Clever Ways to Put More Cash in Your Pocket

It's time to work smarter, not harder. If you want to make some extra money without sacrificing every evening and weekend, here's what you need to know.

Most of us would love to have extra money, whether it’s to treat ourselves or just to save for a rainy day.

But if you’re already working full-time, you might feel like most side hustles take way more time and energy than you have. How are you supposed to earn extra cash without sacrificing every moment of downtime?

Put Your Money to Work

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If you have a savings account, then congratulations–you’re already ahead of the curve. But an ordinary savings account isn’t a great way to grow your wealth. While you should maintain your emergency fund in an easy-to-access account, put the rest of your savings to work for you.

Depending on your risk tolerance and financial situation, there are a few approaches to take. The safest and most conservative path would be to put your savings in stable, long-term investments such as bonds and CDs. The yield on these financial instruments isn’t very impressive, but it’s still more than the typical savings account. On the other end of the risk-reward spectrum, you might find that the challenge of trading cryptocurrency or micro-investing in the stock market is more your speed. At the midpoint between those extremes, you could put your money into a managed money-market account or mutual fund.

Take Advantage of Cash-Back Rewards

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If you’re going to spend the money anyway, why not get paid for it? There are a few different ways to start earning cashback on your purchases. If your bank doesn’t already offer a rewards program, then shop around for one that does. Depending on the financial institution, you might start earning points to exchange for rewards, such as gift cards (which you can sell–keep reading to find out how!) or receive cashback as a direct deposit into your account.

It’s also a good idea to look for a credit card with a robust cash-back and rewards program. Many cards offer direct cashback, and most of them feature discounts or coupons at retail partners. You might need to juggle a few cards to maximize your savings, but that’s a small amount of hassle for what is essentially free money.

Finally, if you frequently shop online or on your phone, then installing an app to help you save money makes sense. Ibotta is one of the most popular apps, and it works both online and in-person to access special offers and coupons.

Stop Wasting Money on Interest Fees and Late Charges

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You might not think of paying your bills as a way to make money, but it all depends on how you look at it. If you’ve been hit with late fees, reconnection fees, or overdraft charges, then you know the sting of throwing your money away. Setting up automatic debits can help you avoid those fees, but it’s also a good idea to add all of your bills to an online calendar or create alerts on your phone so that you never miss another payment.

The other financial vampire that’s sucking cash out of your wallet? Interest. When you carry a credit card or loan balance, you pay for the privilege–on average, 14-18% according to WalletHub. That interest gets tacked onto the original balance, and if you don’t pay down your debt quickly, it’s easy to find yourself chipping away at the interest while the principal remains almost untouched. Make a commitment to paying off any debt as quickly as possible. If you’re not sure how to come up with the money, then keep reading for more easy ways to make extra cash.

Get Paid to Do Things You’re Already Doing

Why watch videos online for free when companies like InboxDollars will pay you to do it? There are quite a few sites out that there will pay you to watch videos, take surveys, and even offer your feedback on free samples. Look for programs that pay cash rather than points to redeem for coupons or vouchers.

Other ways to make money for activities you already do and enjoy include testing websites for user experience, selling stock photos, blogging with affiliate links, or streaming your game sessions on Twitch. While none of these income streams might amount to more than a trickle each month, they’re relatively low-effort ways to earn a little extra money.

Sell Things for Friends and Family

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Have you ever tried to have a yard sale? It’s a huge hassle. Selling individual items online can be just as bad, given how many scammers are out there. Chances are good that you know several people right now who have a few things around the house that they’d like to sell, but they’ve been putting it off because it seems too difficult.

That’s a prime opportunity for you to start a low-overhead part-time business. Once you learn the ropes, you’ll find that selling on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, eBay, or Etsy isn’t that difficult after all. You could become the go-to person for helping your friends and family unload their unwanted goods. Of course, you’d need to charge a commission–let’s say 15%–plus packing and shipping costs. But that’s totally fair for all the trouble you’re saving them.

If you really get into selling secondhand goods, then you might consider specializing. If you’re a fashionista, then flipping clothes on ThredUP or Poshmark might be a good fit for you. If you’re a musician, then helping people sell their used gear makes sense. Love vintage jewelry? Start selling it on Etsy! The more you become an expert in your niche, the easier it’ll be to find stock and make a profit.

Rent Out Your Extra Space

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For the ultimate source of passive income, consider renting out your unused space. Although subletting to a tenant or running an Airbnb can be tricky–and not entirely legal, depending on your rent–renting storage space is a different story.

Garages, basements, and attics are prime real estate, as are empty sheds and barns. People will pay to temporarily store their stuff or to park their vehicle on your property. Check out Neighbor.com to find out more and get started. By going through an online peer-to-peer rental marketplace, you’ll have more protections than if you just put out a sign in your yard.

Hire Out Tools and Equipment

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If you’ve got a garage or shed full of tools that you only use once a while, why store them when they could be earning money for you? Big-box home improvement stores rent out their tools and equipment all the time, so why shouldn’t you get in on the action?

There are a few things you should know before you hand over that chainsaw, however. Make sure that you’re protected from any possible liability for injury or property damage. That means getting a lawyer to review your rental contract and potentially forming an LLC. You’ll also need to ensure that your tools are in good working condition, of course, and reinvest in your business through maintenance and expanding your offerings.

Sell Unwanted Giftcards

Montreal, Canada - April 6, 2020: Different gift cards of many brands such as Amazon, Netflix, Xbox, Google Play, Best Buy, Spotify. A gift card is a prepaid card that you use to pay for purchases
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Have you ever been stuck with a gift card for a business or restaurant you didn’t like? The next time a well-meaning but clueless relative hands you a gift card to a store where you don’t shop or your business hands out gift cards to a restaurant you don’t enjoy, you don’t have to feel disappointed. Instead, you can smile and say thank you–and then go home and sell your gift card online.

While you won’t get the full price of the card, you can still put a little extra cash in your pocket to spend wherever you want. You may even be able to sell partially used cards or store credit balances. Check out Raise or CardCash to see if you can turn your unwanted gift cards into cold, hard cash.

Turn Your Yard Into an Organic Micro-Farm

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If you’ve got a green thumb and a little bit of sunny real estate, then you’ve got a micro-farm business just waiting to get started. You don’t need a huge amount of space to start growing cash crops. Popular crops include lavender and other culinary herbs, organic salad greens like arugula, and fancy hardneck garlic that can’t be found in most grocery stores.

Growing landscaping plants in large pots is another great option for your micro-farm. Bamboo is an ideal choice since it grows very quickly (as anyone who has dealt with an overgrown stand of bamboo can tell you).

Be a Jack or Jill of All Trades

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TaskRabbit is a site that connects people who need help with those who can help them. It’s actually kind of beautiful if you think about it. Tasks range from cleaning to hanging pictures to assembling IKEA furniture. In fact, TaskRabbit is an official partner of IKEA. You’ll get paid an hourly rate to assist people in your community, whether you’re handing with a hammer or don’t mind moving furniture.

Unlike other players in the gig economy, TaskRabbit is more flexible about the services you can offer and the hourly rates you can charge. Unfortunately, the service only operates in certain cities across the US. You can also look into becoming a virtual assistant or even a “gofer” to locals who need a helping hand.

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