There comes a time when almost everyone could use a little more cash in their pocket.
While a part-time job may be your best bet for a steady stream of income, maybe delivering pizzas or waiting tables isn’t your thing. Or maybe your need for money isn’t that dire; maybe you only need some extra fun money to support your designer shoe habit.
Whatever the reason, Money Talks News finance expert Stacy Johnson has a whole slew of odd and unusual ways for you to bring in extra cash. Watch the video below for his suggestions and then keep reading for more off-the-beaten-path ideas.
1. Sell your body
No, not that way!
I mean, sell your plasma or even your hair. Either can be legally sold for money. Unfortunately, the government frowns upon you selling your kidney — something about ethics, I hear. A kidney might be enough for you to pay for at least a semester of college for your kid, but the government does have a point. And it’s illegal.
Plasma will garner you only pocket change – maybe $15 to $40 – while there are big bucks to be made with the right hair. Just check out the asking prices on BuyandSellHair.com.
2. Participate in a clinical trial
You could also do your part for science and earn some cash on the side by participating in a clinical trial.
Clinical trials are often intended for people who have specific medical conditions in the hopes of seeing how they respond to new treatments. However, some clinical trials also recruit healthy adults as a control group.
If you don’t mind being a guinea pig, you can find clinical trials by searching on the National Institutes of Health database or this Food and Drug Administration page. In either case, use the words “healthy” or “normal” to find trials recruiting healthy volunteers.
3. Round up scrap metal
If you have access to a truck or trailer, you could collect old metal items and head to your local scrap yard.
You’d need to do a little research to learn what items can be scrapped and where to find them, but this can be a lucrative niche for those who know what they’re doing.
We’ll let Popular Mechanics explain the process in more detail, and then you may want to stop by this scrap metal forum to read tips and advice from people who are already working this moneymaking avenue.
4. Walk some dogs
People love their four-legged friends, but they don’t always have time to devote to a daily walk. Spread the word to family and friends that you are available for dog-walking services.
You could also post an ad on Craigslist or contact local kennels to see if they need anyone to exercise the canines under their care.
5. And then clean up after them
At the same time, you could also advertise a service to clean up after dogs. Some owners don’t exactly relish the idea of cleaning up the doggie doo-doo in their yards and will gladly pay someone else to do the dirty work.
Plus, depending on your sense of humor, the opportunity to make puns about excrement may be a fringe benefit too good to pass up.
6. Baby-sit a house or two
We all know that baby-sitting kids is one way to earn money, but why stop there? Houses are so much quieter, and they don’t need to be fed and never talk back.
House Sitters America offers sitters the opportunity to connect with homeowners who need someone to come live at their house for an extended stay. That might be a good way to see the world, but your only compensation is free room and board.
Advertise locally for people who are willing to pay you to check in on their house and maybe do some light maintenance – such as lawn mowing – while they’re gone.
7. Get creative and open an online store
Sites like Etsy, Zazzle and Café Press make it simple to create designs or products and then market your wares.
To get started, check out this article with tips to cash in on creativity.
8. Become a translator
If you’re bilingual or multilingual, you’re a hot commodity. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that interpreters and translators have the fifth-fasting-growing occupation in the nation. From 2012-2022, demand for these professionals is expected to jump more than 46 percent.
Of course, you can still make money off your talents without working full time as a translator. Advertise locally or work on a contract basis through websites such as Elance.com and Guru.com. Or check out Gengo.com, which is solely for freelance translators.
9. Make money with your phone
You’re attached to your phone 24/7, so why not let it make a little money for you too?
We’ve got a big list of apps that can make your smartphone a money machine.
10. Work at home as a customer service rep
Sure, you think you’re connected to a call center when you dial a company’s 800 number, but you could also be speaking to someone wearing fuzzy slippers and sitting on their couch.
Several companies outsource their customer calls to at-home representatives. To do this work, you might need a landline, specific equipment and a quiet, child-free zone.
11. Join a focus group
In their quest to obtain and maintain market dominance, companies are willing to pay consumers to provide feedback on their products or share their thoughts on a new idea. Often this is done through focus groups, which typically compensate members for their time.
