Most of us could use a little extra cash. Maybe you’d like more money to pay down debt or build up an emergency fund. Maybe you have no debt and plenty of savings, but it’s always nice to have a few extra dollars to save for retirement, treat yourself to a special vacation, or splurge on something nice that isn’t in your budget.
Whatever your reasons, there are plenty of ways to put a bit of extra money in your pocket. Some are quick and easy ways to collect a one-time payout; others take a bit more effort but can bring in money on a regular basis. Here are nine options to consider, arranged from the simplest to the most involved.
1. Find Missing Money
If you’re looking for a simple way to get your hands on a little extra cash, consider this: You could already have a sum of money that you don’t know about. Money can slip through the cracks in many places, such as old bank accounts, insurance claims, tax refunds, pension plans, and forgotten items in a safe deposit box. You could also be owed money from a class-action lawsuit you aren’t even aware of.
There are several websites that can help you find missing money in your name. For instance, MissingMoney.com tracks unclaimed property records from most U.S. states, and Unclaimed.org can help you find unclaimed property in other states and Canadian provinces. To find out if there’s money coming to you from a class-action lawsuit, try ClassActionInc.com. You can also search the sites of government departments – such as Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), and the IRS – to see if they owe you any money.
2. Collect a Sign-Up Bonus
If you have a good credit score, you probably get offers for new credit cards in the mail on a regular basis. If you look closely at those offers, there’s a good chance you’ll discover that some of them include a one-time bonus for signing up. Typically, there’s some sort of hoop you have to jump through to collect this bonus, but it’s usually not too difficult. For example, to earn a $150 bonus from the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, you must spend $500 on the card in the first three months.
If you decide to sign up for a new card to get the bonus, make sure it’s the right card for you. The cards with the biggest sign-up bonuses are typically rewards cards with high annual fees. You can only collect the bonus once, but you’ll be stuck paying the annual fee year after year. Unless you spend enough every year to earn lots of cash back, a card like this will take more money out of your wallet than it puts in. And if the card leads you to spend more than you normally would just to earn the rewards, then it’s definitely not a money-maker.
Another way to earn a sign-up bonus is to open a new bank account. For instance, the Premier Checking account from TD Bank gives you a $300 bonus if you receive direct deposits of at least $2,500 to the account in the first two months. However, once again, you should make sure the account is right for you before signing up. For example, the TD account requires you to maintain a daily balance of $2,500 to avoid a maintenance fee.
If you’re an investor Ally Invest is offering a bonus of up to $3,500 when you open and fund a self-directed trading account. All new accounts receive 90 days of commission-free trades, up to $500 in value.
3. Earn Cash Back for Shopping
An easy way to pick up a little extra cash each month is to get paid to shop. There are all sorts of shopping rewards programs and apps that pay you cash back for all the things you normally buy, both in stores and online.
Some of the top rewards programs include:
- Ibotta. This free app gives you cash back on specific products at specific stores. First, you use the app to unlock a reward on an item at one of Ibotta’s participating stores. Then, you buy it and scan the receipt to send to Ibotta. Within two days, you’ll receive a rebate in your in-app account. Once you have $20 in your account, you can cash it in for money or gift cards.
- Ebates. Shopping online through Ebates can get you cash back at more than 2,500 stores, including Amazon, eBay, Macy’s, and Walmart. Rewards vary depending on where you shop, but they’re usually between 2% and 5% cash back. The site sends you a check every three months for all the money you’ve earned.
- Swagbucks. When you shop through this app, you earn “Swagbucks” (SB for short) at over 100 participating retailers. On most sites, you get 1 SB to 3 SB for every dollar you spend. You can cash these out at the rate of 100 SB per dollar, effectively getting 1% to 3% cash back. You can also earn SB for various other activities, such as answering surveys, watching videos, and searching the Web.
