15 Ways to Earn Extra Money With Low to No Startup Costs

November 22, 2011

Want some extra money in your pocket?  Stupid question.  Of course you do!  Cutting expenses only saves so much: we still need food, shelter, and other basic needs.  Homepreneurs ran across this article with 15 ways of earning extra money with minimal obligation or startup cost.  Most of these options need little or no training but will require a little research and networking on your part.  Building a customer base is important while providing reliable and efficient service.  This is not radical or different from any other job.  Provide superior service and you’ll have more clients than you can handle and join the Homepreneurs club!


15 Ways to Earn Extra Money

Sometimes being frugal is not enough to meet your financial obligations and goals and you’ll have to look for ways to earn some extra cash. Whether you’re a stay at home parent looking to supplement your family’s income, looking to pay down debt or establish an emergency fund or saving for a special purchase, here are some ideas to help you make some extra money.

Note these are not get rich quick schemes and they might not work in every situation. The idea of this post is to help you brainstorm ways to use your unique skills and resources to make money that might not have occurred to you before.

1. Childcare. Occasional babysitting is not just for teenagers, in fact many parents prefer to have adult sitters and will pay a premium for experience child minders. Consider signing up with a service like Sitter City to find jobs.

2. Run errands for those who are too busy or incapable of doing it themselves. Be sure to check with your auto insurer and local regulations if you decide to offer a service that gives people rides, for example taking the elderly to do their shopping.

3. Pet sitting/dog walking. If you love animals but can’t have a pet of your own this could be a great part time job and a way to spend time with pets.

4. Secret shopping. Be sure to read the FTC guide on Mystery Shopping first to give you tips on signing up with a reputable agency. Also know that most require you to pay upfront for things like restaurant meals and then reimburse you for expenses along with the fee, so this might not be a good option if you are seriously strapped for cash.

5. Housecleaning. If you’d rather not do this on a regular basis, consider offering one-off services like helping get Spring/Fall cleaning done or specific jobs like washing windows, getting a home ready for a big party and so on.

6. Freelance writing. Even if you don’t have experience writing for publications, you can make money writing short, informative articles for companies such as Textbroker. You can find work writing for blogs at the Problogger job board, too. There are often writing jobs offered on Craigslist but proceed with caution as you could be scammed into working for free or ridiculously small amounts.

7. Start your own blog. This is by no means a guaranteed way to make money, but if you enjoy writing and/or taking photographs this could be a nice way to make a little extra money and have some fun. You can even be paid to review products or be given free samples, trips and other perks if you have a popular blog. You can get more information at Mom Bloggers Club.  Other good blogging hosts are WordPress, LiveJournal, Blog.com, and Blogger.com.  A comparison list with features, themes, and cost (if any) is available on Mashable.

Blogher is one ad network that bloggers can join to get ads that pay per view and sponsored review opportunities, and there are many more.

8. Handyman/woman services. If you are good with your hands, this can be an excellent way to make money and help people. Look into getting liability insurance if you do this sort of work though, as you could be sued if something goes wrong even if it’s not your fault. This kind of insurance is usually not prohibitively expensive and can offer great peace of mind. Ask your insurance agent for details.

9. Computer repair/lessons. Some ideas: help restore computers damaged by viruses, make backups, fix computers that are slow, install new operating systems and teach people how to use their computers.  If you have the skills, background, and experience – certifications are nice too – you will be more credible.  If you start this business, be prepared to handle all aspects of technology issues, including cabling and installing wall jacks.  Know wireless and the various ISPs quite well.  You may be asked to recommend a provider and be able to set up a home network.  Better yet, partner with a professional cabling company if you feel those tasks are too time-consuming or difficult.

10. Do customer service work at home. West at Home is one company that offers people jobs working at home doing customer service work, such as taking orders from people calling 1-800 numbers. Your computer will need to meet certain minimum standards and you’ll need to purchase a headset to be able to type and talk on the phone at the same time. You can learn about similar jobs at the WAHM forums (work at home moms, but anyone can register and read, not just mothers).

11. Help with catering/clean up for special events. Call around to temporary staffing services and catering companies in your area to find out if they maintain an on call list of people looking to work doing things like setting up and breaking down large parties or serving and tending bar. You might need to obtain a permit to serve alcohol depending on your location, so do your homework.

12. Pass out samples or demonstrate merchandise. You can search for jobs and register a profile on the National Association for Retail Marketing website. This is a great job for outgoing personalities with a lot of patience.

13. Be a search engine evaluator/assessor. Lionsbridge and Leapforce are two corporations that contract people to work at home to evaluate search engine results. These jobs are in high demand so it can be awhile before you hear back.

14. Score essays and other standardized tests. Pearson Educational Measurement is one company that hires people to grade essays and other standardized tests. You’ll need to meet certain educational requirements and the work is seasonal by nature. This would be perfect for teachers and other professionals that have the summer off.

15. Perform small tasks. Amazon Mechanical Turk offers computer users the opportunity to make money doing small jobs like drawing boxes around objects in a picture or clicking on links to see if they are live or not. Most tasks pay pennies but you can do dozens or hundreds in an hour. It’s not great money but a lot of the jobs are things that can be done during commercial breaks while watching tv or other down time. Don’t do any tasks that ask you to sign up for mailing lists or complete offers, such as applying for credit cards.

Some other tips:

  • Craigslist is not the only place where you can advertise your services for free. Many local papers now offer free online classifieds. Don’t forget about bulletin boards in local stores and community areas like churches or synagogues. Be sure to let everyone in your circle know that you are offering these services, networking is one of the most powerful ways there is to get a job.
  • If you are wary posting your private phone number or email address in public, get a free email account to forward to your main address and sign up for Google voice to get a free phone number that can record voice mails for you, send you text transcriptions of the messages and forward the calls to your land-line or cell phone (only in the USA).
  • Use reasonable caution before going to a stranger’s home. Be sure to let somebody else know where you are going and if the situation seems off to you, leave.
  • Make sure to discuss and agree upon all terms before you start a job, including how and when payment will be made.
  • Talk to your insurance agent about getting an umbrella policy for liability and any limits that might be placed on your auto or home insurance if you use them for work.
  • Look into local regulations, particularly for services that involve food, transporting individuals or child care.
  • Before you sign up for any work at home opportunity, do a search to find out about any complaints. Don’t let your hope for extra income cloud what you already know: if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Do not pay a company to work for them. If they need to run a credit check or background check, it should be on their own dime. Also, be very cautious before handing over your social security number or other unique identifiers. There are legitimate reasons that a company would need this (for example to give you a 1099 at the end of the year) but you should check out their reputation thoroughly before handing it over.
  • Speaking of 1099s, remember you are liable for taxes on any income you make. Keep careful records and stay on the right side of the IRS.

Edited and compiled by Dion D. Shaw from an article by Tracy

Dion D Shaw is the founder and owner of Homepreneurs.

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Homepreneurs does not endorse nor have any relationships with any of the services listed.  Homepreneurs receives no compensation or consideration for its suggestions.  Homepreneurs strongly urges all interested parties to conduct research and accepts no responsibility for any losses incurred.

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