Begging the boss for a raise isn’t the only way to increase your earnings. You can also boost your annual income — and this year’s vacation fund — by taking advantage of some unorthodox money-making opportunities.
From selling unwanted household items to renting an actual room in your house, there are plenty of ways to get a paycheck hike. And you can do many of them from the comfort of your own home.
Make Money Off Your Clutter
Look around your house or apartment for hidden sources of income. From clothes your kids have outgrown to that gym equipment you never use, your “trash” can become another person’s treasure.
Sell belongings you no longer need for big bucks on eBay, Craigslist or Facebook. Or, you can go the old-fashioned route and hold a garage sale. Not only does selling unwanted clutter up your monthly income, but it also frees up much-needed space in your home.
Get Paid to Carpool
Switch up your daily commute this month by carpooling with coworkers. If you have a reliable car, offer to be the driver — on the condition that your carpool buddies take care of all gas costs. If you’re not wild about being the sole driver, work out a plan where you switch off with a pal; you’ll both save money on fuel.
Use Your Free Credit Card Rewards
Those cash-back points you’re accumulating can come in handy. If you regularly use a rewards credit card, check your statement to see how much you can redeem.
Just like money found under the couch cushion, these points were always there — but taking advantage of them is like tapping into free cash you can use throughout the month without dipping into your bank account.
Pick Up Your Unclaimed Cash
You wouldn’t leave a $10 bill on the sidewalk. So, don’t leave cash or property belonging to you in an account waiting to be claimed.
You can check for money in your name by visiting MissingMoney.com, which is endorsed by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. With any luck, you’ll find some unclaimed cash to put toward your next big purchase or vacation.
Do Your Own Chores and Errands
Taking over some of the chores, errands and housework you typically employ others to do can save you money in the long run. From gardening and cleaning house to painting your own walls, you can cut costs and boost your savings by doing these jobs yourself for a period.
In some cases, you might prefer your own skills and stick with the do-it-yourself method for good. Plus, if you find you’ve got an aptitude for the chore, you might be able to earn extra cash performing the job for family and friends.
Sell Your Blood
Provided that you’re not squeamish about needles — and you meet local health code mandates — you might be able to earn cash donating your blood or plasma. A number of organizations hold blood drives where donors are compensated with cash and gift cards.
Do some research and, of course, talk to a doctor to make sure giving blood is in your best interest. If he or she gives you the go-ahead, you can help others while helping yourself.
Become an Online Survey Taker
If you have opinions on a wide range of topics and issues, consider getting paid to share them with others. You can make money while saving your friends and family members an earful. OpinionOutpost, E-Poll and Swagbucks are just a few of the websites that will pay you for taking online surveys.
Return Unnecessary Purchases
Most of us are guilty of making impulse purchases on occasion. If you still haven’t worn those shoes you bought at the mall two months ago, consider taking them back to the store for a refund. You can clear a space in your closet while adding some bulk to your wallet.
If you don’t have the receipt and the store has a strict return policy, you might still be able to exchange the item for store credit, so you can buy an item you’ll actually use down the line. Or, you could sell the item online to recoup some of your cash.
Rent Out Your Parking Spot
In big cities, convenient parking is worth its weight in gold. If you own a personal parking space but live in an area with plenty of street parking, consider renting out your space for a month. You could also offer up your own driveway. Use the money you make to pay off your car or save for a down payment on some new wheels.
Sell Unwanted Gift Cards
If your grandmother got you a gift card to a store you never frequent, fear not: You can sell gift cards online for cash. Choose one of the many online gift card marketplaces out there, like Cardpool or CardCash. Depending on the site, you can receive up to 90 percent of the card’s original value. Stash the money in your savings, or use it for a shopping spree at a store you actually like.
Take Part in a Research Experiment
Universities, clinics and other medical research groups are always on the lookout for people to participate in behavioral studies and trials. Depending on the compensation per experiment — and how many studies you participate in — you could make hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month.
Remember to sign a consent form, do your homework on any organizations you plan on working with and don’t participate in any studies that make you uncomfortable.
