff when you hit your local Goodwill, this could be a lucrative hobby. And fancy designer clothes aren’t the only thing people flip. Some people even resell dollar store items.
6. Monetize your hobby
Do you dabble in graphic design or photography? Love to knit or make jewelry? Bake the best cookies ever? Whatever your creative outlet, you may be able to turn it into cash. Photographers can try selling photos to stock sites, sell prints at art fairs, or make money on the weekends photographing weddings. Crafty types can sell their creations on Etsy. If you’re really successful, you may be able to turn your hobby into your full-time job.
7. Teach or tutor
Math whizzes, language buffs, and ace test takers can earn a little extra money on evenings and weekends by tutoring kids. Test prep and tutoring companies will pay you to help high school kids earn high scores on the ACT or SAT or get up to speed in their calculus class. Some gigs are in-person, but you can also find work online.
Even if you’re not academically minded, you may still be able to make money teaching others. Programmers, musicians, yogis, and others can all make cash by sharing their skills with interested students.
8. Sign up for Ebates
It may sound too good to be true, but cash-back shopping sites like Ebates really do pay you to shop online. All you have to do is create an account, and then click through to the stores where you’d normally shop from the site. Once you make a purchase, you’ll earn a certain percent back in your Ebates account. Most of the time, the cash back percentage is just 2% or 3%, but sometimes you can earn as much as 10% or 15% back. Combine those rewards with saving from a a cash-back or miles-earning credit card and you can save even more.
You may have seen the Seinfeld episode where Kramer plans to drive thousands of empty cans and bottles to Michigan to take advantage of the state’s 10-cent bottle deposit return. While you don’t want to pull that stunt in real life – it’s illegal, as one man discovered – you can return your empties for cash in certain states, including New York, California, and Oregon.
Crushed beer cans aren’t the only thing you can get paid to recycle. You can earn store rewards by returning empty ink cartridges to Staples and Office Depot. Old car batteries and scrap metal can also be sold for cash, and retailers like Amazon, Target, and Apple may offer gift cards in exchange for your old gadgets.
10. Start a passive income stream
Earning money without doing anything sounds like a dream, but it’s definitely possible. Investing in dividend stocks or index funds is the classic example, but you can generate possible income even if you don’t have put money in the stock market. Writing an ebook, making YouTube videos, or creating an online course at a site like Udemy.com will take some initial legwork, but once you’ve created the product, it can generate income with little effort on your part.
11. Get paid to work out
Fitness freaks can turn their love of running, yoga, and mountain biking into cash with Achievemint. The app links up with the fitness and health-tracking apps you’re already using, like Jawbone and Fitbit, and then rewards you with points for completing certain activities. Not only will you get points for working out, but you can also earn when you weigh yourself, log what you eat, and even when you sleep. Once you have 10,000 points, you can cash them out for $10.
If weight loss is your goal, consider signing up for DietBet. You’ll pay to join a pool of other motivated dieters, who all have the goal of losing a certain amount of weight within a certain time frame (say, 10% of your body weight in 6 months). If you successfully complete the challenge, you and the other winners get to split the pot.
12. Get an automatic price adjustment
Spotting the same item you just bought on sale for a lower price is super-annoying. Many stores will refund you the difference if an item you bought drops in price in the days or weeks after you buy it, but keeping track of shifting prices and applying for refunds can be a hassle. Fortunately, a slew of apps are making it easier for you to get your money back. Earny, Slice, and Paribus all scan your past purchases and notify you when a price drops. With Slice, you request the refund yourself, while Earny and Paribus automate the entire process. Some credit cards offer a similar service.
If you want to save in this way, you probably want to act fast. Amazon reportedly tweaked its price adjustment policy after the apps took off. It’s possible other stores may follow their leave if paying back customers every time a price falls gets too expensive.
13. Pet sit
Animal lovers can spend time with their furry friends and earn extra cash by setting up shop as a pet sitter. You can advertise your services on sites like Rover or DogVacay, which allow you to set your own rates, specify what animals you’re comfortable watching, and more. The companies handle the billing and payments in exchange for a fee.
14. Do someone else’s chores
Not everyone wants to mow their lawn, assemble that Ikea bookshelf, or drop off a bag of old clothes at Goodwill, and they’re willing to pay someone else to do those things for them. Sign up with TaskRabbit and you can make money by running other people’s errands. Postmates and Amazon will pay you to deliver items from local stores and restaurants to customers. Or, you can advertise your snow-shoveling, lawn-mowing, or box-hauling skills directly on sites like Craigslist or even the old-fashioned way – a flyer on the coffee shop bulletin board.
15. Share your opinions
Yes, you really can make money or earn gift cards by completing surveys online, though you need to make sure the site you’re using is legit. Harris Poll Online, Ipsos I-Say, Swagbucks, Inbox Dollars, and e-Rewards are among the more popular paid survey sites.
Participating in a focus group will be more lucrative than completing surveys, though it can be harder find these gigs. Work at Home Mom has compiled a list of focus group companies, or you can check your city’s Craigslist for opportunities.
16. Save for retirement
It’s a cliché to say that missing out on employer matching contributions to your 401(k) is like leaving money on the table, but it’s true. If you’re not already saving enough to get your full match, you can give yourself an instant raise (and increase your chances of enjoying a comfortable retirement) by boosting your contributions. Depending on your salary and the matching rate, you could net yourself a few extra thousand dollars per year.
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