Do you want to earn extra income outside of your 9-to-5?
I’d like you to answer two questions:
- Speed — How soon do you want or need this extra cash?
- Profit Potential — How much scalable upside potential are you looking for?
There’s a tradeoff between the two. The opportunities that put cash in your pocket quickly tend to have limited upside. The opportunities with the potential for big returns in a few years … may not deliver those returns until after a few years.
Take a look at this illustration, which depicts the strategies you can use to earn extra money:
“Strategy?! Wait, why do I need a strategy?”
There are thousands of opportunities for you to earn money outside of your 9-to-5 job. Do you want to spend hours sifting through them all?
If you need cash quickly, you probably don’t have that luxury. You need to take action now.
And if you want to invest years in slowly growing a scalable business, then you want to think clearly about what you’re building from the beginning, so you don’t waste months chasing the wrong idea.
- Do you need cash quickly, or can you afford to wait?
- How many hours do you want to devote to earning more money?
- Are you looking for one-off opportunities with little to no commitment?
- How much flexibility do you want?
- Do you have your dreams set on a side hustle with the potential to replace your 9-to-5 salary?
Let’s dive into the simple framework you can use to figure out which option is the right fit for you.
We’ll describe the upsides and limitations of these options in the context of the greater whole.
I want extra income NOW, with little effort.
If you need money quickly — and speed is more important than scalability — then these options are your best bet for earning one-time payments that can help tide you over.
Upside: time and effort is minimal
Limitation: most of these are one-time offers, so these opportunities are not recurring income streams
Our Favorite Offers:
- Robinhood: free stocks they give out include Microsoft, Visa, Johnson & Johnson, GE, Kinder Morgen and Ford, all of which are worth a decent chunk
- Qapital: free $25 for a few minutes of your time!
I want recurring, ongoing extra income, and I want it quickly.
Great, you’ve grabbed the one-time offers listed above.
But what if you want a recurring stream of extra income — something that you can collect every month? Ideally, you’re looking for income that doesn’t require the months or years of building a scalable business … or maybe this is how you’ll earn extra on the side while you’re building a scalable business.
One way to do this is to enter the gig economy. Gigs are different from side hustles in that they typically involve leveraging existing platforms for exposure. Translation: you don’t need to build something from scratch. You get plugged into the system, and start earning money quickly.
For example, if you wanted to make money by driving people around, you wouldn’t need to create a website from scratch to market that service. You’d sign up as an Uber or Lyft driver. You’d rely on those platforms to bring customers to you.
Gigs also don’t require long-term commitments. They’re ideal for students, novice entrepreneurs in the process of building a full-time business, anyone who’s in-between jobs, or early retirees looking for extra pocket cash.
Upside: Flexible. Easy to start. No / low commitment, so you can experiment with different platforms and see what works for you
Limitation: You’re at the whim of the platform you’re using. The platforms you use will take a cut, so you can’t maximize earning potential here. If you find something you love and want to create a side hustle from it, developing a client relationship may be more difficult as these platforms aren’t strictly meant to foster such relationships. You’re also still trading time-for-money.
Use the opportunities listed below to springboard into the world of earning extra income on your terms.
- Deliver for Postmates: Delivering with Postmates gets you a free delivery bag and a prepaid card. You keep 100 percent of your tips and work when you want.
- Dogsit with Rover: Love dogs? Don’t mind walking them, checking in on them, or inviting one into your home overnight? Start earning money as a dog sitter with Rover.
- Deliver with Doordash: Available in 4,000 cities, becoming a Dasher enables you to earn more on your time. A driver’s license is required.
- Shop and deliver for Instacart: Make your own schedule and help bring groceries to families and individuals.
- Rent out your unused space with Neighbor: Do you have unused space in your home? Neighbor matches people’s empty space with other people’s extra stuff.
- TaskRabbit: Earn money by helping people with their to-do lists. TaskRabbit will notify you when gigs nearby are posted.
- Amazon Mechanical Turk: Help companies process images and videos, verify, process, and clean-up data, and gather information.
- Upwork: Create a profile, advertise your services, and search for gigs.
- 2020 Census Jobs: Apply for a part-time, temporary, flexible position with the 2020 Census. Wages are competitive and depend on your location. (Thanks to Johan, a reader, for making this suggestion!)
I want extra income with unlimited profit potential, and I can afford to wait.
You’ve enjoyed those easy one-off opportunities listed above. You’ve maybe experimented with the gig economy. And you’re hooked on earning extra money outside of your 9-to-5.
But you don’t want to compete for gigs.
You want to build your own business from scratch.
You want to create a legacy. You want to build a business with mission, purpose and passion. You want unlimited profit potential. You want to be able to scale and grow.
You’re ready to make your mark on this world.
It’s time to dedicate yourself to playing the long game and creating a scalable side hustle. You might even have your hopes set on leaving your 9-to-5, so that you can turn your side hustle into a full-time, full-fledged enterprise.
