You know the story. Wages are stagnating, inflation is eroding the dollar’s buying power, and the cost of living keeps going up. These factors represent some of the leading reasons people seek “side hustles” to supplement their full-time incomes.
Monetizing your downtime is one of the best ways to get ahead financially, especially if you’re looking to pay down debt, manage a mortgage, or provide financial stability to a growing family. Best of all, many of these opportunities don’t require you to put in long hours or make a regular commitment to a part-time job. They’re easy, convenient, and available to just about anyone who meets their basic entry requirements.
8. Join the Peer-to-Peer Economy
Do you have a spare bedroom in your home or a spare vehicle that isn’t always in use? Are you away from home a lot? Do you sometimes go days without driving your car? If so, you’ve got some assets you could monetize through the peer-to-peer (P2P) economy. Websites like Airbnb, Vrbo, Turo, and Getaround connect providers to consumers seeking homestays and carshares. They’re very popular and attract a huge volume of visitors. While you’ll have to fork over some of your earnings to commissions, these sites make it easy to connect with a massive market of potential customers.
The “gig economy” extends into many areas. If you’ve got a particular skill that can be delivered online, there are tons of reputable freelance sites that you can try. Some of these sites are bid-based, meaning that you will offer potential employers with a flat-rate quote for the work. Others maintain open job boards where you can snag assignments for guaranteed pay. In either case, you can earn some cash on the side by leveraging your writing, editing, proofreading, translation, transcription, web design, photography, or computer programming skills.
One of the best things about these casual side gigs is that they allow you to get your feet wet with the freelance lifestyle without quitting your day job. If you hit your stride and find a solid client base, you could lay the foundations for a full-time transition into freelancing and all the flexibility that comes with it. Try sites like Upwork, Servicescape, and FlexJobs. They have been around for a while and enjoy positive user reviews.
6. Become a Rideshare Driver or Delivery Person
Driving and delivery services have become the go-to side hustles for millions of people. Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft offer casual part-time employment that requires no commitments. You can start immediately, work as much or as little as you want, and supplement your full-time income with worthwhile wages.
UberEATS, Doordash, or Skip the Dishes are available in thousands of cities worldwide and offers similar opportunities for delivery experts. However, there are lots of other options if you’re open to casual part-time delivery work. Companies like Amazon, Grubhub, CitizenShipper, and major courier companies like UPS frequently advertise openings for the delivery personnel. Check locally for current opportunities.
5. Participate in Market Research
Hundreds of companies are so desperate for insights into consumer buying behavior that they’re willing to pay people to fill out surveys and take part in other forms of market research. While these opportunities don’t tend to pay particularly well, they are very easy to find. Performing a quick internet search will yield dozens of current opportunities.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that some companies don’t pay in cash. Instead they will deliver compensation in the form of gift cards, usually for Apple or Google. Luckily, an entire online economy has sprung up around selling unused gift cards, with market leaders including Cardpool and Giftcard Zen. You’ll have the option to either sell the card for a percentage of its retail value, or trade-in an unwanted card for one you’ll actually use.
4. Leverage Your Expertise
Were you a star student? Did you nearly hit the big time as a guitar player in a rock band? Were you a standout quarterback in high school? Are you fit, healthy, and enthusiastic about helping others lose weight?
Everyone excels at something. Dozens of people in your local community certainly want to be better at the very thing you’re good at. So become a tutor, offer lessons, provide coaching, or offer one-on-one training for affordable rates, and put that expertise to work. Advertise your services online and in local cafes, pubs, and community centers.
3. Check Out Drop-Shipping
The popularity of online commerce platforms like eBay has created tons of opportunity for drop shippers. You simply act as a middleman for product manufacturers, selling new items directly to consumers through bidding sites and other e-commerce platforms. After you finalize the sale, the company automatically ships the item to the buyer and you pocket a small commission. Scaled up over time, drop-shipping can be a lucrative side gig that helps you score some healthy bonus cash.
2. Become a Sitter
House-sitting, babysitting, pet-sitting, and dog walking are four of the most common casual gigs out there. House-sitters watch a property while the owners are away, either by making regular visits or by staying in the home during their absence. Babysitters usually work for an hourly rate while the child’s parents are out, while pet-sitters attend to animal companions when their owners can’t.
You’ll need to do a bit of networking to get started with this gig, as most people want referrals from people they trust. Once you’ve proved your mettle, you can easily scale up as word of mouth will spread.
1. Invest in Microlending
Microlending is an emerging financial services concept, in which small loans are extended to individual borrowers. Money comes from a pool of investors, who lend it out to borrowers for relatively advantageous interest rates. Domestically, microlending is an alternative to those high-interest payday loans.
Many micro-borrowers are also located in developing countries that don’t have the financial infrastructure to handle personal loans. Borrowed sums can be as little as $50, which can go a very long way in some parts of the world and make a real difference to a person seeking to get their own business off the ground.
As an investment, microlending actually has a very favorable risk-to-return profile. Borrower default rates are very low, and some microlenders offer returns in the range of 10% to 12%. If you’ve got some extra cash on hand and you want to put it to work, microlending is an intriguing option. It generally offers healthy returns that far exceed what any bank would pay you for maintaining a savings account. Check out a provider like Lending Club to learn more.
Looking for More Ideas
These eight options represent just a few of the hundreds of ways you can turn your spare time into extra money. There are many other popular options that didn’t make our list but are well worth considering. You could go through your closet and sell your used valuables. Turn your pickup truck into a moving van or snowplow. Tutor students in your spare time. Rent out the extra space on your driveway to someone who needs a place to park. Browse your local classified ads for odd jobs — maybe someone will pay you to spend Saturday afternoon painting a fence, for example. The possibilities are endless, and you’ll never run out of things to do if you keep an open mind.
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