When you first think about how to earn extra cash, a rush of excitement can get you pumped up. Not only do you get the benefits of a steady paycheck if you have a full-time job, but you’re also earning extra cash on the side to fuel your goals. But while your go-getter attitude can get you off to a running start, the combined stress of a side-hustle and a full-time job can slow you down over time.
Thankfully, if you want to dip your toe in the gig economy but don’t want to eat up too much of your free time, you’ve got options. From rideshare driving to working holiday retail to being a part-time virtual assistant, there is plenty of room to make money on the side without ruining your sanity. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that contingent (i.e. freelance or non-permanent) workers account for 1.3% to 3.8% of total employment.
Here are three ideas to earn extra cash while keeping your stress low and sanity intact:
Idea no. 1: Turn your existing skills into a side hustle
It’s easier to turn your existing skills into a side hustle versus learning a brand new skill to make money. For instance, if you work as a marketing assistant, you might find it easy to schedule social media posts for small businesses or influencers. Think about all of the skills it takes to do your full-time job, and see how you can parse out those skills for smaller gigs.
Freelancing doesn’t have to take up a lot of time, either. You can set your hours and the number of clients with whom you want to work. For example, you could help a small business owner schedule travel, book meetings, and send invoices as a virtual assistant for just a few hours per week. ZipRecruiter reports that the average annual pay for a work-from-home virtual assistant is $59,422 per year. If the hours start getting too long, you have the luxury of cutting down on the number of commitments as a freelancer.
Alternatively, you could turn a hobby into a cash-earning machine. Alex Michael, a 30-year-old from Detroit, referees hockey on the side. The gig has helped him earn extra cash while making a low wage in his full-time job. “I have been involved with hockey my whole life. In college, it gave me plenty of spending money. Now it’s helping me get out of debt quickly so I can build wealth and pay off my house,” said Alex.
Idea no. 2: Switch to a high yield savings account
If picking up gigs on the side sounds like too much work, you can earn a few hundred extra dollars per year simply by switching savings accounts. A quick check of your finances can help you identify monthly maintenance fees, ATM fees, or minimum balance fees. If you have been hit with fees in the past, it might be time to research savings accounts.
Most Americans hold their savings in their local brick-and-mortar bank, which tend to earn an average rate of 0.09%. However, by switching to a high yield savings account, you can earn as much as 23X the national average rate while retaining the same FDIC insurance and benefits as most conventional banks.
One quick peep inside of my money market account had me convinced. I was making a measly 0.7% on my emergency fund money. I knew I could do better, so I shopped around for a savings account that had a high-interest rate, no account fees, and great customer service. You will have to do the work of opening up a new account, transferring your funds and then closing the old one. But that takes all of a few days and a few minutes of your time to get set up. It is a great way to earn extra cash by parking your money in a place where it can work harder for you (without you thinking about it).
Idea no. 3: Sell unwanted items strategically
You most likely have items in your closet that are worth some change. Let’s say you go find a bunch of items, take all the photos, and add each item individually to your favorite online marketplace. It can be time-intensive to manage dozens of items at the same time. So, here’s the trick to doing this properly: only list two to three items at one time. You should take bright pictures with a clutter-free background and write a long, detailed description for each item. Then, keep it stress-free by monitoring those items closely, and waiting for them to sell before listing any additional items.
Try looking up similar items to get an idea of how much you can price your item. Mel Janson, a 27-year-old from Las Vegas, was able to generate $125 after spending just two hours collecting her items, taking pictures, and writing descriptions. “I travel a lot for work and I was gone for the majority of the month. Even though I was traveling, I was still able to make over $100 cleaning out old junk I don’t use anymore,” said Mel.
Ask yourself these questions before taking on a side project:
Do you feel like you have a handle on picking up your next side hustle without the stress? Ask yourself these two questions: Is it something you love to do or wouldn’t mind doing for free? Does it fit nicely inside of your busy schedule? If you answered “yes” to either question, take a crack at your extra income idea. It could be just the thing that helps you pay off debt or hit a big money goal.
Justine Nelson is a debt-free online entrepreneur who loves writing, 90s/00s hip hop, craft beer and talking about money. You can find her chatting about debt, budgeting, and booze at debtfreemillennials.com and on Twitter here.
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