Today, I have a great post about how to make money on Craigslist. As you know, I'm all about finding ways to make extra income as this can help you take control of your finances! Jeff is a debt-fighting husband and dad, who uses frugal instincts to capture savings for his tribe. But when he's not hunting for the next best deal, he summons his side-hustle intuition to earn supplemental income. Craig's List gigs, blogging, and drop shipping are his favorite side hustles. Enjoy!
I was doing everything right. I was putting away savings. I was investing in mutual funds and carefully selected stocks. I was buying toys and furniture from yard sales, driving used cars paid in full, and paying off my credit cards every month. I was even shopping at the Salvation Army every Wednesday, taking advantage of their 50% off Wednesday deals.
But regardless of my disciplined saving habits, and the parsimonious life-style I practiced and coached to my family, I was still falling short on my financial goals.
I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. Maybe my commitment was the problem.
Was I being too much of a tight-wad? Are my goals so narrow-minded that I’m missing something blissful in the present? Is my commitment for early retirement unhealthy? All of these existential questions twisted through my mind. And I didn’t have the answer. But the thoughts still gnawed at me.
And then I read something profound.
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I was browsing a financial forum, and someone was echoing the same problem that I was having. This person was saving, and shopping wisely, and committed to frugality. This person followed the core tenets of early retirement. But this person was still falling short, leaving him confused and disheveled. But then someone replied: “you don’t have a savings problem, you have an income problem.”
And that opened my eyes. I also have an income problem.
I make $60,000 a year as a project manager. I love my job. But I am the sole provider for my wife and our 2 little kids. So although I think it’s a decent salary, there just isn’t enough to go around for (4) people, and my ambitions to retire early. So to fix my “income problem,” I had to increase my income.
But I didn’t want a 2nd job. I thought that would be too much of a commitment, too much paperwork, and too much scheduling. I needed something that was easy, and mindless. I needed something that could pay now, that involved tasks I could perform on auto-pilot, without requiring too much brain power. And the only low-commitment, part time jobs that fit this profile, I thought, would be a gas station or grocery store job. But I just wasn’t willing to do those, especially for minimum wage.
I needed something a little more brutal. Something more grunty, and low key. So I looked where I often look for solutions: Craig’s List.
Craig’s List has a “Gigs” section where people list menial, one-time jobs. Usually, these jobs include lawn work, or manual labor gigs. You email the ad, and then the person contacts you if they are still looking for someone to complete the work.
And that’s what I did to earn additional income.
And I documented all of it.
In September 2014, I earned $655 off Craig’s List gigs.
I worked about 35 hours, which comes out to more than $18 an hour, more than double the minimum wage in Pennsylvania. All the gigs were low-key, 1-day, manual labor jobs. And none of the gigs required paperwork. They were all booked according to my schedule. And best of all, they all paid cash at the end of the day. So there was no weekly or biweekly delay in getting paid.
Here are Details For Some Of The Memorable Experiences Of When I've Made Money on Craigslist
- Helped Tear Down An Art Display
- Payout: $40 for 1 hour of labor
- The Gig: This was my first gig, and it gave me a great first taste. A popular art event was happening in a nearby county. A woman a posted on Craig’s List, requesting help to tear down displays for her custom-made fabrics and clothing. After some emails, I secured the gig. I broke down the display, helping take down shelving, mannequins, clothe racks, and clothes. The gig ad initially offered $20. But she expressed that she was very happy with my service, so she bumped up the pay to $40.
- Helped Demo an Old YMCA Building
- Payout: $250 for 17.5 hours of work
- The Gig: Now this is what I had in mind when looking for grunt work. A property developer bought an antiquated, condemned YMCA building. It was the beginning stages of rehabbing the facility, which required junk removal and demo. The gym was covered in old, hard-wood flooring, desks, and other miscellaneous furniture. And it was my job to tear up the floors, and break down the furniture. So I showed up with a mauler, and started breaking everything down. This gig lasted 3 weekends, and filled up a nice chunk of time.
- Helped A Moving Crew
- Payout: $170 for 12 hours
- The Gig: In summary, after this experience, I will never do another moving gig. When I first responded to the ad, I figured it would be easy grunt work: load some boxes into a truck, then unload at a new destination. But this gig was not only located 90 minutes away, but the customer also had 2 truck loads worth of furniture that needed moved out of a 2-story house. And then this person’s new house was a 3-floor townhouse. The gig took 12 hours to complete. And at the end of it, although I was $170 richer, I was certainly exhausted.
