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How to Make Extra Money and Get Started Toward Financial Freedom

There are plenty of things to be stressed about, and if you can eliminate a big one — stress about money — you can go a long way toward improving your overall happiness.
Even if you have a standard nine-to-five job, there are things you can do to make extra money so you don’t dread checking your bank statement.
In this article, we’ll look at different methods for bringing in extra cash, whether via passive income streams or a side hustle. We’ll then dive into 17 different ways to bring in extra cash and offer you some guidance on how to make money online.

How to Make Extra Money

It doesn’t matter if you have a full-time job. For many Americans, life would be a lot easier if they could bring in a little extra money. Whether to pay off debt, build savings, or take a significant other out to eat every once in a while, it never hurts to have a little extra cash.
In this article, we’ll talk about two methods to make extra money and then get into specific ideas. Here are the two methods:

  1. The side hustle
  2. Passive income streams

Both of these money-making methods require investment. A side hustle requires an investment of your time and labor. Passive income streams require investment of your money or intellectual property. Either way, you’re putting in something to get something out.
Also important is what you do with that money. Bringing in extra money is great, but spending it immediately can make it hard to build real wealth. When you bring in extra income from a side hustle, try to put it away immediately into a savings account, and only access it when you need it. That extra step is a small one but can allow you to save money, build wealth, and make you feel at ease with your bank account.

The Characteristics of a Great Side HustleHow to make extra money: a wallet and money on a countertop

There are a lot of part-time jobs on the internet. The key is finding one that sticks and doesn’t make you miserable.
A great side hustle tends to follow three criteria:

  1. It pays at least fairly
  2. It takes advantage of your skills and know-how
  3. It’s related to something you’re passionate about

If you can find something you enjoy that pays decently, side hustles can feel less like extra miserable work and more like something you look forward to.
Love animals? Maybe see if you can carve out some time to become a dog walker. Have a passion for graphic design? See if you can start to pick up freelance work on a site like Fiverr. Side hustle ideas like the ones below are meant to be starting points that give you ideas for ways to channel your passions and make extra money.

Creating Passive Income Streams

Another great way to bring in extra money is through passive income streams.
People looking to bring in extra income dream of being able to do so without putting in any actual work. Or, at least, putting in the work up front.
This is the goal of passive income streams — creating opportunities for you to earn money in the background without putting in active work. You most likely know about some forms of passive income, like investing in the stock market. But there are plenty of other ways to make money without putting in active labor every day at a 9-to-5 job.
Some of those passive income forms come from doing a lot of work up front and then releasing a product or course to an audience so it will generate revenue moving forward. People who self-publish books will generate passive income on their sales in the future, and people who post online courses to sites like Udemy can generate income when people take the course.
Practicing smart personal finance can also generate passive income streams. Investing well is one way to do this, but another is using a cash-back credit card. This will generate passive income, albeit in the form of a rebate, for every purchase you normally make.

12 Side Hustles

It’s time to break down some great ways to bring in extra money. Almost all of these side gigs are part-time and can be done on your own schedule. We’ve also included links in each one to give you a chance to learn a lot more.

1. Survey Sites

Survey sites pay people to take online surveys so that they can conduct in-depth market research. Back in the day, companies like Nielsen would conduct market research, but online focus groups have now made it possible to get opinions from thousands of people quickly.
And they’ll pay you to offer those opinions. Companies like Swagbucks, Ibotta, eBates, and Survey Junkie reward you in points for completed surveys, and those points can be redeemed for Walmart, Target, or Amazon gift cards, or just for straight up PayPal cash.

2. Mystery Shopping

Mystery shoppers visit both brick and mortar and online shops and provide feedback on customer service, product availability, and more. To get set up as a mystery shopper, read our guide.

3. Online Tutoring

Companies like Udemy and Cambly let you connect with people online and inspire them to learn. Whether by posting SAT prep courses or helping someone work on their English language skills via video chat, there are plenty of opportunities to teach online.

4. Freelance Graphic Design and Writing

Companies need help from creative people to tell their stories. Sites like Fiverr and Upwork pair businesses with freelance writers and designers and can help you build a portfolio of clients who trust you to do great work.

5. Social Media Consulting

How to make extra money: a laptop keypad next to a phone screen open to Facebook
If you understand how to connect with people on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, starting a social media consulting firm can be a great way to start a small business in your free time.

6. Pet Sitting

If you love animals and have flexible time during the day, dog walking can be a fantastic and fun way to earn extra money. Sites like Rover, Wag!, and even Care.com are always looking for dog walkers.

7. Become a Virtual Assistant

If you’re highly organized and love to plan, you could find a job as a virtual assistant. Take care of small tasks in your spare time, and you might soon build a client portfolio that brings in serious cash. Learn more about starting an online business as a virtual assistant.

8. Drive for Uber or Lyft

Uber and Lyft are always looking for qualified drivers. You get to set your own schedule, and if you drive during times of high demand, you can bring in real money.

9. Search Engine Evaluator

Search engines are only as good as their results, and they will pay people who can run queries and then provide clear feedback about how closely the results matched what they were looking for. Learn more about the work to get started.

10. Become a Courier

Companies like TaskRabbit, Instacart, and Postmates are always looking for reliable people to pick up food and deliver for them. All you need is a cell phone and a mode of transportation to get started.

11. Open an Etsy Shop

Before you unload your homemade arts and crafts at a garage sale, think about opening an Etsy shop. The online marketplace allows artists to connect with a global customer base and bring in good money.

12. Data Entry

We live in a digital world, which means there will always be jobs for people who can take raw data and type it into a computer. If you take comfort in routine, you can earn a bit doing data entry. To learn more, read our introduction to different types of data entry.

5 Ways to Create Passive Income Streams

Set it and forget it with these passive income stream ideas.

1. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is the act of earning a commission each time you share a link to a product and a sale is completed. If you have an online following, affiliate marketing can be a great way to earn passive income on your website.

2. Invest Your Money

Old fashioned. Seems obvious. But the best way to make your money grow without putting in hours of work is to invest it. We have a guide to getting started that has plenty of resources for the new investor.

3. Rent Your Car

Turo is a website that lets you rent your car online. They insure all damages — you just keep it clean.

4. Rent a Room on Airbnb

You don’t need to own a beach house to earn money renting on Airbnb. If you have a spare room or travel for work, you can rent your place. Even a few nights a month can be a huge help toward paying rent or a mortgage. There’s a bit of active work in setting up the room, but once they’re staying with you, you’re earning.

5. Peer Lending

Companies like Fundrise and Lending Club allow groups of people online to gather their money and invest in early-stage companies, with the promise of a return on investment within set time periods.

Making Extra Money

Finding a source of side income can make the difference when it comes to feeling less stressed about money. Whether through a passive income stream or a side gig, finding a way to bring in some extra cash can only make your life easier. Review the ideas in this list, find one that you’re passionate about, and get hustling.

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