In today’s tumultuous, post-COVID economy, many of us are looking for quick, simple, and effective ways to add a little cushion to our otherwise slender bank accounts. Whether you lost your job due to COVID–19 layoffs or you’ve just completed college and you’re having a difficult time finding work in an exceedingly competitive job market, there are a few things you can do while you wait for that dream job to come to fruition.
While some of these side hustles will require a good bit of your time, such as food delivery or ride-sharing, others can be done with virtually no involvement from you, and others, still, can be done between other daily tasks, especially if you’ve already bothered to open up your computer.
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Why make money on the side
For the purposes of paying down credit cards, student loans, overdue utility bills, or late rent, a side hustle can be just what the economist ordered. In fact, according to a recent survey performed by DollarSprout, nearly 60 percent of Americans note that they have already engaged in some form of gig work, and among those surveyed, nearly 20 percent suggested that they earn a minimum of $500 per month in doing so.
For many Americans, this represents a car payment, a good portion of the rent, enough to cover childcare expenses, or even enough to continue paying for much-needed medical insurance, which many say they would otherwise go without — a dangerous, but often financially necessary risk.
If you find yourself among the more than 25 percent of Americans looking for new ways to make ends meet between jobs or after working a job that just isn’t garnering enough money for you to live off of, here are seven of the most effective and simple ways to “get the job done,” so to speak.
The Most Obvious — and Potentially Most Lucrative Options: Delivery and Ridesharing
Contrary to popular belief, restaurant or fast food delivery is only one part of what is available in gig delivery options for those in need of part-time or extremely part-time work. There are also jobs for delivering everything from Amazon packages to groceries and everyday sundries. Because of the coronavirus, these types of deliveries have absolutely exploded in recent months, and economists have reason to believe that this trend will likely continue long after the masks come off and vaccines become old hat.
The convenience of getting groceries or your favorite Italian dishes delivered to your three-story walk-up is quite attractive for those who live in congested urban areas, and that means this relatively new trend isn’t likely going anywhere, which is good news for gig workers. In this arena, the options in platforms are endless, but some of the top players are Postmates, Uber Eats, DoorDash, InstaCart, and even Walmart.com, which delivers everything from deli meats to sunscreen and so much more.
What’s great about this kind of hustle is that many platforms pay you for much more than just delivering — you’ll also receive payment for your miles driven, the time you spend waiting at the retailer or food purveyor, and on the basis of the number of orders you are able to successfully complete within each hour while on the clock. In addition to all of this, you will also earn tips, which are all yours, free and clear. With these kinds of wages and supplementary earnings, and especially during peak hours, you can easily earn upwards of $500 in a shift.
Importantly, and especially worth noting if you live in an urban area, you do not necessarily have to own a vehicle to handle your deliveries. In some instances, you may just as easily be able to handle deliveries on a bicycle, moped, motorcycle, or even on foot. What’s more, some delivery and rideshare platforms even offer a way for you to “rent to own” a vehicle for use in making deliveries, and some car rental services are even starting to rent cars by the hour or day at a discounted rate for gig delivery drivers.
Those who are well-versed with the gig economy will tell you, the most effective use of your spare time for making a few extra bucks is ridesharing with Uber, Lyft, and other similar platforms. For many, this is their first foray into side hustling and can open the door to other similar and more lucrative opportunities by virtue of the people you may meet along the way — literally.
But, there are some rules of the road if you want to be a top earner. To wit, you’ll want to pay attention to things like peak hours in your area; in other words, you’ll want to be available to those in need of rides during high activity hours, including when bars and clubs are closing, in the evening in downtown areas, and even around lunchtime in parts of town where workers and executives are working but don’t want to — or can’t — move their cars for fear of losing their parking spaces or because getting in and out of parking garages would take precious time away from important luncheons.
Likewise, making yourself available to college students who may need rides around exceedingly large campuses or between campus and other locations where school-related events may be occurring, will usually garner you the highest earnings. By taking advantage of these times, places, and circumstances, you could earn upwards of $200 in less than two hours of work — and you may not even have to travel that far or for that long to make this happen.
These combined advantages make ridesharing a great option for those who only have a few hours to spare, but the great thing about ridesharing platforms is that you generally work as much — or as little — as you like.
So, if one week you’re concerned about the bills piling up, you can add a few rides to your shift, and likewise, if you’re feeling a little less concerned the next week, you can downshift to a few less rides. The flexibility in ridesharing is perhaps the main thing that makes it so attractive to those who need a few extra bucks here and there.
Using Space You Already Have
The answer to your financial woes may just be right under your nose. Today, you can rent space in your house for a variety of uses. Let’s take a look at some of the newer and most popular options people are making use of to make a little cash while helping out their neighbors.
Sublet a Room to a Renter
There’s nothing new about renting a room in your house to a college student or someone else who may not be able to afford their own whole house or apartment. But, with the advent of platforms like Airbnb and VRBO, you can now engage in this kind of rental knowing the renter has been vetted to some degree, making this practice imminently safer for you and your family.
By listing a room in your home for rent, you can earn anywhere from about $50 to $125 per day, depending on where you are, what else you are willing to give the renter access to in your home, whether or not the room has its own bathroom, and what amenities are located close to your home.
