Steve Gillman - The Penny Hoarder

Imagine sipping your morning coffee on a beautiful balcony looking out over the ocean. Later, you water the plants and clean up a bit before taking a dip in the pool. Oh, and you're getting paid for taking care of this house!

It sounds too good to be true. Can you really find house-sitting jobs that pay?

Yes and no. Yes, caretaking gigs that pay a salary or stipend in addition to providing you a place to stay do exist. But no, there aren't many that fit the description above.

Most house-sitting opportunities fall into one of these two categories: standard house-sitting gigs, or more demanding caretaking jobs. If you’re curious about getting free accommodation in interesting places (and maybe earning a little cash as well), here’s how to get started.

Basic House-Sitting Jobs

Many websites list house-sitting gigs, and a quick glance at the listings tells you right away that not many people are offering to pay their house sitters much -- if anything. Normally, you get a nice place to stay, rent free. In fact, if you're caring for the home for months, you're usually expected to pay some or all of the utilities.

This might not sound like much of a money-making opportunity, but it depends on how you look at it. If your current lease is ending and you’ll get free rent somewhere for three months before moving into your next $1,000-per-month apartment, you're $3,000 better off, right?

Here are some of the online platforms where you can find the opportunities, along with their subscription rates:

Some people make a lifestyle of house-sitting. Canadian couple Dalene & Peter Heck sold everything in 2009 to travel the world, staying in other people's homes. Among other stays, they spent six months house-sitting in Honduras, and at the moment they're caring for a home in Paris, France. They say, "We’ve had 14 jobs in nine countries, and saved over $50,000 in the cost of accommodations as a result."

Sometimes you can get paid for basic house sitting. As House Sitters America explains;

The bottom line is it's all negotiable between you and the homeowners. In most cases it's just a straight swap; the house sitter cares for the house and pets in exchange for free accommodation... However there may be times when a homeowner will offer some money for the house sitting job.

They offer examples of times a homeowner might pay you, including:

  • When the house is in an undesirable location
  • For short sits (such as a few days)
  • When there are many pets to care for

They add "Of course, there are also many professional house and pet sitters who actually do this for a living, and they will charge a fee for their services." How do these professionals get paid? Usually they offer a bit more than simply staying in the house and making sure no one breaks in.

Caretaking Jobs

In general, you'll get a stipend or salary if you're doing more than just watching a home. In these cases you're more of a caretaker than a house-sitter.

One of the best sources for these types of jobs is The Caretaker Gazette, which has been around for more than 30 years. They have the usual listings of free place to stay, but they also host advertisements from people who are willing to pay you. In their archives (which you can see for free) I found the following three examples in one issue:

  1. In a small town in Alaska, someone was hiring a caretaker to manage a small store and two apartments and do monthly home heating oil deliveries.

Pay: A small apartment with all bills covered, TV, Wi-Fi, salary (unspecified) and bonuses.

  1. Near Colorado Springs, Colorado, an add requested a couple or single person to care for a ranch with five horses.

Pay: Salary (unspecified) and a furnished apartment.

  1. An ad from Nassau, in the Bahamas, wanted a "house couple" to keep house, plan events, run errands and much more.

Pay: A place to stay and "$100,000 to $120,000 per year."

Clearly these are jobs, not just house-sitting, but they suggest the variety offerings found in the Caretaker Gazette. Of the 100 or so postings in that one issue of their newsletter, there were opportunities all over the U.S. as well as in a dozen other countries, including Peru, Australia and Iceland.

Are You Qualified to House-Sit?

A good house-sitter is responsible, reliable and adaptable. If you're looking to get more than just free accommodation, it helps to also have some mechanical skills. For example, more than one caretaking gig I found in my research required someone with basic plumbing skills, like being able to fix a leaking sink drain.

You’ll have competition, by the way, even for the basic house-sitting jobs. At the moment Mind My House shows 243 active house-sitting assignments, but more than 4,300 "sitter available" listings.

In other words, clients get to be choosy, so experience is a plus. To build some, you might start by house-sitting for family and friends. Be sure to get glowing testimonials from them to add to your resume.

Steve Gillman is the author of "101 Weird Ways to Make Money" and creator of He's been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror, and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).

In recent polls, a third of Americans say they worry about money. You might include yourself in that group, but even if you’re doing fine, your financial situation probably isn’t perfect. So what can you do to improve it?

Apply Kaizen principles to your personal finances.

What is Kaizen? The Kaizen Institute says “Kaizen is the practice of continuous improvement.” Originally a business philosophy, it’s been applied to many other areas, including health care, school reform, and life in general.

And although you can find various explanations of Kaizen, they all agree with this basic proposition: If you continually make incremental improvements, you get big positive results.

For example, I took the Kaizen approach to improving our homes by continually making small improvements while we lived in them. Small changes, big results: Each of the three times we’ve moved in the last three years, we sold our homes at a nice profit.

That brings us to the point of this article: You can apply Kaizen to your personal finances to easily take small steps toward big goals. Here’s how…

1. Commit to the Process

To have continuous improvement, you don’t have to think about money all the time, but you do need to take regular action. Commit to those actions by scheduling them.

Put an annual financial tune-up on your calendar. When the day comes, review everything you’ve spent to recognize and reduce expenses that are not in line with your values. You can also find ways to increase your income and add new sources, and work on retirement and other goals.

In addition to this annual analysis and brainstorming session, you should schedule more frequent times to review your finances and plan actions.

My wife and I sit down together at the end of every month to see where we’re at and to plan changes. A weekly review might be even more useful.

If overhauling your financial situation sounds a bit intimidating, don’t worry. It isn’t so difficult when you apply the next Kaizen principle…

2. Make Many Small Changes

The Kaizen Institute says “One of the most notable features of Kaizen is that big results come from many small changes accumulated over time.”

This doesn’t mean you have to exclude big changes. However, there are advantages to small steps.

It definitely helps psychologically. For example, I could never create a “master plan” for the 20 ways I typically make money each year -- it would be too overwhelming.

But I also don’t develop 20 new income sources each year. Many of my streams of income, like book royalties, website revenue and interest on real estate loans, were developed years ago, and keep flowing.

Instead, I keep taking small steps to add to what’s already working. I make an investment, open a better bank account, get a new cash-back credit card, add a freelance writing client, and so on.

If you set out to redesign your financial life this week, the scale of the task might overwhelm and de-motivate you.

But you could easily open one higher-interest savings account, and then next week call around for cheaper car insurance, and the week after that make another small change. That’s the Kaizen way.

Small changes are also easier to correct.

For example, quitting a job is a big change that could be a difficult mistake to undo. Instead you might take a few steps to make your job worth keeping and find a few ways to make more money at work. Maybe that won’t be enough, but if any of your small changes don’t work out, it’s easier to modify them.

So how powerful can small changes be? If, one by one, you found a dozen ways to spend less and make more money, within a year or two you might be able to quit your job or change your lifestyle in some other major way.

For a more specific example of what’s possible, let’s assume you make the following small changes this year:

The money you’re saving and the extra income adds up to $2,460 per year, or $205 per month.

What happens if you put $205 into decent mutual funds every month? An investment calculator shows that, with a 7% return, you’ll have $35,264 after 10 years, and $509,351 if you keep this up for 40 years.

Six small changes could result in half a million dollars extra for your retirement! That’s the power of Kaizen.

OK, it’s technically seven changes; you also have to open that mutual fund account. And, of course, not every change will work out, which is why you have to apply the next Kaizen principle.

