Too often when we talk about being frugal, the easy answer is to find things to cut back on. When I was trying to pay off my student loans, I started by cutting back. But eventually, like a diet, you reach a breaking point. I couldn’t change my rent for at least another year, I didn’t want to lower how much I was paying on my student loans and I didn’t want to live on macaroni and cheese.
In Confessions of a Shopaholic the main character’s father reminds her that cutting back isn’t the only way she can get out of her money troubles. “You know, there are two solutions to money troubles…Cut Back,” says my dad, “Or Make More Money. One or the other.” The good part of making more money is that there’s no limit. When you try to cut back, eventually you’ll reach a wall. And when you’re trying to save, it can be frustrating to feel like there’s nothing more you can do. When you’ve taken away most of your luxuries, cutting back even more can feel self-defeating.
Whether you’re trying to pay off your loans, save for a vacation or supplement your income, here are five ways you can make more money:
This is one method I used to pay off $28,000 worth of student loans. Lots of banks and credit cards offer bonuses if you do direct deposit or spend a certain amount within 90 days. The first year I did this, I made about $1,000. My personal favorite is Capital One 360.
There are tons of websites where you can learn about the latest deals. I paid for a new set of tires with the money from a few bank bonuses and used the rest to put toward my loans. It requires some organization to make sure you do enough to get the bonus. But if your HR department is willing to change your direct deposit, it’s a great way to get an extra $100.
Whatever you’re talented in, use it and teach someone else. You can contact your local college about tutoring opportunities or reach out to adults you know about teaching their kids math on the side. For some parents, this can be a combination tutoring and babysitting gig, but you can command much higher pay.
Try advertising with local mommy groups and blogs. Even asking people to share your info on social media can net you a few clients. If you do a good job, you can make it a steady gig and rely on word-of-mouth to grow your business and raise your rates.
Drive a car
There’s a reason why Lyft and Uber are so popular nowadays. These taxi services are easy to use, but they’re also a good job for drivers. There are certain requirements you have to meet to be a driver, but doing it at high-traffic times can be a real moneymaker.
There are plenty of stories of drivers who make five or six figures. Even if you’re just looking for an extra $500 a month, driving a few hours a week at the right time can be enough to reach your goal.
Give your opinion
There are hundreds of different survey websites that claim to be able to make you some big bucks. First of all, many of them are just fishing for easy information. Second, you will never get rich doing surveys. That being said, you can make some extra cash with some of the more legitimate sites. These include:
Use your skills
Take whatever you’re good at and leverage that skill. If you’re a professional graphic designer, start freelancing outside of work. If you’re a good writer, find freelance gigs for blogs, marketing firms and local publications. If you’re a photographer, start taking senior photos or pictures for families to create their photo cards for Christmas
The good part about this tactic is that it’ll likely help you get better in your career. It can give you a different perspective on your job, inspire you with new ideas and round out your experience. It’ll let you improve faster and move up in your company. Plus, it’s your best way to charge the most out of any other side hustle.
Don’t forget to shop through Ebates when buying online. You can receive hundreds of dollars cash back, plus they have access to numerous coupons.
Lastly, check out my favorite way to earn extra money: renting out my guest room on Airbnb.