Personal Finance 

20 Easy Money Making Ideas

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Last year I wrote a very well-received post listing 100 money saving tips for the holidays that has helped quite a few people. However, you can only do so much with saving. What if you’ve cut back as much as you possible can? You need to start looking at the income side of the equation.

It’s like losing weight, you either eat less or exercise more. If you’re down to bread and water, it really doesn’t help to read another article about how eating celery can help you lose weight. At some point, you need to start reading about working out. Let this be your article on working out your wallet and bringing in a few extra dollars.

  1. Work overtime: If you have the opportunity, consider working some overtime at your current job. Some places offer it, some places don’t. If yours does, ask your boss if there’s some extra work you can do.
  2. Return stuff you bought but never used: Just the other day I returned some bottles of contact lens solution to Costco because my eye doctor recommended I use a different solution. Rather than try to sell these unused bottles, I simply returned them. Do you have anything around the house that you bought and still haven’t used? You may be able to return them and get all of your money back.
  3. Sell stuff you don’t use anymore: Whether it’s on eBay or something local like Craigslist, selling the stuff that you don’t use anymore is a great way to earn some extra cash. It’s a bit misleading to call it “earning money” because you’re simply recouping what you’ve already spent but it’s still money in your pocket. There are some surprising things you can sell online.
  4. Get a second job: This is a bit of a “duh” suggestion because it’s so obvious but getting a second job is one of the easiest ways to earn some extra money. I would recommend getting a second job that is not physically demanding because you don’t want your primary job to suffer.
  5. Visit There are billions of dollars “missing” and some of it may be owed to you. I recently discovered some money owed to me when I used to live in Pittsburgh, likely from my days of buying free after rebate products and selling them on eBay. Visit and see if you have some missing money you can recover.
  6. Turn a hobby into a business: Some hobbies are easier to turn into businesses than others. One great hobby that many have turned into a side business is photography. If you’re reliable, have a good eye for composition, and are willing to work long hours, a wedding photographer can make plenty of money even in a down economy.
  7. Tutor: If you were strong academically in high school or college, consider tutoring. Put up flyers where parents will be and get a few clients. Tutors can earn a tremendous sum if they are good at teaching and can deliver results. When I was in high school, I earned $30 an hour tutoring younger students math and I had no formal teaching experience whatsoever. The best part about the process was the sense of accomplishment helping someone who once scored a 40 on a NY Regents math exam turn it into a passing score.
  8. Handyman: If you have good handyman skills, you can earn a little extra money doing home improvements. Be careful not to take on projects that are outside your skill-set and don’t take on a project that might require a license, you don’t want to run into any legal problems.
  9. Mow lawns, shovel snow: Fire up the lawnmower and go door to door, offering your lawn mowing skills for a few bucks. Now that’s it a little colder, consider walking around with a snow shovel and offering to shovel driveways and sidewalks for pay.
  10. Clean houses: If you aren’t allergic to vacuum cleaners and dusters, consider becoming a house cleaner. With how busy people are these days, you can earn relatively easy money picking up after other people. You can figure out what the going rates are just by calling up some local cleaning services for quotes.
  11. Painter: This is similar to becoming a handyman but requires slightly different skills. If you’ve ever quoted a painter, you’ll know they’re remarkably more expensive than you expected. A few hundred dollars to paint a room is not unheard of and some people are willing to pay that to avoid having to deal with the hassle themselves.
  12. Become a wedding planner: If you’ve gone through the process of weddings, you have the expertise to be a wedding planner. You don’t need to have extensive contacts or a lot of experience, you just need to be detailed and good with research. You’re just helping out the bride and groom at a time when they’re most stressed.
  13. Walk dogs: If you have time during the day, consider becoming a dog walker. How much you can earn will depend on where you live but $100 a week per dog isn’t unheard of (more if you live in cities like New York). You can earn a tidy sum walking other people’s dogs while getting some extra exercise!
  14. Sign up for credit card offers: Some credit card companies will give you $50 and $100 gift cards after your first purchase, you can take advantage of them if you don’t plan on getting any major loans in the next year.
  15. Baby-sit: Baby-sitting isn’t just for teenagers anymore, consider baby-sitting to earn a few extra dollars if you’re responsible enough to take care of someone else’s kids. It’s not an easy job but you could earn a few easy dollars for not much work.
  16. Donate plasma: You can’t get paid for donating blood but you can get paid donating plasma because it’s such an intense experience. You’ll need to make sure you are very well hydrated, in good health, and pass all sorts of medical checks. If you qualify, you can earn around $30-40 for each donation, they take about an hour and a half, and you can donate twice a week (7 day period).
  17. Become a freelance writer: Freelance writing has gotten a lot easier with the explosion in opportunities in writing for blogs. The pay won’t be income-level, it’ll be more like hobby-level, but it’s often very low stress. Heck, you could even start your own blog!
  18. Participate in focus groups: I joined a focus group and even attended a focus group meeting last year and earned a quick $100 for my input on window commercials. They take quite a bit of time but you do get fed and you can voice your opinion on whatever it is they’re studying. I actually had a pretty good time doing it.
  19. Become a mystery shopper: I signed up to be a mystery shopper last year but never went on a mystery shop because they never matched my plans well enough. I learned enough about them know that they are a great way to earn some extra cash but you have to be careful not to join a fraudulent mystery shopping organization. You won’t get rich being a mystery shopper but you could earn a little shopping money doing it.
  20. Dumpster dive: After you’ve confirmed that dumpster diving is not illegal in your legal jurisdiction and after taking all the necessary precautions to ensure your own safety, you might want to consider dumpster diving. I used to do this in college from time to time (I wasn’t brave enough to go into dumpsters, I sort of “area around dumpster scavenged” a few times) to get some stuff I could later sell on Craiglist-equivalent websites and eBay).

