When you’re playing catch-up with your retirement savings, the most effective strategy includes a variety of tactics. Staying on a budget, cutting expenses, paying yourself first, and practicing delayed gratification are just a few. All of these will help you reach your financial goals.
But one that will turbocharge your progress is increasing your income.
In the personal finance blogosphere, there is a widespread belief that stems from an abundance mindset:
There are limited ways to cut spending, but there are limitless ways to create income.
In other words, there are only so many corners you can cut in your budget. You can be diligent at using coupons, shopping sales, and eliminating expenses, but these things will only get you so far in your journey to financial freedom.
In order to remove the boundaries that keep you from reaching your big vision for retirement, you have to create more streams of income.
If you immediately feel a resistance toward increasing your income – because you already have a full-time job, or you don’t have the energy, or whatever – then the first thing you need to work on is your mindset.
But that’s for another post.
For now, I’d just like to share some practical options for making more money. Some of these will bring in a limited income, while others could potentially surpass your greatest expectations.
For more inspiration, get this free list of 101 Side Hustle ideas!
Do you have expertise in a particular field? Tutoring could be a lucrative side gig for you.
There is always a need for students to get 1-on-1 help, from elementary school all the way through college. Popular subjects are math and foreign language, but you could create your own niche such as SAT prep or essay writing. Even if your strength is not academic, you can still help kids get more organized, manage time better, and help them get their homework done.
If you’re not great working with kids or teens, you could focus on the college crowd. And with tools like Skype and online tutoring services, you’re not necessarily limited to your own local area.
There is a lot of flexibility with tutoring, and you can either start your own business or sign up with tutoring companies. Here are just a few:
To find new clients you can rely on word of mouth or leave some business cards at your local libraries. But if you really wanted to grow a tutoring business, you’ll need to get good at marketing yourself.
To be inspired, read Joanne’s story about how she started her own online tutoring business.
2. Teach A Skill Locally
Do you have a passion for a certain hobby or skill? There are people that want to learn from you.
This is a great option if you want to teach others in a less formal, group setting. Contact local rec centers and libraries to see if you can hold a class at one of their locations.
And don’t limit yourself in what you can teach. My local rec center has classes ranging from archery to cooking to zombie survival!
3. Create An Online Course
If you like to teach and want to share your knowledge, but you don’t have the extra time to hold in-person classes, creating an online course might be perfect for you.
This is a great way to create passive income while reaching a wider audience. Most of the work required is done before you even offer the class, but once it’s created you only need to keep it updated.
The great news is you don’t need to do your own promotion. There are websites that will host your class and promote it to the audience it already has.
Some of these sites are:
However, if you want to keep more control and profits, you can always create your own website and offer your course through it.
There is no limit to what you can teach, but it’s important that your online course is thorough, helpful and a quality production. The online class market has exploded in the last few years, and there is a lot of competition out there.
4. Substitute Teach
I had to include this one! I’ve been “subbing” for a couple of years now, and I really like it as a way to bring in extra income.
Of course, you’ll need to have your days open because of typical school hours. But if you enjoy being around kids or teens, it’s an easy way to bring in extra income.
I appreciate the fact that I can work when I want, and where I want. Personally, I prefer to stick with high schools because the classroom management issues are minimal with teens.
Qualifications will vary between states, so be sure to check the districts you’re interested in.
5. Teach English Online
Did you know you can teach kids living in China how to speak English – right from the comfort of your own living room?
The market for English language teachers has always been pretty strong, and many people have fulfilled their dream of traveling by taking teaching jobs around the world.
But with the internet, companies have now developed online programs that connect native English-speaking teachers with students in China who want to learn a new language. All that’s needed is a computer and an internet connection.
So how do you get this kind of gig? If you’re interested in teaching children, check out VIPKid and SayABC. You’ll need to meet certain requirements, like having a bachelor degree and possibly teaching experience. There is also typically a live interview and a demo lesson you’ll need to teach.
Although you decide how heavy you want your teaching load to be, you will need to be available at odd hours in order to accommodate your students who live in a different time zone.
Sound like something you’d like to try? Read this personal story about teaching English online to give you additional insight, and then consider submitting an application to one of the companies mentioned above.
6. Create & Sell Resources For Teachers
If you already have experience in creating lesson plans and teaching them in the classroom, you may be able to turn those skills into profit outside the classroom.