3. Analyze Your Results and Modify Your Efforts

“A Kaizen Warrior understands that change happens in cycles and that it’s impossible to improve without feedback,” explains the Kaizen Brotherhood. In other words, you need to pay attention to your results, and alter your course as necessary.

For example, suppose you try saving money with discounted gift cards, but the result is that you’re tempted into eating at restaurants more frequently, spending even more. You don’t have to give up on discounted gift cards, but you can modify your plan and buy only those valid at grocery stores and other non-restaurant retailers.

Kaizen emphasizes processes. Keep that in mind as you analyze your changes and modify your approach.

If you win a $100 on a lottery ticket or find a cheap pair of jeans, that’s great, but not necessarily repeatable. The regular processes by which you make, spend or invest money matter a lot more. Watch those.

For example, I make thousands annually collecting credit card bonuses and cash back (2016 profit: $2,278), plus bank bonuses (2016 profit: $2,219), but I started small. To get to this level I had to keep tweaking the process and watching to see what worked (mainly to discover which efforts were worth the time invested).

It may help to keep a written list of the changes you make, so you can regularly review them to see what kind of results you achieve.

4. Keep Improving

In what has been referred to as the “Kaizen improvement cycle,” the last step is to “Repeat the cycle by making another small, incremental improvement.” That’s how you get big results.

If those six small changes above can result in a half million dollars, just think what might happen if you keep making improvements.

Again, don’t get intimidated by those big goals. Remember, Kaizen is all about incremental changes. Make a small change today, another next week and so on.

And if finding new changes to implement becomes too much of a challenge, just do more of what has already worked, and do it better.

For example, I didn’t stop when we found a better bank account. Making 1.4% interest at Everbank was nice compared to Chase account’s 0.01% rate, but I kept looking, and found checking accounts that pay up to 5%.

You can apply Kaizen in this way to any area of your finances. If you successfully used a strategy to get a raise, try for another raise (if it’s been a while). If you found a few ways to reduce your utility bills, add a few more.

Make a small change, monitor the results and change course as necessary. Then repeat this simple process again and again. That’s the Kaizen way to improve your financial life.

Steve Gillman is the author of "101 Weird Ways to Make Money" and creator of He's been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror, and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).

Years ago, I worked as a live-in babysitter for a couple of months.

I didn't have to dress up like Mrs. Doubtfire, and the kids were OK, but the experience still might be part of why I chose to never have children.

However, if you like being around kids more than me, you could make decent money as a babysitter.

Many sitters now earn $12 to $18 per hour looking after kids. It’s not just a business for teenagers anymore. As an adult, you may be more likely to find work.

Thinking of adding a babysitting side hustle to your income?

Here’s what you need to know...

How Much Can You Make Babysitting?

Since the early 1980s babysitters' wages have risen much faster than inflation, and the average is now around $12 per hour.

The highest rates are in San Francisco, where babysitters charge $18 per hour to watch three kids.

The lowest rates (for watching two kids) suggested by Sitter City’s babysitting pay calculator are $10.33 and $10.67 per hour in economically depressed Columbus, Ohio and Detroit, Michigan.

In other cities, parents are advised to offer $14 and more per hour. Additionally, Sitter City tells parents to consider the following factors when deciding how much to pay their sitter:

  • Number of kids ($1 or $2 more per-hour, per-kid)
  • Age of sitter (more for adults)
  • Location (higher pay in cities with a higher cost of living)
  • Time (more for late nights)
  • Additional qualifications (more if they know CPR, for example)
  • Additional responsibilities (more for picking kids up from school or helping with homework)

Babysitters should also be paid more for special occasions like New Year's Eve, and get a raise once they have proven themselves to be reliable, recommends Sitter City.

So why are babysitting rates rising in recent years? Some sources suggest that parents want more experienced sitters, and are willing to pay.

Also, it's getting hard for kids to work as cheap babysitters, which may drive up the average wage. In fact, one mother was arrested for letting a 13-year-old babysit her children!

Babysitter, Nanny or Daycare?

The line between being a babysitter and a nanny can be a tough one to determine, but the more important question is whether you’re an independent contractor or a household employee.

If you're the latter, your employer has tax-compliance responsibilities (like paying payroll taxes) -- something most parents probably don't want to deal with just to have a babysitter.

The IRS says, "A worker who performs child care services for you in his or her home generally is not your employee."

So babysitting in your own home makes it clearer that the parents won’t need to deal with payroll taxes. Otherwise, if you don't get paid more than $1,900 by any one client in a year, you'll normally be considered an independent contractor.

Consult a tax specialist if you're in doubt about your status.

If you do decide to babysit kids in your home, you might be classified as a daycare operator, in which case you may need a license and have other legal complications. Each state has its own laws covering daycare, and you’ll want to make sure you’re on the right side of them.

For example, child care law in Illinois specifies that you need a license from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) if you care for more than three children (your own are included if they're under 12 years-old). So if you live in Illinois and want to avoid the need for a daycare license, simply limit your service to watching three or fewer kids.

How to Find Babysitting Jobs

According to Stephanie St. Martin at, the best babysitters have these qualifications and personality traits:

  • Love kids
  • Patient
  • Responsible
  • Experienced
  • Full of energy
  • Good teachers
  • Flexible
  • Playful
  • Sensitive
  • Trustworthy
  • Skilled

The last item refers not just to knowing how to change diapers (if you're watching infants or young children), but also having first aid and CPR certifications.

St. Martin said most families expect this of their babysitters now. So if you have most (or all) of the traits and qualifications above, you're probably ready to find babysitting jobs, but how?

Fortunately there are several online platforms specifically set up for connecting parents and babysitters. Here are two examples:

  • Sitter City: They claim to have a new job posting every two minutes. They also have a free membership and paid services.
  • With a free membership you can post a profile and apply for jobs. For additional fees, they provide other services, like a background check and better placement in search results.

Anne-Marie Lindsey, an experienced nanny, compared and Sitter City, and found that Sitter City was easier to use. She also said that not getting a $60 "enhanced background check" on Sitter City "doesn’t seem to be getting in the way of me getting a job."

Where else can you look for babysitting jobs? Depending on your location, you may find opportunities posted on and You can advertise your services for free on Craigslist.

Finally, word-of-mouth is perhaps one of the best ways to boost your babysitting business and to find new customers. Provide great service, then ask your favorite clients to tell their friends about you.

Your Turn: Have you ever worked as a babysitter, and how much did you charge?

Advertiser Disclosure: We are paid for some of our opinions in the post and some links may redirect to an affiliate partner. We’re letting you know because it’s what Honest Abe would do. After all, he is on our favorite coin.

Do you work hard just to squeeze in a week of vacation once or twice each year? That's better than nothing, although some might argue these rushed trips make you more of a tourist versus a traveler. And either way, if you truly love to travel, a week or two each year might not be enough, right?

So if you find yourself always daydreaming about your next travel destination, you might want to consider getting a different job -- one that lets you travel. There are two types to consider:

  1. Jobs that require travel as a normal part of the job description.
  2. Seasonal jobs that allow you to live in different places for a few weeks or months at a time.

If you want a solid, predictable income, you'll probably want the first kind. If you want more variety, you budget well and you like occasional long stretches between jobs, the second kind might be more appealing. We’ll look at a few options from both categories in this list of jobs for travelers.

1. Flight Attendant

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As a flight attendant, you get to travel the world or the country, depending on the airline. But how much time you'll actually have to explore those exotic destinations can vary. Talk to attendants at your target airlines to see where they typically go and how long they get to stay between flights.

If you have customer service experience, you might be hired with just a high school diploma or GED, but airlines prefer applicants with some college. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the median annual wage of flight attendants is $48,500.