There are plenty of ways to earn a little extra money on the side and Nickel posted his very own earning money article (some of our tips overlap, but we came up with them independently). The real trick in all this is actually doing it. You can read all the articles you want about becoming a handyman or participating in paid focus groups, but you have to go out and actually do them before you can make extra money.

{ 21 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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21 Responses to “20 Easy Money Making Ideas”

  1. MoneyNing says:

    There are laws that govern overtime pay. If you are above a certain salary or considered professional for example, employers can ask you to work overtime without giving you any extra money.

    It’s not like people will refuse the extra work in this environment if the boss ask but don’t go volunteering if you think you won’t get extra money! The last thing you need is stress yourself even more.

  2. Overtime wouldn’t get me anything other than less time to do something else. I would be interested to know how much money you could actually pull out of a dumpster, I have never thought about that.

  3. Another solid list. In the vein of easy money, I know some people tout CashCrate. It’s gotten some mixed reviews. I think a lot of it has to do with the ease of cancelling things.

  4. Armand says:

    What a solid and complete list, but we must be patient of course, time is always a good friend to deal with.

  5. Laura LAING says:

    This is a great list, with one exception. Freelance writing is not necessarily easy or stress free, especially if you want to earn some cash. Most blogging jobs don’t pay or pay very, very poorly. And with the media industry in a downward spiral and laid-off editors and writers giving freelancing a try, a newcomer to the field will need to put in a lot of time and energy to make it work.

    A big concern for professional freelancers is that when writers accept very low paying gigs, the per-word rates stay low. Unfortunately, there are millions of outfits that exploit writers by expecting a great deal of work for pennies. The only way for that to change is if writers refuse to take those gigs.

    Freelance writing is a fantastic career or sideline job. To make it work well, however, you must have talent, drive and marketing sense. It’s not for the faint of heart!

  6. thomas says:

    Cleaning houses isn’t easy money. I did this while in college cleaning both houses and businesses. The money can be good, but it is a disgusting job and can really make you sore. I will say the one great thing about it was the fact of it being a cash based opportunity.

    Great list though – thanks.

  7. MissMartha says:

    Along the same line of returning unused things, if you recently got married you can sell your leftover goods. On many websites, including, you can post pictures of your left over favors/centerpieces/vases/ flower baskets, and sell them. I looked there frequently for good deals. Its a speciality market so using a site like can let you concentrate your efforts. If you can’t find anyone to buy your stuff on TheKnot, then try Craigslist, etc. Along the same line, sell your old bridesmaids dresses!

    Other things that are pretty easy to sell are through consignment shops. Bring your nice suits that may not fit to a consignment shop. I’ve also seen a lot of consignment shops for kids clothes. Babies and little kids grow so fast that many of the clothes don’t get worn out before they no longer fit!

    Also, don’t forget community-wide yard sales!

  8. Wren says:

    I have to say that freelance writing is not going to make you extra money–at least not enough to justify the time spent. There are just too many people willing to write for peanuts or nothing, so pay is generally terrible for freelancers.
    Selling stuff is great advice, though. Most of us have tons of things we no longer (and maybe never did) need. Simplifying and decluttering by having a yard sale or posting items on craiglist, ebay, or amazon is a great way to get some quick cash and start fresh without all the junk.

  9. Monevator says:

    Interesting you still see photography as financially viable as a side hobby. It seems with Digital SLRs making picture taking so easy, everyone is a photographer now?

    @Wren – you need to know your niche. In contrast to my comment above, I actually make some useful money from freelance writing. I’ve been doing it for a decade though.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Instead of focusing on small amounts and spending so much time on them, spend less, invest in education, gain knowledge about what would legally provide most amount for the least effort, and put in the most effort on that to gain most amount.

    This comes from ‘Vidhura Needhi’ (Noble Vidhura’s advice), which a part of Mahabharatha.

  11. bocarat says:

    Anything to eliminate bills is great. One way I found is to use a prepaid phone.

    I already dumped my land line and got out of my cellphone contract when the company changed it’s terms. (Did you know that if they do that, it voids the contract? They don’t tell you that, but I saw it on the Consumerist site and it worked! No termination fee too. Haha.)

    Anyway, I got a prepaid Net10 phone and everything is 10 cent a minute even International calls which is great since my son is traveling right now.

    But the best thing about this is that there aren’t any bills and I know what my costs are because I pay upfront for my calls. It’s great!

  12. olivia says:

    These are great tips on how to earn quick easy money.

  13. mary says:

    ok some ideas are good like baby sit mowing and free lance photography.

  14. sami ajmal says:

    I didnt like it, if you need a big money think big and give a big shot.

  15. Anonymous says:

    big help! thanks!

  16. Cicerone says:

    Dumpster dive …LOL , what’s next giving blow jobs for 10$ ? ! ?

  17. Excellent Post 🙂 Thank you for Sharing…

  18. I always used to study paragraph in news papers but now as I am a
    user of net therefore from now I am using net for posts, thanks to

  19. Gardening has always been my hobby. I started a blog at Feel free to visit me sometimes.


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