What if you need to get some quick cash, say $100, in a week/weekend? What if you had a really slow month and have a lot of time in your hands? Would you mind making a couple of hundred dollars extra to pad your vacation or emergency funds?
When it comes to making more money, I believe in following a systematic approach toward building a great solution to solve someone’s problem and generating sustainable profits. But, not everyone wants to quit their day job or spend more than a couple of hours in a week to earn a little extra cash.
As I mentioned earlier, I need to step up our income generating efforts. I am working harder to make my business a success, all it needs is a little bit more time. In the meantime, I wanted to have a list of ways, quick and easy ways, that don’t require much time or financial investment from my part to make some extra money.
I wanted to get as many ideas as possible so that I can browse through them and pick one when inspiration/need strikes (or I have too much time on my hands). Some of these are tried and true ideas, some of these are new. Not all of them are sustainable for a long period of time (you can only sell so much stuff on Craigslist!); some of them are great for extending a robust business plan to make it a great business.
These ideas are for two main purposes
- Make quick and easy cash, one time (or occasionally)
- Don’t want to commit to developing a business, but wouldn’t mind making some extra cash on the side during not-so-busy times
If you do want to use your skills to develop a sustainable business, please read this post: Make more money by selling your skills.
Quick & easy ways to earn cash: Make $100 in a week/weekend without much time or financial investment
Getting rid of (your or another’s) clutter
- Sell your stuff on Craigslist, eBay, garage sales or Amazon: For anyone in need of quick cash, this is an excellent way to start. Go through your stuff, find anything that you are no longer using (don’t think it won’t sell, you will be surprised by what other people treasure!) and put it up for sale.
- Help others sell their stuff: Unless you have an unlimited supply of stuff you have only so much you can put up for sale. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up on this idea. So many people have so much junk they would love to get rid of but they don’t have the time or the energy to sort through them, catalog them, photograph, put up an ad, haggle and sell the item. This is a problem! Offer yourself as a solution. Give your time to do all the work in selling their stuff in exchange for 50% (or whatever seems reasonable for your time) of their profits. A lot of people will gladly get 50% and their space back for not doing the grunt work.
- Donation pick up: When we moved a couple of months ago, I donated pretty much an entire 1 bedroom apartment’s worth of furniture. I didn’t want to rent a truck myself, do the loading and unloading to drop it off at a donation center. I couldn’t find a charity where we lived that picked up. If someone had a truck and was willing to help with loading/unloading and dropping it off at the charity, I would have gladly paid them.
- Trash removal: Very similar to the previous job except you haul the unwanted junk to a junkyard instead of a charity. I have seen ads for this on Craigslist and it looks like it can pay $100-$300 per weekend depending on the load.
- Recycle scrap metal: Last week when I was on a bus, we crossed a house that had a sign “free boat hull”. The gentleman sitting next to me took note of that and was going to come back to get it. I asked him whether it is fixable, to which he replied he doesn’t care. He had the means to haul it and it was going directly to the scrap metal place. He estimated he would easily get $400-$500 for the metal in that. Seemed like a great idea!
- Gather and recycle cans/bottles: In CA the CRV was 5c, 50 bottles will net you $2.50 (roughly 80c if you choose you do it by weight). I am not sure if it is worth doing it as a money making venture, but if you can collect a lot of them around your neighborhood it might be worth a few extra bucks.
- Rewrite poorly written ads: Writing an ad that sells is a skill in itself. Offer to rewrite the ad for a % commission off the profits.
Give a hand in household chores
More and more people are choosing to outsource chores they don’t particularly enjoy doing in exchange for spending time with their family. Great for people who are willing to do these chores!
- Offer to clean their houses/windows: Pretty straightforward chore. From what I gathered talking to some members of a cleaning crew, the big cleaning companies pay peanuts. If you want to get into this business, work as an apprentice with one of the locally owned companies and sign up to be called during busy period (month end and weekends).
