But if you really want to improve your finances, there’s the flip side of that equation to consider as well – making more money.
Here’s the truth no one wants to talk about: Learning how to make money can improve your finances in ways that saving money simply cannot. There are only so many ways to save, but there are an unlimited number of ways to earn extra money you can use to pay down debt, save for the future, or actually have some fun.
Thanks to the wonders of the internet, it’s completely possible to bring in a steady side income from the comfort of your own home. If you want to know how to make money online, consider these possibilities:
Open an Etsy store. If you have a creative talent or skill – whether it’s creating art, sewing clothes, or making keepsakes – you can open an online store on Etsy.com and sell your wares for some quick cash. With your own Etsy store, you’re left in charge of pricing and, ultimately, how much you make. See our detailed primer, “How to Make Money on Etsy.”
Complete surveys online. Sites like MindFieldOnline.com, Global Test Market, and UserTesting.com pay people to share their opinions on products or services, test mobile apps, or participate in market research. While the payday for these sites is modest, participating frequently can help you earn extra money in a short amount of time.
Get paid to search the Web. Sites like Swagbucks.com and Zoombucks.com will pay you to use their online interface to search the web. To qualify, you need to be willing to download their search bar and use it for everyday Internet use. The only caveat that comes with this “gig” is that you might be paid in gift cards instead of cash. If you can parlay those gift cards into items you need to buy anyway – like groceries or gas – searching online can be a lucrative way to spend your free time.
Evaluate search engines. Search engine evaluators use commonly-accessed search engines in order to seek out bugs or errors. You may not earn a lot, but you can do this job in your spare time and from the comfort of your own home. To find gigs, check sites like Leapforce, Lionbridge, and Appen Butler Hill.
Start a blog. If you love writing and are passionate about a specific topic, starting a blog is a great way to launch a low-cost side business with little money out-of-pocket. All you need to get started is a domain name, some basic online support, and a head full of ideas to share. Here’s a basic primer on starting a blog for profit.
Write and publish an eBook. You don’t need a traditional publisher and financial backing to publish your own book anymore. In fact, Amazon.com makes it possible for you to publish your own eBook and sell it independently – with no financial investment on your part. And with Kindle eBook publishing, your book will appear on Kindle stores worldwide within 24-48 hours. Just be prepared to market it yourself on social media, your blog, or elsewhere if you expect to generate sales.
Become a freelance writer or editor. If you have a passion for storytelling or a background in writing or editing, it’s possible to find freelance writing or editing work online. To search available job openings, check out sites like UpWork.com and Problogger.net. You can also check traditional job sites such as Indeed.com and enter “telecommute” or “anywhere” in the location field.
Get into affiliate marketing. If you’re active on social media and have a large following, you could parlay those connections into some fast cash with a comprehensive affiliate marketing strategy. By becoming an affiliate marketer, you’ll sell items through your own links tied to sites like Amazon.com, ClickBank.com, and Commission Junction.
Earn cash back for shopping. Earning cash back on your purchases is a smart idea, and credit card rewardsaren’t the only good cash-back strategy out there. With sites like ShopAtHome.com, eBates.com, and TopCashBack.com, you can earn up to 10% cash back on purchases made with approved merchants. Many frequent shoppers also love the Ibotta app, which lets you earn cash-back on every purchase.
Buy and sell domain names. If you’re good at finding popular yet undiscovered domain names, you can make some cash on the side by buying and reselling websites. Think of it as digital real estate speculation. Domains are available on GoDaddy.com for as little as $2.99 per year, but are sometimes resold at far higher prices: According to Business Insider, the site MM.com sold for $1.2 million dollars in 2014. Once you find the perfect domain name to resell, you can market it on Flippa.com for a flat fee.
Make money on YouTube. People who love the spotlight and have other online hustles should consider creating their own YouTube channel. If you’re interested — and interesting — you can use the platform to market affiliate products, sell products you create yourself, or receive ad revenue for your informal tutorials or entertaining videos. Once you get the ball rolling, YouTube offers a partner program that can help you monetize your business further.