And, by listing a room on an app like Airbnb, you can very easily book it out several weeks or even months in advance, ensuring a relatively constant income flow. So, whether you have a guest coming for a few days or a few weeks, the app the room is listed on will show exactly when it is vacant and available to the next guest. In this way, you can ensure the best use of the space and its money-making potential.
Finally, if you live close to attractions and events that are seasonal, you have the ability to hike your room rates up around these times, making otherwise unused rooms in your home quite effective in garnering passive income.
Turn Your Space Into a Storage Facility
If you have an empty garage, basement, attic, or guest room you’re not using, why not rent the space to someone looking for a storage space? Due to the often high cost of commercial storage units, and due to the fact that these often require consumers to sign a contract, the practice of home storage is becoming more popular by the day. And, just as with renting a room to a person, you can use apps like Neighbor.com to ensure the person renting your space is on the up-and-up, and to ensure that they are not storing dangerous, illegal, explosive, or otherwise questionable items in your residence.
Another upside to using an app is that it will connect you to folks in your area, and in this way, you can ensure the renter of the space is relatively close by, allowing you to contact them if for any reason you need them to collect their things. Another benefit to using such an app is that it allows you to chat with the potential renter before making any agreements, which gives you an idea of who they are, what they are looking to store, and for how long they wish to store it.
After setting an agreed-upon time arrangement, the renter of the space will pay you, usually through the app, and usually at the beginning or end of each month, making renting your unused space an easy way to passively earn somewhere in the neighborhood of $150 to $300 per month, depending on the amount of space you are leasing for storage.
Make Money From Your Computer
There are more and more things you can do to make money online these days, and unlike the early 2000s, many of these ways are quite legitimate, don’t require you to download any fishy (or phish-y) software, and will often deposit money right into your bank account. Let’s take a look at a few of these options.
Watch Videos for Money
For a quick — and sometimes even entertaining — few bucks, you can watch videos from companies who are looking for a test market for their television or online advertisements. Typically, the sites that offer this kind of video-watching will have you watch a series of videos for which you will earn points. These points are added up and can then be redeemed for cash, and in many cases, you will even be given a few bucks just for signing up.
One such site is Swagbucks, which will have you watch several videos in a row, then earn points, then watch more videos, and so on. As long as you want to watch, you’ll continue to earn points, and thus money in the end.
Shop Online and Make Money
Most of us do at least some of our shopping online, so why not just do it with a specific browser extension installed and make money for doing so? This is a pretty crowded market, so it’s a good idea to find a handful you like and compare and contrast the pros and cons of each before deciding on the one you want to stick with.
After that, it’s as simple as going to the online retailers your chosen extension supports, do your shopping, pay at check out and receive a check in the mail, usually at the end of each month. Depending on the extension or app, you’ll get a specific percentage of cash back, and in some cases, these offerings are attached to specific goods or brands. For this reason, you may want to work with a few of these to determine if what you’re buying will garner you any cash back, and if not, you’ll simply move to the next one.
To get a feel for how these work, a good place to start might be either Rakuten or Wikibuy, two of today’s most popular cashback offerers for online retailers. While it may not seem like much at first, those who shop in this way over a period of time swear by it, and many have learned how to make hundreds — or even thousands of dollars over a relatively short period of time.
Take Online Surveys for Cash
In today’s highly competitive consumer market, many retailers and others are starving for feedback from everyday shoppers just like you. They depend heavily on feedback from surveys to determine whether the products and services they offer — or plan on launching — are attractive to shoppers, and surveying potential customers is one way for them to obtain this data, making it worth it for them to pay for your thoughts and opinions on such items.
While this can be an excellent way to make a few extra dollars, completing online surveys is not going to by any means be anything akin to working a full-time job, but it can certainly be an easy way to make enough money to help make ends meet. However, you’ll want to make sure the online survey site you’re engaging with is authentic and is not selling or stealing your personal data or identity.
Choosing the Best Survey Sites
For this reason, it’s smart to do a little research to determine whether the ones you have found are not fraudulent. You can do this by checking out online reviews and also by ensuring the website URL ends in the suffix you are seeing in positive reviews. For example, one dependable site is Swagbucks.com, but if you end up at a website called Swagbucks.biz, you’re not in the right place and could easily be duped, so be cautious.
Other well-known and dependable sites are InboxDollars and Branded Surveys. These sites also offer things like video watching, daily polls, and even playing games for money. From all of these offerings, you might expect to earn somewhere around $250 per month.
With the variety of options we’ve listed above, you should be able to find at least one or two that work well with the time you have to spare, your lifestyle, and any financial goals you have in mind (hint: maintaining your current lifestyle without going any further into debt).
More Ways to Save
Of course, there are other things you can do to lighten your financial burden, including signing up for a high-interest savings account or buying slivers of stock using apps like Stash, for example. That said, if you are concerned about your financial situation due to credit cards, you may want to consider credit consolidation, and if you’re concerned about student loan debt, you may also want to consider loan consolidation through a provider such a SoFi.
With some of the above options, especially ridesharing, delivery, and renting space in your home, the potential for supplementary income is quite real — and can help keep you living the lifestyle you enjoy.