The different ways I made money last year – and how you too can earn some fast money!

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Oh, the joy of the side hustle, the part-time job, the work from home gig! People are getting out there and making IT HAPPEN! I remember the good old days before I knew about side hustles. Days when I would sit and binge watch Netflix or go on a hike, but not anymore! I’ve gotta go out and make money! Do you want to know the worst part? I love it! You can do it too! Read on to find out about some creative ways you can earn MONEY!

Life Beyond the 9-5 Job

For a long time, there has been the idea of the “part-time job” that society has embraced. Those were for high school and college kids, or those trying hard to keep food on the table. But not anymore. The word “hustle” has taken on a new meaning, one filled with anticipation, and dare I say PRIDE.

In the past 15 years, the online world has opened up new possibilities for the SAHM to become the WAHM. Or for the ambitious millennial to squirrel away fat dollars into their IRA so they can retire at 38, and live their life traveling.

Myself, I had the heart of a millennial but the body of a 40yr old (one who ate too many donuts), and the drive of a newly awoken entrepreneur. The problem, however, was that I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I just knew that I wanted to do more. To make some extra money to help boost my savings rate, and buy a few little extras.

I have also tried some money saving challenges, which definitely tested my creativity! I love a good challenge, no matter what kind, I loved them so much I did a whole post with 17 of them!

RELATED: 17 Money Saving Challenges to Supercharge Your Bank Account

Are There Ways to Make Money at Home? The Discovery Process

I found myself doing all sorts of different things to make the odd dollar here or there. Even though the majority of the things didn’t move the needle very much, overall they still taught be a very valuable lesson…

Learn to Hustle!

My very first foray into the idea of “doing more” was in the very innocent past time of couponing. Oh little did I know that this innocuous gateway drug into saving money, and contributing to the family finances would lead me to where I am today.

That first year I tracked all of my couponing trips. The total spent, total saved and at the end of the year, I had saved $12,876 in total, all from couponing. Sure I bought some stuff I didn’t really need (I just ran out of my five-year shampoo stockpile), but I never went crazy buying 65 hot sauces for only $.04. My purchases were mostly normal, with a few exceptions.

The success of couponing taught me a very valuable lesson, a lesson that I draw on every day. The importance of paying attention to your money.

“Do I really need to spend $4.99 on a container of ice cream? If I wait three days it will be on sale, and with a gift card promotion. So all said and done it will be $2.34. That’s a great deal! You might be rolling your eyes saying who cares about a savings of $2.65?!? But you add all those small things up, and it comes to $12,876 in savings. That’s nothing to laugh at!

RELATED: 4 Tips on How to Successfully Save Money Like an Expert

As a result of my success with couponing, I turned my attention to grander (I thought then) things (insert evil maniacal laugh).

9 Creative Ways to Make Money with a Side Hustle

1. Participated in Focus Groups: $575

These are fun but can be hard to secure. There are lots of websites that you can sign up to browse company’s who want your opinion (usually market research firms). If you have a flexible job, where you can leave at odd times of the day then this might be good for you! The first one I did was a firm doing research on a random small group of people’s opinions on health insurance company’s. We talked for 90 minutes, did a small group activity and I got $175.

This next one was kinda fun, the great thing was it had great perks! I tested a new DVR hardware piece from a very reputable company, I got paid $400 and also got to keep all the equipment (about $600 worth). Total embarrassing side note; I did give my husband $200 as he had to help me a lot with the programming part of this, he totally earned it as I’m a tech dum dum!

2. Participated in Medical Research Studies: $250

This one is somewhat tricky, it can be good money, but you’d need to have a research hospital in your area. I have completed two of them, one giving a blood sample two times for $150, three months apart, and one providing a single blood sample & urine sample for $100.

When I signed up for these I kind of forgot that I sometimes get faint giving blood. And yes during one blood draw I did almost faint. Yaaaa me! So I don’t think I’ll be signing up for more. One of my friends successfully talked me out of doing a spinal tap for $200. Probably for the best. These can pay from $20 to ones that pay up to $2,400, but those involved a 4-day long hospital stay.

3. Taste Testings at a Food Development Center: $40

This one would be great I told myself! I signed up to taste test burgers at a local center that helps small, food-based entrepreneurs get their product developed and into stores. I was pumped to get paid $40 cash and get my lunch taken care of for the day!

What I got was two, half portions of a nonmeat patty (mildly warm) along with a glass of water. Yeah, not exactly lunch. I gave my opinions on texture, taste, after taste, expectations of product vs. its name, and what kind of product it is. It was easy, and I’d do it again (but pack a snack for after)

4. Rebate Programs: $45

For this, I use ibotta, and every year I save up my earnings and cash it out to buy myself a birthday present. I always buy myself a small present, so I would spend this money anyway. It’s super easy to use, and sometimes great high-value coupons! It’s not just grocery coupons but lots of online options too, such as Best Buy, Apple Music, REI, PetSmart, eBay, etc. Since 2014 I’ve made $225, not bad! Check out ibotta and start saving for your next splurge!