- Shopkick. With this program, you don’t even have to make a purchase to earn money. You can get rewards, called “kicks,” just for visiting a store or viewing a specific item. Making purchases earns you even more kicks. When you’ve accumulated 2,500 kicks, you can trade them in for a $10 gift card.
4. Get Paid for Your Opinion
Companies are always eager to find out what regular people think of their products and services. In fact, this information is so useful to them, they’re willing to pay for it.
One way to get paid for your opinion is to fill out online surveys. As noted above, Swagbucks will pay you SB for filling out surveys, and so will numerous other sites, such as Survey Junkie, InboxDollars, E-Poll Surveys, MyPoints, and OneOpinion. Most surveys don’t pay very much – say, about a dollar for a 20-minute survey. Still, they’re a good way to pass the time while sitting on a bus or in a doctor’s waiting room and earn a little spare cash at the same time.
If you’re willing to do a little more work in exchange for a bigger payout, consider taking part in focus groups and product tests. In a focus group, you spend a couple of hours in a room with a group of other consumers, answering questions from a moderator. Groups like this typically pay $50 to $75 per hour. You can find opportunities to take part in focus groups through FocusGroup.com.
Product tests can take a couple of different forms. In an in-home product test, a company sends you a product to use for a specific period of time, after which you fill out a detailed survey about the product. In-home tests don’t take long, but they generally pay only a few dollars. Many survey sites offer the occasional in-home test opportunity, and companies such as American Consumer Panels and Product Testing USA are always looking for testers.
Other types of product tests involve inviting an interviewer to your home or going into a test lab where people will observe as you try the product. These require a bigger time commitment, but they also pay more.
A final way to get paid for your opinion is through mystery shopping. You visit different businesses, interact with employees, sample their products and services, and then answer questions about your experience. According to a 2013 Forbes article, you can earn between $5 and $20 for each assignment, as well as getting reimbursed for products you buy. Sites like Market Force and ShadowShopper can help you find mystery shopping jobs.
5. Sell Ad Space
Another thing businesses are always willing to pay for is advertising. If you blog as a hobby, you can get some money out of the deal by putting ads on your blog. The easiest way to do this is through Google AdSense, which does the work of choosing and placing ads for you. However, you can make more money by recruiting sponsors specifically for your blog, on your own or through a site like BuySellAds.
If you don’t have a blog, but you have a car, that’s another advertising opportunity. Companies like Carvertise and Wrapify will pay you to turn your car into a moving billboard. They cover your car in removable decals that advertise a particular business, then pay you a monthly fee for displaying them.
Carvertise typically pays $100 a month, while Wrapify offers between $80 and $450 a month depending on the size of the ad. However, before signing up for a service like this, make sure it’s legit. A 2018 NBC story warns that some companies claiming to be in the car advertising business are actually check scams.
6. Sell Your Stuff
If you have a lot of stuff in your house that you’re not using, there are many ways to turn that clutter into cash. You can hold a big yard sale to get rid of a lot of stuff at once, or you can sell individual items online and in secondhand stores.
Hosting a yard sale sounds simple: Just put all your unwanted stuff out on the lawn and wait for buyers to show up. However, if you want to have a successful yard sale, you’ll have to put a bit more work into it. Here are some tips to make your sale a success:
- Choose a Good Date. The best time to have a garage sale is on a warm-weather weekend when lots of people will be out and about. However, steer clear of holiday weekends when people may be on vacation. If your town has an annual town-wide yard sale, plan yours for that date to take advantage of the free publicity.
- Check on Permits. Some towns require a permit to hold a yard sale. Check with your town clerk to see if you need one and how to get it. You don’t want to run the risk of having the police crash your sale to slap you with a fine.
- Advertise. No one will show up for your sale if no one knows you’re having it. To attract as many customers as possible, advertise your sale in multiple places. Put up signs around the neighborhood, making sure to include the address and date, and list the sale on Craigslist and other free sites such as Yard Sale Search.
