Are you in your late 20s or early 30s and still living like a broke college student? Would having some extra money coming in each month make it easier to make a dent in your student loans, shore up your emergency savings or finally make saving for retirement a reality?
If you said yes to both, the next question is, what can you do to step up your income game?
Asking for a raise is one option, but that can be tricky territory to navigate, especially if you haven’t been on the job that long. Putting in more hours at work or taking on a part-time gig is another. Both can pay off in your paycheck, but they may not be realistic if you’re already living a busy lifestyle.
If you need to increase your cash flow, but you don’t have a lot of time, consider giving one of these money-making options a try.
1. Spend your way to extra cash
Spending the money and making money are two different things but it’s possible to do both at the same time if you’re using a cash back rewards credit card for purchases. The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, for instance, allows you to earn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to the $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1%); 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores and 1% back on other purchases.
The cash back rewards you earn can be redeemed for statement credit, which can be just as good as cash since it’s saving you money on what you spend. You’ll need good credit for approval so take time to check your free credit score with Credit Sesame before you apply.
2. Downsize your stuff
Take a look around the house. Dig through your closets, rifle through the kitchen and bathroom cabinets, check under the bed. Do you have clothes, books, electronics or anything else that you’re not using? If so, that's something you can turn into extra money by selling it.
Try apps like thredUP or Tradesy for selling clothes, bags, and shoes. Amazon and eBay are great for selling everything from books and collectibles to toys and electronics. And if you don’t have anything to sell, but you’re crafty, you could always hawk handmade wares on Etsy. Anything you can’t sell on those sites you could try to unload on Craigslist or your local Facebook bargains group.
Just remember when selling online to factor in shipping fees and any fees you pay to be a seller when setting prices. And if you’re meeting someone you met on Craigslist or in a bargains group, choose a safe location like a busy public venue or your local police department.
3. Sell your skills
Everyone’s good at something, and if you’ve got a talent or skill that’s your specialty, you could turn that into an extra income stream.
For example, are you good with numbers? Consider hiring yourself out as a part-time tutor online. Do animals seem to love you? You may have a calling as a weekend dog-walker. Are you tech-savvy, with an eye for design, or can you craft a stellar sentence? Aside from a career in freelance web design or copywriting could be right up your alley.
Sites like Fiverr give you an easy way to earn extra money by connecting your skills with the people and businesses who need them. And if your only skill is moving furniture, you can find a way to put it to work by selling your services through TaskRabbit.
4. Get paid to shop
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Don’t have a cash back credit card? No problem. You can still earn cash when you shop if you’re using the right apps. Ibotta is a great one to start with. This app lets you track down cash back offers in your area, and all you have to do to earn cash back is take a picture of your receipt.
If you’re more into traveling than shopping, you can use the Dosh app to find cash back offers at more than 100,000 hotels, restaurants, and online retailers. You can link the app to your debit or credit card; the app tracks your purchases for offers or coupons and when it finds one, deposits cash directly into your Dosh wallet.
5. Sell your photos
If you’ve got a knock for capturing great shots and you practically live on Instagram, you could have another source of extra money right on your smartphone. Sites like Shutterstock, iStockPhoto, and Dreamstime will pay you for photography skills.
One thing to note is that sites like these can charge amateur photographers a commission for selling their images. Before you sign up with a stock photo site, be sure to check the fee structure, so you know how much of the sale price you’ll hand over for commissions.
6. Teach a virtual course
Thanks to the internet, anyone can be a teacher these days and turn it into an income source. All you need is something to teach that people want to learn and a platform for selling it.
Sites like Udemy and Teachable allow you to create online courses, market them and make money all in one place. You create the course in your spare time and set it up on the platform. Students purchase the course and learning are self-managed. After the initial course creation, it’s very hands-off, and you continue earning as long as people buy the course.
These sites do charge a fee for using their platforms, so remember to factor them in when deciding how much to charge.
Making extra money doesn’t have to be a headache
If you can’t work more hours and a raise isn’t in the cards, generating extra income comes down to how creative you can be about making the most of your time. And whether you’re selling your stuff, your skills or shopping for cash rewards, remember to have a plan for the extra money you’re making.
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