Now for the bad news: Projections show slower-than-average job growth in the future.

2. Commercial Airline Pilot

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If you like the idea of having two- or three-day stays in cities around the country or the world, but want a better paycheck than a flight attendant gets, learn to fly! Apply to airlines that have routes servicing the places you want to see.

This is the highest-paid position on our list: The median wage for airline pilots is $105,720. Future job growth for commercial pilots is expected to remain about average for years to come.

3. Geologist

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As a geologist for an oil company, you usually travel extensively, going anywhere in the world where there might be oil. The same is true when you work for mining companies. You might be looking for gold in Brazil one month and copper in China the next month.

This job has the second-highest pay of those on our list. The BLS includes it in the category of "geoscientist" and says the median annual wage is $89,780. It also notes that employment growth for these positions is expected to be faster than average. Typically you'll need at least a bachelor's degree to be hired.

4. TEFL Teacher

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Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) provides a way to travel to many destinations, but usually for long stays. says their teachers get four weeks of training overseas and often have six-month contracts, although some assignments are shorter. Use a job site like to search for offerings in specific countries. Enter "TESL" and or "TESOL" (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) and under "where" enter the name of the country. You may get referred to a country-specific job search site.

You might find jobs just because you are a native English speaker, but says "the vast majority of employers who are offering a reasonable salary and good working conditions now expect their teachers to possess some form of qualification." The standard qualification is a TEFL certificate, which you can get through online training. Some programs start for under $200. Whether or not you'll also need a college degree varies by employer.

5. Cruise Ship Jobs

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Want to travel the oceans of the world, from Alaska to the Mediterranean Sea? Get a job on a cruise ship. Here are just a few of the many different positions you might find onboard, according to

  • Clergy
  • Bartender
  • Casino dealer
  • Entertainment director
  • Retail clerk
  • Dance host
  • Hairdresser
  • Lecturer
  • Cook

There are more cruise locations than you might imagine. My brother worked briefly on a day-cruise boat in Japan, and my neighbor used to work on a ship that traveled through Antarctic waters seasonally.

The qualifications and pay vary by position, of course. As a former blackjack dealer, I know a few casino workers who did well on cruises that left out of Florida. You can find these positions posted on as well as general job websites.

6. Bartending

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The opportunities for working in new locales are almost endless if you're a bartender. It's one of those positions that offers relatively high-pay (in the right place), and yet has high turnover. The latter means you can find a job almost anywhere if you have experience and keep applying. To travel, try to tend bar on a cruise ship or just pick your favorite places on the map and go find a job for a few months.

How much you make depends on where you work, which shifts you get and how good you are at getting tips. Bartender Mike Kopczynski, who tells me he's tended bar in five different states, made more than $760 in one epic shift at a Margaritaville restaurant in Glendale, Arizona.

7. Truck Driver

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The hours are long and sometimes lonely, but as a long-haul trucker, you definitely get to see the country. lists job openings by state and for different categories, including tanker jobs, flatbed jobs and several more. They even have a special section for drivers who have graduated a trucking school but have no experience.

The median wage for tractor-trailer truck drivers is $41,340 per year, but you can expect that figure to grow as the current driver shortage gets worse. Right now, the industry needs tens of thousands of truck drivers, and the shortage may increase to more than 240,000 drivers in the years to come, reports

8. Peace Corps Volunteer

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If you want to travel to foreign lands and help people while you're there, joining the Peace Corps may be ideal. You normally sign up for a two-year stint, and you may spend much of that time in one location, so this is not a way to "see the sights" as much as a way to get to know another part of the world.

This is a volunteer position, but you do get pay and benefits, and a great entry on your resume. In addition to a living expense stipend you receive while in the Peace Corps, you get health care, student loan help and a readjustment allowance of more than $8,000 when you finish your 27-month assignment.

9. Travel Nurse

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If you're working in healthcare, you have a number of opportunities for travel. For example, my friend works as a physical therapist for a company that assigns her to different locations around the county for a few months at a time. But nurses are perhaps the most in-demand for traveling positions. lists positions for registered nurses all over the country, and says "most travel nursing jobs last between 8-26 weeks, with the majority of the positions being offered for 13 week terms." They say you can make up to about $10,000 per month, and you choose the location. Good benefits are the norm and can include free housing during your assignment.

10. Railroad Jobs

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"America’s freight railroads expect to hire more than 15,000 people in 2015," says the Association of American Railroads (AAR). Their website lists rail companies that hire for positions "ranging from engineering and dispatching, to law enforcement, information technology, industrial development, and more." They're based in cities from Alaska to Florida, but if you get the right position, you'll be traveling all over.

The AAR says, "Freight rail employee compensation, including benefits, averages $109,700 per year." That average includes a lot of different positions, so the ones that are on the trains or require frequent travel may not pay anywhere near that much.

More Travel Jobs

Here are a few more online resources to help you find jobs that involve traveling:

Finally, in addition to jobs, freelance opportunities allow you to work from anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection. The Penny Hoarder has covered many of these over the years, including freelance blogging, slogan writing, travel photography and more.

Steve Gillman is the author of "101 Weird Ways to Make Money" and creator of He's been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror, and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).

A friend told me he charged homeowners $20 to paint house numbers on their curbs, and paid college students $10 per hour to do the painting. Some of his employees did 15 jobs each day. My first question, as he explained his business, was why they stuck around for $10 per hour.

Doing a dozen jobs on their own, they -- or you -- could make $220 per day painting house numbers on curbs (and yes, that's after expenses).

This wouldn’t be a difficult business to start. You can buy stencils, tape and spray paint and be in business an hour from now for under $30. Or buy a starter curb painting kit for about $19 from an online supply company.

How to Paint Curbs

Different curb painters use different techniques, but the basic routine is simple:

1. Use a wire brush to clean the curb.

2. Apply masking tape to create a rectangular background area.

3. Spray paint the background area white.

4. Use stencils taped together to spray paint black house numbers.

You can watch examples in curb-painting videos on YouTube. In addition to tape, a piece of cardboard with a rectangle cut out makes painting the background easy. Some painters use brass number stencils that slide together, but they work best on flat surfaces; on a curved curb you'll probably want the more flexible stencils. Some curb painters paint each digit by hand.

What kind of paint should you use? At least one curb painter recommends Rustoleum Flat Protective Enamel spray paint, but many different types work. My friend recommended using a more expensive reflective paint.

Some painters might take fifteen minutes to complete a job, while others may do the whole job in a few minutes. Speed matters if you want to make a couple hundred dollars in a day. Aim for fifteen minutes or less, including the time talking to the homeowner.

How to Find Customers

Everyone with a curb should have a house number on it so firefighters and ambulance drivers can find the right home easily. And any pizza delivery driver will tell you that people regularly get their pizza late because the driver can’t see their address.

That's your sales pitch. Practice it, along with your painting skills, on friends and family, perhaps for a discounted rate. Then you're ready to go door-to-door.

In time, you'll get better at choosing where and when to look for customers. If you hear "no" two dozen times in a row, you likely need to try a new neighborhood (or work on your pitch).

Look for areas where most homes already have addresses painted on the curbs. These are people who are already sold on the concept and, since even good paints only last about five years, many will have faded numbers that need repainting.

People may hesitate to hire you because they've heard of curb painting scams. These involve shady operators who do fast, sloppy work or even paint without permission and then intimidate homeowners into paying. Show photos of your work to prospective customers, and make it clear that they can approve the finished work before paying you.

A Few More Suggestions

If your city requires a permit, get one -- they're usually inexpensive. Liability insurance might be a good idea (and is required in some cities) if you have a lot of assets to protect, just in case you cause an accident while working on the curb. A general liability policy for a sole proprietor can be bought for as little as $500 annually, according to Trusted Choice Insurance.