- Arrange Items Neatly. If you just throw all your stuff onto the lawn willy-nilly, customers will have a hard time finding anything. They’re more likely to walk away than to kneel on the ground for 10 minutes sorting through a huge pile. Group together similar items – books, clothes, and so on – and lay them out in a way that’s easy to see. Arrange books on a table with their spines showing, and hang clothes on a rack or fold them neatly on a table.
- Keep Prices Low. People come to yard sales looking for bargains, so don’t get greedy. Aim to set your prices at between 20% and 25% of what the items would cost new. Mark all prices clearly, either on the item itself or on the box or table, so people don’t have to keep asking you about them. And make sure you have plenty of small bills and coins to make change.
- Have a Plan for the Leftovers. There’s pretty much no chance that you’ll sell every single thing you put out at your sale. Rather than having to shove all the leftovers back into storage, have a plan to get rid of them. You can leave them out on the curb for scavengers, or you can donate them to an organization like Goodwill. Or, if you have big-ticket items that didn’t sell, you can move on to one of the options listed below for selling them.
Selling items at a yard sale can clear out a lot of junk at once, but it won’t get you the best possible price for your stuff. You can make more money selling items online. Sites to try include:
- Amazon. This site will take secondhand items only in specific categories. Books and electronics are OK used, but not clothes or toys. The site charges $0.99 for each item you list, plus 6% to 45% of the sale price, depending on the item.
- eBay. You can sell just about anything on eBay. Listing an item takes a bit of work, as you must include a description and one to three photos. Your first 50 listings each month are free; if your item sells, the site takes 10% of the sale price.
- Bonanza. This alternative to eBay deals mainly in clothing, home items, and health and beauty items. Its fees on sales are more complicated than eBay’s but generally lower. You can also pay extra to have Bonanza advertise your listings on other sites.
- Poshmark. This site specializes in high-end clothing and accessories. It bills itself as a place for clothing lovers to get together and shop each other’s wardrobes. Listings are free, and the sales fee is a flat $2.95 for items under $15 and 20% for items over $15. This is more than eBay’s fee, but it also covers the cost of shipping and credit card processing fees.
- Craigslist. To find a buyer in your area, try your local Craigslist group. You can list almost anything on the site, and it costs nothing. It’s a good option for items that are too large or heavy to ship. However, you will need to deal with the buyer in person, which can be risky. Try to meet in a safe place, and watch out for Craigslist scams.
- Facebook Marketplace. The sales section on Facebook is growing in popularity as an alternative to Craigslist. According to CNET, it’s easier to use and helps you find a buyer faster. However, some local groups are likely to be better than others. As on Craigslist, postings are free, but you must meet with buyers in person.
Selling to Stores
If you find selling online to be too much of a hassle, you can try finding a local secondhand store to sell your stuff for you. You probably won’t make as much money this way, since the store owner needs to make some profit on the deal. But it takes a lot of the work out of your hands, and it’s a way to support local business.
Stores that take secondhand goods include:
- Consignment Store. This type of thrift store often focuses on high-end or vintage clothing. When you sell on consignment, the store doesn’t pay you anything up front; instead, it gives you a percentage of the sale price when the item sells. This means it takes longer to get your money, and you might end up having to take the item back. However, if it sells, you could get more for it than you would selling it at a yard sale or on eBay, where most shoppers are looking for steals.
- Antique Stores. These stores typically deal in items that are at least 100 years old, including furniture, housewares, and jewelry. It’s worth doing a little research on your own to see how old and rare your items are before taking them to an antique dealer. That way, you’ll know if the price you’re being offered is fair. In general, antique stores pay about 50% of an item’s market value.
- Used Bookstores. Secondhand bookstores, such as Half Price Books, prefer current bestsellers and classics in good condition. You’ll get less for last year’s bestsellers, which they have lots of, and probably nothing for outdated textbooks. If you have any particularly old books, try a rare book dealer, who can evaluate their worth.
