Student loans can stretch an entry-level salary thin, leaving you with little left over for savings. While side hustles can be a great way to boost your income, they also require a pretty serious time commitment. That’s why finding alternative sources of income — that don’t require you to leave your couch — are so important.
But the internet is swamped with shady companies that promise to help you make money. It can be difficult to distinguish the real deals from the scams.
To help you identify the actual opportunities, we’ve vetted the following 14 ways to make money on the side to ensure they’re legitimate.
14 ways to make money on the side
These unique ideas can help you learn how to make passive income without having to make a big investment.
1. Rent out a room (or couch)
If you have a spare bedroom or even just a couch, you can make extra money by renting it out to short-term vacationers. Budget-conscious travelers book accommodations on sites like AirBnB or VRBO. Depending on your location and the space you have, you could make more than $500 a week.
2. Sell gift cards
Gift cards are a simple gift idea — you likely received a few for the holidays, your birthday, or graduation. But are all those gift cards for locations you actually shop at? According to Gift Card Granny, about $750 million in gift cards went unused in 2014.
Instead of letting those cards gather dust in a drawer, you can turn them into cash by selling your unused gift cards on sites like GiftCards.com or Raise. Depending on the card’s brand, you can get as much as 92 percent of the card’s value.
3. Give out micro-loans
If you have some money in savings, you can make it work harder for you by investing with peer-to-peer lending. With services such as Lending Club you can help individual borrowers by partially funding their personal loans.
Some people need a loan for a dream wedding or to launch a business. You lend them some money and the returns you get on your investment are based on their risk profile and credit worthiness. To diversify your investment, you can give out several small loans rather than one big one.
4. Create blog content
Freelance writers can make a lot of money, but it takes a lot of time, commitment, and experience to command higher prices. For those who need extra cash fast, content mills can connect you with clients and pay you quickly.
The rates you’ll earn will be much less than what you’d get on your own, but you don’t have to do any of the administrative work or find clients yourself. You can get to work right away and start earning cash.
One resource is BlogMutt. Once you become a BlogMutt writer, you can complete as many assignments as you want each week. While the company only pays $8 a post, most articles are short and relatively easy. BlogMutt pays you for your work every Monday, so it can be a quick source of money when you need it.
5. Open a new bank account
You can earn hundreds just by opening a new checking or savings account. Right now, you can get up to $300 by opening an account with Chase and setting up direct deposit. That’s a great bonus you can use to jumpstart your emergency fund.
However, there are risks to opening new bank accounts for the bonuses. Learn about possible drawbacks, and three times this option makes sense.
6. Shop for clothes
If you love to shop for new outfits, you can turn that interest into real cash. Does It Fit My Butt? is a new app that helps women find clothes that work for their bodies.
When you sign up, you enter your measurements. Every time you try on outfits in a store, you post a picture of the looks you love and scan the barcodes of each item. If someone likes your outfit and wants to buy it, they pay $0.99 to find out where to get it. You keep $0.50 of that as a finder’s fee. Best of all, there’s no limit to how much you can earn.
One photo can continue to earn money for you month after month, so it’s a good source of passive income.
7. Post affiliate links
If you have a website, blog, or social media account, one of the most effective ways to make money on the side is to post affiliate links.
If you don’t have a huge following, platforms like ShopStyle Collective can be helpful because they pay you per click, not per purchase. Even if someone just views your links, you can still earn a few cents every time.
8. Sell old clothes and accessories
If you have clothes you no longer wear or accessories you never use, make some extra money by selling them online.
Poshmark and eBay are two sites where you can sell your items for the price you set. While you can make more money with these sites than with other platforms, you may have to wait a while for a buyer.
ThredUP is great for when you don’t want to do all of the selling yourself. You simply send in a bag of items and they pay you a flat fee for what they can accept.
9. Test out listing features
If you have a little spare time, you can make money testing out listing features with Amazon Mechanical Turk. When you sign up, you can take on tasks like checking spelling, looking for item numbers, or comparing products.
Each task pays just a few cents, but you can easily complete many in a few minutes.
10. Invest your change
When you’re learning how to make passive income, investing is a good place to start. But it can be overwhelming getting set up. Acorns takes the pain out of investing and helps you start by using your spare change.
Whenever you make a purchase, the Acorns app rounds up your purchase and invests the difference for you. Over time, these micro-investments can add up to big returns.
11. Shop at real stores
If you shop at brick-and-mortar stores, you can earn gift cards by using the shopkick app. When you sign up, the app will list stores near you that offer “kicks,” or rewards points, for visiting. You earn points just for walking in.
You can earn more by scanning item barcodes with the app or making your normal purchases. You can redeem your points for gift cards to your favorite stores.
12. Refer products
People trust their friends and family for recommendations far more than they trust advertising or a stranger’s reviews online. If you have a favorite product, you can help your loved ones and earn money at the same time.
Many companies, including banks or credit card firms, have referral programs. You sign up for an account and get a unique referral link you can share via email or on social media. If someone purchases a product or signs up for the service you recommended, you get a referral bonus.
The bonuses can be lucrative. For example, right now Student Loan Hero is offering $400 for every friend you recommend who refinances their student loans.
13. Rent out your car
If you don’t use your car every day, you can turn it into a money-making machine by renting it out through Turo. Turo connects car owners with renters in your area. On average, owners who list their car on Turo make $720 a month.
You can rent out your car whenever it’s convenient for you, such as only on weekends or certain times of the year.
14. Sell your smartphone pictures
If you love taking pictures with your phone while you’re on the go, you can sell those photos for cash.
Small businesses constantly need stock photos for their blogs and social media channels, and your smartphone pictures may be exactly what they’re looking for.
Earning extra money
These 14 ways to make money on the side are easy to do and don’t require much of your free time. You can find alternative sources of income to pay off your loans or boost your savings just by spending a few minutes a day online.
Looking to make even more money? Check out these simple side hustles you can start tomorrow.
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