- Meal plan & coupon for other families: Do you like meal planning around what is on sale? Are you great with couponing? Awesome! Plan meals for other families, include recipes and the relevant coupons (you can offer to do the shopping and deliver the complete good-to-go packages as well). Charge roughly what they would save by using your coupons and plan. A win-win situation!
- Freezer cooking for busy families: Meal delivery services are becoming more and more popular these days. If you love to cook, why not extend idea #8 (meal plan & shop) and cook their meals for the week to freeze. Deliver it with instructions on reheating. (Caveat: Check to make sure if this will make you a “professional” and if your city requires you to have a commercial, inspected kitchen). I also found that if you specialize in any ethnic cooking it makes it much easier to sell (I know several people who make Indian food targeting single working men who don’t like to cook
- Offer to start a garden for first time gardeners: A lot of people love to garden but the initial learning curve is too much of a hurdle to overcome. Do you have a green thumb? Do you like gardening? Offer to spend a weekend preparing the space for a young garden, discuss with the owner about what their requirements are, buy relevant plants, plant them and give a quick lesson on how to care for the plants.
Related post: Make extra money cleaning homes
Play handyman for the weekend
- Fix small household problems: Do you have some tools and you know your way around a house? Offer to fix small problems (or help with renovations) for other homeowners.
- Clean not-so-easily-reachable areas: Not everyone wants/has the means to climb up the roof to clean, clean the gutters or pressure wash the siding. Many homeowners will be willing to pay for this to avoid buying the tools to do these things themselves.
- Do some yard work, mow the lawn or plow the snow.
Impart your knowledge
- Tutoring: If you are good in any specific areas, offer to teach students or help with their homework. You can brush up on your own knowledge, help someone and make some cash.
- Teach any skill at home: Teaching need not stop with school work. If you are skilled at any type of art, craft or DIY areas, there will always be someone eager to learn from you. Teach someone to sew, quilt, sing, dance, carpentry, swim… you get the idea.
- Create an online course: If you are willing to spend some time and effort creating an online course on which you are an expert that would be a great source of passive/residual income.
- Sign up to teach a workshop at the local community college: If you are ready to formalize your offering, submit a proposal to the local community college. In our local community college, I have seen programs ranging from how to fix simple plumbing problems to how to raise a baby. The workshop runs from 4hrs to an entire weekend; costing $100-$250. I am not talking about a semester long course, but courses like these – 3 hour course for $39/person.
- Specialized in art and crafts? Hit up the local art store: My local Michael’s and Joann’s always have classes running. They also offer meet ups for specific areas of interest through which you can help others learn your craft.
- Referee for a local sports league: If you are good at sports and teaching is not your thing, refereeing might be.
Related posts: How to Make Money as a Soccer Referee
Help with moving, packing & delivery
There is a huge section on Craigslist that advertises these types of jobs AND the people who advertise there are always busy, esp. on the weekends (I tried!).
- Help pack someone to move: As I mentioned in my long distance moving comparison post, even if you are using a full service mover, packing your own stuff saves a ton of money. Offer to help someone pack their stuff carefully and catalog what is in each box.
- Help with local moves: If you have a truck, offer help for small moves. We could have used someone like that last week when we moved from the apartment to our new home.
- Ikea delivery – Help with moving furniture or stuff that doesn’t fit in a standard 4 door car: We live near an Ikea, so in our local Craigslist, I see people looking for/offering to help move furniture from Ikea to their home. It is usually a flat rate by hour + gas depending on the distance. We checked with one such person and he was charging $50 flat (including gas) to move a queen bed from Ikea to our apartment, which is 5 miles one way. That is pretty good money!
- Restaurant delivery: People love take outs and not that many restaurants offer delivery. Offer to pick up their order and deliver it to them. Similar to pizza delivery but you don’t need to be working for one restaurant or company.
- Catering delivery and set up: When people are hosting a party or an event, they are limited by the restaurants that will deliver the catered food. Offer to expand their selection to any restaurant and tack on your service of setting up and take down of the tables.