- Pawn Shops. If you need to turn your valuables into cash in a hurry, try your local pawn shop. There, you can either sell your items outright or use them as collateral for a loan. Later, when you have more money, you can pay back the loan and redeem the items. Pawn shops will take most high-value items, including jewelry, electronics, and musical instruments. Expect to get between 20% and 60% of the item’s market value.
7. Be a Donor
If you think you don’t have anything of value to sell, think again. If you’re in good health, then you could be carrying around something of value on and in your body. You can make money by donating or selling sperm, blood, and other parts of you to people who need them, helping someone else and earning cash at the same time.
Some body parts are very easy to donate, while others are more complicated or risky. However, this higher risk generally comes with a higher payout. Here are some items you can get paid for donating, from easiest to hardest:
- Sperm. If you’re a healthy male under 40 – especially if you’re fairly tall and have a college degree – sperm banks will be happy to pay for your semen. A 2018 piece in Business Insider estimates the typical payout at $35 to $125 per donation.
- Hair. If you’ve ever read “Little Women,” you probably remember how Jo cuts off her hair and sells it to help the family. It’s still possible to do this today if you have long hair in healthy condition. Sites like HairSellon and OnlineHairAffair put sellers with long locks in touch with buyers looking for material to make wigs or hair extensions. Depending on your hair’s length, color, and condition, you could get hundreds or even thousands of dollars for it. For instance, the price calculator at HairSellOn puts the price of a 12-inch-long, 3-inch-thick blond ponytail at $273.
- Breast Milk. If you’re a woman who’s recently given birth, your breast milk has value to other women who can’t nurse their babies for one reason or another. The website Only The Breast is like a Craigslist where new moms can buy or sell breast milk. Typical prices range from $1 to $2 per ounce. Donors need to be screened for disease and pasteurize their breast milk before shipping it.
- Plasma. Blood plasma, the sticky liquid that carries your blood cells, is always in demand for drug development. Donating plasma is a bit more complicated than simply giving blood. You have to be hooked up to a machine that extracts the plasma from your blood, then returns the cells to your body. The process takes about 90 minutes. According to Business Insider, you can safely donate plasma about once a month, earning around $50 each time. To find a donation center, visit DonatingPlasma.org.
- Eggs. If you’re a young, healthy woman, one of your eggs could have great value for another woman trying to have a baby. Donating an egg is a complicated process that can take several months. You must go through screening, receive a series of injections of fertility drugs, and finally have the egg harvested. The process has some health risks and can be painful, which is why the payoff is so high – around $10,000, according to Business Insider.
8. Get a Side Gig
If your regular job isn’t bringing in quite enough money to meet your needs, maybe you need a side gig. This is a second job you do in your spare time to bring in extra cash.
A side gig can be anything from running a few errands here and there whenever you have the time to spending every evening and weekend on freelance work. It’s all a question of how much money you need and how much time you’re willing to put in. Here are some popular side gigs for the 21st century.
From busy single parents to older folks who can’t get around as easily as they used to, there are plenty of people who could use a little help with all those odd jobs on their to-do lists. Signing up with TaskRabbit can help you can find these people and earn money for helping them out.
You don’t need specialized skills to work for TaskRabbit. The site offers a variety of jobs, including:
- Assembling furniture
- Grocery shopping
- Home repairs
- House cleaning
- Lifting and moving heavy objects
- Running errands
- Yard work
As a “Tasker,” you get paid 85% of the total job cost, and TaskRabbit keeps the other 15% as its fee. If you’d rather not pay this fee, you can offer your services to clients directly through a site like Craigslist or a newspaper classified ad. However, you could have a hard time finding as many clients this way.
If you love animals, working as a pet sitter gives you a chance to spend more time with them and get paid for it. It can have other perks too. For instance, walking dogs is a good way to get some exercise and meet people around your neighborhood. And if you combine pet sitting with house sitting for people who are on vacation, you can stay in nice neighborhoods without paying rent.
