32 Ways to Make Extra Money in California
Listen - we all know the internet is full of work-from-home scams, so we've scoured through thousands of different ideas to find you 32 legitimate ways to make money at home.
These are all ideas that we've done before, so we know that they're real and that you'll get paid. Plus, I guarantee there are some in here that you've never heard of...
1. 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. 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!
2. Download These Apps
A number of companies will actually pay you for downloading apps on your smartphone -- and you’ll get paid for every month you keep them installed.
The apps collect data and help companies better understand web and mobile usage — 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).
- MobileXpression for Android - This one can only be downloaded on Android 5.0 or below. After you’ve installed it for one week, you get to play an instant rewards game for a prize (everyone wins something). I won a $25 Amazon gift card, but some of the other prizes include iPads & Samsung TVs.
- MobileXpression for iPhones - This works the same way, but for iPhones.
- SavvyConnect - You can earn $5 per device (phone, tablet, computer) for each month SavvyConnect is installed. You can make up to $180 per year to help rank the most popular sites and apps. Make sure you keep it installed at least one month to get your first $5 per device.
- Smart Panel – This app will pay you up to $110 just for downloading it and keeping it on your smartphone for a year. All the info the app collects remains anonymous.
3. 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. 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.
3. OhmConnect will send you weekly payments for reducing your electricity for one hour per week. They do this because you’re helping reduce the high demand that prompts unclean power sources to turn on. They’ll send you up to $300/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)
4. Give Your Opinion to Make $100+/Month
Most of you know surveys aren’t our favorite way to make extra money, but we make an exception when we're just vegging out on the couch. We figure as long as we're just watching TV, there's no reason we can't click a few buttons at the same time.
I've heard some of the top-end surveys can pay up to $95, but those are rare and can take awhile to complete. Most surveys pay a buck or two and only take 10-15 minutes, making it pretty easy to earn $100 or more per month.
5. 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 contractor, you’re responsible for setting your schedule and motivating yourself to work -- no one is keeping tabs on you. Your earnings will be calculated by adding a base fare, plus time and distance traveled after your pickup, and Uber charges a service fee (20-35% depending on your city)..
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 background 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.
If you don’t have a car that meets the requirements, Uber’s Vehicle Solutions can connect you to options to help you find one from their network of partnerships.
In participating markets, you could rent a vehicle by the week - a simple way to dip your toes into rideshare driving.
If you qualify, you could also apply for a flexible lease with unlimited mileage and payments deducted directly from your Uber earnings. Ready to buy new? Driving with Uber could get you a discount on eligible vehicles.
Here's a link to apply with Uber.
6. Get a Free $39 For Telling This Company About Your Amazon Purchases
Yeah, that’s not a typo. If you’re a regular Amazon shopper, you can earn money each month contributing to research to help companies understand what people are buying online.
Download and connect Shoptracker to your Amazon account. The company will instantly send you a free $3 Visa gift card, plus another $3 for every month you keep it installed.
7. Attach This Device to Your Browser
Digital Reflection Panel will pay you over $200 a year to let the company gather information about your internet habits in hopes of one day making online experiences even better.
All you have to do is connect a simple device to your wireless router and do device updates every now and then. It takes about seven minutes to fill out the necessary panel and survey to participate.
The meter will end up on your doorstep and you'll earn a $25 bonus for installing it within four days of it arriving.
On top of that, you'll get $60 after the first two months, and $10 each month you keep it plugged in after that.
8. Help Doctors Find a Cure
Could medical testing be a fun way to make money?
Jillian Shea thinks it is: She made $12,000 from participating in sleep studies. She answered a few questions online from her home in Florida before heading to Boston for the lucrative study.
And she’s not alone.
Want to give it a try? If you have one of these ailments, you might be able to earn a little extra cash...
- Migraines - If you’ve never had a migraine, be glad you can just take my word for it: They're really, really bad. Local research studies may offer payment/compensation up to $1,150 (learn more here). These studies help doctors discover better ways to treat — and hopefully eliminate — migraines.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis - Do you wake up really stiff in the morning? That’s one common sign of rheumatoid arthritis, which affects more than 1.3 million Americans -- 75% of whom are women.