You can work for cash, but these days you might run into people who don't have $20 on them. One solution is to get a Square card reader for your smartphone. Square will take 2.75% of each charge, or 55 cents of every $20 sale.

Before you start your day, make sure you have more than enough tape, paint and extra stencils. A long break to run across town for supplies can really knock down your revenue for the day.


If you enjoy painting, why not consider moving up from the curb into painting houses or murals?

How Much Can You Make?

You can keep your startup costs low in this business. Even a permit and insurance, if you need them, will cost you only a few hundred dollars. That works out to an ongoing expense of less than $10 or $12 per week.

With low operating expenses as well, most of your income will be profit. Apart from a dollar's worth of tape and paint for each job, your biggest expense will probably be gas for your car. If you do 10 jobs for $20 each, you might have expenses of only $20 for the day, leaving a profit of $180.

One more idea: ask a local homeowner’s association to allow you to offer a discount to every homeowner in the neighborhood by way of a flyer on doors or a mention in the community newsletter. If you can line up 50 jobs, you could knock them out in a two days at $15 each, for a profit of about $700.

Your Turn: Have you painted your house number on your own curb? Would you turn it into a business?

Steve Gillman is the author of “101 Weird Ways to Make Money” and creator of He’s been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror, and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).

Okay, so you didn't finish college -- or maybe you discovered that your degree in Mongolian literature just isn't that marketable. What can you do?

It is possible to make a decent living without a college degree. Here are seven options that don’t require a single college class.

Collect Tips

Some waiters in top restaurants in New York make over $100,000 annually, suggests an article in the Wall Street Journal. The key is to get experience where you can, then find work in busy, expensive restaurants. With an average tip of 19% of the bill in the U.S., you can do well serving a couple dozen $100 meals every shift.

Bartending is another job with big tip potential. Bartender Mike Kopczynski says he's made as much as $700 in tips in one day working at a Margaritaville restaurant in Glendale, Arizona. Here are some other tipped positions you might consider:

  • Waiter

  • Taxi driver

  • Pizza delivery

  • Room service waiter

  • Golf caddy

  • Beautician

  • Casino dealer

  • Masseuse/Masseur

  • Ski instructor

Make Commissions

Brooks O'Hara, an executive for a company that operates 142 car dealerships, says they have a salesman who makes $300,000 per year selling cars (hint: sell expensive models).

Working only on commission (common in car sales) is tough, but if you think you have what it takes, here are a few more commission-based jobs that allow you to get paid for performance:

  • Insurance sales agent

  • Airplane sales agent

  • Real estate agent
  • Advertising sales agent

  • Direct-sales representative

Do Dirty Jobs

Some jobs are so dirty or dangerous that employers have to pay more to attract employees. That's why you can make $15,000 per month crab fishing in Alaska.

With dirty jobs, it also helps to have a union. That's how Seattle trash collectors made over $100,000 per year in 2010. Here are some other dirty and dangerous jobs that can pay decently and do not require a college degree:

  • Welder

  • Oil field worker

  • Bricklayer

  • Chemical plant operator

  • Firefighter

  • Plumber

Work in Boom Towns

Boom towns come and go, but while the gold or oil (or whatever causes the growth) lasts, the jobs usually pay well. The Bakken oil formation is responsible for boom towns in North Dakota, where, in 2014, Walmart paid $17.50 per hour to starting employees. In 2011, you could make $25 per hour as a waiter in the area, and $80,000 annually for driving a truck, according to CNN.

Keen to move to North Dakota? Check out the booming towns of Williston, Watford City, Dickinson and Belfield.

Boom towns are best for single young people who are willing to live in "alternative housing." While a 2014 report put the average wage in the Williston area at over $77,000, rent for new housing may have been the highest in the country at that time. Many new residents slept in their cars.

Work Online

Online jobs don't always pay a lot, but when working at home you have no commuting time or expenses. For example, you can make up to $12 per hour as a search engine evaluator without even getting out of your pajamas.

Here are three more online positions you might consider:

Try High-Mobility Jobs

More than 50% of front-line fast food workers get some sort of government assistance, according to some reports. These are not great jobs -- unless you use them for the purpose of getting better positions. For example, when I was young, I worked in fast food for six weeks before my first promotion. Within three months I was offered a management position. I didn't even have a high school diploma at the time.

In an interview, McDonald's CEO Don Thompson pointed out that 40% of the company’s executives started out as hourly employees, and over 50% of franchise owners started as hourly help. Here are some other jobs that do not require a degree and might offer upward mobility:

  • Cashiers in large retail chain stores

  • Sales positions

  • Military careers

Start a Business

Perhaps the best way to get past the problem of not having formal credentials is to forget about getting a job and start a business. Being smart helps, but a college degree is not required.

You don't even need a high school diploma. Consider these successful high school dropouts that have been profiled on Forbes and Business Insider:

  • Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin group of companies; net worth: $4.6 billion

  • David Karp, founder of Tumblr; net worth: $200 million

  • Kirk Kerkorian, casino owner; net worth: $3.3 billion

  • Vidal Sassoon, hair product entrepreneur; net worth: $130 million

  • David Murdock, Dole foods; net worth $2.5 billion

Add successful college dropouts, and the list gets much longer (and includes Bill Gates).

Earning five bucks at a time may not sound like much, but those little sales can add up to thousands of dollars.

That’s the idea behind Fiverr, an online platform where users sell their products and services for $5 each. Fiverr says users create 4,000 new listings, or gigs, every day.

What Can You Sell on Fiverr?

Gigs range from the standard data entry and research tasks to the truly out-there. For example, as I write this, sellers in the "Fun & Lifestyle" section are offering:

  • A unique gift idea

  • To paint your message on their body and doing funny dances

  • To create a video of Donald Trump signing your business’ logo

  • To send you a telepathic message

  • To write your message on their chest while playing a kazoo

  • To prank call anyone

  • Balloon popping

If you don't want to write advertising slogans on your belly or scare someone's friend, offer one of the thousands of more ordinary products and services, like:

  • Draw the customer as a cartoon character

  • Make a photo into an avatar

  • Promote a business on Facebook

  • Write a short blog post

  • Translate English into Chinese (300 word maximum)

  • Create a video testimonial about a product

  • Teach people how to play blues guitar

How Much Can You Really Make on $5 Gigs?

The stories told in the Fiverr forum and elsewhere suggest a wide variety of experiences ranging from members who haven't sold a thing after months of trying, to others who claim to have made $1 million from Fiverr.

An article about Fiverr on the U.S. News website features Mark Mason, a semi-retired man from Chicago who offers business services like writing marketing materials and makes $150 to $300 per day for a few hours of work on his gigs. The same article explains how college student Morissa Schwartz has made $7,500 in the last year by offering copyediting services.

If you think some gigs are too much work for the money, you're right. In fact, you don't even make the full $5 for a sale. After Fiverr takes its 20% and you pay 2% to have your money transferred to PayPal, you're really only making $3.92 per $5 sale.

To be successful, you need to find a product or service that costs almost nothing to provide and takes only a few minutes of your time to create and deliver. We'll look at some examples in a moment, but first let's look at another way to make gigs worth your time.

Take It to the Next Level

After you've made some sales, work to become a Level One, Pro League and  Rockstar seller. At each new level you get extra selling tools, like the ability to offer additional options and add-on services. For example, if your $5 gig is a video about the town where you live, aimed at people moving there, for an extra $40, you could spend two hours driving around and videotaping anything the customer wants to know more about.