Become a virtual assistant. Virtual assistants perform a wide range of services for their clients, all of which can be completed online. Depending on the day, they may open and reply to emails, schedule online work or blog posts, write mock-up letters and proposals, or perform data entry. You can look for virtual assistant jobs on sites like UpWork.com and Problogger.net.
Work as an online interpreter or translator. If you’re fluent in a foreign language, it makes sense to look for work as an online interpreter or translator. Depending on your individual skillset, you could find work translating blog posts or eBooks, transcribing recorded lessons or speeches for clients, or translating through Skype or another online video service. And, thanks to the increased use of foreign languages in the United States, getting started could really pay off. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for interpreters and translators is expected to increase 17% nationally through 2026.
Manage social media for businesses. If you have a knack for social media, you could potentially get paid to manage various platforms for others. Many businesses are too busy running day-to-day operations to stay on top of their Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest accounts – and will pay someone with the knowledge and time to do it for them. To find these jobs, ask local businesses and check sites like UpWork.com and Problogger.net.
Work remotely for a call center. Because many call center jobs are location independent, finding work in this field is an easy way to earn some money from home. Dozens of sites list job openings for call-center representatives, including Freelancer.com and SimplyHired.com. Meanwhile, you should check local job listings for openings and opportunities as well.
Rent out your car. If you’re not using your car on a daily basis, you might consider renting it out for some easy cash. Sites like RelayRides.com and FlightCar.com let you rent out your car for a daily – or even hourly – rate.
Answer questions. If you’re a subject matter expert, you can get paid for your expertise. Sites like Just Answer will pay you to answer questions either on the phone or online. Just register, enter your area of expertise, and get started to begin earning money on the side.
Rent out a room on Airbnb. Living near a tourist area has its perks, including the prospect of renting out a room for a profit. With home sharing sites like Airbnb, you can rent out a room in your home – or even the entire place – for a day, a week, or longer. If you have extra space and might enjoy the company of travelers, renting out a room is great way to earn some extra money with little effort on your part. See our post, “How to Make Money as an AirBNB Host.”
Teach English online. A company called VIPKID makes it easier than ever to make money teaching English to international children online. You do need a bachelor’s degree and at least one year of teaching experience to get started, but you can easily make up to $22 per hour working just 7.5 hours per week.
16 Ways to Make Money Fast
If you have some time to spare and want to earn money quickly, there are plenty of strategies to consider. Here are some quick money schemes worth researching if you want to earn cash today:
Hold a yard sale. If you have a yard or garage and plenty of items to sell, you can have a yard sale as early as tomorrow. By advertising your sale on local Facebook pages and Craigslist, you can also skip the paid newspaper ad and keep all of the profits for yourself. If you don’t have time to price everything, try asking patrons to “make an offer” or grouping similar items on tables with an advertised price (e.g. everything on this table is $5).
Sell plasma. After passing an initial screening, you can usually sell your plasma for anywhere from $25 to $50 per donation. To qualify, you’ll have to stand in a long line or show up early, be willing to fill out a very personal questionnaire, and endure a painful needle prick or two. Still, selling plasma is a great way to raise money fast – if you can stand the hassle.
Offer to watch children or pets. If you know anyone who has children or pets, you could easily begin a side gig as a babysitter or pet sitter. To let people know you’re interested, send out a group email describing your services, post an ad on Facebook, or tell friends and acquaintances about your availability in person or over the phone. You can also create a profile on a babysitting referral site like Care.com.
Set up an account on Rover.com. Enjoy furry company once in a while? These days, many professional pet-sitters set up an account on Rover.com. With Rover.com, you can reach people in your area who are actively looking for someone to watch their dogs, cats, hamsters, or turtles, either in their home or your own. You can set your own rules and schedule and come up with your own pricing through the Rover.com pet-sitting platform.