If you have rheumatoid arthritis in the knee or hip and are otherwise healthy, you may qualify for studies offering compensation up to $625 depending on the number of study visits. You can find more info here.
Just a head’s up, you’ll need to provide a valid phone number and see a study doctor to see if you are eligible, and complete the study-required visits, before you’ll be compensated for participating.
- Crohn’s disease – Have you been diagnosed with this chronic gastrointestinal disease? If you’ve had Crohn’s for at least three months, you may qualify for one of the local studies that may offer payment that varies by study up to $750. Plus, you may also receive no-cost study-related care for the length of the study. (Learn more here)
9. Earn $250 By Opening a Second Bank Account
We've put together a huge list of banks that will pay you just to open a bank account! Some of them will pay you up to $250 just for opening a savings account!
There’s no harm in having multiple bank accounts. 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 fund and my vacation fund.
The top bank bonus is $250 right now — head over to this list to see all of the banks in your area that are offering free cash.
10. Become a Sleep Test Subject for NASA
Finally, an excuse to lay in bed and watch football all day!
The folks over at NASA are paying $5,000 per month to participants in their bed rest study. It lasts for 87 days and is designed to help them research the effects of zero gravity space travel on the human body.
The study takes place at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. In addition to this being a cool way to help the NASA program, this study could fatten your bank account by more than $15,000.
Here’s the full run-down.
11. Earn Up to $60/Hour as a Part-Time Bookkeeper
Does earning $60 an hour sound appealing? How about the freedom to work remotely while helping others succeed?
Those are the perks of working as a bookkeeper, says Ben Robinson, a certified public accountant and business owner who teaches others to become virtual bookkeepers.
And no, you don’t have to have a CPA to be successful in this business. In fact, all you really need are decent computer skills and a passion for helping business owners tackle real-world problems.
It’s a great opportunity for moms who want to work part time, millennials who are just out of college and anyone who wants to bring in real money while working from home.
We talked to Robinson about what it takes to become a virtual bookkeeper, as well as tips and advice for making this career track work for you. You can read the full interview here, or check out his website for more information.
12. Get Paid to Drop a Few Pounds
Picture this: You step on the scale and finally see your goal weight.
Congratulations! But it gets even better.
You’re about to receive a generous check to spend on a celebratory dress in your new size, stock up on household necessities or to wisely stick into savings -- all just for losing weight!
It’s not a fantasy. If you wager on your own commitment with HealthyWage, this could very well happen for you… if you stick to your guns and lose the weight.
It’s simple. Sign up for HealthyWage, and then define a goal weight and the amount of time you’ll give yourself to achieve it. Place a monetary bet on yourself ranging from $20 to $500 a month.
Depending on how much you have to lose, how long you give yourself to do it and how much money you put on the table, you could win up to $10,000!
How many pounds you’d need to lose: This will vary based on your wager. Check out their calculator to find out!
13. Get a Free $5 From Clink to Start Saving
I’m kind of obsessed with Clink (and not just because they give you $5).
Clink helps you save for a rainy day or retirement by taking small amounts of money out of your checking account each day (around $1).
To get the $5 bonus, download the Clink smartphone app and setup your account with the same email address. Be sure to use the promo code: PH2016
I already got my bonus and now I’m investing $5/week. I’m already up to $40! That might sound small, but for someone who resists saving money like the plague, it’s a pretty remarkable start!
14. Deliver Food
Sign up as a food delivery driver with UberEATS to meet the demand of those who want to stay in, 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.
15. Earn up to $700/Month Fixing Search Results
I'll make about $700 this month for evaluating search engine results this month.
And the best part? Most of it is done while sitting at home in my pajamas. What am I doing? Let me explain...
Search engines use complicated algorithms to determine the results you see. For example, if you type the name of one of our writers, Steve Gillman, into a Google search box, a half-million possibly-relevant web pages will be narrowed down using various criteria until a second later you see his smiling face. You'll also see links to his personal website, his blog on the Huffington Post, and LinkedIn profiles for a bunch of guys who share his name.
But the search engines don't always get it right.
They are full of errors, so they need real humans to look at the results and judge them for quality, relevancy, and usefulness. If you're interested in this type of work, head over to this article to get more info on how to apply.
