The Low-To-No Effort Ways I Earn An Extra $125 A Month
“I always loved the idea of a side hustle, but never wanted to commit to anything that would take up nights, weekends or offered no flexibility…”
I’ve always loved the idea of making an uncapped amount of extra cash, and because it isn’t budgeted for, you don’t need to feel guilty about spending it. Sounds great! The problem is, I never wanted to commit myself to a steady side hustle that could take up nights, weekends or wouldn’t allow for flexibility. So I decided to do some research and spent my 2020 finding flexible income streams and how much extra cash I could make from each source. The end result? An extra $120+ in easy cash, per month, totaling over $1300 in cash for the year.
That’s enough money to cover the cost of one of my larger bills each month, pad my savings or simply treat myself to something nice, that I normally wouldn’t.
Here’s a breakdown of exactly what I made between January and December:
Surveys and Focus Groups: $563
By far the most profitable option. I made the majority of my surplus money committing sporadic amounts of time to answering questions and giving my opinion. These sessions can range from a few minutes a day to a few hours in one session. And because these aren’t usually with the same company, you can pick and choose when you want to participate and what topics interest you most.
Unfortunately, many online survey sites are scams or pay very little for your time, so be sure to thoroughly research the site and how you’ll get paid prior to committing. I recommend checking out websites like Respondent and HiveMind. Local universities and market research agencies are also a great place to start because they’re reputable organizations that are required by law to uphold their payment promises. A simple google search for “Market Research Companies” will pull up local agencies near you and they’ll usually have a link to sign up for their research database.
Cashback Cards: $180
If you’re at a point where you feel comfortable with managing credit card spending and paying off balances, then you should be taking advantage of cashback deals. There are several large banks like Chase and Citi that offer 1-2% cashback options with no annual credit card fees. Every time you make a qualifying purchase (depending on what the cashback terms are) you’ll receive a credit or literally cash refunded to you. If you’re new to credit cards or don’t want to go with a larger bank, your local credit union may also have a cashback option with a lower interest rate. Even if you only use the card for bills, that 1-2% can add up (and cash out) quickly!
Gig Opportunities: $180
Many organizations need one-time help for miscellaneous tasks. This can be things like working a booth for an upcoming concert, playing as an extra in a commercial, or refereeing a sport. Craigslist and local Facebook groups are my go-to to find these opportunities, but always do your research on the organization before signing up. This year my gig money came from working the election polls on Nov 4. The money isn’t stellar for the hours and varies by state but it’s a reliably paying gig and a great way to see how our democratic process works. The best part – you can sign up for ANY election, not just presidential. Check your city or county’s website on how to sign up and get trained (did I mention they pay for training too?)
Selling Items: $172
Ever feel like you’re a shopaholic? Guess what, so is everyone else… and they will buy anything! Between Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and Poshmark, I was able to sell used clothes, old household items, and even things I thought were junk (20-year-old roller blades anyone?) I recommend looking at similar items for sale and pricing your item a few dollars below, for a competitive seller’s edge. Sure you’re missing out on a couple of bucks but it beats not selling it at all.
Note from the author: Always be safe when using these apps. Take a friend or family member with you for in-person sales and never agree to meet in a non-public location.
This is by far the easiest and most passive way to get some extra cash you weren’t planning on. Download free apps like Rakuten or Ibotta and get money back when you shop at select stores or purchase qualifying items. The deals will usually fluctuate from 1-15% cashback so if you know you’re planning to make a big purchase, check the apps often for the best rebate. I made a large household purchase and was able to get $60 back on Rakuten just for going to their site before the brand’s site.
Blood Donations: $40
There are so many reasons to give blood: saving up to three lives per donation, getting free snacks, and the list goes on and on. While it’s not legal to pay for blood donations, you’ll often find that donation centers will offer gift card incentives for certain blood types or for donating at certain times of the year. This isn’t the biggest moneymaker but it will give you a sense of happiness and purpose that money can’t buy.
Editor’s Note: This suggestion is solely for those in a position to donate blood without any risks to their health and with regard to varying religious beliefs. While the idea of donating blood (and/or marrow) is often seen as a non-consequential, selfless and life-saving effort, it’s still advised that you seek a physician prior to donating.
Reminder: Don’t Forget to Pay Your Taxes
Even with side gigs, there’s still an obligation to pay taxes. The IRS does require you to report income on any type of extra money earned, including focus groups and surveys, even if you’re paid in gift cards or the amount you made isn’t enough to require a W9 form. Luckily, selling your old items, if selling for less than you paid for it, and getting rebates or other cashback rewards do not require you to pay taxes. It’s important that you keep track of all side income earned and consult a tax professional on what your obligations are, prior to filing.
All in all, these low-effort side gigs and hustles won’t replace a steady income, but they will give you extra cash to play with.
Please share additional ways you’ve made passive income in the comments.
Brittany is a full-time HR professional with a passion for personal finance. When she’s not working, she’s traveling the world or finding every way she can to save money and find the best deal possible.