Teachers are rarely able to clock out when the bell rings and call it a day. There’s still papers to grade and plans to make, which can really take a big chunk out of evenings and weekends.
That’s why websites such as TeachersPayTeachers.com have become so popular in the education marketplace. Educators can find ideas, resources and support from other educators who understand their needs.
If you have a knack for developing creative lesson plans, this could be a good source of extra income. Learn more by checking out these 7 tips to selling on TpT.
7. House Sit
When people go out of town, they sometimes want someone to keep an eye on their home. Maybe they have plants that need to be watered, or packages to retrieve from the front porch.
This side gig is easy and flexible. You just need to get the word out that you offer this service.
You can do this by putting up flyers at local shops and posting on neighborhood sites like NextDoor.
There are also websites that will connect you with those looking for a sitter, such as:
You don’t need to limit your options to your local neighborhood. Many people like to take house sitting jobs to get a change of scenery or have their own “paid-for” vacation in a desirable location.
You can read here about how to become a house sitter and get paid for staying at someone else’s house.
8. Pet Sit
This is a job that’s a little more involved than house sitting, because you’re responsible for a living creature. But if you’re an animal lover, it’s a fun way to make some side income.
Though you could take care of a variety of different pets, there is a big demand for dog walking right now. Some owners want their beloved Spot to get out and have some fun while they’re slaving away at work, so they’ll hire someone to walk him around the neighborhood or take him to the doggy park.
Others are looking for a more long-term commitment when they go out of town for business or play. You may be asked to let Spot out a few times a day, or even keep him at your place full-time. If you already have dogs, this probably wouldn’t add much to your daily schedule.
You could even have your own niche – like exotic pets or birds. (I’m guessing if you don’t mind snakes, you probably wouldn’t have a lot of competition!)
And if you don’t normally travel around the holidays, you could potentially charge more because the demand increases around that time.
You can get the word out locally, through NextDoor or Craigslist. But you can also use a site like one of these that will try to match you with someone in your area:
If this is a side hustle that sounds interesting to you, read this helpful article about how to make money as a pet sitter.
9. Clean Houses & Offices
This income opportunity is a flexible and active way to bring in extra money. Most people either dread doing their own cleaning or they’re too busy to keep up with it. If you’re good at it and don’t mind this type of work, it can be a lucrative business for you.
You can choose to clean private homes while the kids are in school, or offer your services to businesses and work after your day job.
You could probably find jobs in your neighborhood or through friends. But to secure contracts with businesses, you may need to invest some money to get licensed and bonded. Not only may this be legally required in your area, it will add a level of professionalism and trustworthiness to your business.
If you’re ready to start offering cleaning services, read about 8 ways to grow your cleaning business.
10. Deliver Stuff
What stuff? Groceries, pizzas, packages, fast food, and flowers are just a few options.
You can get a part-time job with a local restaurant or flower shop that offers delivery, or you can sign up with a company that offers delivery as a stand-alone service.
Postmates will pick up restaurant orders, groceries, and even alcohol for delivery.
And then there’s Amazon Flex, which hires local drivers to deliver packages to businesses and residences.
All of these opportunities are really flexible, and you accept jobs when you want. And not only do you get paid for delivery, you could also get cash tips from generous customers.
Check your area to see if any of these companies operate near you, and start earning money with your vehicle. If you find your choices are few, check out these 26 ways to deliver in your spare time.
11. Run Errands
In my humble opinion, people are way too busy these days. Too busy to clean, walk their dogs, and even run their own errands. Not good for them, but an income opportunity for you.
If you like being on the go, listening to podcasts and audio books in your car, and generally helping others, this could be something that works for you.
There are a variety of niches you could focus on:
- Small businesses that need their few employees to stay on-site
- Wealthy corporate workers that work 15 hours a day
- Elderly or disabled people who are home bound
- New moms who are stressed out and sleep deprived
You decide who you want to serve, and what hours you’re available.
To easily connect with people who need this service, you can become a “tasker” with TaskRabbit.
But if you’d like to build your own business, read this beginner’s guide to making money running errands for other people.
12. Drive People Around
You’ll need to own a late model vehicle in great condition and meet these other requirements, but it’s possible you could start this side hustle fairly quickly.
It’s a highly flexible job, and you drive as little or as much as you want.
You will sometimes have strangers in your car that may not be your cup of tea, but most people who hire a driver are on vacation and generally in good moods. You can also choose not to take passengers on weekend nights so you can avoid the party crowd.
