11 Weird (But Totally Legal) Ways to Make Extra Money in California

Updated April 7, 2017
by Kyle Taylor

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 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. OhmConnect will give you up to $75 just for signing up! 

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.

2. 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 $75 to help your friends save money and energy.

For every person who signs up through your link, you’ll earn:

  • 500 points ($5) when they sign up with a utility account (Silver status)
  • 2,000 points ($20) when they save one kilowatt during an #OhmHour (Gold status)
  • 5,000 points ($50) when they participate in 90% of events in a month (Platinum status)

2. Look for Whale Vomit

Have you ever heard the word ambergris? 

If so, you might know it’s a coveted ingredient in most high-end perfumes — and that it’s also known as whale vomit! 

Gross, I know. But, get this — if you find some, it’s worth $5,000 per pound! 

Ambergris is usually secreted by the whale via fecal matter. However, in the rare event that the mass is too large to pass through the digestive tract, it’s vomited up (and out) by the whale. 

These lumps usually float around the ocean — but sometimes come ashore.

In fact, we recently shared a story about a guy who found $60,000 worth while walking his dog on the beach one day!

If you’re anxious to start combing the beaches in your area, read more about identification techniques and storied discoveries by visiting Ambergris Expertise & Buying Worldwide.

3. 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!

4. Watch YouTube-Like Videos

The folks over at Swagbucks will actually pay you to watch videos! Now, most of them aren’t as entertaining as the Grumpy Cat series, but you’re getting paid – so who cares?

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 signupThey give you $5 just for signing up.

5. 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.

6. Surf the Internet

I love this one, because you just set it and forget it.

Did you know that Bing will pay you every time you make a search on your computer or phone? You just have to sign up for Bing Rewards which is free and takes 30 seconds.

It’s not a lot of money, but I usually earn about $100-$200/ year in passive income doing this. Easy work though — can’t complain.

7. Yell About President Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

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.

Swagbucks and Harris Poll 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.

8. Become an Uber Partner Driver

If you find solace on the road and enjoy finding the best route across town, this is a great way to make money doing it!

As an Uber contractoryou’re responsible for setting your schedule and motivating yourself to work — no one is keeping tabs on you. You earn 80% of everything you earn as a driver (Uber keeps 20%).

If you want to give it a try there’s a few things to keep in mind. You must be at least 21 years old, have three years of driving experience, have an in-state driver’s license, a clean driving record, and be able to pass a criminal bacgkround check.

Finally, your car must be a four-door, seat at least four passengers (excluding the driver), be registered in-state, and be covered by in-state insurance.

Here’s a link to apply with Uber.

9. 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.

10. Grab A Free $10 Gift Card from Papa Johns

Have you heard of MyPoints? They are a cash-back site that lets you earn rewards by shopping online and printing coupons. We use them all the time at our house, because it’s instant way to save on everything you buy (for example, it gives you up to 5% cash-back on purchases in some categories on Amazon).

But, enough about that, here’s how to get the free Papa Johns gift card:

  1. Sign up for MyPoints here using your email address (it’s free).
  2. Use the MyPoints portal the next time you need to shop online (it’s connected to thousands of stores including Walmart, Amazon, and Target).
  3. As long as you spend $10, MyPoints will reward you with 1,750 bonus bonus which you can redeem for a free $10 Papa Johns gift card.

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.

by Kyle Taylor
Kyle is the founder of ThePennyHoarder.com

Share Your Thoughts

Top Articles