I am frequently asked (and more often now that the economy is in the tank), “What can I do to generate some extra cash?” There are many ways to generate additional cash, some of them quicker than others. If you need a lot of cash, these tips alone probably won’t do it; few, if any, of them are substitutes for the income a full time job provides. But if you just need a little help these can generate some extra money, particularly if you do more than one. Below is my list of (relatively) quick ways to come up with a little extra cash in your pocket.
1. Sell your old gold.
2. Collect aluminum and other metals and sell them to a metal recycler. A metal detecter makes this easier, if you have one. You can also collect cans from your employer if they don’t already have a recycler.
3. Take a part time job.
4. Do what you do for a full time job on a freelance basis.
5. Clean out the house and cars and put all found money aside. It might surprise you how much small change is lying in the back of drawers, in ashtrays, and between seat cushions.
6. Walk dogs or petsit.
8. Have a yard sale or open a booth at the flea market.
9. Sell your junk on eBay, Craigslist, Amazon or any of the other good used marketplace websites.
10. Make crafts and sell them on Esty or at local craft shows.
11. Clip coupons out of the paper and sell them on eBay (yes, people do this).
12. Do online surveys or rewards programs.
13. If you must spend money, do it on a rewards credit card that pays cash back and cash out as soon as you’re eligible to do so.
14. Return items that you bought but haven’t used for a refund.
15. Pawn something.
16. Rake leaves/shovel snow/cut grass/clean gutters for others.
17. Rent out a room in your house.
18. Start a blog and put ads on it using Google’s AdSense.
19. Write articles for places like Associated Content or Heluim.
20. Become a temporary worker.
21. Become a medical guinea pig or sign up for clinical trials of drugs.
22. Donate plasma.
23. Sell your hair to a wig maker.
24. Sell your eggs to a fertility specialist.
25. Donate sperm at a sperm bank.
26. Start vegetable plants and sell the starter plants for a fraction of what nurseries charge.
27. Drop services you don’t need like cell service, cable, lawn/pool service, or Internet and free upwards of $100/month.
28. Conserve energy and water aggressively and lower those bills to free up extra cash.
29. Return cans and bottles for the deposit if it’s available where you live.
30. Teach something that you are good at to others, either through a community school or private lessons.
31. Sew/make alterations for others.
32. Help the elderly. Offer to do the shopping and take them to appointments, for a small fee.
33. Offer handyman services.
34. Collect ink cartridges from friends and coworkers (and your office if they don’t recycle) and give them to places like Office Depot or Staples for cash back.
35. Wash/detail cars.
36. Wash/detail pets.
37. Sell your stuff to a consignment shop.
38. Sell food to workers at a construction site.
39. Sell your wedding china to Replacements Ltd.
40. Cash out any “points” you have lying around. Whether it’s from credit/debit card reward programs, store/product loyalty programs, gas rewards, or rewards sites, cash in everything you can and use the cash or gift cards to cover household expenses.
41. Tutor kids.
42. Raid trash cans for Coke Rewards caps and rack up gift cards. This one is especially good at events like concerts and road races, where Coke/Dasani/Powerade is a sponsor. Few people keep the caps for the codes. At one of my recent marathons where Powerade was the sponsor, I got enough caps to earn a $25 gift card.
43. Use equipment you already own to make money (power washing, snow blowing, etc.)
44. Help someone move.
45. Act as a driver for the schools. Some public and private schools take on private drivers to go where busses can’t or won’t go.
46. Turn a hobby into profit (photography, cake decorating, scrapbooking, etc.)
47. Use your skills to enter and win contests that pay cash (bake-offs, craft contests, state fairs, etc.)
48. Change people’s oil for them.
49. Use your van or truck to haul heavy things for people.
50. Take any overtime your regular job offers.
51. Clean houses
52. If you have a lot of land, open some up for RV or boat storage at cheap rates.
53. Quit smoking/drinking so much.
54. Go through drive through lanes and parking lots after hours and pick up the spare change you find.
55. Use programs like CVS Extra Care and coupons to get toiletry and cleaning items for free. Sell them at your next yard sale.
56. Use coupons and add what you save to your cash stash.
57. Refinance your mortgage. If you can swing the closing costs and you can save a point or two on your interest rate, it may be worthwhile to lower that monthly payment (particularly if you’re carrying PMI and can get out of it by refinancing). Just don’t cash out the equity.
58. Collect old cell phones from friends. family and coworkers and sell them to recyclers such as Greephone.com.
59. Become a human or car billboard. Places will pay you to decorate your car with their logos or wear their logos to popular events.
60. Become a mystery shopper.
61. If there’s a big event coming to your area like a major sports tournament or convention, rent out your house.
?62. Panhandle, if it’s legal, or wash windshields at a busy intersection.