At the moment, the maximum additional charge for an extra is $100, but depending on your gig, you might also be able to get customers to buy from you again. For example, I've bought covers for my ebooks on Fiverr for $15 and returned several times to the same graphic artist.

To climb the Levels, you’ll need to get positive reviews, deliver on time, respond quickly and politely to customer questions, and follow the rules. Some members have achieved Level One status after only one month and 10 sales.

How to Make Money on Fiverr Money Without Climbing Levels

While selling gig extras is one of the best ways to increase your earnings on Fiverr, some products and services make sense even for $3.92 -- what you net from a $5 gig.

For example, in two months Martin Buckley made $900 selling an ebook on Fiverr. It makes sense to sell something that has zero production cost and only takes a minute to deliver, but in addition to making $900 from that one book, Buckley had another technique: He promoted other books he was selling on Fiverr within this ebook! It pays to use every trick you can to maximize your per-customer income.

Here are some other online side jobs to consider:

  • Logo design (using software that does most of the work)

  • Video lessons (for anything you know how to do)

  • Crafts (if you can make them fast and cheap and use one stamp to send them)

  • Photo-into-painting service (using software to convert the photo to look like a painting)

  • Facebook promotion of customers’ products (if you have many friends)

  • Writing (minimal for $5 -- charge more for longer work)

  • Business card design (with software doing the heavy work)

  • Conversational language instruction (just a few minutes for $5, extra for longer sessions)

  • Online research for writers (have a template and a system for speed)

  • Ebooks (your own or ones you buy the rights to)

Use your imagination to come up with something of real value. For example, one offer says, "I will answer 10 questions about Italy." Most of us know enough about the place we live to offer a service like that -- though I would give the customer an audio file rather than a typed response to make answering quicker.

If you have an unusual career, you could target those who might want to learn more about it by offering a video or PDF file that explains your work and how to get a similar job. Gigs where you sell the same thing over and over -- and continue earning with little additional work -- are some of the best.

A Few More Tips

Once you have a plan in mind, promote your service or product wherever you can, including telling your friends, family and contacts, to make enough sales to become a Level One seller -- that's when you can sell gigs in multiples or sell gig extras.

How you market yourself has a huge impact on your potential earnings. Fiverr seller Mary Ingrassia told Business Insider her business really took off when she used her cell phone to make promotional videos with Pickle, her pet bird, and put them on YouTube. She sells graphic designs and says, "Over the past year, it's grown to five to fifteen orders per day, with people spending different amounts (between $10 and $20). To date, I've made $10,000 and the money just keeps growing."

When you find something that works, try other markets. There are now many websites copying the Fiverr format, with some slight differences. Here are two:

Open a PayPal account to access your earnings. While the debit card Fiverr offers can be cheaper, you’d need to watch out for several fees, including an activation fee, a charge every time you transfer money to it and a $1-$3 fee for each withdrawal.

Just listing your service for sale isn’t enough to make it successful. You need to put it in the right category, post photos and maybe a video, and do some marketing. In the Fiverr forums, members share what has worked or not worked for them. Use this valuable information to help you make the most of your time on Fiverr.

Steve Gillman is the author of "101 Weird Ways to Make Money" and creator of He's been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror, and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).

Despite a better economy, it's still tough to get a good job. The unemployment rate for young college graduates is over 8%, reports the Economic Policy Institute. But the underemployment rate is closer to 17% percent. Flipping burgers part-time to pay off your debt from that bachelor's degree is no fun.

It's time to get the position you really want -- but how? If the usual means have failed you, you might want to try something new, and maybe even some tactics that are "a little bit out there." Consider the following crazy ways to get hired that have actually worked.

1. Advertise on Google

Alec Brownstein ended up on CBS News for his job hunting technique. It started when he was Googling the executives he wanted to work for and noticed there were no paid ads in the results. Figuring that, like everyone else, executives probably Google themselves from time to time, he opened an AdWords account and bought the top spot for several names.

When Ian Reichenthal, the creative director at Young and Rubicam, Googled himself, he saw Brownstein’s ad. He called, set up an interview -- and hired him. The ad cost just 15 cents, and although Reichenthal said it was Brownstein's "great portfolio" that got him hired, it was the ad that got him the interview.

2. Advertise on a Billboard

Adam Pacitti was working at a game arcade after graduating with a degree in media production. After losing that job, he sent out 250 applications with no success.

So he spent months of work on a "multi-platform viral advertising campaign with full social media integration," and rented a billboard. He says, "People liked the billboard, mostly." It read:

I Spent My Last £500 on This Billboard.

Please Give Me a Job.

Soon, his job hunt made the news on radio, TV and in newspapers all over the world. The hashtag "#EmployAdam" made the rounds on Twitter as well. After fielding 60 job offers, he's now a viral producer (naturally) for projects at Seachange.

3. Put That Resume on a Beer Bottle

Kelly Taylor wanted to be a brewmaster in a pub, so he put together a resume and applied for the next best thing -- an assistant brewer position. But his wasn't an ordinary resume.

"For my interview, I brought a bottle of a home brew I made in my apartment and put my resume on the bottle as a label," he said. He got the job that day and was promoted to brewmaster within a year.

Taking the beer-bottle-resume to the next level, Brennan Gleason of British Columbia spent seven weeks brewing a new beer called "Résum-Ale," according to a Huffington Post article. Gleason was just months away from graduating from the University of the Fraser Valley, and had been assigned to do a self-promotion project.

With his degree in graphic design on the way, and his beer ready, he put a bit of his portfolio on each bottle and sent six-packs of his home-brew to several Vancouver design firms. He landed a job as the creative director for Techtone, a digital marketing agency.

4. Use Cupcakes With QR Codes

Katie Oldham had an elaborate plan for getting noticed by prospective employers. She set up her website and had cupcakes made with an "edible icing QR code on top." Then she found contact information for key people at the magazines where she would like to work. Next, she prepared cards explaining the QR code, her goal, and how to contact her.

When someone scanned a cupcake with a smartphone, they’d be directed to her website. The rest of her plan was supposed to go like this:

Whilst enjoying the amazing cupcakes, they can have a read through the website, which has what I am looking for (summer internship) and sections for my CV, Personal Statement, links to Scarphelia here, and examples of work that I have done online and in journalism... They are so wowed with my creative and cheeky way of applying for work experience that they call me straight away and invite me for an interview. Or at least... that's the plan!

She went to London to hand-deliver the cupcakes -- and landed an internship at Cosmopolitan, according to a later report on WiseBread.

5. Make a Video Game Resume

Alexander J. Velicky went to incredible effort to get a job with Bethesda Game Studios, reports Forbes. He spent 2,000 hours creating a mod called "Falskaar" for "Skyrim," one of Bethesda's most popular games. Among other features, it added 25 hours of play time.

Velicky explained that, "The best way to show Bethesda Game Studios that I want a job there and should be hired is to create content that meets the standards of their incredible development team."

His scheme didn't work as planned, and no job offer came from Bethesda. But according to Game Spot, the popularity of his mod did lead to a position at Bungie, the developer of Destiny, Halo, Myth, and other games.

Other Unique Ways to Get a Job

Not all crazy stunts will get you hired, and it can be difficult to know just how far to go. To help you get a better feel for what to try and what to avoid, let's look some of the creative and crazy things people have done in an effort to get hired, according to

What Worked

  • Putting a resume on a chocolate bar
  • Climbing on a roof an employer was fixing to ask for job
  • Repairing a company's equipment during an interview
  • Sending a message in a bottle
  • Asking to be interviewed in Spanish to demonstrate fluency

What Didn't Work

  • Back-flipping into the interview room
  • Sending a fruit basket to the interviewer's home
  • Dressing as a clown
  • Sending a lottery ticket to the interviewer
  • Giving the interviewer a tarot reading

Finally, at, you can pay about $265 for a "Good Job Spell" that "Helps you secure the perfect position." It comes with a "lucky voodoo mascot." No word on how effective the service has been for users, so you might want to pass on that one.

