Quick Guide to Making Money on the Side

Making money on the side

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If you are making money on the side with a second job, you are not alone. The reality today of the state of the U.S. economy is that one paycheck doesn’t cut it anymore — or rarely does. Such circumstances have given rise to more adult children living with their parents, more adults of all ages living with roommates and more workers having more than one job.

Time was, “moonlighting” was frowned upon by employers. If your full-time employees were working extra hours at another job, making money on the side, it was assumed they would not be well-rested and fully prepared to do their job for you. Back then, moonlighting was more of a temporary situation than a way of life — you had to pay for a major car repair, medical bill or a semester of tuition.

But today, second, third and even fourth jobs are common, and they’re not temporary. Some people do them because they have to, to pay the rent. Others always keep a side hustle for extra spending money, as a way to save for a coveted purchase or a college account, or a way to pursue their passion (which may not be whatever they’re doing 9 to 5 every day).

Do you wish you were making money on the side? Check out our list of suggestions for turning your goal into a reality.

1. Have a Yard Sale

Depending on how much old junk you have lying around, a yard sale could net you a few hundred dollars for a few hours of work. But you have to be savvy. If you have skis, a Bowflex, a table saw or anything else that might be worth more than the 25-cent yard sale standard, it’s better to sell these items on eBay or Craigslist — you’ll get more money for them that way.

You also have to have the right mindset for a yard sale. Use good way to make money on the side as you go through each room of your home methodically, removing anything that doesn’t “spark your joy.” Tag it, bag it and drag it all out on your front lawn on a nice sunny Saturday, so someone else can relieve you of these items and give them a spot in their home, where you don’t have to look at them anymore.

Remember to promise yourself not to drag any of your leftover junk back into the house. Junk is junk — before AND after the customers come. A yard sale is a win-win: you empty your house of unwanted items and make money on the side.

Check out the DIY network’s good way to make money on the side for success at your yard sale.

2. Market your crafts

Do you crochet? Paint? Sew? good way to make money on the side may be your money-making outlet.

This mega e-commerce site connects crafty types all over the world with customers who appreciate handmade goods. Whether it’s an intricately beaded purse strung by a traditional Native American craftsperson or castoff orthodontic retainers recycled into earrings by your old college roommate who lost her job three years ago, you can find it on Etsy.

Granted, you don’t want to depend on this outlet to make your next car payment, but if you already spend your free time making dolls or glass sculptures or eucalyptus wreaths, you might as well make money on the side from it.

See what Etsy salespeople good way to make money on the side.

3. Outsource Your Talent

If you’re a graphic artist, writer, photographer or web developer, you have a lot of options for making money on the side. This works best if it is truly on the side, and not your main source of income. It is true that one can make a living at freelancing, but you have to be good at budgeting and saving because the work is often feast or famine. You also have to be good at avoiding distractions in your home and turning off the panic button when you haven’t had a job in weeks.

If your real job is in a creative field like design or writing — good for you that you can earn a steady paycheck practicing your craft! But many creatives start their careers making lattes, serving cocktails or folding shirts at H&M over and over. The benefit here is that when you punch out at the end of the day and you sit down to work on that ad campaign, your creative tank is still full of juice. This is not always the case if you put in 9-plus hours at the agency before dragging yourself home after dark and eating some Bagel Bites by the light of your laptop.

Making money on the side
Creative work can be a great way to build a second stream of income.

4. Driver for Uber/Lyft/another company

This type of work may not do much for your resume, but it can do wonders for your wallet. The same can be said of work as a delivery driver, carrying pizzas or flowers or some other commodity. But the beauty of driving for a ride share is that you can decide if and when you want to work, rather than being chained to a particular schedule. Flexibility is nice, but you can take this to the extreme, for example, working only as long as it takes to earn enough to buy tickets to see Justin Timberlake or to get your girlfriend a piece of jewelry for Valentine’s Day that costs more than $29.99 (if you do, be prepared for the significance of presenting such gift).

5. Keep your eye out for focus groups and research studies

If you need money fast, this isn’t the avenue for you. But if you can take the opportunity to participate in a few of these every year, you can earn more than $100 an hour at it. This sounds great — and it is — but the truth is that most people are not going to qualify for most studies, so it’s not a reliable source of income. This month the research groups may be looking for people who are caregivers for at least 20 hours per week for people over 50 with hypertension and uncontrolled diabetes, or patients who took Accutane for at least 60 days in a row but have not been taking it or any other medications for the last 90 days.

It helps if you work an irregular schedule and are free to participate during normal business hours when many others are not — this boosts your marketability.

6. Rent your space

You’ve got to be a little careful with this one and check the laws in your area before you violate them. If you’ve got a big mortgage and space in the basement you can rent out, make sure it’s up to code. For instance, your city or town might have egress requirements or size/height specifications for the windows.

If you can get everything code-compliant though, renting out space is a good way to make money on the side. Things to keep in mind:

  • Have your tenant sign a lease. A tenant who doesn’t pay will not boost your income.
  • Remember what you are giving up in exchange for this money: your privacy. Someone else will be living in your home. And you will probably have to grant them kitchen privileges. And they may eat something you were saving for lunch tomorrow and say it was an accident.
  • You will have to pay taxes on the rent you receive, just like income. You also may have higher insurance expenses. Consider that the space might be empty for a month or two if a tenant moves out and you can’t find another right away.

These are just some ideas for boosting your purchasing power. If you decide to try one, plan to commit to it for at least a month. Quickly throwing in the towel when you don’t sell many pipe cleaner flowers or land any web design jobs right away is a bad idea. You’re not giving yourself a chance. You don’t want to dedicate too much time and money to a losing proposition, but you can’t expect overnight results either.

Consider starting a separate bank account for the income you earn outside of your regular job. Once you see how much is in there at the end of six months or a year, you will have a better perspective. You might say to yourself, “Wow! Look at the extra money I earned!” Or you might say, “Wow! Is that all I earned from all the work I did?”

Knowledge is power. It can only help you in your future endeavors.

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