Typical pay rates for pet sitters on Glassdoor range from $8 to $16 per hour. You can care for pets in a client’s home or your own home. Your tasks as a pet sitter can include:
- Feeding pets and changing their water bowls
- Walking dogs
- Playing with or exercising pets
- Cleaning out cat litter boxes
- Giving medications to pets that need them
- Petting and providing company for the pets
There are a couple of ways to get started as a pet sitter. You can do it on your own, advertising your services online, in the paper, and with fliers in places like the local dog park and pet supply stores. Keep your fees on the low side at first to attract new clients; you can charge more as you build up a reputation.
If you have trouble finding clients this way, consider signing up with Rover, a service linking dog sitters with clients. You can set your own rates and schedule, but the site charges a fee of 20% of your earnings.
If you’re thinking of turning your casual pet-sitting job into a regular business, look into Pet Sitters International. For a $140 annual fee, it offers group-rate insurance, certification, and a variety of tools to help you promote your business.
The Internet is making it possible to have more things than ever delivered to your door, and delivery services are always looking for drivers. You can make money doing delivery for:
- DoorDash – This food delivery service doesn’t require any previous delivery experience. All you need is at least two years of driving experience, a valid state ID, a checking account, and an up-to-date smartphone. You can set your own hours, earn “competitive pay,” and keep all your tips.
- Postmates. This service delivers all types of food and drink – groceries, takeout food, and booze – in 20 cities across the United States. Like Grubhub, it lets drivers set their own hours. The service promises new drivers a guaranteed $1,000 for their first 80 deliveries. At a TechCrunch event in New York, Postmates CEO Bastian Lehmann claimed that drivers can earn around $19 per hour during peak delivery periods.
- Amazon Flex. The e-tailing giant is now hiring its own delivery people as an alternative to using shipping services. Drivers are paid by the delivery block (an assortment of packages to be delivered at a certain time in a certain area). Amazon estimates that drivers can earn $18 to $25 per hour. If you have a larger vehicle, work during peak hours, or receive tips, your rate could be higher.
Another way to earn money with your car is to drive for a ride-hailing service, delivering people instead of goods. You don’t even need to own a car to work for Uber or Lyft; both services can hook you up with a rental car to use on the job. However, you do need a license, a clean driving record, and a smartphone to use the service’s app.
Both Uber and Lyft allow you to set your own hours. Earnings will vary depending on where you live, when you work, and how many hours you drive. An analysis by TheStreet found that drivers typically take home between $8.50 and $11.75 per hour, but earnings can be much higher in urban locations or at peak hours.
Another way to earn extra cash is to work online from home. There are several online platforms that can connect you with jobs you can do whenever you have a few minutes. They include:
- MTurk. Amazon Mechanical Turk, or MTurk for short, is a marketplace where businesses hire humans for micro-jobs known as Human Intelligence Tasks (HITs). For instance, you can get paid to identify objects in a photo, complete a survey, or evaluate a website. However, many HITs pay only pennies, and the higher-paying ones get snapped up quickly. A 2017 study by Cornell University found that the average worker on the site earned only $2 per hour, and only 4% of workers made more than minimum wage.
- Fiverr. On this site, instead of looking through a list of jobs that pay different amounts, you offer to do a specific job for a specific amount. For instance, you can offer to design a website, write a blog post, translate a document, or record a voice-over. You can set your price at anywhere from $5 to $995 per gig, but the site takes 20% of your fee as its cut. On the plus side, the remaining 80% goes into your account immediately.
- FlexJobs. If you’re looking for longer-term assignments, you can find a wide variety of jobs for online freelancers at FlexJobs. It lists remote, part-time, freelance, and flexible jobs in a wide variety of fields, including writing, editing, data entry, Web design, customer service, and computer security. The site charges a fee of $14.95 per month or $49.95 per year, so it’s only a good investment if you’ll be taking jobs on a pretty steady basis.
