If you’re working hard but struggling to make ends meet, you’re not alone.
Wage growth has been mostly flat, according to the U.S. Labor Department, rising only 2 percent in June. While hiring is steady, “we’re just not seeing much acceleration in wages,” a New York-based economist told Bloomberg. By comparison, the inflation rate for June was 1.7 percent—almost as much as wage growth.
So how do you make extra money if getting a raise, a bonus or a better-paying job aren’t in the cards right now? You probably already know about driving in your spare time for Uber or Lyft, renting out a room on Airbnb, or being a TaskRabbit. Here are eight other legitimate ways to earn extra dough.
But first, a warning. There are lots of internet scams related to working from home or making easy money. The Balance and Forbes have helpful articles about avoiding such scams.
1. Rent your stuff
Websites such as Zilok help you make money renting your stuff, such as costumes, camping equipment, cordless drills, GPS navigation devices, snow tire chains, bicycles—pretty much anything. Other sites for renting things include Loanables and Rentything. The Penny Hoarder details the pros and cons of renting possessions. Some of the cons: Renting equipment like power tools could subject you to a lawsuit if the renter is hurt. You’ll need to pay the rental site a commission, too. For example, Zilok takes a cut up to 10 percent.
2. Sell your stuff
Have a bunch of old CDs, DVDs, books and older gadgets lying around that you don’t use anymore? The Decluttr website and app helps you get rid of that stuff and make some money, too. The app lets you scan product barcodes with your smartphone camera for easy entry.
Be aware, though, that you may not be offered much money. For example, a Blu-Ray package of Alfred Hitchcock movies that currently sells for $80 on Amazon would net about $6 on Decluttr.
You’re likely to make more money selling items yourself on eBay, Amazon, or Craigslist. But creating eBay listings can be time-consuming. Amazon places some restrictions on individual sellers. And you’ll need to be cautious about Craigslist scams. There are lots of other sell-it-yourself alternatives, too, including LetGo and OfferUp.For more ideas on selling used gadgets, see our post “How to save money on electronics.”
3. Take online surveys
Swagbucks and MySurvey members earn points toward redeeming free gift cards from of Amazon and other brands. Though the sites differ, the idea with both is that you take surveys and perform other online tasks (such as watching videos). Heads up: Both sites have their detractors. One blogger said Swagbucks is a waste of time for most people. Another blogger called MySurvey “one of the absolute least legitimate paid survey sites on the internet” but said Swagbucks is “more reputable” and “better paying.” Bottom line: Check each site out thoroughly before you decide to participate. And set your expectations accordingly.
4. Be a mystery shopper
If you like to shop, you can earn extra bucks by being a ‘secret’ or ‘mystery’ shopper. As a mystery shopper, you pretend to be a customer when calling a company’s call center or visiting a brick-and-mortar location. Afterwards, you provide the company feedback about your experience. In most cases, you’ll earn about $5 to $20, plus reimbursement for at least a portion of the item purchased.
To get started, browse opportunities at the MSPA Americas website. But be wary of mystery shopper scams, especially if you receive an unsolicited offer via email or you’re asked to spend money just to be a shopper, the FTC warns.
If you have particular skills, you can make money offering them on ‘gig’ economy sites that connect freelancers with clients. Examples include TaskRabbit, Upwork, Elance, Fiverr and Freelancer.
The benefit is that, in many cases, you can freelance as little or as much as you need. Typically, you bid for a job. If you get it, the client reviews and rates you after the job is done. Because of the competitive bidding process, don’t expect to make lots of money this way. But sites for freelancers can help you earn extra dollars while keeping your skills sharp, or developing new ones.
6. Help seniors stay in their home
While any of the above can help you earn extra money, being a caregiver for senior citizens can offer rewards beyond money. Providing companionship to the elderly, for instance, can help them remain comfortably in their homes.
With Care.com, you can earn money as a companion for seniors (as well as for kids and pets). While the site doesn’t take a cut of your earnings, you’ll likely need a paid membership ($37 monthly or $147 annually) to fully participate.
If you’re experienced with children, consider becoming a sitter with Urbansitter. You can set your own rate and keep 100 percent of earnings. (Urbansitters makes its money from parents who pay a subscription fee.) You’ll be subject to a multi-step approval process, and parents can rate and review you.
8. Be a pet sitter
Rover connects pet sitters and dog walkers with people needing those services. You must pass a basic background check and be approved. Rover isn’t available everywhere, and the service takes 20 to 25 percent of your earnings.