35 Clever Ways to Make Extra Money

Advertising Disclosure: When you buy something by clicking links on our site, we may earn a small commission, but it never affects the products or services we recommend.

Man with money
little star / Shutterstock.com

This year we’re gonna finally do it: Save money, pay down debt and get that big purchase we’ve been putting off.

2021 is going to be our year.

But where are we going to find the money to do all of these things? What if we haven’t found the cash to make our financial resolutions happen?

If a new job or raise isn’t on the horizon, there are still ways to make extra cash without a lot of time or effort. Whether you’re selling stuff or getting your side hustle on, you can earn extra income that will help you stick to financial resolutions.

Here are some of our favorite options that anyone can cash in on.

1. Shop

Yes, you can make money by spending money.

Cash-back portals like the following offer money back when you shop online and sometimes in stores:

To learn more about them, check out “3 Websites That Pay You for Shopping.”

I’ve used Rakuten — formerly called Ebates — for years, and if you don’t use this or a similar cash-back portal when shopping online, you’re throwing away money.

2. Use your phone

You paid a lot for your smartphone, so why not let it earn its keep? There are a ton of ways your phone can earn you money.

Just to name a few:

  • The app HealthyWage will pay you for reaching your own weight-loss goals.
  • TaskRabbit helps you find tasks to do for people for quick cash.
  • Ibotta lets you earn cash back on in-store and online purchases.

3. Watch, play or take a survey

If you’ve got time to sit around and watch TV, you’ve got time for Swagbucks. This rewards program lets you earn gift cards or cash just by doing online activities you probably already do anyway, including:

  • Searching the web
  • Shopping online
  • Watching videos
  • Playing games
  • Answering surveys

For more details, check out “6 Ways to Score Free Gift Cards and Cash in 1 Place.”

4. Work from home

Whether you’re looking to switch careers completely or you have a little time outside your full-time job, there are some legitimate work-from-home opportunities. You can find them through a specialized jobs website like FlexJobs.com, which vets and posts openings for remote jobs as well as part-time and freelance jobs.

I’m pretty thankful I get to work from home as a freelance journalist — maybe that’s in your future, too. Fiverr is one option for offering freelance services.

5. Use your skills

Can you fix computers, TVs and tablets? Are you proficient in Microsoft Office? Can you teach someone how to play piano or guitar?

Earn extra cash by doing something you already know how to do. There are always people looking for someone to fix something or teach them something. Test the waters by creating an ad on Craigslist or in a community newsletter.

6. Rent out your stuff

You can rent out your car or home to make some extra cash.

Sites like Turo help you rent out your car for a few hours or a few days. For more details, check out “How to Make Extra Money Renting Out Your Car.”

You could make some great cash just by opening your doors. Vacation rental websites like these will help you rent out a room, your entire house or even your RV:

7. Sell your old stuff

You’ll instantly feel better once you get your home in order. Not only will you kick out the clutter, you also will earn extra cash doing it.

One way is to try a yard sale. If that requires too much time or effort, you can try selling locally online. I use the app OfferUp constantly to sell things to people around town.

8. Sell your new stuff

If you like to design, create and make your own art, crafts and other goods, you can make extra cash by selling your amazing work.

Show off your creations at local craft fairs or online marketplaces like those detailed in “4 Ways Creative People Can Make Money Online.”

9. Go to the dogs

Offer to take care of others’ homes when they head out of town. The site Rover is better known for connecting pet sitters with people in need of pet-sitting, but it also connects house sitters with people in need of house-sitting.

If you’d rather just walk dogs, Rover can help with that, too.

10. Do manual labor

In winter, you can get paid to shovel snow. In summer, you can get paid to mow lawns. Handymen and handywomen are always needed.

Depending on your skills and physical condition, you could get paid to paint, put furniture together, help people move or clean swimming pools. The options for manual labor are endless.

Thumbtack is a good place to find such work.

11. Open a better savings account

One of the easiest — but most overlooked — ways to make more cash is to move your money to a savings account that pays a better rate than what you earn now. The more money you save and the higher the interest rate on your new account, the better off you will be.

Go to our Solutions Center and compare rates on savings accounts.

12. Baby-sit children

If you love kids, why not make money as you baby-sit? Sites like Care.com can help you find opportunities.

13. Drive people around town

Unless your car is a rust-bucket, put it to work and make it earn its keep!

Driving for Uber, Lyft or Uber Eats can help you earn cash during what otherwise might be wasted time.

14. Sell your hair

Even if you don’t love your hair, chances are good that others will.