Your Turn: What's the craziest thing you've done to try to get a job? Did it work as you’d planned?

Steve Gillman is the author of "101 Weird Ways to Make Money" and creator of He's been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).

Should you encourage your children to start a business? Are there good business ideas for teens and kids?

With police routinely shutting down kids' lemonade stands for being "unlicensed businesses," you might wonder if they should just put their entrepreneurial urges on hold until they get older.

But there are good reasons to let young people make some money on their own, and to let them start early. Billionaire CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Warren Buffett says:

There was a study many years ago questioning how to predict business success later in life. The answer to the study was the age you started your first business impacted how successful you were later in life. Teaching kids sound financial habits at an early age gives all kids the opportunity to be successful when they are an adult. [emphasis added]

Buffett's own childhood was full of investments and businesses. At age 11, he bought his first stock. By the age of 14, he used $1,200 he earned from paper routes to purchase 40 acres of land, which he then leased out to farmers.

In high school, he and a friend bought a used pinball machine for $25 and set it up in a barber shop. They later put machines in other locations and eventually sold the business.

14 Fun Business Ideas for Kids and Teens

Of course, your child doesn't have to be the next Warren Buffett to benefit from a small venture or two. Here are some of the best business ideas for kids.

1. Dog Walking

Busy people need help keeping their dogs fit, and this is a job most kids can handle -- and enjoy. Dog walkers charge either for a set fee or an hourly rate, and the kids can even expand their business to include dog washing and pet sitting.

Kids can approach neighbors to offer their services (you may want to tag along if they’re young) or advertise their business online. says their dog walkers average almost $11.25 per hour, and it's free to open a basic account.’s policy for teens requires adult-supervised accounts (parents receive email notifications of all activity), and the kids have to be at least 14 to sign up.

2. Websites

Many kids are more Internet savvy than their parents, so it makes sense to consider online businesses, including various types of websites.

It costs very little to register a domain name and buy web hosting, and by relying on easy advertising revenue (like Google AdSense), kids don't even have to sell anything.

For example, Forbes reports Ashley Qualls started at age 14 "as a personal portfolio with pictures and graphics she created." Later, she added tutorials on creating graphics and other content for teens.

Before long she needed a dedicated server, and she added Google AdSense to the site to monetize the traffic.

Now, her website brings in "as much as $70,000 a month," according to Fast Company. Qualls bought a $250,000 home with her profits while still a teenager, and turned down a $1.5 million offer for her business.

3. Paper Routes

Paper routes helped Warren Buffett get his start in business, and although most newspapers now rely on adults with cars for delivery, there are still a few places where kids deliver papers on foot or by bicycle.

In Carroll, Iowa, for example, The Daily Times Herald still has 80% of its papers delivered by kids aged 9 to 17, according to NPR.

One of the best things about modern paper delivery is that the kids no longer have to knock on doors to collect for subscriptions -- that's all done by credit card billing.

4. Crafts and Jewelry

If your kids are creatively inclined, they can make crafts and jewelry to sell online.

There's no need to set up a website for this. Platforms like Etsy provide a great way to keep it simple. Vendors pay 20 cents to list a product and then a commission of 3.5% on each sale.

The policy for kids is that the Etsy Shop must be managed by a parent or legal guardian.

How much could your child earn on Etsy? By the time he was 11 years old, Mo Bridges had brought in more than $30,000 selling bow ties through his Etsy shop.

Other Businesses for Kids

Don't underestimate the potential for big success from small starts.

Fraser Doherty started making and selling jam from home at age 14 and before long had over $1 million in annual sales.

At age 10, Juliette Brindak drew pictures of "Cool Girls," and, at age 16, used those characters to launch a social networking site called "Miss O and Friends." The site is valued at $15 million today.

The types of businesses started by some kids might surprise you too. Who would have thought that, started by Sean Belnicks at age 14, would be selling $24 million in office chairs by the time its founder was 20?

Or that 17-year-old Nick D’Aloisio would sell his news-aggregator app, called "Summly," for $30 million?

Any kind of business activity teaches kids valuable lessons. As a child, Tyler Dikman had lemonade stands, mowed lawns and did magic shows.

He parlayed that business experience into launching CoolTronics, "a comprehensive computer sales and service solution," when he was just 15. The company went on to make millions of dollars.

What else can kids or teens do to make money? Here are a few more possibilities:

5. Help companies with social media marketing

6. Babysit

7. Help seniors set up and use computers

8. Wash cars

9. Do garden maintenance

10. Have garage sales

11. Make greeting cards

12. Recycle soda cans

13. Tutor younger kids

14. Shovel snow

Your Turn: Do you encourage your children's entrepreneurial plans? What good business ideas could you add to the list?

Steve Gillman is the author of “101 Weird Ways to Make Money” and creator of He’s been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror, and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).

Have you ever received an email offering to pay you big money to put ads on your car? Sounds great, right?

Of course, these are almost always scams. And I like to mess with scammers, so I responded to one of these emails.

In its reply, the company explained I would be sent a cashier's check to cover my first month's payment and the cost of applying the "wrap." I was to deposit the check, keep $300 for my fee for the first week and use the rest to pay the guy who wrapped my car.

I wrote back telling them I was excited to get started, but it seemed simpler for them to just pay me and then pay the ad installer directly. I would even take $200 per week instead of $300. I never heard from them again.

This is a typical cashier’s check scam. The check bounces, which you discover only after you wire your own money to the ad installer or pay him in cash.

These scams are extremely common. But you may be wondering, aren't there legitimate companies that pay you to put advertising on your car? Let's take a closer look.

How Not to Sell Ads on Your Car

Much of the information online about companies that pay you for car ads is worthless. Some of the companies these sites link to charge businesses to wrap their vehicles in advertising, but make no mention of paying you for wrapping your car with ads.

Others have no contact information online, which is never a good sign. Some don't even ask you about your car and/or driving habits. Do you really think businesses are willing to pay for an ad on your car if they know nothing about whether it will ever leave your garage? Not likely.

Look at this driver application for Ads2go:

Submitting an Application with Ads2go has always been and continues to be FREE.  However, with about 100,000 drivers in our database, we are pleased to now offer you two ways to be a VIP applicant.

The "VIP Pick Me First Application" costs $5.95. Of course, "Payment of these fees is NOT a guarantee that you will be asked to drive since such depends on the preferences of our advertisers." Oh, and the fees are nonrefundable.

How many people has this company paid for an ad placement? How many people have paid the company to submit a "VIP" application? When I contacted AdsToGo to ask these questions, I did not get a response.

In general, you should not pay anything upfront, and stay away from companies without contact information on their websites.

How to Find Legitimate Car-Wrap Advertising Opportunities

Fortunately, there are a few legitimate companies that pay you to put advertising on your car. For example, Carvertise is currently looking for drivers.

Its website says drivers earn $100 per month, and campaigns typically last three to six months.

Carvertise also makes it clear "there is no upfront cost to the driver," which should be the case with just about any legit company.

Here are some other examples of companies that pay you for putting ads on your car:

These companies meet the following guidelines:

  • They don't ask you for money.
  • They ask about your car and driving habits.
  • They require you to have car insurance.
  • They have contact information (not just a form) on their websites.