5. Workplace Reward Programs – $175

Many workplaces offer healthy living type rewards, check with your workplaces HR department to see if there are any options. For my company’s program, I would log my daily steps, go through some health-related webinars, do planks as an office team, even eating more whole foods so I could earn points to get gift cards. Don’t be surprised if the gift cards are taxed, ask HR or check your pay stub to see for sure.

With my gift cards I would always get Target gift cards, so when I had to buy diapers it wasn’t such a huge bill. (A diaper trip could be anywhere from $50 to $100, so you always need to capitalize on deals, such as when you buy two, or spend $75 worth you get gift cards back).

6. At Home Audio Transcription: $20

This had great potential, and it started out awesome! I signed up with Rev Transcription, took a test on grammar usage, passed and away I went! I listened to people talk about walking in space and typed up just what they said. Using the platform took a tiny bit of time getting used to but nothing crazy. I’m a decent typer, and you could earn on average $.50 per minute of audio transcribed. If you speak a foreign language, you can make a lot more.

After I nailed the easy audio files, the audio files got a lot harder to interpret, such as strong accents, muffled voices, heavy background noise, etc. During a particularly hard file, I timed it. It took me 9 minutes to transcribe one minute of audio, and if I kept going at that rate I would have earned $3.30 an hour… no thanks!

7. Selling Clothes Online: $49

This was a fun and a very satisfying money maker. I got to kill two birds with one stone, as I cleaned out my closet and I made money! I used thredUP and it was super easy to do. All you do is go online signup, choose “cleanout” and they email you a shipping label. You box your stuff up and drop it off at the post office!

With your earning you can choose to get more as a credit to spend online or a little bit less money as a cashout to your PayPal account! They have crazy nice pieces too! Think Rebecca Minkoff bags, Chloe shoes, etc. The best use of your money is buying kids clothes, as they are very inexpensive and they have SO MANY choices!

8. Selling on eBay: $758

Similarly, this money maker was also a great double hitter as I cleaned out the garage and got money for it! Yet, it was a tad bit harder as I was selling some of my childhood collectibles. Think porcelain figurines and holiday knick-knacks.

It was sad in a nostalgic way, but I was okay with it, as they’d been sitting in boxes for probably 15 years (YIKES), and I knew I wouldn’t ever display them again. My style is much cleaner and more minimal now. The figure above represents 35 items, but you need to consider eBay fees, PayPal fees, etc. I did have to buy a few small boxes and some packing material, so I netted about $580. Not too shabby!

9. Bank Card & Account Farming: $1,000

So this one was a great money earner, and I hardly had to do anything at all! The basic premise of bank farming (or its called “churning” as well). Is that you sign up for a checking/savings account or credit card just for the sign-up bonus, and once you get the bonus you cancel it and move on to the next deal.

To do the credit card one you need a good-excellent credit score, and for the bank account ones, you need a decent amount of money to be able to set aside in your new account. For example, for a recent Chase Bank promo, you got $300 for signing up for a checking account, and then $200 for signing up for a savings account. I did have to set up a direct deposit for the checking account, and then deposit $15K into the savings account (we just moved our emergency fund in there for three months).

For the Capital One Savor card bonus of $500, I had to spend $3,000 in three months. I usually charge 100% of everything I buy in order to capitalize on reward points anyways. So this one was really easy to complete. I never charge anything on my card if I can’t pay it off in full every single month, so you need to be pretty disciplined with your cc’s to succeed with this plan of action.

Now doing Bank/CC Farming can be extremely lucrative, BUT it can also be very complicated if you do not have yourself very organized with the small details (i.e. waiting period, restrictions, qualifiers, credit score requirements, etc). Please be sure that you research your offers very carefully! Check out the Doctor of Credit site for the definitive guide on how to successfully win at this side hustle.

Total side hustle earnings: $2,912

John Addison making money quote

In the end…

As I said in the beginning, none of these things brought in a lot of money. I learned that I can do a lot of different things successfully to earn more. I learned what was worth my time and what wasn’t. What tasks bored me to tears, what my body can and cannot handle, what I can let go of for the sake of simplicity. Yet the most important thing that I learned is to

Quit Majoring in Minor Things!

Yup, I learned that I was mostly wasting my time. They were great things to get started on, but if I invested more time in them I would be limiting myself and my potential. I learned that I can succeed at something slightly odd or crazy. I learned that I wanted bigger and more challenging things to pour my energy into. So I decided to quit it all. Quit earning nickel & dimes and go for broke! So what you are reading right here, is my trade up. I knew I had it in me to do more, and I still believe deep down that I will succeed!

RELATED: To learn more about money mindsets and how to set yourself up for success check out this post.

I’m so excited about this blog, and how I can help YOU learn about money!

All in all, go out there and see what works for you! Just don’t give up on making money! Maybe you hate the first five things you try, that’s okay. Perhaps the sixth thing will totally by your jam! Get creative! My creative ways to make money may not sound like your style, and that’s okay. Just try a bunch of different things, and one of them will surely get you fired up for more!

What was the best and the worst way you made money? Share in the comments below, maybe you can another person find their side hustle dream!

Resources Mentioned:

  1. ibotta for shopping rebates
  2. Rev Transcription to get paid to transcribe audio
  3. thredUP for selling clothes
  4. Doctor of credit to learn about bank account and credit card bonuses

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