Ways I’ve Made Money

Ways I've Made MoneyHey everyone! I am currently in St. Thomas (WOOHOO!) and have some wonderful posts lined up for while I’m gone. I always love finding new blogs, so I hope you enjoy these great writers who were actually willing to guest post for me 😛 Don’t forget to read Sunday’s guest post on Why She Loves Her Budget, Monday’s post on New York City travel tips, and yesterday’s post on Money Saving Tips For Your Vacation.

This is a guest post from eemusings, a writer from Auckland, New Zealand. Visit her blog NZ Muse for straight talk about all things personal finance and lifestyle (career, relationships, food, travel); she also tweets as @eemusings.

I’ve gotten to grips, sort of, with the fact I’ll probably never feel properly financially secure. It’s never enough, and I know how easily things can go pear-shaped.

Since I moved out at age 17, I’ve always cultivated multiple income sources. It’s hard for me to sit still when I could be side hustling and padding the bank account a little more – money gives you choices, and the more options you have in life, the better, IMO!

I’ve eased off on this recently (I wanted more free time) but now I’m getting back into it with an eye to reaching some hairy savings goals next year.

Here are some of the random ways I’ve brought in extra money (aside from my main job) over the years:


My English skills actually come in handy for students whose writing isn’t so crash hot. I tidy up their essays and reports, and they pay me for it! Even better, I can do this from anywhere – preferably the comfort of my own home.



Unlike the former, this usually requires getting out and actually meeting students face to face. Depending on your skill set and experience, this can be pretty lucrative. Tutoring someone in law or chemistry pays much better than plain old English, unless you get a seriously desperate and seriously loaded ESOL exchange student. You gotta factor in things like transport costs and time into your hourly rate, though.



Surveys/market research

I do a lot of online surveys, though they generally pay out gift cards or vouchers rather than cash. It’s slow going, but I think it’s worth it for the amount of time I actually devote to it – which is a hell of a lot less than I waste cruising Twitter and Facebook. I’m funding Christmas presents with earned gift points this year.


Putting up promotional posters

After finishing up an admin job with one company, they hired me for a temp gig going around campuses and putting up flyers advertising their services (which they paid me a higher hourly rate for, even though it was way easier than what I did as their admin assistant!). And I got a workout while doing it.


Mystery shopping

My mother used to do this when I was a kid, so when I struck out on my own I signed up for the same companies and got my own account. Over the years the money has gotten worse and competition fiercer, but there are still a lot of freebies to be had (which is often what I do it for, rather than cash profit).

One of the easiest things I’ve ever done to make money on a hourly basis was bus surveys; I had an unlimited monthly pass anyway, so I would jump on a series of different buses, checking things like whether the driver followed protocol, was on time, and how well maintained the bus was. I planned this out so that I was super efficient and never had to wait long between rides, doing assignments around the CBD where buses are frequent. (Plus I lived in an area that was well-serviced, so I could catch all kinds of different routes home on different days and fit even more surveys.) At a pinch, I could do four or five in a hour – on my lunch break, or on a weekend afternoon – and make $40 or 50.


Focus groups

But the easiest money I’ve ever made hands down is via focus groups. I’ve done everything from taste tests to being hooked up to electrodes to test my brain’s reaction to various TV ads. You can bag up to about $80 an hour if you’re lucky, and I’d say an average rate is about $40. Sadly, market research opportunities don’t come along that often (and they don’t like you to have done any other focus groups recently).

What wacky things have you done for money over the years?

What’s the easiest money you ever made?


  1. John S @ Frugal Rules says

    Like Kim, I sold plasma soon after getting out of college. I made a little bit of money off of it, but really is not meant for long term needs. I think I would only ever do it again if I simply needed to put food on the table.

  2. mycanuckbuck says

    Cat sitting! Best gig ever. Would love to know more about how you got jobs editing – I have an English degree, and wouldn't mind putting it to work. :)
    My recent post How a finanical review can help you come up with a “to do” list

  3. says

    I've never qualified for any focus groups, but they sound like they'd be a fun way to make money. My sister recently did one in which everyone in the room was very successful, and she was the only stay-at-home parent in the room. The moderator of the discussion kept referring to her as "the wild card" which I probably would have been offended by! She just laughed and had fun with it.
    My recent post Great Part-time Jobs For Busy Parents

  4. says

    When I read about your focus group gig, I immediately thought about Homer Simpson and all of the medical research studies he got himself into over the years. I don't know why. Focus groups and medical research are completely different, but it popped into my head. Maybe someone can do a focus group on random associations — I'd be a killer subject!
    My recent post The Easiest Christmas Cookies Ever

  5. makemoneycleaningoffices says

    Delivering newspapers in rural areas. Got up at 3 AM, in the cold and dark, wet or dry, and drove 50-60 miles each night. HELL on earth.

  6. says

    In addition to the focus groups, I've also done product research/testing for a well-known maker of consumer products. I don't bother with the online surveys anymore as my time could be better spent elsewhere, but I did transition over to doing several ongoing online "forums" hosted by specific companies. They limit their surveys to once a week and each week you get paid about $15 by some, a bit less by others, but multiply that x 4 groups, and I get about $45 a month in Amazon gift cards which is quite fun to spend.

    If you live near a large university like i do, you can also take part in various medical/health studies. I did one last summer about nutrition and obesity. had to keep a food diary, do some weigh-ins and agility tests and so on, plus provide my urine, but in the end I got $500.

    Finally, the EASIEST way to make some relatively quick cash (far easier than focus groups) is to take up the credit card companies on the many upfront rewards offers out there. Eg, if you charge $500 in the first 3 months of owning the card, you get $100 cash. i've been doing this since last year and have made over $1,000 simply by charging purchases I would charge anyway. Of course, you have to have good credit to do this; I cancel the cards when I'm done with them and no, my credit score has not been damaged.

    I've also done cat-sitting for a local woman who paid well, and I've sold what gold jewelry I had as well as a bunch of stuff on Craig's List, which can be hit or miss. I have been underemployed for over 3 years since my layoff, so it has not been all fun and games doing this stuff. However, I'm proud to say I have yet to dig into personal savings to pay my bills and I paid off my mortgage this past summer. Still, I need to come up with $2K each month for other expenses, which isn't easy when you're making $12/hr at a p/t job and then hoping some more freelance writing assignments come through sooner rather than later.
    My recent post Preparing for the President's Visit

  7. says

    I came across this post from NZ muse’s blog. I love the different ways you can make money if you really think about it. I would love to know more about how you find proof reading work for essay’s as I already do it for one of my friends who studies part time, although I could never charge her.
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