I should mention I've applied several times on different websites and have never been contacted.

Of course, I don't live in a large city where the real opportunities are more likely to exist. I also may not drive enough miles for advertisers to be interested. And there are probably more applicants than needed.

The bottom line: Getting paid to put ads on your car can be a great gig if you get it, but don't hold your breath. You may not qualify or be selected anytime soon.

Other Car-Wrap Advertising Opportunities

You may have a better chance to get paid for ads on your car if you drive for Uber or another ride-hailing service company.

First, you're likely to put many miles on your vehicle in busy areas -- something advertisers want to see. Second, it's possible taxi advertising companies, like Blue Line Media (ads on taxis in 100 cities), will start signing up ride-hailing service drivers.

Finally, Viewswagon has an advertising platform for ride-hailing service drivers. It pays you to show ads inside your car.

Your Turn: Have you ever applied for a car-wrap advertising gig? If so, how did it turn out?

Steve Gillman is the author of "101 Weird Ways to Make Money" and creator of He's been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).

One day my company’s CEO announced a new policy. It was unreasonable, so I violated it in front of him and I told the head of my department I would continue to break the rule.

She declined to take any action, but I assumed I would be fired soon, so I resigned. That way, even if I was fired during my last two weeks, I could truthfully say I quit on future job applications, since my resignation came first (there's a resume trick for you).

The details of the policy and name of the employer are not important, but here's the rest of the story: The CEO ignored my rule-breaking (and eventually changed his mind on the policy). I worked another month at the request of my department head, because she had always treated me well.

When I finally left, she shook my hand and said I was welcome back anytime.

After leaving dozens of jobs over the years, I have become a job-quitting expert. And leaving that job gave me the time needed to begin this much-more-satisfying career as a freelance writer. So it seems only natural to share my expertise, starting with the obvious advice...

Avoid quitting a job impulsively.

Carefully consider a few questions first. Are there alternatives to quitting? Have you made preparations? How can you leave on good terms in case you need the job back? Are some bridges meant to be burnt? Can you comfortably lose the income, even if the loss is temporary?

To help you answer these questions, I put together this guide on how to quit a job.

Position Yourself as a Job-Quitter

It's great to have the freedom to quit a job when you want to. Even if you love your work and have no plans to leave, that could change at some point. And job security is dead.

So why not put yourself in a position where you can lose a job without losing much else? Here are some of the things you can do to get there:

1. Save Money

With enough money in the bank, you can quit a job you don't like anytime, even before you line up another one. Many financial authors recommend six months of savings in the bank, but I prefer to have enough money saved to pay the bills for a year.

If you can't manage to put aside that much, there are still ways to safely quit a job, but you'll have to be more careful, and your options will be more limited.

To boost your savings, pay off debts and reduce your expenses, and then use the money that was going to those to fund your "job quitting account." If being properly positioned is important enough, you'll find a way to cut some expense and set aside the savings.

2. Develop Other Income Sources

If you have more than one stream of income, quitting a job is easier to handle. You don't need to diversify as much as my wife and I -- we made money 25 different ways last year -- but if you have a side hustle or two and some investment income, you'll be in a strong position to make job decisions without worrying too much about paying the bills.

3. Maintain a Current Resume

Keep a resume ready and up-to-date. If you’re qualified for several types of positions, make a resume for each.

I like to keep a stripped-down resume handy, with another document full of various possible sections to include. Then I copy and paste the relevant material into it the resume when applying for a job, and modify each section to fit the job description.

4. Keep Your Fixed Expenses Low

It's easier and safer to quit a job if your living expenses are low, but the type of expense matters greatly. For example, it's not necessarily a problem if you spend a fortune eating out and going to movies every night, because you can immediately cut those discretionary expenditures when you're between jobs.

Your fixed expenses are the ones that will bleed your bank account when you leave a job. Those include:

  • Rent or house payments

  • Homeowner's or renter's insurance

  • Property taxes

  • Utilities

  • Health insurance

  • Car payments

  • Credit card payments

  • Student loan payments

  • Any other regular expenses

Work to pay off your debt and find ways to reduce your other expenses, but also avoid adding new fixed expenses. For example, rent a boat rather than adding payments and the other regular expenses that go with owning one.

Even if you are spending everything you make, you'll be more financially secure if you minimize the size of the bills you have to pay.

Consider Alternatives to Quitting

Maybe you don't need to quit your job. Think creatively about the alternatives.

For example, when I was young enough to not know things aren't generally done that way, I simply told my boss I was demoting myself to a one-day-per week shift manager in order to start a business -- and rather than lose a good employee, he agreed!

Depending on the reason you want to quit you might look into any of these possibilities:

  • A different position in the company

  • Fewer days or hours

  • A change in your job duties

  • A transfer to another location

  • A raise that makes you want to stay

Of course, if you can't get any of these accommodations, you have to be ready to quit.

Prepare to Quit

Being in a generally strong position to quit any job is ideal, but even then you'll need to make specific preparations when the time comes.

Why you are quitting will help determine how you prepare. For example, if you just want a better job, find it before you quit to avoid any significant interruption of income.

If you're going to have to quit soon no matter what, try to spend at least a few weeks preparing. Cancel extended cable and other luxury expenses. Add to your savings account. Make a list of replacement jobs you're qualified for, and freshen up that resume.

If you're planning your exit with more time, you can make other important preparations. For example, if you're planning to buy a home, do it before you quit. A new job looks bad on a mortgage loan application, especially if the position is in another industry.

If you're quitting to do work you'll enjoy more, but that pays less, first work on lowering your expenses. Get your spending down to the level the new job will provide before you quit your current job.

You might want to increase your credit card limits (if that's possible) while you still have your current job. That can come in handy if you run into cash flow trouble and don't want to break into your retirement account.

How to Quit Your Job

Your boss might deserve to hear "take this job and shove it!" as you walk out the door in the middle of the day.

But it's usually a bad idea.

I've quit without notice twice, and the employers did deserve it, but I (mostly) held my tongue, and I walked out suddenly only on short-term jobs I could leave off my resume.

Unless there is a good reason to do otherwise, give at least two weeks' notice, and tell your employer what you liked about working there (c'mon, there has to be something). You might want the job back someday, or a future employer might talk to this one. To the extent possible, leave on good terms.

More importantly, do a good job while you're still there. If you're tempted to slack off because you hate the job or your boss, it’s time to go. You deserve to be treated right, but your employer deserves to get what he pays for.  

And if you are a good employee, quitting doesn't have to mean burning any bridges.

Put your resignation in writing. If you're not sure what to say, look for templates and examples of resignation letters online. Essentially, you want to explain, give a time-frame and thank your employer for the opportunity to have worked there.

Time your announcement properly. If you want to leave on good terms, don't tell your boss you're quitting when she's in the middle of a crisis or you’re in the thick of your industry’s busy season (like tax time). Give her your letter of resignation when she's comfortable, feels good about your work and has room to breathe.

Finally, if you're ready to quit and you think there are layoffs coming, talk to your boss and volunteer to be let go. Unlike when you quit, if you're laid off you'll probably be eligible for unemployment compensation. That will help your transition to whatever you're doing next.

What About Your Resume?

Yes, your resume and future job applications may look less than ideal if you quit too many jobs. But there are a few tricks to making them look as good as they can.

First, leave a few things off the resume. A job you had for a week isn't relevant, is it? If you have many past jobs to choose from, include the ones that are most relevant to the position you're applying for, and don't mention the others.

