Living on a budget is great. Unless, of course, it’s not. Because sometimes even living within your budget calls for more money than you’re bringing in.
Maybe the transmission is going out two years earlier than you hoped. Maybe that perfect little house is up for sale and you don’t quite have the down payment. Maybe you’ve given yourself permission to have fun, but your budget hasn’t. Or maybe you really want to stay home with your kids, but can’t afford this option without making an income on the side.
If you have the time and freedom to take on an additional “real job” for awhile, your options are virtually unlimited. But if finding the hours or the transportation or the child care to work a second job isn’t plausible, what can you do to supplement your insufficient income?
Whatever the reason, if your budget needs a boost, I’m going to give you ten solid ideas for earning some extra cash until you’ve achieved your goals.
Will all these ideas work for you? Probably not. We all have different personalities, different schedules, and different skills. Still, something on this list is likely to be just the right fit, right now.
First, let me emphasize that I am not including “get rich quick” schemes or any of those advertisements you are bombarded with while internet surfing. If you want to play games for money, or buy real estate and flip homes, or be a secret shopper, or buy a starter kit and make your own jewelry to sell, fine. Just know that many of those offers are scams. You will most likely only make pennies per hour, and you are more likely to make nothing at all.
That being said, let’s move on to some legit ways to make some money!
Sell Your Stuff
I’m starting here because almost all of us have too much stuff and too little storage space. Besides, minimalism is in! Tidying up is all the rage! So let’s jump on the bandwagon, clean and organize our spaces, and make a few hundred dollars in the process!
Start with a couple of big boxes to put things in so you don’t have junk scattered all over your home. Sort through your closets and drawers. Pull out all the things you don’t use, don’t love, don’t need. Once you have an idea of what you have and how much, you can decide how you want to sell it.
These days, you have tons of options!
- Yard Sale/Garage Sale – Depending on the weather,your neighborhood, and your financial immediacy, this is a quick and easy way to clear out a lot of stuff quickly. The downside is that it probably won’t bring in the most money.
- Consignment Store – this is, by far, the easiest way. Call a local store, set up a time to drop of your items, go back in about 3 months a pick up a check for what sold. You’ll only see a percentage of the value of your items, but you don’t have to do any of the work. You can also do online consignment on websites like ThredUp. They will send you a bag and instructions. You fill up the bag and send it back. They do the rest.
- Online Sale – You photograph and list the items yourself on places like Mercari, Decluttr.com, eBay, Poshmark, Facebook Marketplace, etc. You handle the sales, you do all the work, and you get all the profit. Though this route takes more work, it also affords more profit. I think it is the way to go.
- Returns – Items that are unopened or still have the tags on them should be returned rather than resold. Even if you don’t get the full price back, you’re guaranteed to get more than selling second-hand.
If you’re a decent cook, or you like to bake, you can definitely make some steady money providing a food service! (Check your state’s laws before starting this. Some states have laws about how much you can sell without a commercially-licensed kitchen.)
The two most common ways are:
- Baked goods. Local restaurants, coffee shops, etc. are always open to the possibility of selling locally-made sweets – brownies, tarts, crispy rice treats, cookies, pies, etc. Bonus points if you can do gluten-free! Make a few samples of what you’d like to provide, take pictures of your products and work space, then go deliver some free samples along with your price list and see what happens!
- Start a meal service. Make a menu, a price list, and a delivery schedule and advertise among your friends, at your work, and on social media. You can prepare entire meals, or just the entree. You can make meals seven nights a week or once a week. You can deliver or have customers pick up. I know a woman who advertises strictly through word of mouth at a local university, takes orders online, and twice a week brings a trunk full of aluminum casserole trays to campus. People flock to pick up her poppyseed chicken and beef fajitas, and she doubles her investment doing something she enjoys.
Open a Bank Account
I know, this sounds funny because you’re trying to find money to PUT in the bank. But many banks offer money for opening new accounts and meeting certain criteria like setting up one monthly direct deposit. If this is something you can do, it’s an easy step toward a little extra money in the bank!
