Real ways to make extra money and pay down those holiday bills
It’s January and besides New Year’s resolutions you’re probably looking at a stack of credit card bills from all that holiday cheer you passed around. Whether you’re looking for quick cash to pay down debt or just a little extra to meet your 2016 financial goals, this list of real ways to make extra money after the holidays will help you get there.
These are not your standard envelope-stuffing ideas or online schemes. I’ve seen articles on the internet that promise fifty, sixty and more ways to make extra money but half turn out to be multi-level marketing scams or pay pennies per hour. I’ve limited the list to the 8 that I have personally used and with which I’ve had some success.
Why do I need to make extra money?
Before working through the 8 real ways to make extra money, I would be negligent if I didn’t throw in an important disclaimer.
Making more money will not solve your problems!
I get a lot of emails from readers looking for a way to make extra money when they really need a way to budget the money they already make. One of the most memorable quotes I’ve ever heard was from my high school English teacher. He would say, “Show me an income and I’ll show you a way to live above it.”
The sorry fact is that, without a little financial discipline, you will never make enough money. For that financial discipline, I like to follow five guidelines:
- Know why you are budgeting – Setting financial goals and milestones makes it easier to follow your budget. All that saving and sacrifice seems pointless unless you can look towards something better.
- Find out how much you actually make first – A lot of people start their budget with their combined salaries and then wonder why they come up short. Start your budget with your actual take-home pay after taxes and other deductions.
- Work into your real expenses – Unless you’ve got a really great memory, you probably are not going to remember every expense you’ve had over the last year. Too many budgets are made only accounting for the regular expenses that quickly come to mind. Then the occasional expenses like registrations, taxes and insurance come around and smash the budget. Give your budget a trial run over a couple of months while you build in all the regular and occasional expenses.
- Use one budgeting tool that you understand – There are a million and one budgeting tools on the ‘net but half of them will just leave you frustrated trying to understand them. The tools at Personal Capital are probably the most well known tool around and lets you link your savings, checking and credit card accounts. Everything is updated automatically and the site has some retirement planning tools as well. The site offers a tool that also lets you track your investments and includes a tutorial video to get you started.
- Build a support system – Planning and following your budget alone makes it too easy to stop after a few problems. Talk with someone about your budget and the goals behind it. Better yet, start a group that meets once a month to talk about budgeting and tips you’ve used.
Ok, I’ll get off my soapbox. Whether you are looking to make extra money to meet your financial goals or just to pay down that holiday-inspired debt, these 8 real ways to make extra money below are a great start.
The good news is that there are tons of ways to make a little extra money these days, especially as more services find willing buyers online. Not all of the ideas below will pay a great wage to start off and you’ll have to put in a little work to get some off the ground. Some will likely never be more than a way to make quick cash but others have the potential to turn into huge income and even replace your regular 9-to-5 job.
8 Real Ways to Make Extra Money After the Holidays
1) Let’s Get Technical
Technology-related jobs were the first to go online and are still the easy option for virtual jobs. If you’ve got any skills in web development, software development, computer networking or information systems then you could make a pretty good living on sites like Fiverr and freelancer.
The problem most beginners find is that you have to compete on price against people that are willing to do the work for much less, like half the minimum wage. You can earn a decent rate for projects but you have to distinguish yourself with a website and a little marketing. Reach out personally to small businesses and profile some of your past work. Push your services on the fact that you might not be the cheapest provider but they will make up for it in quality of work.
2) Turn a hobby into a business
Remember your 7th grade counselor and that question everyone hates? If you could do anything and money didn’t matter, what would you do? What do you do for fun when you’re not working? A lot of people have been doing a hobby for so long that their skills approach that of a professional. Like mountain climbing or fishing? Why not take a group out for a beginner’s course?
Udemy is a great resource for improving your hobby-job skills and for creating classes for sale. The site is always running promotions and you can watch most of the video classes for as little as ten dollars. A great site for brushing up on your skills or learning new ones.
Just a word of warning, having to do something on a schedule and as a business can take the fun out of it. Set a light schedule at first so you don’t get too burnt out on your new job. Jessica Stillman of Inc.com offers five important questions before turning your hobby into a business.
