11 Legitimate Ways to Make Extra Money in California

11 Legitimate Ways to Make Extra Money in California

Sometimes you have to get creative to put a little extra money in your pocket. If you’re coming up dry, I’ve found 11 new, weird ways to make money -- just for Californians:

1. Get Paid Up to $300 to Turn Off the Lights

California residents can earn up to $300/year by syncing their utility accounts to a energy-sharing program called OhmConnect and agreeing to help reduce energy usage by one hour per week. Here’s how it works:

1. Sign up for a free OhmConnect account and sync it with your online utility account. You’ll earn up to $75 just for syncing your account. 

2. You must have an online account with one of these three utility companies to participate: Pacific Gas & Electric Company, San Diego Gas & Electric or Southern California Edison.

3. OhmConnect will send you weekly payments for reducing your electricity for one hour per week. They do this because you're helping to not contribute to the high demand that prompts unclean power sources to turn on. They'll send you up to $300/year per year, plus you’re helping save the planet!

Plus, with OhmConnect’s new referral program, you can get paid up to $20 to help a friend save money and energy.

If you refer a friend who signs up and starts saving energy, you’ll earn $20.

2. Watch Silly Videos on Your Phone

Most of you already know about InboxDollars, but did you know that they will pay you to watch movie previews, celebrity videos, the latest news, along with dozens of other videos? Plus, they will give you a free $5 just for signing up.

This works because the videos are sponsored by brands who need to get it in front of as many eyeballs as possible. Every time you watch one of their ads, they'll credit your account with cash. Here's a link to signup.

3. Get Paid to Go on Top-Secret Missions

What is deferred interest
Eva-Katalin/Getty Images

Remember scavenger hunts when you were a kid? Ever pretend you were a private investigator on an important mission?

Don’t let a few years get in the way of your fun.

QuickThoughts turns your cell phone into private-eye technology, taking you on top-secret missions in your area.

Was that CVS you visited last month clean? How do the lines look at that McDonald’s you’ve stopped by for lunch? QuickThoughts Missions relies on your input -- and sneakily-taken cellphone photography -- to give businesses important feedback.

And like any respectable PI, you get paid for your investigative footwork. Pretending as an adult is looking better and better!

Using your phone’s GPS technology, the app will prompt you for information from places you’ve visited in the past few weeks, as well as places it detects you’re visiting right now.

It even has missions you can accept and complete in the future. For instance, it might prompt you to go to your local Walgreens and snap a photo of the seasonal display.

Super fun, right? And you’ll earn valuable gift cards for Amazon and iTunes while you’re at it.

4. This App Pays You to Search the Web

Senior woman using mobile apps that pay her for various activities
freemixer/Getty Images

The folks over at Swagbucks will actually pay you to search the web!

Swagbucks offers cash rewards for a variety of tasks, including online searches through their proprietary search engine.

Earn one cent for each of your first five qualified searches and another cent for every two after that. You can earn up to 50 cents per day through their search engine. And you’ll get a free $5 just for signing up.

5. This App Pays You for Sharing (Anonymous) User Data 

This app pays you for sharing data

There's a new company called "Smart Panel" that will literally pay you to download its free app. 

The app's purpose is to collect anonymous statistics from your phone to help your favorite web sites, apps, tech companies and mobile carriers give you better services and more features. 

The company wants to know how long you're spending on Facebook each week, what YouTube videos you like, and how often you check your email.

It's run by Verto Analytics, a trusted analytics firm.

Here's how it works...

  1. You can't download this from the app store. Here's the promo link. It's free to download.
  2. Once you've qualified and downloaded the app, you’ll earn $5. If you keep it installed for at least two weeks, you'll earn another $10. And then for every month you keep the Smart App installed, you'll get another $5. In total, you can earn up to $75 for the first year!

You can redeem your rewards via Paypal or an Amazon gift card.

6. This App Rewards You for All the Useless Trivia You’ve Learned

Woman researching to build trivia knowledge for this app

Have you added a ton of random knowledge to your repertoire over the years? Use it to earn some cash.

With the QuizXT app, you can test your smarts on topics like sports, history, music and more. You’ll earn rewards points for every answer you get right — so study up, Poindexter!

The app also pays you for taking surveys and playing other games. We know you’re hanging out on your phone, anyway — why not get paid to do it?

You can cash out via PayPal.

Itching to show off the history lessons you’ve learned watching “The Crown”? We thought so. Download the QuizXT app here to get rewarded for it.

7. Stop Deleting Your Emails

It turns out that deleting your emails could be costing you serious money. Intrigued?

My new secret weapon is called Paribus — a tool that gets you money back for your online purchases. It's free to sign up for Paribus and once you do, they will scan your email archives for any receipts.

If it discovers you’ve purchased something from Amazon, Target, or one of the other 16 retailers listed on their website, it will track the item’s price and issue you a refund anytime there's a price drop!

You don't have to do anything!

8. Deliver Food

Sign up as a
food delivery driver with UberEATS to meet the demand of those who don’t want to go out, but still want to eat out.

The service is still rolling out around the U.S., but it’s available in about 40 cities nationwide and currently looking for drivers in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Similar to other contract services in the sharing economy, how much you can earn depends on how many deliveries you take and how fast you work. UberEATS requirements are easier to meet than those for the ride-share service:

  • Be at least 19 years old.
  • Have a driver’s license, insurance and vehicle registration.
  • Have at least one year of driving experience.
  • Be able to lift 30 pounds.

This can be a great option if your car doesn’t meet the ride-share requirements.

9. Yell About President Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

household items
svetikd/Getty Images

Do you think President Trump is crazy? Do you believe Hillary Clinton lied about Benghazi?

Political polling companies want to know, and they’ll actually pay you for your rants.

Mypoints and Opinion Outpost are two of the largest and rated A+ with the BBB. I participate every election cycle and I’m usually able to pocket around $100 a month.

10. Put Your Gaming Addiction to Good Use

Apparently, the 
U.S. recognizes professional eSports (“electronic sports”) players as professional athletes.

Last year, we wrote about a team of five men in Los Angeles who make more than six figures in cash, sponsorships and living expenses by playing League of Legends.

If the money impresses you, the hours will seal the deal: The team wakes up around noon and plays the game until about 3 a.m. On top of free rent and sponsorship deals, each team member is paid more than $60,000.

11. Hang Out at Bars

Sign up for the 
Bar Integrity Mystery Shop through the Mystery Shopping Providers Association to get paid to go to bars.

As a mystery shopper, you'll pose as a regular customer -- while secretly rating each bar on speed of service, friendliness, accuracy, cleanliness and other factors.

MSP offers other types of mystery shops, as well. Choose what fits your schedule, so you can pick up retail shopping and restaurants, too, if you want to round out your day.

Your Turn: What’s the weirdest gig you’ve ever done to earn extra money?

Disclosure: We don’t hesitate to pick pennies off the sidewalk when we spot them. But the affiliate links in this post help our earnings grow even quicker. Plus, it’s a lot cleaner than sidewalk money.