Over the past two years or so, I’ve earned a little over $30,000 doing a bunch of interesting side hustles. The question I often get is how I find the time to do all of these things. For most people, the ability to earn extra money comes down to time – most people work all day, and when combined with other obligations, there are pretty much no hours left in the day to keep working.
However, that hasn’t been the case for me. Even though I work a full-time job, I’ve still found a way to consistently earn extra income every month by incorporating my side hustles into my everyday life. It’s a strategy I call monetizing your life. The idea behind monetizing your life is pretty simple – take the things you’re already doing and figure out how you can make money doing them. By doing this, you earn extra money without having to use up a lot of your time. In theory, the money you earn from monetizing your life can be used to subsidize your living expenses. It also provides a nice cushion – if I needed to live lean, I could probably survive just from the stuff I’m already doing.
Monetizing your life might seem pretty abstract, so let’s take a look at some of the things I do to get a clearer picture of how it works.
1. Monetizing My Home – House Hacking
One of the more obvious ways to monetize your life is to monetize your largest and most expensive asset – your house. Rent and mortgage payments form the bulk of most people’s living expenses, but with a little bit of house hacking, it’s possible to subsidize those expenses (and even make some profit too).
The important thing to know is that house hacking doesn’t require you to have any sort of special property. These days, all you really need is some extra space in your house and a willingness to let people into your home. The absolute easiest way to get started house hacking is to do what my wife and I do – rent out a spare room in your house on Airbnb. I’d wager a guess that a lot of you have a fully furnished guest room that sits empty most of the year. You can use that room to subsidize some or all of your housing expenses.
Indeed, over the past two years, our guest room has generated us over $15,000 (with another $5,000 worth of bookings already made for this year). Since the principle and interest on our mortgage is a little over $800 per month, this means we’re essentially able to live for free just from monetizing a single room in our house.
House hacking in this way benefits from the fact that it’s the least expensive and lowest risk way to start earning some real estate income. We already had a furnished guest room in our house, so it cost us absolutely nothing to get started hosting. Even if we had to buy furniture, it’s something that we would have done anyway. And if we found out that hosting on Airbnb wasn’t for us, we could have just deactivated our listing and been in the same position as we were before.
Where monetizing your home really shines is that it can help you get paid for a household task that we all hate – cleaning your house. Even before I was hosting on Airbnb, I still had to take the time to keep my house clean. These days, I still keep my house clean, which benefits my guests, but also benefits me as well. In a way, it’s like I’m paying myself to keep my own house clean.
2. Monetizing Dog Ownership
It might sound weird to say that you can make money from owning a dog, but it’s true. When you think about it, the real impact of having a dog isn’t the cost – it’s how much they change up your daily routine. Those of you that are dogless can do anything you want, whenever you want. Not so for us dog owners. Every day, without fail, I have to feed my dog, take her out for walks, and do all of the other dog care tasks that come with owning a dog.
If you already have to take care of a dog, starting up a dogsitting business is an easy way to make money off the dog care tasks that you’re already doing. That’s because if you already have one dog, taking care of a second dog doesn’t really add much additional work to your plate. For the past three years, I’ve been doing just that by dogsitting pups using Rover (think of it like an Airbnb for dogs). This little dog sitting business of mine adds up to a few thousand dollars of extra income per year – more than enough to cover any expenses that Financial Pup might incur. And again, since I’m already taking care of my dog, it doesn’t add any more work to my plate to take care of a second dog too.
Take one of my recent dog-sitting clients I had as an example of how this works (the tiny, miniature pinscher seen below in the pile of blankets). I made about $125 to watch this pup for six days. It didn’t require very much extra work on my end since I’m already taking care of my dog, and as a bonus, my dog had a friend to hang out with for the week.
Obviously, whether you can monetize your dog care tasks will depend on your specific circumstances. Not everyone will have a pup with the temperament for this, but if you have a pup that gets along with other pups, dogsitting is an easy way to monetize the dog care tasks that you’re already doing anyway.
3. Exercise Hacking And Monetizing My Commute
Another monetizing hack that I’ve been doing for the past several years is something you could call “exercise hacking.” No matter who you are, being active and exercising is something you have to do. If you already have to exercise and stay active, why not figure out a way to get paid to do it too?
That’s where bike deliveries come into play. Anyone who’s into financial independence knows that biking is one of the best things you can do to get around and stay active. For the past three years, I’ve been delivering food on my bike using apps like Postmates, DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Caviar.
What’s so great about doing food deliveries is that you basically monetize your exercise. Instead of biking randomly, you can instead go off on a little mission, explore your city, and get paid while you do it. And, if you’re delivering food on your bike, you’re taking one more car off the road, which means you’re creating a net gain for society. Someone was going to order their food anyway. If you’re the one delivering their food on your bike, you’re saving the earth and getting some exercise in too.
I also use food deliveries as a way to “monetize my commute.” Like any good personal finance blogger, I bike to work. At the end of most days, I’ll typically turn on my delivery apps and try to find a delivery heading towards my house. This allows me to basically get paid to bike home. The money I can earn delivering food on your bike adds up over time. I generally pull in between $100 and $300 every month from food deliveries. When you consider that I’m getting exercise and improving my health, the return I’m getting is much more than that.
4. Monetizing My Lunch Break
One last monetizing hack of mine is walking dogs during my lunch break through Wag. When I first signed up for Wag, I didn’t see it as a thing I’d do very often – walking dogs is typically done during the weekday when I’m at work, so it’s not something that I thought would fit into my life very well.
However, I’ve discovered that if you work in a dense area with residential buildings nearby, walking dogs using Wag is a perfect way to essentially monetize your lunch break. Most people need their dogs walked during the noon hour and my office happens to be near a bunch of large apartment buildings. If you’re like most people, you probably tend to go for a walk or stretch your legs during lunch. If you’re going to do that, you might as well get paid while you do it!
For the past six months or so, I’ve been able to regularly walk dogs during my lunch break by using Wag. I typically make between $15 and $20 for a half-hour walk – enough to pay for lunch that day if I wanted to. My dog walking earnings usually add up to an extra $100 or $200 every month – not a ridiculous amount of money, but more than pocket change too. You won’t be able to walk dogs during every lunch break, but it’s not crazy to do it once or twice a week.
That’s extra money going into your pocket, for something that you’re probably already doing anyway.
Is Monetizing Your Life For Everyone?
To be fair, monetizing your life really does depend on your life circumstances and where you live. For someone like me – living in a big city, relatively young, and with no kids – doing this works out perfectly. I bring in an extra $1,000 or $2,000 every month just doing the things I’m already doing.
It might not seem like all that much, but remember just how valuable this extra money can be. Earning an extra $1,000 a month is significant. If you wanted to generate that much from your investments, you’d need to have $300,000 saved up. It’s really eye-opening just how valuable monetizing your life can be when you think of it in this way. It’s up to you to decide if this is a strategy that you want to do. For me, financial independence is something I’m striving for, and the strategy of monetizing my life gets me closer to reaching that goal. Plus, I find it fun, and it adds some adventure into my daily life.
For sure, these aren’t the only ways to monetize your life – I’m just working from my own personal examples. My challenge to you is to take a look at your own life and see if there are things you’re already doing that you can monetize. You might just surprise yourself at what you can do.
Financial Panther is a lawyer who paid off $87,000 worth of student loans in just 2.5 years by choosing not to live like a big shot lawyer. If you’re interested in following his journey, you can visit his blog, Financial Panther, where he writes about personal finance, crushing debt, financial independence, and side hustling using the sharing economy. Follow him on Twitter here.
Image via Unsplash