Put computer skills to use on Fiverr. If you know how to do almost anything online, you can sell and market your services on Fiverr.com. While Fiverr’s $5 minimum service charge means you won’t earn a lot at first, you can add additional perks and services once you get a steady flow of clients and a few positive reviews.
Sell stuff online. If you have high-quality items to sell, there are a slew of online marketplaces you can use. Just make sure you understand the fees associated with your sale before you take the plunge. Where neighborhood Facebook pages and Craigslist ads are free, many online marketplaces or consignment shops charge for ads or require you to fork over a percentage when you make a sale.
Recycle scrap metal. Different types of scrap metal can be recycled for cash at scrap yards around the country. However, how much you’ll make depends a lot on where you live. Metals commonly traded for cash include aluminum, copper, brass, and steel.
Rent out a parking spot. If you live in a busy or congested area and have parking to spare, you might be able to rent out your parking space for some quick cash when you’re not using it. Simply advertise your open parking space online including details on the location, whether it’s covered or uncovered, and your desired hourly, weekly, or monthly fee. If you want, you can even use a site like Just Park or download the Spot App to reach more potential customers.
Get a roommate. If you have a spare room in your home or apartment, getting a roommate is one way to raise money fast. Not only can they help pay the rent, but they can also help with other bills like utilities, cable, and Internet service.
Set up a roadside stand. Depending on where you live, you could profit handsomely by setting up a roadside stand. If you live near a resort area, for example, you could buy cases of bottled water, put them on ice, and sell them to passers by for twice what you paid. Selling fruit and produce you grow yourself is also a smart idea in highly-traveled areas.
Sign up for TaskRabbit.com. With TaskRabbit.com, you’ll be connected to local people who need help with regular chores. Depending on the day, you could get paid to walk a dog, pick up someone’s dry cleaning, or do someone’s grocery shopping. Best of all, it’s free to create a profile and get started.
Sell old textbooks. If you just finished college, you might be able to turn your old textbooks into cold, hard cash. You probably don’t need your old books anyway, and sites like Amazon.com, BookFinder.com, and Cash4Books.net make the process easy and painless.
Sell your college notes. If you paid attention in class and took excellent notes, you could sell them for a handsome profit. To see if your notes are in demand, check out Stuvia.
Sell your old cellphone. If your old cell phone is fairly new and in decent shape, you could consider selling it for some quick cash online. While selling it on eBay or Craigslist is always a possibility, you could also try your luck on technology-specific resale sites like Gazelle.com, Glyde.com, and SellMyCellPhones.com.
Become a tutor in your spare time. Subject matter experts and recent college graduates might have no problem tutoring others in their spare time – and earning money in the process. To find clients, post ads on college message boards, ask around your inner circle, or try a college tutoring site like LUVO or Tutor.com.
Sign up for clinical drug trials. Signing up for clinical drug trials is an uncommon way for people to earn extra cash, but it still works. With ClinicalTrials.gov, you can explore various clinical trial opportunities in your area. Just be sure to read the fine print, ask questions, and understand the risks.
12 Ways to Make Money the Old-Fashioned Way
In addition to all the ways we’ve mentioned so far, you can also consider making money the old-fashioned way with some extra hustle. Most of these work options have been around for centuries, but in some cases, new ways to tap into them have just emerged in the past decade. Here are 10 ways to earn extra cash the old-fashioned way.
Drive for Uber or Lyft. If you have a reliable vehicle, a clean driving record, and a smartphone, driving for a car-share company is a real possibility. By working during peak travel times and optimizing your car for ideal gas mileage, you can make up to $25/hour on your own schedule.
Try Uber EATS or DoorDash. Uber EATS offers part-time work that’s similar to driving for Uber or Lyft. Instead of picking up passengers, however, you will pick up food orders and deliver them in your area. Pay works similarly, letting you earn a per-job rate plus tips. Door Dash works similarly, letting consumers order food from restaurants and connecting drivers to pick up and drop off their meals.