3) Get Paid To Tweet
Advertisers are leaving traditional media like television and print ads for the internet. Social sites like Twitter and Facebook are the next big thing in advertising but companies don’t want to spend the time to build a following. If you’ve been active on social media for a while, you could turn it to your advantage.
Besides some of the freelancer sites where you can find temp projects, sites like SponsoredTweets will let you connect your social accounts and pay you to tweet, post videos or photos. It won’t be much money unless you’ve got a large and active social media network so you might want to check out some of the other ways to make extra money first.
4) Freelance Writing to Make Extra Money
Content is king on the internet as the old school papers and magazines go online. Sites like Fiverr and freelancer also offer writing projects though it’s a little harder to get a good wage than with technical projects. For freelance writing, I prefer the Problogger job board set up by Darren Rowse.
You’ll still have to weed through the projects only looking for the lowest bidder but there are some legitimate projects on the board as well. As with many of the ways to make extra money, you may have to accept a few projects at a little lower compensation at first. Resist the temptation to just phone it in on these smaller jobs. They will help you build a reputation and a portfolio for quality work that you can upsell to other clients.
5) Join the Money-Making Crowd
If you need make extra money for a worthy cause or have medical expenses that need covered, you might consider a crowdfunding campaign. Most sites require some sort of business idea and a product with which you can reward supporters but a few allow crowdfunding social causes. Check out my post, The Top 6 Crowdfunding Platforms for Creative Campaigns, on our sister blog Crowd101.com for the best website for your needs. Technology and the Arts still dominate crowdfunding but I’ve talked to a lot of people that paid for medical bills, college tuition and wedding expenses.
Get creative with your needs. That vacation you want to take doesn’t have to be just a vacation. Crowdfund money to make it a travel blog or a picture book. Just remember to follow through with your promises to those that support your campaign.
6) Go Old School to Make Extra Money
Ok, so this one will probably sound a little like turning a hobby into a business but I thought it was dissimilar enough for its own money-making idea. While a lot of jobs have gone online, some are still best left doing the old school way. Tutoring is one of those jobs.
Don’t be modest. You don’t have to be an expert with a master’s degree to be a tutor. You’ll want to brush up on your skills and learn how to teach but tutoring is one of the few on the list that doesn’t take a ton of preparation (provided you’ve got enough skill in the topic).
7) Blogging…for Someone Else
As a blogger myself, I can tell you that running a blog is no way to making quick or easy money. Most blogs make nothing for the first six months or longer and few ever make any real money at all.
Many bloggers will be willing to outsource some of their work to you if you can prove your worth. If you’ve used social media sites like Twitter or Facebook for a while, you might try being a social media manager. If you are well-organized, you might consider being a virtual assistant or scheduler.
For those that can wait a year or more to start making money off of your own blog, go for it. After nearly a year of blogging, my blogs were making an average of $1,500 per month and the income continues to grow every month. Financial success is all about planning ahead and building a great blog over the next year may just ensure that you never have to read another article about how to make extra money. Sites like BlueHost and GoDaddy make it easy to start a blog for less than $10 a month hosting packages.
Blogging is just one of the four sources of passive income investing that I detail in The Passive Income Myth. Making extra money in stocks, bonds, real estate and blogging won’t always be passive income but they can be great businesses that can get you out of the rat race. Check out The Passive Income Myth ebook on Amazon or paperback.
8) Three’s Company
If you have a little extra room in your house, you might consider AirBnB or getting a roommate. You can rent out a room for nightly visitors or for a longer-term stay. The website offers a $1 million guarantee on property damage caused by renters and a renter-rating system helps to screen people before you meet.
Scan the internet for five seconds and you’ll find a million other ideas on how to make extra money quick. There are some legitimate ones that I’ve left off the list but I’ve tried to keep it pretty conservative. I’ve spent a lot of time on ideas that ended up just wasting my time and never lived up to lofty promises. I’m always looking for new ways to make extra cash. What are your top 3 ideas to make extra money?