ways to make moneyI write about saving money a lot here at Brokepedia. And that makes sense, because it’s, you know, a frugal living blog.

But if there’s anything more impactful to your finances than saving money, it’s making money. Saving is important, but finding ways to increase your income will probably matter more when it comes to “building wealth.” Today, I thought I’d take a break from the money saving tips and review some methods to make money on the side. (And yes, they’re all legal.)

Here are a few specific ways I’ve earned extra cash over the years.   

Monetizing a Skill or Resource 

This probably has something to do with growing up without a lot of money, but, throughout my life, anytime I’ve discovered a new skill or resource, I’ve always asked one question:

How can I use this to make money? Some examples:

• I was 8-years-old, and my aunt discovered a tree-full of mistletoe. We decided to pick the mistletoe, make it fancy, package it and sell it as Christmas decor. It worked! I don’t remember how much we earned, but my aunt took me out to dinner afterward, which was a huge treat for us.

• In high school, I found a bunch of shirts on sale at the craft store. I “invested” in some iron-on letters and made “funny”, custom tees for my peers. It worked! I sold them for $10 each.

• In college, I started crocheting. I found it relaxing, and I made myself a couple of scarves. Then I though, “Woah, I could sell these puppies on eBay!” That worked, too. I sold them for $10 each. I only stopped when I got tired of crocheting.

Maybe you don’t have access to mistletoe. Maybe there are no shirts on sale near you and you cant crochet. That’s okay! The point is: next time you stumble upon a skill or a resource, it might pay to ask, “how can I make money with this?”

Taking Online Surveys

With online surveys, there are a couple of things you have to be careful about. First, and obviously, the scams. But second, the payout may not be worth your time. We’ll get to this in a bit.

Pinecone is a reputable company that I’ve used, but they’re specific with vetting newcomers. You have to meet specific criteria, depending on what kind of demographic they happen to be looking for at the time. That said, when I was a Pinecone member several years ago, I made $3 per survey. I didn’t earn much a month–probably like $30-$40–but the surveys were simple and didn’t take much time.

Donna Freeman is a frugal living writer who has discussed this topic quite a bit. Regarding the time issue, she writes:

A number of the folks I interviewed said they do surveys while watching TV with family, keeping an eye on the kids in the yard or waiting for supper to cook. I bet plenty of cubicle workers keep surveys open on alternate screens, too. For them, the 50 multitasked cents are a bonus. But I spend too much time on the computer as it is. I like getting the extra funds, but it needs to be maximum reward for minimum effort. Thus I’ve decided to stick with surveys that are shorter and pay what I consider a decent amount – and like the folks above, I multitask.”

I like her point about a maximum reward for minimum effort. If you’re looking for ways to make money with surveys, consider setting a threshold for your time, effort and reward.

As for the scams, About.com’s FrugalLiving has a great article on how to identify them. Check it out, but here are a few red flags:

• Requires a membership fee
• Guarantees stuff. like a set income
• No privacy policy


In high school, my friend’s mom knew a kid who needed a tutor, and I got the job. It was only every couple of weeks, but it was a decent source of income for me, at the time. In college, another friend of mine started tutoring on the side, and then he actually turned it into his own business, which was awesome. Money Saving Mom has some great advice on how to become an online tutor.

Flipping Stuff

In my early 20s, I wanted cowboy boots, so I bought a pair of nice ones from a local thrift store for $8. After realizing I can’t pull off cowboy boots, I decided to try to sell them on eBay. Much to my surprise, they sold for $75. I actually made a profit on my terrible fashion decision.

Of course, I went back to the thrift store, bought another pair, cleaned them up, and did it again. And then I did it a few more times, until I got tired of peddling used shoes. But for a while, it was a great way to supplement my meager income.

These days, I cringe a little about this one. I kind of feel bad about taking potentially good deals away from those who might need it. But if you can justify it, you might be able to earn some extra cash, too. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with flipping, in and of itself. My friend’s mom did this same thing, but with various garage sale finds. She’d look for potential collectables, then flip them for a profit online.

(Bonus: if you like to shop, this might be a good way to earn money while satisfying your inner spender.)


I’ve always been a fast typer. In college, I took advantage of that skill by transcribing stuff for people. I’d look for gigs on Craigslist, reply and provide a quick turnaround. If I remember correctly, I only did this a few times, but I was able to earn some decent spending money when I needed it.

Because the work is remote, don’t limit your search to just your area. You might find more transcribing gigs in other cities.

Babysitting, House Sitting & Pet Sitting

Okay, this is an obvious one. And it’s not for everyone, but it worked for me. And what worked best was building a network. I first babysat for my boss. He asked me randomly, but then he told his friends, and I got a few other gigs. I babysat, I housesat, and I watched dogs. Usually, I got to study while I did it. And the best part: lots of extra money!

What odd jobs, side gigs or tasks have you taken on to make extra cash in your spare time? Tell me in the comments.

Photo: 401(K) 2012.

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Kristin writes and makes videos about money, the economy, travel, and more. You can find her stuff at Lifehacker, Two Cents, Mentalfloss, and more. Check out her blog, TheWildWong.com.

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