To learn more, read this interview about Harry’s experience as a Lyft and Uber driver.
13. Sell Used Stuff
Do you tend to collect more than you get rid of? If so, your house probably feels a bit disorganized and cluttered. A great way to regain precious space and make a few bucks is to sell the stuff you no longer need.
- Look through your closets for old clothes, shoes, and accessories you haven’t worn in a while.
- Get rid of collectibles and home decor that no longer fit your style.
- Open up your kitchen cabinets and take out all the gadgets, dinnerware, and small appliances that haven’t seen the light of day in the past year.
- Consider letting go of furniture pieces you don’t value and are just taking up space.
You can hold a good old-fashioned garage sale, or list your items on sites like Craigslist, NextDoor or OfferUp to find local buyers. If you don’t mind shipping, try selling them an Ebay where you’ll reach a wider market. (Read how one woman makes $800 a month selling clothes on eBay.)
Of course, this doesn’t produce sustainable income because eventually you’ll run out of things to sell. But it’s an easy way to make a few bucks and simplify your life at the same time.
14. Flip Stuff
Have you ever found something at a thrift store or garage sale and thought I could sell this for more money? The truth is, you could be onto something.
Professional flippers find their inventory by scouting these places, as well as flea markets, Craigslist, and discounted retail items. They know that just because the price tag says one thing, it doesn’t mean someone else wouldn’t pay more. In fact, some people make 6 figures counting on it.
If you like to hunt for hidden treasure, this might be a profitable way to generate some income for you.
15. Waitress or Bartend
I tried waitressing. Once. Total fail.
Only job I’ve ever gotten fired from.
But don’t let that discourage you. If you can get a job in a busy restaurant, you can make a good side income from tips alone.
My downfall was I have a horrible memory, and this doesn’t work well when you’re juggling 5 tables with 4 people each that all want something different. At the same time.
I really had no business waiting tables. And besides that, I’m an introvert. So, yeah. Not the ideal personality for inspiring others to leave extra cash after their meal.
But, if you like to chat up with strangers and have a knack for keeping 23 different requests organized in your brain, then go for it! It’s a flexible job that requires little training and opportunities are endless. And you always have cash in your pocket!
16. Start a Résumé Service
Have you ever been complimented on your résumé? It’s possible you have a natural ability to organize and express your strengths on paper.
Or, if you’ve ever been in charge of hiring, you’ve probably developed a good eye for what works and what doesn’t in a résumé.
Either way, you can use this ability to create some additional income. Most job-seekers who are proficient at what they do are not necessarily good at communicating how and why.
You can help those who are insecure and self-conscious about promoting themselves to organize their strengths and accomplishments. Your service could be the difference between snagging a dream job and being unemployed.
You can promote your services locally by word of mouth, or reach a wider audience by offering your services on Fiverr.
One of the great things about this service is that it’s always in need. Once you start getting clients that rave about your great work to others, you’ll never be without work.
Read “How to Start a Résumé Writing Service” to learn more about this income opportunity.
17. Be a Freelance Writer
Do you have a talent for the written word? Before you say no, I’d encourage you to ask others in your life first. It’s easy to brush off our own natural abilities as “nothing special”.
The truth is, *most* do not know how to write well. And yet, reading is such a huge part of our daily existence. That’s why good writers are always in demand.
Long ago, being a writer mainly meant you were an author or a journalist.
These days, there are so many more opportunities to get paid for writing:
- websites & blogs
- ghost writer
- technical writer
- marketing specialist
- social media
- proposals & grants
- content strategist
- travel writer
- and more!
As a freelance writer, you choose what you want to write and for which clients. You don’t work for one specific company. Instead, you work for yourself and offer your services to people and businesses that need good copy.
However, it’s not for the faint at heart. Building a freelance writing business takes time and persistence and *definitely* a love of writing. But if it’s something you’ve always thought of pursuing, there has never been a better time to try.
To get started, it can be as easy as signing up with a website such as Hubpages or Medium. These are great places to start strengthening your writing chops, build an audience, and find your niche – all while generating some income.
Read how Jaime made over $50K in her first year as a freelance writer.
18. Write An Ebook
Remember the days when a published author had celebrity status? If you had your name on a book you were a rockstar!