9. Start a Side Business
If you’re putting a lot of time and effort into your side gig, it could make sense to treat it as a business. There are various kinds of side businesses you can start to earn extra cash. One idea is to turn a hobby into a business so you can make money doing something you’d do for fun anyway. If the business prospers, you could even consider quitting your job to run your business full-time.
Several of the jobs listed above – including online selling, pet sitting, delivery, handyperson work, and online freelancing – could work as side businesses. Other ideas for side businesses include:
- Tutoring. If you’re a whiz at a particular school subject, such as math, you could make money by helping students who are struggling with it. You can offer your services as a tutor by putting up fliers in schools and libraries and running an ad on Craigslist. You can also sell tutoring services online through Tutor.com.
- Child Care. If you love kids, you can get paid to spend time with them by offering child care services in your home. You could provide day care for young kids or after-school care for older ones. However, many states have strict regulations on this type of business, so get all the legal details before you get started.
- Cleaning. Lots of people hate to clean and are happy to pay someone else to do this job for them. If you’re one of the lucky few who enjoys it, it’s an easy way to earn extra money. If you exclusively use natural cleaning products, you could make even more by billing yourself as a “green” cleaner. Handy.com is a great place to list your services and find work in your area.
- Yard Care. Yard work is another job that people either love or hate. If you love planting, weeding, mowing lawns, and trimming hedges, you can make good money doing these jobs for others. This job also offers nature-starved apartment dwellers a chance to get their hands in the dirt.
- Sell Your Crafts. If you love crafts such as sewing, woodworking, knitting, or making jewelry, you can turn this hobby into a business. Aside from selling your crafts on Etsy, you can display your wares at local craft shows, festivals, and flea markets.
- Rent Out a Room. A spare room in your home could become a source of extra cash if you rent it out through Airbnb. Simply list your space on the site, along with a description and some photos, and set whatever price you think is fair. A tool on the Airbnb site estimates that a private room for two guests on the Jersey Shore could bring in as much as $699 a month. The site handles all the transactions for a fee of 3% and sends you payment immediately when your guests check in.
- Host an Experience. A new way to make money on Airbnb is through Airbnb Experiences, unique activities you share with visitors to your town. Under your guidance, visitors could enjoy a walking tour, canoe ride, painting class, concert, or special meal. Your proposed activity must meet the site’s quality standards, but you can set your own schedule and price.
- Rent Your Car. If you’ve got a car you don’t use all the time, why leave it sitting idle in your driveway? You can make money by renting it out through Turo, a peer-to-peer car sharing platform that’s been called “Airbnb for cars.” The site provides insurance for a fee of 15% to 35% of the rental price. According to the site’s “Carculator,” a 2015 Honda Accord in the Los Angeles area could earn you as much as $333 per month.
This list is just a small sampling of the many side business opportunities you can choose from. You can make money from just about any product or service you can think of, as long as there are people willing to pay for it. For example, this YouTube video features a woman who decided to start a business hiring herself out as a professional bridesmaid, providing help and support to brides on their wedding day. She eventually quit her job to become a full-time “bridesmaid for hire.”
Making extra money is a great way to give your finances a boost, but it’s not the only way. In many cases, you can boost your bank balance even more by cutting expenses than you can by adding income.
The key is to find your personal budget busters and figure out ways to spend less on them. For instance, if you have a Starbucks habit, you could save by learning to make gourmet coffee at home. You can also look for cheaper alternatives to your cell phone plan, cable subscription, and gym membership.
If you’re in serious financial straits, look for bigger ways to cut back. Consider downgrading to a cheaper apartment, slashing your grocery bill, or even giving up your car. Changes like these can help you stop living paycheck to paycheck, so any extra income you earn will be just that – a nice extra – instead of a necessity.
Do you know of any other easy ways to make extra money? What are your favorites?