Sell Your Old Cellphone
Cellphones, iPads and laptops become obsolete fast — but that doesn’t mean there isn’t someone out there willing to buy an outgoing model from you. One good resource is Gazelle.com, which will give you an offer for your gadget. Put the money toward a new model, or save it for a bigger purchase down the line.
Recycle Stuff for Cash
From tin cans and bottles to large pieces of computer equipment, you can recycle old items for cash — provided that you know where to go. According to ThePennyHoarder.com, scrapyards will pay cash for metals like aluminum, stainless steel and copper. And Staples provides $2 back in rewards dollars on recycled ink and toner cartridges.
Take a Part-Time Job
One of the best ways to double your paycheck is to earn another paycheck. Try to find a profitable side gig that offers you flexible hours and quick cash in your pocket, such as consulting or app development. You never know when a part-time side hustle will turn into a lucrative and fulfilling occupation.
Tutor or Teach
Is there a specific subject or skill you have a knack for? If you were always a math or science whiz, become an after-school tutor for a student needing help with algebra or chemistry homework. Or, if you were always musically gifted with a guitar, consider offering lessons in your neighborhood.
Set your own prices. Depending on the topic and level of instruction, you could easily make hundreds more a month.
Sell Homemade Crafts
If you’ve got an artistic side, your talents could bring in some quick cash. Websites like Etsy.com are the go-to online marketplaces for artisans selling all sorts of homemade creations, from hand-sewn fabrics to natural perfume oils, sculptures and paintings.
Sell Your Baked Goods
If you have a knack for baking sweets, cupcakes and other treats, consider using your talent to your advantage. You can sell some of your homemade baked goods at local farmers markets, swap meets, church fairs or other community events.
Get Paid for Your Photography
Another hobby that can easily turn into a paying gig is photography. There are plenty of stock image websites in search of quality, professional-level photos. Note that some sites, like iStockphoto.com, require you to apply to be a contributor and submit samples. However, if you have an artist’s eye, you might just find yourself raking in the dollars.
Be a Living Advertisement
Some people have adorned their houses — and even their faces — with advertising copy to save money on mortgages or school tuition. Granted, you probably shouldn’t go to that extreme and get a tattoo. But there are companies that will pay you for putting their bumper stickers on your car.
Become a Mystery Shopper
As a mystery shopper, you’ll visit different businesses and pose as a regular customer to evaluate the quality of the product or service. At the end, you’ll be asked to submit a report of your findings.
Mystery shoppers — also called “secret shoppers” — might get reimbursed for the food they ate or merchandise they bought. Or they might get paid a fee for their clandestine efforts.
Cut Down Grocery Costs
If most of your monthly paycheck goes to food costs, you might want to explore one of the many ways to save money on groceries. For example, there are a number of apps that will reward you with cash for every item you buy at a supermarket.
Be a Tour Guide
If you know your city like the back of your hand, you can get paid to show people around. Websites like Vayable.com allow self-made tour guides to post “experiences” they’ll lead — say, a farmers market tour of San Francisco. Interested tourists can sign up and pay by credit card; the money goes straight to the tour guide’s account.
Get Into the Movie Business
Becoming a star of the silver screen is anything but easy. However, you might be able to find work in the movies — if you don’t mind keeping your mouth shut.
Los Angeles and other cities with thriving film industries pay extras to take non-speaking, background roles in movies and TV shows. If you live in one of these regions, don’t miss the opportunity to hang around a film set, get yourself on celluloid and earn a small stipend.
If you’re trying to get extra cash for a specific purpose or goal, online fundraising sites like GoFundMe and Kickstarter are great ways to generate donations from across the world. You could raise money to start a business, manufacture a project or help a loved one who’s suffered an unfortunate accident.
Rent Out Your Spare Room
If you have a spare bedroom or guest house, consider advertising it on home-renting marketplaces like Airbnb. Renting out part of your home could provide a significant second income, and it requires very little effort on your part.
If you don’t like the idea of hosting strangers while you’re home, consider renting out your space when you’re out of town. With minimal effort, you can make extra cash while securing a vetted house sitter to look after your property.