If you’re like most people in the age of the coronavirus pandemic, you’re spending a lot more time at home. If that means you need to find alternative ways to bring in money online, or you simply have too much time on your hands, consider these 12 ways to earn some cash. Some but not all require a bit of startup funds.
1. Invest in real estate (with as little as $500)
The real estate business is often touted as a good way to diversify investments and create wealth, but it has traditionally been out of reach for many smaller investors. Two of our partners, Fundrise and Diversyfund, have worked out ways to make real estate investing accessible to everyone.
They each operate a little differently, but for both of them you only need $500 to get started.
Fundrise charges a 1% annual fee and an upfront asset acquisition fee of 0%-2%.
DiversyFund is structured a little differently. It also allows you to start investing with just $500, but charges no fees up front. Investors get a 7% preferred return. In other words, 100% of returns up to the first 7% goes to investors before DiversyFund receives a share of the profit.
To learn about each of these tools in greater detail, check out How to Get In on Real Estate Investing Even If You Don’t Have Much Money and How to Invest in Real Estate for as Little as $500.
2. Invest in fine art
You don’t have to be a high roller to buy fine art anymore. A new company called MasterWorks allows you to buy in to the global art market with fractional investing — similar to the way you buy fractional shares in companies through stocks. No, you don’t get to hang the “Mona Lisa” in your living room. But you can get partial ownership in blue-chip artwork that has a history of appreciating steadily over time and provides an alternative to the volatility of the stock market without buying or selling art yourself.
Remember, past performance of investments doesn’t predict future performance. And you should understand fees that apply (PT Money has a good review of MasterWorks here) to make sure you’re comfortable with this new and unusual wealth-generating opportunity.
3. Rent out your RV when you’re not using it
If you’re an RV owner, then there’s a good chance that your home away from home is sitting unused for a good part of the year. If so, you’re missing out on a great way to make cash on the side through another peer-to-peer platform called RVshare.
Just as Airbnb connects people through the web who have space to rent out with people who need a place to stay, RVshare provides a way to rent out your recreational vehicle to people who want to hit the road but don’t necessarily want to own an RV themselves.
Yes, we know that the pandemic has made travel seem like a bad idea, but by summer, people will likely want to go on vacation, and our bet is that road trips will make a comeback as people continue to avoid air travel.
4. Lose weight and gain cash
If you’re stuck at home, even if you’re doing your day job there, it could be that you finally have an opportunity to lose that winter weight — and here’s a way you can make some money doing it.
With the HealthyWage website and app, you bet on your own weight-loss goal. If you hit your goal, you win money. If you miss your goal, you lose money.
This might sound crazy, but recent academic research shows that financial incentives and games are powerful weight-loss tools. This is because they add fun, accountability and structure to help you reach your goals.
5. Get cash back when you shop — plus a free $10 gift card
Earn extra money on Rakuten (formerly known as Ebates) — a site that gets you up to 40% cash back on purchases at more than 2,500 stores. Here’s how they make that possible: Retailers pay Ebates a commission for sending shoppers to their websites. Then Rakuten shares that commission with you. So why not get cash back the next time you shop online at Amazon or Walmart by going through Rakuten first?
Signing up has become even more lucrative: As a bonus for being a new Rakuten member, you’ll earn $10 when you spend at least $25 within the first 90 days of signing up.
Here’s how to claim your free $10 gift card:
- Sign up on Rakuten. It only takes a minute.
- Use the Rakuten portal to reach an online retailer, and spend at least $25 on your first purchase within 90 days.
- Your account will be awarded points that you can then use to redeem your $10 gift card.
6. Get paid to answer surveys
Did you know there are websites that will pay for your opinion? Taking surveys isn’t going to make you rich, but if you have some free time to answer some easy questions you could be making money with very little effort.
We recommend signing up with a few sites that provide access to surveys. By taking more surveys you’ll increase your amount of earnings potential.
Here are our top picks:
- Swagbucks: Get $5 for signing up and completing your first survey.
- MyPoints: Earn gift cards for answering surveys and taking polls. You’ll get a $5 bonus after completing your first five surveys.
7. Earning more interest on your savings
It is common knowledge that interest rates on savings accounts are very low. In fact, the rate on the average savings account is hovering around 0.09%. Why not ditch your low-earning savings account and open a high-interest one instead?
Enter CIT Bank, a better online bank that offers a 1.75% annual percentage yield (APY) with its Savings Builder Account. It’s a 100% risk-free return and FDIC-insured. If you follow interest rates, you’ll know how rare of a rate that is these days.
Read our full CIT Bank review to learn more.
8. Make money watching videos
InboxDollars will pay you real cash (not points) to watch content like video clips or the latest news videos; the types of things you might find on YouTube. You can choose from topics such as news, celebrities, entertainment, tech, food or health. It’s the perfect way for someone who loves media to make a little extra money working without working.
Not only is joining free, but you’ll also get your first $5 just for signing up.
9. Find out if retailers owe you a refund
It’s easy to find out whether stores owe you a refund with apps like Paribus. To get started, sign up for a free account, and then let Paribus scan your email inbox for purchase receipts. If the system discovers a price drop online on something you have bought, Paribus will let you know and help get back the difference in price.
Paribus also monitors deliveries of internet orders from Amazon and Walmart, and gets you money back on items that are shipped late.
(Paribus compensates us when you sign up for Paribus using the links provided.)
10. Invest effortlessly
Sit back and let Acorns, a micro-investing app, help you save and invest your spare change automatically.
As you go about your day, Acorns rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar and invests the difference automatically. So, let’s say you spend $10.25 at the supermarket — the app will take the 75 cents from rounding that purchase price up to $11 and transfer it to your Acorns account. Then, Acorns will get to work and invest your 75 cents in savings into a diversified portfolio.
The Acorns app costs $1 per month, but you’ll earn $5 just for signing up.
11. Keep your receipts and earn cash
Ibotta is a free app that gets you real cash back — not points — on items you already buy, such as groceries, cosmetics and more.
Here’s how it works:
- Before you go shopping, add the items you’ll buy to your shopping list within the Ibotta app.
- Shop for the items on your list at participating stores, and don’t forget to save the receipt!
- Take a photo of your receipt within Ibotta and earn cash.
Download Ibotta and get a $10 bonus after uploading your first receipt.
12. Sell your stuff
Now’s a great time to get rid of the clutter in your home, as long as you’re spending more time there.
And there are loads of sites to help you make money on things you no longer want. For instance, you can sell your used cellphones and other electronic devices through Gazelle. Have clothes you want to sell? Try a consignment site like Swap.com. Craigslist is a great place to get sell large items, like furniture, tools, cars, boats — most anything, really, but you do generally have to exchange cash and goods in person, so consider precautions to avoid spreading germs.
Note: One of our favorites to recommend is Decluttr, which will buy your CDs, DVDs and books, as well as technology like cellphones and game consoles. At the time of publication, Decluttr had suspended operations due to the coronavirus crisis, but promised to come back when they can.
Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.