Opportunities for focus groups are, of course, better in larger metro areas, but many marketers are moving to online discussions that can include consumers nationwide.
FindFocusGroups.com, FocusGroup.com and PlazaResearch.com are three websites where you can find groups. You can also do a Web search for the words “focus group” and your closest metro area. The pay for participating in focus groups can range from $50 to a couple hundred.
12. Take surveys for cash
Along the same lines as focus groups, but on a much smaller scale, are online surveys. Rather than spending hours on a focus group, you might spend 20 to 30 minutes filling out an online survey. On the downside, you earn peanuts for your feedback – payments seem to top out at $3 per survey.
Since there are plenty of survey scams on the Web, search for reviews before inputting all your personal information at an unknown site. To get you started, Pinecone Research, Viewpoint Forum and Ipsos are all tried and true survey companies.
13. Enter contests and sweepstakes
It’s unconventional, for sure, but some people apparently make extra money from sweepstakes. It’s probably only a marginally better option than hitting the casino, but at least you won’t be losing any money.
If you want to give it a try, you could search for sweepstakes to enter in your spare time or head to a site like Online-Sweepstakes.com, which categorizes all the sweeps by date, prize and how often you can enter. There’s also a forum where you can connect with other sweepstakes fans.
14. Find some gigs online
At TaskRabbit, you can bid on work that may include real-world jobs like running errands and weeding gardens. At Amazon Mechanical Turk, you might do something like entering a few bits of data. It’s easy work but, in some cases, you’ll be paid literally pennies.
On other hand, if you have a talent that you think is worth $5 to someone else, you could post it as a gig on Fiverr.com.
15. Return items you’ve never used
How many times have you bought something and then had buyer’s regret before you could even get the tags off?
Don’t leave those unwanted items to languish in your closets and drawers. If you haven’t used them yet, take them back to the store and see if you can get your money back.
16. Rent a room
It’s probably not as unusual as it was a few years ago, but lots of people make extra money by renting out a room in their home to travelers.
17. Rent your space
Maybe you don’t have a room to rent, but you do have space.
For example, if there is a local festival and public parking is at a premium, charge a couple dollars for people to park in your driveway or on your lawn. Or you could rent out space in your pole barn or garage to those who need to store items.
Keep it legal by checking with your municipality first to make sure it’s allowed.
18. Rent your friendship
Of all the things you could rent out to others, your friendship might be the strangest. However, it is one more odd way to make money.
Sites like RentAFriend.com allow people to rent someone’s companionship for a day. Supposedly, it’s all on the up and up and outings are strictly platonic. It seems a little creepy to me, but apparently it works for some people.
19. Be a tutor
You suffered through all those long years of algebra, geometry and grammar. As a tutor, you get a little payback for all that knowledge contained in your head.
20. Flip items on eBay
The 50-cent finds you discover at a local thrift store or garage sale might be worth a whole lot more on the global marketplace of eBay.
It might take a little trial and error to learn what’s worth money online, and you can search for “flipping on eBay” or “reselling on eBay” to learn the tricks of the trade.
21. Become a mystery shopper
Many years ago, I worked as a mystery shopper. It was an excellent way to eat for free at high-end restaurants and earn some nice side cash. When gas prices went up and shopper fees went down, I got out of the business.
Still, it can be a fun way to earn extra income. Just be aware that mystery shopping isn’t nearly as easy as you might think. My experience was that some shopping scenarios were a bit contrived (i.e., ask strange questions or make returns immediately after a purchase) and once you get done shopping, you typically need to whip up a narrative of your experience, so good writing skills are a must.
If you want to give it a try, head to Volition.com, which has a comprehensive list of legitimate mystery shopping companies as well as an active shopper forum.
22. Crowdfund your dreams
Finally, you could simply ask for money from others. Crowdfunding sites are available to let you solicit money from others for nearly any reason.
What do you think? Are you going to try any of these unconventional ways to earn money? Or maybe you already are. Tell us about it in the comments below or on our Facebook page.