Work in grocery delivery. Instacart is a company that will pay you to pick up grocery store orders in your spare time. The entire purchase and order takes place through the Instacart app, making it easy for you to pick up the groceries your customers wants and get paid. Like other food delivery jobs on this list, Instacart lets you earn a per-trip rate plus tips.
Mow lawns or plow driveways. If you’re willing to mow yards or shovel or plow snow in the winter, you could easily start your own snow removal and lawn mowing business on the side. While you can usually find work by reaching out to your local community via word-of-mouth, flyers, or online message boards, the website Plowz & Mowz allows you to set up an online profile and reach more customers in your area.
Salvage and resell. Do you love antiques or have a knack for finding valuables at flea markets or yard sales? If you do, it might be time to consider salvaging items for resale – or even scouting out antiques to sell for a profit. While you’ll need to spend quite a bit of time searching for prospects and spend some money buying upfront, you could easily turn a profit if you know what you’re doing.
Get a part-time job. If you’re hard-up for cash, it might be time to consider a part-time job. Fortunately, retail, restaurant, and manual labor industries are almost always looking for workers willing to work weekends, evenings, and holidays.
Find seasonal work. Depending on the season, local businesses may be looking for part-time help. This is especially true during fall and winter when retail stores rely on seasonal workers to get through the busy holiday rush. And during the summer, temporary work opportunities range from manual labor outdoors to pool lifeguards and golf caddies.
Monetize a hobby. While some hobbies actually cost money, others can be transformed into a profitable business venture. Ultimately, it depends on what your hobby is and how talented you are. You could turn your love of photography, for example, into a part-time gig taking family portraits and wedding photos or selling prints on Etsy or at arts fairs.
Ask for a raise. If you’re unhappy with your compensation at your 9-5 job, asking for a raise is one way to beef up your bank account. Most employers offer an annual review of your work – which could be the perfect time to negotiate a higher salary or ask for better perks. If your employer doesn’t offer such an opportunity, it might be time to initiate a review yourself.
Ask for overtime at work. Have a job that offers overtime? Let your boss know you’re interested in the opportunity. Meanwhile, it might be wise to let co-workers know you’re willing to pick up any extra shifts they don’t want or need.
Start a bed and breakfast. If you live in a popular resort area or own a historic property, a B&B might be the perfect side hustle. Not only can you work at home with this career, but you’ll also score some tax write-offs in the process — although most innkeepers caution that the profession requires a lot of hard work and is more of an attractive lifestyle than a money-making pursuit.
Start a small business. Have a skill you can monetize? If you know how to mow grass, paint a room, or bake cakes, starting your own business is a great way to earn quick cash. Depending on the type of business, you could even do it in your spare time. If you want to browse for more options, check out 50 Side Businesses You Can Start On Your Own.
Making Money vs. Saving Money: Which Is More Important?
Whether you want to become your own boss, start a side hustle, or earn extra money on the side, any of the strategies listed above can help. By finding ways to increase your income, you can free up more cash to pay down debt, save for the future, or invest for retirement. Saving money is only half of the equation. And if you truly want to get ahead, you might want to figure out how to make money – and hopefully, lots of it.
In the meantime, it also makes sense to save as much money as humanly possible – either through responsible spending, cancelling or reducing existing bills, or creating a budget and spending plan that helps you spend less than you earn.
The saying, “a penny saved is a penny earned,” isn’t just a play on words; it’s absolutely true. While there may be an emotional or intellectual distinction, your pocketbook doesn’t know the difference. And at the end of the day, all dollars earned or saved spend the same way.
What is your favorite way to save money? Have you used any of the strategies mentioned in this post?
Holly Johnson is an award-winning personal finance writer who is obsessed with frugality, budgeting, and travel. She blogs at ClubThrifty.com and teaches others how to write online at EarnMoreWriting.com.