63. Sell a car and make do with one.
64. Unload any tickets you’re holding. If you’ve got season sporting tickets or tickets to the upcoming concert, sell them (just don’t scalp them for more than face value).
65. Test drive for cash. Some car dealers will give you cash or gift cards to come in and test drive a vehicle with not obligation.
66. Drop unnecessary insurance coverage.
67. Drop any “double” services you find. For example, do you have AAA and an insurance policy that provides roadside assistance? Either don’t renew AAA or drop the roadside from your insurance coverage and save the money.
68. Check your state’s unclaimed property office to see if any old money is owed to you.
69. Cash in any savings bonds you have lying around. You’d be surprised how many people have them gathering dust in a drawer or safe deposit box.
70. Try to negotiate a lower interest rate on any credit card debt you have to lower the monthly payment.
71. Don’t renew magazines, gym memberships, club memberships or any other subscription/membership when it comes up. Let it go and pocket the cash.
72. Use your own ATM. Don’t pay transaction fees at another bank’s machine.
73. Sell any gift cards that you can’t/won’t use on eBay, or swap them for ones you will use.
74. Write a book and sell it through LuLu or as a digital download.
75. Make music, art, computer themes, canned websites or clipart and sell them online.
76. Look into bundling the services you need to keep. It might lower the monthly bill.
77. Call all your service providers and ask if you can get a discount because you’re a good customer, always paid on time, or if you’re a member of a certain union or organization. Negotiate a discount if you can.
78. Brown bag your lunch instead of eating out.
79. Actually complete and send in those rebate forms you’ve been meaning to do.
80. Sell your double stuff. Have you digitized your music or video collection to the point where the discs never see the light of day anymore? Sell them.
81. Scrounge the local trash piles for good, intact items and sell them on Craigslist or eBay.
82. You can question the ethics of this one, but people do it all the time: Buy (or acquire for free) items from sites like Freecycle or Craigslist, or at the local thrift shop, and then resell them for a profit.
83. Be a plant/garden sitter. You water and tend to the plants while the owners are away.
84. Become a paid guide at a search website like ChaCha.com.
85. Get paid to submit video reviews of products at sites like ExpoTV.
86. Open a bank account that will pay you a cash bonus for opening the account.
87. Become a focus group participant. Look on Craigslist or in the want ads for postings in your area. Research companies are often listed in the Yellow Pages, as well.
88. Enter contests that give out physical prizes and sell any prizes you win.
89. Send in your FSA or HSA claims. Don’t wait until the end of the year, go ahead and get your money back.
90. Check your health insurance plan for any rebates you’re entitled to. Some reimburse wellness materials like gym memberships or weight loss programs. If you’re paying out of pocket, check and see if you can get the money back.
91. Use a site like Ebates or another rewards program to get cash back on online shopping. Pocket the difference.
92. Ask for a raise at your regular job. It might happen and it never hurts to ask. Even in this economy you might get it if you’re a valuable employee.
93. If you have a vacant office, room, or garage in your home, rent it out as studio space to artists or musicians whose only alternative is to pay for expensive time in a “real” studio.
94. If you are popular on a message board, ask about a moderator gig. Some are paid a tiny bit each month.
95. Get free samples from sites like StartSampling.com, WalMart.com or many others. It’s not outright cash, but every sample you get and can use or sell reduces the amount of money you have to spend for products.
96. Add affiliate links to your website or blog and get paid when people buy products through your links.
97. Get back anything you’re entitled to. If you replace your car battery yourself, be sure to take the old one back and get the core charge refunded. Get price adjustments on items that go on sale within the store’s specified time frame. Get your security and utility deposits back when you move. Don’t leave any money on the table.
98. Deliver newspapers.
99. Rent out parking spaces. If you live in an area with little parking or near a big event center/arena and you have a little extra space, rent it out for parking.
100. Sign up with Mechanical Turk (Mturk.com) from Amazon.com and take on tasks that interest you.
101. If you have old electronics that won’t sell, try trading them in. There are several stores/websites that offer trade-ins or take backs for cash or gift cards.
102. Stop spending on stuff you don’t need. Seriously. This is the best way to free up cash.
Note that none of these tips require incurring additional debt or cashing out any savings like home equity or raiding a retirement plan. Those are courses of last resort. Try generating extra cash first. If you really want to make some extra money, try turning something you like into a home based business. Here’s a list of 114 more things you can do as a business for even more cash. There are a lot of ways to generate extra cash, if you’re willing to put forth the effort. Use your imagination and draw on your expertise and you can find several ways to bring in some extra money.
(Photo courtesy of Emad Seyadali)