While this can be a fulfilling path for many people, it’s also one of the most challenging. Depending on the industry, creating a side hustle that’s 1) well-paying, 2) involves amazing clients, 3) is flexible, and 4) is rewarding can require an incredible amount of effort. Fortunately, we’re here to help.
You’ll need to do most, if not all, of the legwork in setting up a website, making connections and gaining clients, testing the market to validate whether your product/service is in demand, and much more.
If you’re committed to building a consistent stream of extra income — on your own terms — then side hustles are the way to go.
Upside: unlimited income potential, greatest potential for flexibility, and possibility of passive income.
Limitation: requires the most commitment, time, and effort out of all these options. There’s a lot of upfront work involved, and there could be a steep learning curve depending on the industry and your familiarity with technology.
Your First Step:
- Build a website. This is the space where you can test, tinker, and validate ideas. Want to grow a side business as a high-paid freelancer or consultant? Want to sell a physical or digital product or service? No matter what you choose, your website will be your testing ground.
- Tutorial on how to create a website in five minutes.
Don’t worry. You don’t need an expensive website to get started. You can build a website in five minutes, at a cost of less than $3 per month if you use our special discounted link.
Later, when your business grows, you can scale. As a beginner, it’s a bad idea to drop $20,000 on hiring a full-fledged graphics designer and web developer. Start simple, start small, and start with an investment of only $3 per month, rather than some jaw-dropping astronomical sum. You can level up later, once your business starts generating revenue.
Want to learn more about side hustles? Check out these resources on our site that might help!
- How can I find interesting, lucrative work?
- Not earning enough? Flex your hustle muscle
- I want to create passive income, but I don’t know where to start – Part 1
- I want to create passive income, but I don’t know where to start – Part 2
- Give me money! How to find freelance work
- Everything I know about blogging, condensed into one epic post
- How to side hustle your way to success, with Nick Loper
- Ask Paula – the side hustle episode
- Ask Paula – Retirement savings in your 50s, starting a side hustle… – at the 12:20 minute-mark
- Ask Paula – Sooo … I quit my job. What type of business should I start?
- How to transition from hustler to entrepreneur
- Why I quit my job with no savings when my wife was five months pregnant, with Grant Baldwin
- How to be awesome at your job, with Pete Mockaitis
- Saving vs earning more
Hmmm, these don’t seem quite right. I just want to SAVE a little extra.
Admittedly, we prefer encouraging earning more money over cutting expenses. There’s no limit to how much you can earn, and there is a limit to how many expenses you can cut.
However, times are tough, and every dollar saved can make a difference. Below are some of our favorite ways to save money on common expenses, or grab excellent deals on the things preserving your sanity.
These are quick, one-off opportunities aimed at helping you save money (as opposed to earn money.)
- Acorns: Sign up to start investing your spare change from everyday purchases.
- Radius: From now until September, Radius’ free Rewards Checking account offers 1.5% cashback on categories like health, food/restaurants/groceries, entertainment, and social good.
- Mint Mobile: Switch to a $15/month phone plan with Mint Mobile – our community members rave about it!
- Audiobooks.com: Love reading, but can’t find the time to open a book? Try audiobooks instead. Grab a free 30-day trial + get your first two books free.
- Gazelle: Want to declutter and sell some belongings off? Or are you looking to buy gently used items at a discount? Try Gazelle.
- Stamps.com: Save on postage, whether for business or personal use, with Stamps.com. Use code ‘paula’ (click the microphone symbol at the top-right) for a 4-week trial, free postage, and a digital scale.
- Honey: This extension finds you the Internet’s best discount codes so you never overpay. Shop like normal and when you’re ready to checkout, it instantly finds and applies the best codes to your cart. It only takes two clicks and it’s 100% free.
Resources that can help you save:
- Does your lack of savings halt your dreams?
- Why “earn more” vs. “save more” is the wrong debate
- The anti-budget (for those who hate budgeting)
- Three unconventional ways to super-charge your savings
- I have big dreams and small savings. Help!
- Timeline vs. intensity
- How to spend less, earn more, and grow the gap
- How to build an emergency fund during an emergency
- How to stop making so many money mistakes, with Jeff Kreisler
- The Latte Factor, with David Bach
- How I save half of my income as a firefighter, while living in an expensive city – with Kim E.
- How to spend less, earn more, and grow the gap
- 26 easy moves to improve your finances
- Bonus resource: One Tweak a Week ebook
Enjoy these opportunities — and keep checking back! Bookmark this page, and set a calendar reminder to check back. We update this list frequently, whenever new (and often limited time!) opportunities come in.
Happy earning and saving!
P.S. When you use these links and/or sign-up for these services, Afford Anything may receive a commission. This means you help support this website + our hard-working team who put this list together, AND enjoy all these ways to earn and save extra money! 🙂