16. Turn Your Grocery Receipts in For Rebate
You don’t have to cut back at the grocery store if you know the right tricks. Have you heard of rebate apps?
My favorite is the Ibotta app which works by giving you a cash rebate on your grocery store purchases if you take a picture of your receipt with your smartphone.
Many of the rebates are for things like steak, ground beef, bread and eggs. Plus, you can shop at your normal grocery store. There’s no need to run clear across town to save money. Click this link and use referral code PENNY to get a $10 Welcome Bonus.
17. Sell Board Game Pieces
Ever seen a board game in the thrift store but noticed with great sadness it was missing half the pieces?
You might want to put the game in your shopping cart anyway. One Penny Hoarder made $250 in six months selling spare board game pieces online. You can even sell “mystery bags” of pieces for $12 a pop!
18. Test Websites
Like most of us, you've probably commented on how some websites are confusing and others excellent. Rather than complaining to your spouse or friend, how would you like to make those comments to the owners of the sites and get paid for playing critic?
I do just that, and you can, too. In fact, you can make $30 per hour as a website tester.
The company is called User Testing. Here's what the process looks like: you'll download some software and then when tasks are available, look over a website while your mouse movements, clicks, keystrokes, and spoken comments are all recorded as a video. Afterward there might be a few questions to answer, but the whole process often takes 15 minutes or less. Cool, right?
19. Sell Your Old Books
We’ve all got way too much extra junk just sitting around. Get rid of some of it and use the extra money for your Christmas shopping.
Have any old college textbooks? You could, of course, have a garage sale or sell them on Craigslist, but one of my favorite ways to get rid of them is using Bookscouter.
You just type your book’s ISBN (International Standard Book Number -- it's near the book's barcode and copyright info) into the search bar and let Bookscouter connect you with over 25 of the best-paying and most reputable buyback companies online. Cool, right?
Once you’ve found the buyback company offering the most cash, you just fill out a little information about where you want your payment sent (usually PayPal) and prepare the books to be shipped. Most of the buyback companies offer prepaid shipping labels too, so there aren’t any costs associated with this.
20. Make an Extra $50/Week Working for Amazon
Have you heard of Amazon Mechanical Turk? Unlike other online sites that look for contract help, the Amazon Mechanical Turk service offers easy to accomplish tasks that can be completed by almost anyone with a computer.
From the articles and advice I’ve read from others completing tasks, the key seems to be just to jump in and quickly accept the next task you are qualified for. Don’t spend time hunting for the perfect task, just do them next, next, next, etc.
While basic tasks may only pay $0.10, they are easy and quick to complete. It does not take long to complete a task in less than a minute, so in an hour, with little experience, you can make $6 to $10, depending on how fast you are.
Amazon Mechanical Turk is not a get-rich-quick scam or one of those "make massive income in your spare time" ripoffs. But, realistically you can make an extra $50 or so each month.
21. Sell Your CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, Video Games and Electronics
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.
One user, Gil Flores, sold about 100 DVDs and 75 CDs and made $275 -- an average of $1.57 each.
Just download the app and start scanning the barcodes on your media to get immediate quotes. It’s completely free to use, there are no listing or seller fees, payment is super fast and there is even free shipping.
Plus, enter PENNY10 at checkout to get an extra 10% for your trade-ins!
22. Watch YouTube-Like Videos: $30
The folks over at EarningStation 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?
The videos are sponsored by brands who need to get them in front of as many eyeballs as possible. Every time you watch one of the ads, InboxDollars will credit your account with a little bit of cash.
Once you watch enough videos to reach $10 (1,000 StationDollars), you can cash out for gift cards to Amazon, Best Buy and ton of other stores.
You’ll get a free $5 just for signing up.
23. Sell Your Smartphone Photos
If you have a smartphone and a photographic eye, making money may have just gotten a lot easier. Oh yeah – you’ll also need access to marketable scenery.
Here’s how it works. You download the free app. You sign up for an account. You take a quality photo. You upload photo 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 five minutes of work. Pretty cool, right?
24. Sign Up for Free Gift Card Promotions
Believe it or not, there are sites that will give you free gift cards just for signing up with them.