- Dry cleaning/Laundry delivery: In our old apartment there was a college student who did this. He would pick up the dry cleaning and dirty laundry from all the apartments and drop it off/pick it up at their favorite dry cleaners. It took him Saturday & Sunday mornings, but covered his living expenses for the rest of the week.
- Deliver gifts and flowers during holidays: The intern we had at work used to deliver flowers during Valentine’s Day weekend and gifts during the holiday season. He said he could easily make $200-$300 in a weekend doing that.
Bank & credit card bonuses
This used to be my favorite way of making some quick cash but I had to slow it down to clean up our credit to buy a home (signing up for too many credit cards will affect your credit negatively). Now that we have bought a house, I plan on restarting this again.
- Credit card sign on bonuses: Here are some current bonuses –
- $400 in cash or $500 in travel rewards when you sign up for Chase Sapphire Preferred.
- $400 travel rewards or $200 statement credit when you sign up for Barclaycard Arrival.
- 50,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months with Chase Ink Plus Business card or Chase Ink Bold Business charge card.
- $200 bonus cash back with Chase Ink Cash business card.
- 15,000 Thank You points ($150 gift cards) with Citi ThankYou Preferred card.
- 20,000 ThankYou points ($200 gift cards) With Citi ThankYou Premier card.
- 30,000 ThankYou points ($300 gift cards) with Citi Prestige Card.
- $100 bonus for Citi Dividend card
- $100 bonus for Chase Freedom card
- Bank savings sign up bonuses: Here are some current bonuses –
Use your body to earn some quick cash
No, not in a bad way; there are several ways to legally and (in some cases) non-invasively make quick cash.
- Participate in medical studies: Some studies are not worth signing up for as they test for side effects, but some esp. mind related studies can be a great way to make some money. I participated in a study in my university where all I had to do was wear a headphone type device and watch a very boring documentary. There were also great studies for kids, all they have to do is play with the toys provided in the play room and someone will be observing them. Such non-invasive studies are not very frequent but check your local university websites/Craigslist they do pop up.
- Sell plasma/blood: I have never sold blood, only donated. But I have heard from fellow students while I was in school that one can sell blood if they have a rare blood type. Anyone can sell plasma. Here are a few companies that pay for plasma:
- Sell your hair: Have lustrous hair? Your locks can fetch some good cash if you have well maintained natural hair.
- Sell your egg: Fertility clinics will pay a good chunk of money to get healthy eggs. The problem is you cannot do this frequently (and there is a lifetime limit) and it is invasive. (Edited to add: Can anyone who has done this before comment on the frequency in which you can do this? The fertility clinic near me said once a month, if less than 35 yrs old, fertile and the donor can handle it, so that is what I had initially. According to Kathleen (see comments), it is more like 3-4 months which makes sense considering that you will have to stop your regular cycle. I have removed the frequency for now. Anyone done this before? What is the frequency for egg donation?)
- Sell your sperm: Much easier than selling the eggs, but there are some caveats. You cannot “liberate” your sperm between two sessions.
Related post: Selling your hair on eBay
Help someone plan a great party
I already touched upon the party assistance in the delivery section, but there is more to a party than catering.
- Set up & clean up the party space: If it is a huge party, you can help set up the canopy, set up tables, arrange all the food, write/display allergy information and clean up everything after the party is done.
- Be the designated driver: Either a big party at a venue or a small celebration in a restaurant, offer to be the designated driver. I hear a single trip per night can net $20-$30.
- Help organize/make party favors: If you have a creative side, you can help the host make the party favors.
- Entertain the crowd: Use your special skills to entertain the crowd – balloon animals, juggling, magic, DJ’ing, etc.
Give your opinion in exchange for money
- Participate in market research: You will be asked to try out a product (Mike from Wealthy Turtle was paid to eat fries; I have to get in on one of those studies), give your opinion and get paid for that.