- Mowed Small Lawn
- Payout: $25 for 30 minutes
- The Gig: This is a gig I would do every day If I could. But grass just doesn’t grow fast enough. It was foolishly easy. It was a small plot of flat land, less than a ¼ acre. The toughest part was I had to haul my mower to the gig. But even that was easy.
It was exciting seeing the variety of work I could score. I never suffered from labor-monotony, and was typically pretty enthusiastic to get the work done, knowing I would be paid that day.
But what impressed me the most was that I averaged over $18 an hour.. Sure, that’s not nearly enough to survive off of. And it pales in comparison to my salary. But, when I compare it to working fast-food, or grocery stores, or gas stations, I can’t help but think that searching and performing Craig’s List gigs are a much better option. You learn sales skills (gotta sell your menial labor service!), labor skills, and advertising skills. None of which you’re going to learn corralling shopping carts.
But securing the gigs wasn’t easy. There are other people that know about this secret honey pot of jobs. People will low ball you and devalue your time. And people will try to down-talk the amount of work required. So you’ll need to be prepared, so that you’re not taken advantage of. Here are some tips for securing these coveted gigs:
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For More Money
Remember that this is Craig’s List.
And Craig’s List is notorious for shady people. But you’re not one of them. But there’s a good chance that your competition is. So be sure to show off your education, your commitment to your family, your responsibility, and anything else that will demonstrate your responsibility in your introduction email. Because chances are, your competition isn’t doing this.
Here’s an example:
Discuss And Agree Upon Money Upront
People may try to low ball you, or they may not fulfill their end of the deal.
I have been low balled, but luckily, I’ve never not been compensated. The key is to consistently reaffirm what the compensation is. Do this in your email. Then do this again when you first arrive to the gig-site. This won’t stop the person from being a lying scumbag, but if they’re honest, and you provide good, honest work, then you’re more likely to get your money.
But the only way to deal with low-ballers is to know what you’re worth.
- How long will it take?
- And how difficult is the gig?
- Does the gig require more than 1 person?
These are important questions to ask yourself when assessing the work. You’ll need to determine your own value, and request that for compensation. Knowing your value is something that may require a few gigs to learn. But if you end up mowing a ½ acre lawn, filled with hornet nests and Lyme disease for only $15, you should learn pretty quickly that you just got a raw deal. So don’t be afraid to value your time when trying to score gigs.
Have a Clear Understanding of the Gig
When browsing through the gigs, you’ll learn that there are a lot of illegitimate gigs. These gigs are always vague in detail, but always promising big paydays. These are bogus. A real gig will provide a real scope of work, such as mowing a ¼ acre lawn, or pulling weeds from a flower bed, or painting 2 bedrooms with 8’ tall ceilings. You’ll know immediately what the work is, and you have an easy time envisioning the gig. If a gig listing looks somewhat promising, but still a little unclear, be sure to ask a lot of questions.
- Where is the work?
- How much work is there?
- When can I perform the work?
If the person has answers to these questions, then you know that this person has put enough thought to this project to know that it’s legit. Here’s an example of me clarifying a gig:
In response to the email above, 30 cubic yards of mulch is huge (similar to an SUV)! And to move all of that with a just wheel barrow is an insane amount of labor. So when deciding what my price would be, I needed to know how close the mulch was to the landing areas. But, because he wasn’t willing to let me know any of the information, I passed on the opportunity. His unwillingness to address my concerns let me know that we didn’t share the same concerns, and that he was trying to make a big project seem a lot smaller than it actually was.
So, use this post as inspiration. It’s not investing advice, or real estate advice. But it’s a good, hands-on method to boost your monthly income without committing to a 2nd job.
Author Bio: Jeff is a debt-fighting husband and dad, who uses frugal instincts to capture savings for his tribe. But when he's not hunting for the next best deal such as learning how to make money on Craigslist, he summons his side-hustle intuition to earn supplemental income. Craig's List gigs, blogging, and drop shipping are his favorite side hustles. But check out the details for many more side hustle options on his blog, Jason Coupon King.
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