The 12 Best Ways to Make Extra Money in 2017

Updated April 21, 2017
by Kyle Taylor

New year, new you, right?

Cliche as it may sound, it’s never a bad time to start padding your bank account, regardless of what time of year it is.

Whether it’s for a rainy day, a major purchase or just to relieve some financial anxiety, there’s nothing wrong with looking for new income streams.

And you’re in the right place. This list of ways to make money this year will get you in better shape in more ways than one.

Some of these will literally help you get healthy, another can help inspire change. One can get your voice out in the world, while another can help you declutter your home.

Most importantly, all of these can help you make some extra money to put toward paying down debt.

We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite tips from the last few months. There are 12 of them, so you can either do all of them this month, or split them up throughout the year (one a month).

Hope they help!

1. Grab a Free $10 Gift Card to Amazon

Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder

Anytime I shop online, I use a cash-back rewards site like MyPoints.

It’s a smart way to earn cash for the shopping you’re doing anyway!

And it works at most of my favorite retailers. Once you sign up for a free account, you can get 1.4% cash back on purchases at Target and a whopping 5.4% at Walmart.

There are more than 1,000 stores on the list, so you can purchase nearly everything you need through the cash-back site.

Plus, when you spend your first $20 through the portal, MyPoints will give you a free $10 Amazon gift card.

2. Scan Your Own Groceries

You’ve head of Nielsen, right? Yep, the same company that tracks TV ratings.

Well, it has a new app that will pay you to scan the groceries in your fridge.

Once you sign your family up for the Nielsen Consumer Panel, the company will send you a free scanner or you can use your smartphone.

Every time you go shopping, you simply scan the barcodes on the back of each product and send your data off to NCP.

If you want to give it a try, you can fill out an application here.

As an active participant, you earn gift points which you can redeem for different types of merchandise. You can choose electronics, jewelry, household items and even toys for the kids.

The longer you stay on the panel, the more opportunity you have to earn points toward prizes. You also receive entries for the panel’s many sweepstakes. Prizes include money, vacations and brand new vehicles.

3. Make Money Completing Simple Tasks

Better money habits
m-imagephotography/Getty Images

A number of websites out there will pay you to read advertiser’s emails, take surveys, even just listen to the radio.

I’ve tried about a million of them, but there are only a few I’d really recommend. InboxDollars is one of those companies.

It’s free to join, and best of all, you get $5 just for signing up. It’ll even pay you up to $120/year just to listen to its radio station.

InboxDollars just requires you to accumulate $30 in earnings before you can “cash-out” and then pays you by sending a check.

Some sample offers include one asking you to sign up for a email newsletter from AMF Bowling. It pays 50 cents and takes about 15 seconds. Another offer asks you to sign up for a free TurboTax account to earn $3.50.

These are simple and there are nearly a hundred of them to choose from. If you’re interested in giving InboxDollars a try, visit the sign-up page here to get started (open to every country).

4. Share Your Info with Google

A number of companies, including Google, will pay you to install their app on your cell phone and for every month you keep them installed.

The apps collect data from your cell phone and help companies better understand web and mobile usage better — such as what times of day people browse, how long they stay on websites and use apps, and what types of sites and apps are popular (or not).

Here are my favorites (install all of them and earn $400/year or more):

–  SavvyConnect — You can earn $5 per device (phone, tablet or computer) for each month SavvyConnect is installed. That’s a total of up to $180 per year to help rank the most popular sites and apps. Make sure you keep it installed at least a month to get your first $5 per device.


– Nielsen Mobile Panel – If you have a smartphone, this Nielsen panel will pay you $50/year to keep this app on your cell phone and browse the web like you normally do. (Note: This panel is currently only open to males that are  between the ages of 18-24 or 45-65)

– Digital Reflection Panel – This company will pay you over $200 a year for attaching a simple device to your router and letting it gather information about your internet habits in hopes of one day making online experiences even better. It takes about seven minutes to fill out the necessary panel and survey to participate.

– Smart Panel – This panel is open to everyone and once you’ve downloaded the app, they will give you $5. If you keep it installed for at least two weeks, you’ll earn another $10. And then for every month that you keep the Smart App installed, you’ll get another $5. All total, you can earn up to $75 for the 1st year!

5. Open a 2nd Bank Account

atm fees
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We’ve put together a huge list of banks that will pay you just to open a bank account!

Having multiple bank accounts isn’t a bad thing. In fact, I often find it’s helpful to have multiple places to save (I’m less likely to touch the money), so I have savings accounts for my Christmas and vacation fund.

The top bank bonus is $500 right now — head over to this list to see all of the banks in your area that are offering free cash.