These days (fortunately), the barrier to get a book published is much lower. You don’t even need a publisher because you can self-publish your own books through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform. This has leveled the playing field and now the door is wide open for anybody to publish their own book.
If the thought of teaching others in person or online doesn’t appeal to you, consider writing an ebook about something you’re very knowledgeable about. This could include:
- a skill you’ve developed
- a fascinating life experience
- behind the scenes info not many know about
- how you overcame a life struggle
- places you’ve traveled to
- what you’ve learned in your life
Some of the benefits of publishing digitally is the immediate availability, low startup cost, and the ability to edit easily at any time. And ebooks don’t have to be that long – many popular ones are less than 50 pages!
There are definitely a lot of steps to writing an ebook that you’ll need to learn. But once you’ve published the completed product, it can be a source of passive income for you over several months or even years.
You can read Steve’s post about how he made $2,000 from his Kindle ebook.
19. Mystery Shopping
As a mystery shopper, you go “undercover” as a customer in order to gather certain information from the establishment you’re visiting. Then you share your experience and provide the information that was requested, and in return you can get free meals, free products, or cash.
I recently signed up with BestMark, a legitimate and reliable mystery shopping service that’s been around for 30 years. I haven’t accepted any assignments, but I do frequently receive emails from them with jobs in my area.
If you’d like to read about someone’s personal experience, you can read a veteran mystery shopper’s story here.
While restaurants and retail stores are typical mystery shopping assignments, there are actually a variety of niches where you can make some money. For example, Certified Field Associates offers theater checking services and hires people to “shop” while they watch movies.
Read the Pennyhoarder’s post about getting paid to go to concerts, test drive cars, rate realtors, and other fun opportunities.
20. Fill Out Surveys
Okay, I don’t really consider this a side gig or a significant source of income.
*But* – it’s a free, easy, way to kill time and make a few bucks. (Emphasis on few.)
Surveys are basically a form of market research, and companies depend on people in different demographics to provide their opinions and ideas. This helps these companies understand what their customers are looking for and how they can improve their products.
There are a lot of survey sites and apps out there, and the best way to maximize your earning potential is to sign up for as many as you can. This way you can receive the most surveys and make the most money.
But beware – there are some scams out there so do your research and choose wisely!
Here are a few legit survey sites you can check out for yourself:
I have been doing surveys for Pinecone Research for a couple of years, and I enjoy the $3 Amazon gift cards I get for every survey I complete.
Again, it’s basically good for spare change. But, if you’re watching Netflix anyway, might as well earn a little money at the same time!
21. Test Websites
Creating a website can take a lot of time and money, so companies want to make sure they’re getting their message across loud and clear.
One way they do that is through user testing, which is the process of a typical user browsing a site to test its form and functionality. The user’s feedback lets the company know how they can improve their site.
Since the average website user is not super technical, you do not need to know anything about how websites are made or structured. You simply need to “test” the site to see how easy it is to navigate and understand its function.
This is an easy, no-stress, flexible way to earn a little bit of money. Here are just a few of the sites that are looking for testers:
These places are free to join and you work when you want. Win-win!
22. Be a Virtual Assistant
I’ve had a few office jobs in my day. I’d file papers, answer phones, type up letters (on an old-fashioned electric typewriter). And, of course, make coffee.
I enjoyed it because my desk was my own little domain and I didn’t have to deal with selling fast food or counting change. I could just focus on the tasks given to me and feel a sense of accomplishment when I completed them.
What I *didn’t* particularly enjoy was getting up at 6:30am, fighting rush-hour traffic, and listening to office gossip.
If I were to ever pursue an office job again, I would definitely go virtual.
Virtual assistants do similar tasks to an in-office assistant, except most are done electronically and they don’t report to an office.
Instead of typing letters, they send emails. Rather than answer the phone, they communicate through text.
No office or desk required. Just a laptop, cell phone, and internet connection.
Other responsibilities of virtual assistants often include managing social media accounts, editing website content, and graphic design. The more comfortable you are with doing administrative tasks digitally, the more jobs you’ll be able to take.
Online businesses and bloggers are always looking for extra help with tasks they don’t want to be bogged down with. To find opportunities, you can explore various avenues:
- ask friends and family if they know anyone needing an assistant
- list yourself on freelance sites like Upwork
- create your own website to promote your services and attract clients
- join a virtual staffing company like Zirtual or Fancy Hands
More and more people are working in online fields such as blogging and social media, which means virtual assistants are in high demand. If you’re good at organizing and comfortable with working online, this may be a great side hustle for you.