Turn Your Place into a Rental
If you have an extra bedroom with an accessible bathroom, or if you have a friend or relative you can stay with on the weekends, consider signing up with Airbnb.com or Vrbo.com and renting out a space in your home (or your entire house or apartment) once or twice a month.
This probably isn’t a good option if you live in Wyoming or have three children, but for small families who live in big cities, you can make enough money renting your place on the weekends to make your mortgage payment each month!
These are also known as multi-level-marketing businesses. I mention these with some hesitancy because there’s an initial investment, they can be time-consuming, and they can put a strain on friendships. I’m talking about businesses like 31, Rodan + Fields, Stella & Dot, Jamberry, LipSense, Scentsy, DoTerra, and such. You’ve all seen them on your social media feeds.
Still, if you are an outgoing person, love the friendship aspect of hosting parties and meeting new people, this might be just the right side gig for you. I know plenty of people who enjoy sales and are making great money selling something they feel passionate about.
Become an At-Home Virtual Assistant
Virtual assistants, or VAs, are in high demand these days. Many companies are looking for help with:
- Online administrative tasks
- Social media management
- Email and letter writing
- Data processing
- Transcription service
- Presentation preparation
These are perfect work-from-home jobs. Generally, you can work your own hours and set your own pace, and good VAs can earn from $20 to $45 an hour!
The best places to get started are through “broker” websites like:
…and others like them. You sign up, set up a profile, then start scrolling through their job listings. Some jobs are one-time projects, others are ongoing tasks that range from a couple of hours a week to a few hours a day.
It may take several applications before you’re hired, but don’t give up. You are a great fit for someone out there, and they are a great fit for you!
By utilizing the same companies listed above for Virtual Assistants, you can market your skills as an artist, editor, software developer, IT specialist, engineer, architect…the list is almost endless. Virtually every skill is needed somewhere by someone.
Keep in mind, these sites charge a percentage of your earnings, but they provide a valuable service of connecting freelancers with clients. Jobs range from $5 single-time jobs to high paying full-time positions.
Okay, so this option is only for you educators out there, but there is good side gig money in teaching through VipKID. You must have a teaching certification, a reliable computer, and be willing to work some WEIRD hours (like 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. sometimes), but you can make up to $1300 a month teaching English to children in China just a few hours a week.
After School Child Care and Tutoring
This is such a needed service everywhere! For busy, working families, having a second pair of hands and eyes for a couple of hours after school is invaluable. You provide a place for their child to get off the bus, a healthy after school snack, help getting homework done, and someone to read and play with until Mom or Dad gets off work.
Check with local daycares, babysitters, and tutoring centers for the going rates in your area, then spread the word through your friend grapevine. Bet it won’t take long for you to find someone who needs exactly what you have to offer!
Deliver for Amazon
While this option is not available everywhere just yet, it will be. If you live in a metropolitan area, you can get started delivering packages by visiting Amazon Flex. From there you choose your city, answer a few personal questions, then install the Amazon Flex app.
Amazon says you can earn between $18 -$25 an hour, work as much or a little as you want, and choose the days and times you want to work. If you have reliable transportation, this might be just up your alley!
We really are just touching the surface on extra-income possibilities here, though these are tried-and-true, reputable ways to supplement your finances. I think you will find this list to be very helpful!
I hope it prompts you to find ways to earn extra income. Ways that work with your lifestyle. Ways that don’t require radical changes to your schedule. Ways that are flexible and allow time with your family. Ways that help solve your budget crunch.
Take Online Surveys
Companies conducting market research want to hear from you and they'll pay you to share your opinion. Here are some of the online survey companies to look into:
- Opinion Outpost
- Pinecone Research
- Toluna Influencers
- Vindale Research
Not into taking surveys? You can also use Mistplay to play games for money.
Now, be creative and get to work!