You don’t have to walk into an actual bank, either. Aspiration’s Summit Checking Account is an online-only bank account with no fees, no minimums and an interest rate up to 1%.

6. Get Paid to Get in Better Shape

Let’s face – every year we all make the same New Year’s resolution to get in better shape.

Well, this year you’ll have a little extra motivation if you’re getting paid for it.

We’re fans of both HealthyWage and DietBet, two sites that will allow you to place a wager and earn cash when you successfully lose weight.

Already in great shape? Try starting a boot camp at your local park a couple of nights week.

Start with just a few friends – these camps tend to grow pretty organically once people see a group of people working out. Most boot camps trainers can earn $100/hour or more.

7. Write a Letter to Your Member of Congress

Write Congress

You know how etiquette books say to never discuss politics at the dinner table?

Well, if you love a good political discussion and need an outlet — or if you just want a way to earn money working from home — consider working for one of two grassroots advocacy groups that offer work-from-home opportunities.

Next Wave Advocacy, LLC, and DDC Advocacy both have “@home” operations.

These advocacy groups run grassroots political campaigns on issues such as health care, energy, defense and taxes. Each hires people (which is where you would come in) to call constituents or advocates, folks who might be interested in the issue at hand.

Your job is to help those people communicate their opinions by writing letters on their behalf to members of Congress.

Both companies like you to work 20 to 25 hours a week during a project, but some people work full-time hours.

Campaigns usually last from a couple of weeks to a few months, depending on what the political issue is. Pay varies, but you should earn about $12 to $15 an hour or more.

8. Get Paid to Go on Top-Secret Missions

What is deferred interest
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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.

Here’s the link for Apple and Android users.

9. Stop Deleting Emails

transcription jobs
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This is my new secret weapon.

It’s called Paribus — a tool that gets you money back for your online purchases.

It’s free to sign up, and once you do, it scans 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 its website, Paribus will track the item’s price and issue you a refund if there’s a price drop.

You don’t have to do anything!

10. Check Your Wallet for Strange Dollar Bills

One Trillion Dollars

Specifically, dollar bills with strange serial numbers — ones that aren’t easy to come by.

The collectors at have created a list of their most-wanted serial numbers, and you might just have a bill with one of these sequences on it in your wallet.

Depending on the rarity of your bill’s serial number, it could be worth a ridiculous amount of money.

The site is currently selling one dollar bills for anywhere from $100 to over $2,500.

Check out the full list to see if you’ve got any of these rare bills, but here’s a rundown of the sort of serial numbers these collectors are looking for:

  • 7 repeating digits in a row on $1 Federal Reserve Notes (i.e. 09999999, 77777776)
  • 7 of a kind on $1 Federal Reserve Notes (i.e.  00010000, 99999099)
  • Super repeaters on $1 Federal Reserve Notes (i.e. 67676767)
  • Double quads on $1 Federal Reserve Notes (i.e. 00009999)
  • and more!

11. Sell Your Old Stuff

Publish your own book

Are your closets and shelves packed to the brim with stuff you never use — or even look at?

You can sell virtually anything on letgo. This intuitive app lets you snap a photo and upload your item in less than 30 seconds. Not only does it remove a lot of the hassle of selling things online, it’s 100% free to use.

Have a bunch of movies or CDs collecting dust on a shelf? Decluttr will pay you for them!

Decluttr buys your old CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays and video games, plus hardware like cell phones, tablets, game consoles and iPods. Plus, enter PENNY10 at checkout to get an extra 10% for your trade-ins!

For old books from college, you can use Bookscouter. Just type your book’s ISBN into the search bar and the site will connect you with more than 25 of the best-paying and most reputable buyback companies online.

12. Take Pictures of Your Friends

I-say review
Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder

If you have an iPhone and a photographic eye, making money may have just gotten a lot easier.

Oh yeah – you’ll also need access to marketable scenery.

There’s a new app called Foap that allows you to turn your iPhone photos into cash.

Here’s how it works: You download the free app and sign up for an account. You take a quality photo and upload it to Foap’s marketplace. Someone buys the license to your photo for $10. You make $5.

If your photo sells 20 times, you make $5 each time and end up with $100 in your pocket, all for about 5 minutes of work.

Sound too good to be true? It’s not, but there are some limitations.

For one, your photo must be accepted by the Foap developers. If it’s too small, grainy or boring (think: not marketable), it won’t make it to the marketplace. And those cute Instagram shots? They don’t accept those either.

Here’s the full run-down.

Nothing on this page is going to get you rich, but sometimes it’s just about making a few extra hundred dollars each month, right?

So get to work and have an awesome 2017!

Good luck Penny Hoarders!

Your Turn: Have you tried any of these ways to make money?

by Kyle Taylor
Kyle is the founder of

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