Since 2014, Gina Horkey has been building her own virtual assistant business, as well as teaching others how to do the same. If this is something you want to learn more about, check out her website.
23. Rent a Room
Have a kid off to college? You can possibly make a little money with that empty bedroom.
Airbnb has changed the way travelers plan for their accommodations. Now, instead of searching for a hotel, they can choose to stay in a stranger’s home.
Creepy? Apparently many people don’t think so, because the industry is booming.
Visitors can receive a more personal and unique experience, and the host can make a little money.
If you enjoy hosting others in your home and can offer a spare room during high-demand times, you could be on your way to making some extra money.
How much? On average, Airbnb hosts make close to $1,000 a month. But there’s potential to make ten times that. Just ask Jerry, an Airbnb Super Host, who brings in $10K a month from his rentals.
24. Invest In A Rental Property
When you’re trying to catch up with your retirement savings, it’s tough to beat passive income. Make money without working? Sign me up!
One of the best ways to create a passive income stream is with a rental property. Once you make the initial investment and prep the property to be occupied, you can start receiving monthly rent checks in your mailbox.
When we moved from Vegas to Denver, the market was still bad. We decided to rent out our home until its value increased. One of the best decisions we made was to hire a property manager. She received 10% of the monthly rent, but she also took care of everything. EVERYTHING. All we ever had to do was pay for a new hot water heater.
The only downside was the financial burden when the home wasn’t occupied. Thankfully, that was only a couple months out of the 2 years we rented it out.
This is definitely a source of income I’d like to explore again as we get closer to retirement.
Read how Brady went from a newbie to making $40K in passive income a year from his rental properties.
25. Make Some Cakes
Do you have the gift of making others happy with your yummy food creations? Well, that happiness could potentially make you a little richer.
If you enjoy baking cakes, cookies, and other sweet goodies, you can turn that into a fun side hustle. Birthdays, Bar Mitzvahs, retirement parties and family reunions are just a few occasions where a celebratory treat is expected.
Check your state’s laws to see if you need a permit before you start promoting your baked goods. Then look for local opportunities to get your products known – fairs, farmer’s markets and school events are good places to start.
The holidays are a popular time to order special treats. You could hold an open house with samples and take orders for Christmas parties and dinners.
When others start raving about your delicious creations, word of mouth alone will generate enough custom orders to keep you busy.
If you want to learn more, read this post about how to earn money selling baked goods.
26. Help People Stage Their Home
Are you one of those people that can envision a beautiful transformation out of a cluttered and outdated space? Then you may just have an interior decorator deep inside that’s waiting to come out.
I say, let’er out. There are people that desperately need you.
One way you can help others with this coveted gift is by helping people stage their homes to sell. This not only relieves some of the stress a seller experiences during the process, it also increases their chances of getting a higher offer.
This side hustle can be started with a simple website and a partner in the real estate industry. Dropping off business cards at open houses and networking at realty events will get the word out and start bringing in clients.
To get started, read this post on starting a home staging business.
27. Be An Extra
Films often have scenes with background people that have no lines to create a realistic situation. If you happen to be one of those line-less people, then you get paid. Some call it extra work, others call it background casting. Either way, it’s easy and fun and a unique way to make some money.
When I used to live in Southern California I did a little bit of extra work. Probably my most famous assignment was on the set of Big Top PeeWee. Although it was exciting to work on a famous film, I remember thinking it was so cool that I could read a book during the long breaks between filming and get paid for it.
If this sounds intriguing to you, read Nathan’s post about earning up to $200 a day working on film sets. That’s easy money for just standing around and blending in!
There’s lots more ideas to make money on this list of 101 Side Hustle ideas. Download your free copy!
Start Increasing Your Income
Okay, so no excuses, right? The money is there, as you can tell, from this long list of income opportunities.
You just have to decide to go make it.
The only person stopping you is yourself. So tell your cautious, uncertain you that your confident, money-making you is taking over. Don’t overthink it – just start.
Pick one (or two … or three …) from the list and see if it works for you. If it doesn’t, move on to something else.
Through the process, you’ll find that side gig that fits your schedule and lifestyle. Who knows, you may even turn your hustle into a full-blown business. But you’ll never know until you start.
So go start making money!
*Remember to check back for more income opportunities as I add on to this post!