One of my favorites is Ebates, the cash-back shopping site. They're giving away $10 gift cards if you sign up as a new member and earn your first cashback rebate. You can choose a $10 gift card from Target, Walmart, Macy's or Kohl's.
You do have to wait 30 days, but it's free money so can you really complain? :)
25. Get Paid to Go on Top-Secret Missions
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.
26. Sell Your Trash
Americans throw away approximately 266 million tons of trash every year, and it turns out we might as well be throwing away cash! There’s a reason dumpster diving has become so popular in recent years and that’s because things that you think are worth nothing often have value.
Anything from your empty wine bottles to old magazines can be sold online. Here's a full list of the things in your trash that might be worth cash.
27. Sell Your Skills for $5 on Fiverr
Earning $5 at a time may not sound like much, but those little sales can add up to thousands of dollars.
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 and Bizarre" section are offering:
- A piece of rare metal that will melt in your hand
- A prank phone call to anyone you choose
- Three balloons released into the sky with your message in them
- Your name written on two grains of rice
- A photo of you on the cover of "Rolling Stone"
- A video of a woman pretending to be "crazy in love with you" -- which has 253 buyers and a 98% positive rating so far
You can seriously sell almost anything on Fiverr. Here are some more ideas.
28. Earn $100 By Helping a Company Name Itself
Professional branders aren’t going anywhere, but for small businesses that can’t afford the million dollar price tag, crowdsourcing allows businesses to outsource the creative process to people like you and me through “naming contests.”
There are hundreds of naming contests on websites like NamingForce.com and SquadHelp.com. The way it works is that nameless businesses list a little information about their company and a prize amount for the person who can come up with the best name. The rewards are anywhere from $50-$500, with the average amount around $100.
For example, one company on SquadHelp says they are a company that buys used video games and they will pay $80 to the person who can come up with the best name. A few of the submissions so far are “Cash 2 Gamers” and “Game Epix.” Think you can do better? Give it a try here.
29. Let Someone Borrow Your House/Apartment for the Night
I’ve used Airbnb to both rent out my apartment and stay in many others while traveling, and it’s a fantastic way to put your home to work for you. However, taking a few simple steps can make the difference between a great experience and a less-than-satisfactory one.
Whether you’re renting out a single room or your entire home, make the most of your Airbnb rental by following these tips. If you do it well, you could add hundreds or even thousands of dollars to your savings account.
30. Become an Online Tutor
Education is one of the world’s leading industries, and the private tutoring market alone is expected to top $102 billion by 2018.
Have you ever considered becoming an online tutor to make extra money? Well, if you haven’t, you most certainly should. You can make some serious coin by answering student’s questions, explaining your notes and uploading tutorials.
That’s right, by sharing your knowledge, you can be rewarded handsomely.
Try marketing your services on a site like Tutor.com, where instructors earn $9-$13/hour, plus $5.50/hour just for being logged in waiting for students.
31. Become a Dog Masseuse
We’ve talked before about ways to get paid to spend time with cats and dogs, but this is a new one: pet massage.
That’s right -- some people earn money for massaging animals. It might sound a little strange, but apparently many cats and dogs enjoy a good massage as much as humans do.
32. Watch More Television
Do you like to stay up-to-date on the latest popular -- and not-so-popular -- TV shows? Get paid for the TV you’re watching in your spare time by writing reviews!
Writing about TV comes in a lot of forms, according to NPR television reporter Linda Holmes. Lots of sites pay writers to review or recap shows, but they come with different tones.
You could do a straightforward review of the craft of the show, search for symbolism in the story or start a conversation with readers about the lives of the characters.
If you prefer a bit of snark, you might write for a site that prefers to riff off TV shows. These turn your review into an opportunity for biting punchlines.
A few places to get you started:
- Pitch Previously.TV editors your ideas here.
- If superheros are more your speed, check out this recapper job with HollywoodLife.
- Get your foot in the door at Mic writing TV show recaps.
Your Turn: Would you try any of these ways to make money at home?
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.
Many of the credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which ThePennyHoarder.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). We do not feature all available credit card offers or all credit card issuers.