What about that part on the application where they ask why you left a previous position? No problem; as a complex human being you always have multiple reasons for quitting, so just choose one your new employer prefers to hear. He doesn't need to know you just get bored with jobs after the first few months (yes, I'm talking about myself).

What about those gaps that employers hate to see in a job history? The fact that you took a year off to read poetry won't impress most employers. You need to fill those gaps with something else.

One solution is to always have a small business on the side. Then, if there is a gap in your employment record, you were "focusing on your business." If your business is incorporated, you can even put yourself down as an employee during those otherwise blank stretches.

It also helps to round off the dates of previous employment. For example, if you quit a job in January and started another in November of the same year, writing down just the years you worked at each will make it appear as if there is no gap.

I'm not suggesting lying, but employers who look at your resume probably won't tell you the bad things about working for them, so why should you volunteer negative information?

Of course, no matter how many tricks you use, if you quit too many jobs, your resume will suffer. Just consider that part of the price you pay for job-quitting freedom.

Your Turn: Are you ready to quit your job? If you’ve quit jobs in the past, what strategies have helped you?

Steve Gillman is the author of “101 Weird Ways to Make Money” and creator of He’s been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror, and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).

Maybe you hate full-time employment.

Or, like me, maybe you find jobs interesting for a few months at most, and then you're ready to do something else.

But hey, you still have to pay the bills, right?

So can you survive without a full-time job, or even with no job at all? You can if you develop enough other sources of income.

But it's not that simple. You also have to know how to handle the ups and downs of life without a weekly or monthly paycheck.

I've worked full time for only a few months in my life (I'm 52), so naturally I've had to learn a few strategies for getting by without a regular paycheck.

Here's how I manage to avoid jobs most of the time and still pay the bills. Of course, your results may vary, but here is a basic outline for how to live without a job:

1. Control Your Expenses

If you want to avoid jobs, it helps to be a bit frugal.

But looking for ways to spend less doesn't have to mean sacrificing anything important. It can be a way to have more of what really matters.

So if you want a richer lifestyle through frugality, watch how you spend your money.

And when it comes to living without a regular job, you don't always have to think in terms of pinching pennies.

You just have to control your expenses so you spend less than you make. If your income doubles and you spend 50% more, you're fine, right?

When my wife and I had a higher income, we had a house cleaner, but when our income dropped, we eliminated that luxury.

On the other hand, even when we made six figures, we had a small house that was cheap to heat and maintain, because some expenses are more difficult to eliminate quickly. Here's the important rule:

Keep your fixed expenses (those you can't reduce or eliminate quickly) low, and you'll be able to weather the ups and downs of irregular income.

2. Diversify Your Income

It helps to have many sources of income, so the loss of any one of them won't send you scurrying for a job. You might write for content websites, sell used books, rent out rooms in your house and make money collecting returnable cans and bottles.

Last year, like the year before, my wife and I had more than 20 sources of income, and not one of them accounted for more than 25% of our total income. Since we controlled expenses and lived on about 75% of our income, we could have lost any one income source and we would still have been OK.

As I explained in my post on income diversification, you should also aim to diversify the types of income you have coming in.

Here's an example of some of the things we've done in recent years in each of the following four types or categories:

1. Business (including freelancing): I make a little money from my websites, I write for blogs, and we both have some royalty income from books.

2. Investments: We lend money to house-flippers, invest in Lending Club loans, have rental income, and we accidentally flipped a condo for a profit. We also made money twice in three years recently by selling our home and buying a cheaper one.

3. Money-Making Projects: We've had a couple successful garage sales, I made $4,000 last year from credit card and bank sign-up bonuses, and more than once I've I sold stuff taken from a dumpster.

4. Temporary Employment (more on this in a moment): My wife occasionally finds work teaching adult education classes, and I briefly had a few jobs four years ago.

You can find many more ways to make money here on The Penny Hoarder, including 103 ways to make money at home (yes, I'm writing this at home in pajamas).

Of course, unless you have a "regular" and successful business (which sounds like a job to me), all of the examples given so far provide somewhat unpredictable income.

That's why you should…

3. Always Have Money in the Bank

If you have enough money saved, ups and downs in income are not as big a deal.

A few years back, Google search algorithm changes caused our the income from our websites to drop in half in one day, and it continued to slide from more than $10,000 per month to about $200 per month now.

Honestly, I was stressed about that “little” change in our lives. But at least we had saved money during the good times.

You have to decide how much is enough for you, but I wouldn't feel comfortable if we didn't have enough savings to pay the bills for a year or two.

And even with money in the bank, my wife and I don't wait for this or that income stream to dry up before acting. Instead we…

4. Keep Looking for New Sources of Income

I renovated and rented out the other half of a duplex we bought (we lived in the other half). It generated cash flow of about $400 per month.

Now, I'm considering discounted closed-end municipal bond funds as a way to make 6% or better on some other investment money.

You don't need to get too stressed out about it, but you should keep your eyes open for ways to add to your income sources.

In fact, while this article is about how to live without a job, there are times when you might want to consider getting a paycheck for a while. That's why I will sometimes…

5. Consider "Employment Projects"

I like to consider jobs as temporary projects. Apart from when you just have no other way to pay the bills, you can use them in two ways:

1. To generate low-stress income while you figure things out.

2. To prepare for future income possibilities.

When our business income was falling like a rock, I freaked out a bit, so I worked as an electric tram driver and later as a security guard. I even worked full time for two weeks at one point.

I discovered that working and having even a small paycheck helped me relax while I figured out what to do next.

It was even fun... but then it got old after a couple months. I quit those jobs and began freelance writing and making money in other ways.

Use jobs to settle your mind and to provide temporary income while you figure out how to make money without a job.

One of those other ways I made money was working for an investor who flipped houses. I was paid only $100 cash per day , but I discovered I like to paint.

That and the other skills I learned later helped me flip a condo, fix our next home (which we sold for a profit) and renovate our duplex rental unit. We also make 10% annual interest lending money to the investor.

Use jobs as a way to learn valuable skills and to make contacts. You can also use a job as training to start your own business.

However you use your jobs, if you do it right, they will be temporary.

6. Have Only Good Debt

"Bad debt" is money you owe for consumer items or anything that doesn't improve your financial situation.

"Good debt" is income-producing or money-saving debt, such as borrowing for education that improves your ability to make money, borrowing for rental real estate, and even borrowing for your own home -- assuming doing so actually cuts your costs versus renting.

The only debt I have at the moment is about $10,000 on a couple of credit cards, but that's actually good debt. I'm in the zero-interest teaser period, and the money is parked in bank accounts that pay 5% annual interest. Hey, it will only add about $500 to our income this year, but every little bit helps.

Aim to have only good debt if you want to live without a regular job.

7. Plan for Changes

Sometimes you know you'll be losing income, like when you plan to tell the boss goodbye. See my guide to how to quit your job to prepare for that.

But also prepare for unexpected losses of income. For example, if we move and sell our duplex, I have a list of potential ways to replace the income.

If I can't keep up with my freelance writing (I’m tired of staring at the computer -- and that income is down 50% already), I'll dig out my plans for making money in other ways.

Just about any income stream can slow or dry up unexpectedly, so make contingency plans.

What will you do if you get injured and can't work for a while? What will you do if this or that source of income disappears? What if you sell an investment — where will you put the money to generate income?

If you ask yourself the right questions and make a few contingency plans, you'll have less stress when life happens.

Do that and use the rest of the strategies here, and you can ride the ups and downs of income without ever resorting to a 9-to-5 position.

Your Turn: Do you think you could learn to live without having a regular job?

Steve Gillman is the author of "101 Weird Ways to Make Money" and creator of He's been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror, and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).