by John Garber
If you want to improve your financial situation, you have two options. The first and easiest is to cut expenses. There are plenty of articles on our site and elsewhere with great advice on how to do that.
What’s rare is good advice about the other option: how to make more money. Adding more cash to your bottom line will improve your financial position. Below are our four favorite ways to do that.
Note: These Are Not Second Jobs
Some ways to earn extra income amount to getting a part-time job or starting a business that becomes a part-time job. These are great ideas for people with extra time and energy, but they’re not the only option.
This list has four solid models for you to bring in extra money without devoting significant time to it. You have a life to live, people you love to spend time with, and a career. These ideas will help ease financial stress without spreading yourself too thin.
Four Personal Income Generators You Can Start Using Today
1. Purge and Profit
This income generator combines the benefits of making your home tidier with bringing in extra cash, usually for a one-time or short-term money infusion. There are many variations, but they all follow the same basic framework:
- Clean your house, using a box or bin to accumulate things you can live without. Move stuff too big to fit into the box to a special place in your house.
- Identify which of these items has a monetary value.
- Sell those items on Craigslist, eBay, or similar websites or have a garage sale to sell lots of items at once.
- Bundle up items that didn’t sell the first time and re-list them together. Often, people will see the value and buy them during this second round.
- Donate what’s left to Goodwill, and get a receipt for tax season (you can deduct charitable contributions if you itemize).
Whether you do this with a single collection you once loved but now don’t interact with, or by pulling stuff out of every room in your house, it’s not hard to make several hundred dollars from this method. It’s even easier if you follow a few of these best practices:
- Clean the items first, so they look as attractive as possible
- Take high-quality photos to include in your listings
- Write detailed, compelling descriptions for each entry
- Answer potential buyers’ questions quickly and professionally
- Set prices according to what similar items sell for
- Don’t hesitate to haggle and bargain to sell as much as you can in as little time as possible
- Publicize your sale on social media and other venues
2. Monetize Your Hobby
You likely have a hobby or interest, something you enjoy and you do well. There are ways to make money off the skills and expertise you’ve accumulated from it. Examples include:
- Creating an Etsy account to sell the product of your crafting hobby
- Writing articles for magazines associated with your hobbies and interests
- Pet-sitting or dog walking if you’re an animal lover
- Offering personal services, such as cleaning if you’re an organization junkie
- Coaching or teaching people who want to learn more about your hobby or interest
- Creating online content, like an e-book or video course
- Putting your photographs on image clearinghouses like Getty Images or Flickr
- Selling your artwork in local galleries and cafes
These are just some of the ways people turn their passions and interests into cold, hard cash. For some, it’s a way of helping the hobby fund itself. For others, it’s a route to a better financial situation.
Start by considering your hobbies. What do you love doing so much you’ve become an expert at it? How might you turn that skill and expertise into something other people want or need? From there, put together a plan.
3. Find Part-Time Work Online
You don’t want the demands of a traditional part-time job, but you can make money in small sessions of flexible work using a number of different online sources. As with monetizing your hobby, there are dozens of ways to do this. Here are nine you can get started on right away:
- Log in to Mechanical Turk to do small jobs that add up to big money.
- Get paid to fill out market research questionnaires on sites like Focus Pointe Global and Delve.
- Participate in paid surveys from Survey Junkie, Pinecone, or Prolific.
- Set up an account at Fiverr or Upwork to do simple design, editing, and writing tasks.
- Review websites for UserTesting.
- Google “Get paid to _______”, filling the blank with tasks you might find fun to perform, like “write,” “watch TV,” or “play games.” Log in to the sites that best match your needs. Read the fine print carefully.
- Deliver with services like DoorDash and Deliveroo.
- Review music at Slicethepie.
- Become a mystery shopper through any number of sources. (Just Google “mystery shopper” plus your location.)
You can choose one of these options and pursue it heavily, or work on several options over the course of a month to generate a substantial income stream. Either way, the opportunities are real, as is the difference they can make for your finances.
4. Flip Products
This is the riskiest item on this list, but if you have the expertise and a little cash available, it can become a reliable and easy way to make extra money.
- Find items for sale at well below market rate. Books, furniture, power tools, yard equipment, and watches are good candidates for flipping.
- Clean them up and research their potential full value.
- List and sell them on eBay or Craigslist.
- Use some of the profit to scale up the project by buying more items to list.
The key to success is finding reliable sources of goods at well below the price people will pay for them. Research how much certain items are selling for on eBay and Craigslist, then look for them in locations such as:
- Estate sales
- Garage sales
- The clearance rack at stores you frequent
- Lots and bundles sold on eBay
- Thrift shops
- Craigslist giveaways
- Flea markets
Also, let friends, family, and acquaintances know you’ll take their items to the dump or Goodwill when they clean out their homes. Make it clear you plan to sell things you think you can flip. Most people won’t mind if you’re upfront about it.
Final Thought: The Real Question
When deciding which income generators are right for you, ask yourself how you want to earn your extra money and what you want to use it for.
Do you want to earn a one-time lump sum to pay off credit cards, afford something you need, or make a single change to improve your life moving forward?
Or do you want to earn a little extra money on a regular basis, so your monthly financial life is a little easier?
There’s no right or wrong answer, but knowing your goals will help you pick the strategies that will make the biggest difference in your financial life.
John Garber lives on the West Coast, where he works in technology and currently has a few side hustles in play.