Sites like BuyandSellHair.com will pay for your hair, as long as it meets certain conditions. (Hint: Blue dye is a deal-breaker.)

15. Tutor students

We all know that students in the U.S. tend to lag in school performance. If that bothers you — and it should — do something about it.

If you are particularly knowledgeable in a certain subject, become a tutor with WyzAnt.com. The platform lets you set your own prices, but it does take a cut of your profits.

16. Cook a meal

As we have reported in the past, cooking from home so you can turn a profit is a burgeoning side hustle. To learn more, check out “How to Turn Your Love of Cooking Into Extra Cash.”

17. Become a YouTube star

Folks who have the right knowledge or skill — or who are simply entertaining — can make money by creating videos and uploading them to YouTube. The platform pays you a percentage of the revenue your videos earn.

18. Delay taking Social Security

For every year after your full retirement age that you delay taking Social Security, up to age 70, you can fatten your monthly Social Security check by 8%.

There are some great reasons to delay taking benefits. But it’s not the right choice for everyone. For more, check out:

19. Snap some photos

A smartphone app like Foap — available for Android and Apple devices — can help you turn your everyday photos into dollars and cents.

20. Look for unclaimed money

A surprising number of us have let money slip through the cracks over the years. That cash is just sitting out there somewhere, waiting to be found.

Read more about how to locate lost lucre in “7 Ways to Find Your Unclaimed Money.”

21. Refinance your mortgage

In recent years, mortgage rates have fallen to record lows. If you have an older mortgage, chances are good you can save a lot of cash by getting a new home loan.

Go to our Solutions Center and search for the best mortgage rates.

22. Run errands

Companies like Postmates and Shipt let you earn money by running errands — such as grocery shopping — for others who are too busy to do such chores for themselves.

23. Search for a better cellphone plan

The cost of cellphone plans is all over the map. You can save money by switching providers, particularly if you are open to a pay-as-you-go plan.

Go to our Solutions Center and find a cellphone plan that makes more sense — and more cents — for you.

24. Lose weight

As we mentioned above — and as crazy as it sounds — you can actually win money by losing weight. The HealthyWage website and app lets you place a bet on your own weight-loss goal.

Hit the goal, and you cash in. Miss the goal, and the money you bet is gone for good.

25. Become a mystery shopper

In the world of the side hustle, becoming a mystery shopper is a true classic standby. You get to shop while earning cash for providing businesses with feedback about the retailer.

26. Teach English

America has always been the land of the immigrant. Help new arrivals learn to speak English by becoming an English as a second language instructor.

Once you’re trained and ready, look for opportunities on job sites like FlexJobs.

27. Get a part-time job at a retailer

Perhaps the quickest route to substantial extra cash is simply to apply for a good old-fashioned part-time retail job. Working evenings or weekends at Target, Macy’s or Kroger can add substantially to the income you bring in every month.

28. Start your own business

A part-time job is fine. But if you really want to dream big, consider starting your own business. This can really make sense if you have retired from your job, but now want to pursue the passion of being your own boss.

For more, check out “21 Hobbies You Can Turn Into a Business.”

29. Invest in stocks

Investing in stocks carries a certain amount of risk. But the upside is huge for anyone who really wants to make more cash.

Just be smart about it. If you’re just getting started, check out some advice from Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson: “How Do You Start Investing With Little Money?

30. Create a budget

Plugging holes in your budget won’t actually bring in more cash, but it will allow you to keep more money in your pocket. That’s essentially the same thing as earning more.

Money Talks News partner You Need a Budget (YNAB) is the best budgeting tool we’ve ever found.

31. Turn your junk into cash

Your clutter might be someone else’s treasure. Get rid of the stuff that’s haunting your house by selling it on Decluttr, which buys CDs, DVDs, games and books, as well as technology like cellphones and game consoles.

32. Dump your electronics

Sites like Gazelle will pay you for your old electronics, including smartphones.

33. Sell your old books

Amazon and eBay give you a forum for selling old books. Or, stores like Half Price Books will take them off your hands and give you cash in return.

34. Find a great financial adviser

The right financial pro can help you to hold on to the money you have, as well as how to add to that pile of cash. Stop by our Solutions Center and search for a great financial adviser.

35. Take our courses

Money Talks News offers two courses that can teach you how to put more cash into your pocket for years to come. One is a general personal finance course and the other looks at how to build a solid retirement.

For more, check out:

Get smarter with your money!

Want the best money-news and tips to help you make more and spend less? Then sign up for the free Money Talks Newsletter to receive daily updates of personal finance news and advice, delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for our free newsletter today.