- Mystery shopping: This is one of the avenues I am trying out at the moment. I signed up and did one. The assignment was to go to the restaurant they assigned, record everything from how long it takes to get a seat, get the water, ask for menu help… pretty much every step of my experience at the restaurant. I was allowed to order an appetizer, entrée and a dessert. I had to submit my receipts and fill out the questionnaire. I was reimbursed for the meal and got a $20 for my effort. Free meal and $20! I hope to get more opportunities. I will write a separate post on my experience so far.
- Fill our surveys: I used to do this but gave up after lacking any time. I am restarting this again. Whenever I need a break
- Join a focus group: This is same as market research but local. The local marketing research facilities might need people from your area to be part of a big nationwide marketing research. They will pay for your time.
Help with shopping
Like shopping and want to do it in someone else’s dime? Try mystery shopping (idea #36). There are other ways to make money while shopping, help someone else with their shopping.
- Do the shopping for others: It can just be getting everything in the list they gave (like grocery shopping) or helping them choose what they want to shop (like a fashion consultant).
Everyone needs help during busy seasons
- Seasonal shopping: Help with holiday shopping. Many people (esp. people with busy careers, lawyers, doctors, etc.) would prefer to skip the crowd, finding parking, long checkout lines and wrapping the presents. You can get a list of items to shop for and deliver the neatly wrapped gifts.
- Help put up holiday lights or the tree (and help take them out).
Go to the streets
I will never try these things because I am extremely shy, but where I live there are quite a few street performers. There are even dedicated sites for busking help, rules and regulations.
- Street performance/busking: Showcase your skills to earn more money – juggling, musical instruments, magic tricks, etc.
- Perform in a local fair or farmer’s market.
- Sell ice cold water/soda or flowers: Find a good intersection with decent traffic (make sure you are allowed to sell in that spot).
Sell your products
Pretty self-explanatory I guess. If you can make anything that looks good or useful, sell it to your target market (Etsy, Craigslist, eBay, trade shows, local fairs, etc.).
- Farmer’s market artisan booth: If you have gotten compliments on your food, try sharing it with your entire neighborhood at the local farmer’s market. Some cities will require you to have a permit. Some cities like mine, if you are not a commercial food vendor, all you have to do is pay the booth fee and sell your delicious food.
- Sell your photos: If you like to take a lot of pictures wherever you go, you might want to try uploading it to sites like iStockphotos that sells stock photos. They like high quality photos, so not all of your photos will be accepted, but if they are, it is residual income and you already have those photos anyway.
- Fix it and resell it: If you are not interested in making something from the scratch but you are good with fixing broken stuff and giving it a new life, try getting your hands on the stuff people give for free (free section in craigslist or freecyle). Fix whatever is broken and resell it.
Sell you skills
Again pretty self-explanatory and I can pretty much summarize this section as –
- If you can do “X”, help others do “X” and make money. Some examples to give you an idea – if you are a PowerPoint expert, help people create an awesome presentation, if you are good with fixing computers, play rent-a-geek.
- Be a tour guide for your city: If you know a lot about your city, its sights and history and like to meet new people, offer to be a tour guide.
Related post: Convert your skills to money
Make money online
This is probably a subcategory in sell your skills sections but as there are so many sites that cater the needs of online communities there are plenty of ways to make money online (legitimately). You cannot make the 6 figure income that many sites claim that you can make. But you can make $100 in a weekend if you put your mind (and work) to it.
Also many online gigs require ongoing commitment (like social media management or virtual assistance), but there are plenty of one time or one off jobs that you can pick up.
- Research & write blog posts: If you have good writing skills and interested in doing research for the content, you can write blog posts and make some money. The posts can be anywhere from 300-2000 words. If you do not have prior experience and references in this field you will be competing with people from other countries. So expect a lower starting pay, about $10/500 word post. If you can do it quick enough (I can’t!) and write 10-20 posts a weekend, there is your $100-$200/weekend.
- Design logos, Gravatars, Facebook cover photo or twitter background: If you have a creative eye and you are good with some design software, you can try these jobs.
