11 Ways to Earn Extra Cash
Bring in some additional bucks this year with these tips.
Whether it's the economy or the pressing need to make a big purchase, there's no need to panic when you find yourself cash strapped. Making money on the side is as easy as tapping into your own assets. From selling your skills to your old jewelry, today's access to networking and virtual pawn shops means you have money-making opportunities abound. Whether it's a service or product you offer, researching comparable prices and building a good reputation are essential.
With a little business savvy and creativity, these eleven cash-earning options will have you padding that bank account in no time.
- Offer Your Skills
It could be as something as simple as teaching art or music lessons, catering a neighbor's party, cleaning houses or becoming a guide for tourists visiting your town. If you're feeling athletic or like to spend your time outdoors, help out elderly neighbors and shovel snow, mow the lawn or take their pets for a run at the dog park. It's all about knowing your strengths and networking. Don't just walk by your neighbors -- stop for a chat. Find out how you relate to them, what they need and what you can offer. Advertise your services on free online community forums. If you feel like your neighborhood is short on networking opportunities, create a Facebook or community page and encourage everyone to share their skills and needs on it.
- Become a Shopping Spy
If shopping and advice giving are two of your favorite things, this could be right up your alley.Get paid for your opinion of a merchant by filling out a questionnaire after your shopping experience on sites such as Mystery Shopping Providers Association or Free Paid Surveys. Another way to get compensated for your opinion is by joining Find Focus Groups and becoming a part of a discussion.
- Rent a Room or Your Whole Home for the Summer
Host travelers from around the world through safe sites such as AirBnB or CouchSurfing. Sounds a little odd, sure, but it's also a really fun way to get to know new people, experience different cultures and learn new things, especially if your family plans to travel in the future. Not only may you charge cash for your spare room or couch, but you'll also get familiar with this growing phenomenon. Learn the rules of everything from the least formal option, couch surfing (which just as often pays in ethnic meals and foreign wines) to the more formal house swap (which offers third-party rentals as well as house swaps for travelers who want a whole house on the cheap). Reputable and safe, these options expand your horizons and offer an opportunity to put a little breathing room in your tired budget.
- Be a Lifesaver
When holidays and emergencies hit, families with pets and kids find themselves in a pinch. Regular nannies can't make it, babysitters bail and parents need that last-minute help you know you can provide. Give up a weekend or a night out to stay in, walk a pup or play with the kids and you'll bank a bit of cash in the meantime. Better still, put yourself out there as a house sitter. Whether families want someone to live in the house or just stop by a few times a day, this is one of the easiest ways to make cash without disrupting your life's schedule. Network and put yourself in neighbors' contact lists so you're their first thought when a crisis strikes.
- Sell Jewelry and Used Clothing
Take advantage of the high demand of gold and silver right now and raid your jewelry box. They might seem ordinary, but those bits of jewelry hidden in the corners could easily snag you a fun night out with the hubby or even a mini vacation with the kids. Consignment stores will also take gently used baby outfits or designer label clothing, cutting you in on profits when they sell them. It also helps to know designer names. Raid yard sales for in-demand items and don't be afraid to talk sellers down. Pay five bucks for out-of-season clothes that will bring you $25 down the road and rest easy knowing your pocketbook will benefit later.
- Sell Your Photos Online
Places like Shutterstock sell your images for 25 cents per download. Once approved, even your amateur shots may continually be purchased by viewers who pay to download your photos. If you live near celebrities' homes or vacation spots, those photo opportunities can pay you handsomely, but so do vacation pictures, cutesy shots of puppies and kittens and any close-up action shots of athletes.
- Recycle Used Books Online
Vendors such as Amazon and your local bookstores allow sellers to list books for resale at a fraction of the original cost. Get rid of those used textbooks -- face it, you'll Google the question before you'll actually look up an answer in an old chemistry book. It's okay to part with a few classics, too, if you know you'll never open them again.
- Have a Yard Sale
Find out if you need a city permit and talk to your neighbors to see if they want to make it a block-wide event, which will bring in more customers. Use free advertising on online forums, let the word out on Facebook pages and post signs around your neighborhood. Not only will you make some money, but you will also clear out the clothes, toys and furniture cluttering up your house.
- List Your Crafty Creations
Sites like Etsy, ArtFire and Supermarket can be a gold mine if you are an experienced and creative crafter or designer. Think of all that experience you have making costumes and decorations! The key here is personalizing your business, marketing your skills, services or products in such a way that you're the go-to option for consumers. Jil Latteri, a stay-at-home mother of two from Huntington Beach, California, turned her love for knitting into a small side business of creating humorous beanies for babies. She has had much success selling her crafts online, and uses Pinterest as way to share her crafty creations through friends. Etsy seller and artist Roxanne Tamberen from Montclair, California says, "It's super-easy. You just click on what type of item it is, upload the picture and fill in the information."
- Auction Items on eBay
If you're not super crafty, you can sell items on online auction sites such as eBay. High-demand items include character action figures, vintage toys, used designer label clothing, shoes and handbags, but even owner's manuals for cars bring in a few bucks. Juan Gonzalez, a regular eBay seller from Harbor City, California, has learned a thing or two about how to make cash online this way. "Build credibility in order to successfully sell a product, otherwise your auctions will look like every other auction," he recommends. Some people don't have the patience to find a buyer for useful items such as furniture, artwork and bulky workout equipment when it needs to go, and if you're the person willing to put in the footwork and build the clientele, you can rake in the bucks. The only investment on your end is the time. Search your neighborhood and sites like Freecycle for items people want to get rid of. You may need to clean up things up a bit to make it more presentable for buyers, but you make 100 percent of the profit on every sale.
- Become a Call Center Operator from Your Home
Customer support is always needed, and sites such as Arise, Alpine Access or West can connect you with inquiries for Sears, Office Depot and even the IRS. Some call center businesses offer paid training, and all you need is a telephone line and high-speed Internet connection. This is a good way to earn more than $10 an hour without having to leave your home.
There's no better way to make some extra money than by getting paid to do what you love. When you are passionate about a service you provide, it makes the work more of a joy than a task. Pinpoint what interests you and find someone who will pay you for doing something with it. Where there's a will, there's a way.
Sheila Szabo is passionate about love, art, cooking, storytelling and inspiring others. She is currently a freelance creative writer from her home in Northern San Diego. Her work can be found here.