- Set up social media accounts: Social media management requires ongoing commitment but you can sign up to set up the social media accounts which will be a 1-2 hr. job.
Rent what you own
- Rent your house, spare room, garage, couch or your parking spot: If you have a spare room, you can rent it for a day or a month. Parking spots in certain downtown areas can get a great rate as well.
- Ad space on your car: Companies who like mobile advertising will paint something on the side of your car and pay you based on the number of miles you drive. They also will pitch in for the insurance and (sometimes) maintenance. You don’t have to do anything special, just drive as you normally do in a slightly ugly car.
- Rent your car: There are sites that will let you list your car for rent (like crowdsourcing zipcar). They pay you full insurance and a rental charge, you have to make your car available at certain times (you can accept or reject an offer) at certain places (mostly a landmark near you).
These things are usually listed in any make money on the side posts.
- Pet sitting
- Baby sitting
- Pet grooming, esp. mobile pet grooming
- Pick up after your pets: Pick up the dog poop for x families in your neighborhood. There are million dollar businesses doing this stuff now.
- Provide entertainment: I won’t be comfortable with making my pet do cart wheels for money, but it might be fine for someone else. If you have a pet that can entertain or make great photo companions, take them to parties and get paid. I once had a person answer my roommate ad. She had a giant snake and she said she takes him out on the weekends to do parties; apparently some people like to have a snake in their party (!!!!) to pose for photos.
Pretty much any errand can be outsourced and more people are doing it these days.
- Wait for someone: How many times have you wasted a day of your vacation or taken unpaid time off for the cable guy or an electrician? There are plenty of people like you who would rather be doing something other than waiting for the service person. Offer to wait for them; for $x/hour.
- House sit/offer to water plants during a vacation
- Be a senior companion: I have done this as part of my volunteering, but these services are offered for pay as well. Offer to take an elderly person to their doctor’s appointment, run their errands, get their grocery or just give them company.
- Mechanical turk: Not sure where to put this, Amazon mechanical turk has random odd jobs that pay $0 (yes $0) to $5. I had a job once where I was required to refresh a website like a million times for 15 minutes. Not sure why they can’t design a bot to do that, but hey I got paid $8 for that. You have to sort through a lot of the penny jobs to get some good ones.
- Check for unclaimed funds: I wrote an entire post about it. If you have not checked for unclaimed funds recently, it might be time to see if someone owes you any money that you are unaware of.
Related post: How to Find Unclaimed Money (and Unclaimed Property)
Ideas are dime a dozen, how do I get these to work and actually make some quick cash?
It really is easy to say “run an errand” for someone and get paid. How do you actually find someone who needs an errand run? How can you find a person who wants their gutter cleaned?
The best way is to start in your neighborhood. It is best for a couple of reasons –
1) These people are your neighbors; they know you and trust you. If you put an ad on your local neighborhood board that you are offering your “wait for you” services, people might trust you and give you their business instead of trusting complete strangers.
2) You can do business relatively easy and build a reference pool. So when you do expand your services to include strangers, you can offer references to give them more confidence.
Beyond your neighborhood, here are the sites that you can offer your services or get some help if you are in need. I have categorized them based on my ideas.
Sites to start with
|General (Anything to do with advertising a service or selling stuff)||
|Sell your stuff|
|Offer to run errands or any services (household services, virtual assistance, event help, yard work, etc.)|
|Random Odd jobs|
|Graphic or design work|
|Virtual assistance work|
|Writing or editing work|
|Market research/Survey sites|
|Moving, deliver or packing services||
|Sell plasma, blood, sperm or egg|
|Apps that lists jobs (mostly small errands) available near you||
|Rent your house/room/couch|
|Rent your car|
This is not a comprehensive list of ideas by any means. These are some ideas I came up with when I was brainstorming for myself. I would definitely like your feedback on improving this list –
1) If you have used any of these sites or make money on the side by offering any services can you please let me know about your experience?
2) If you make money on the side, how do you do it?