13 Ways to Make a Lot of Money Without Another Full-Time Job or Degree

detail of a woman's hands and money
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder
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We’ve all dreamed of making a lot of money, right?

Buy a house, support your family, cushion your retirement savings, splurge here and there… But then you realize you probably need to get another full-time job — or two or three — or need to go back to school for another degree — or two or three.

Yeah, bleak.

Good news, though: There are other ways to make a lot of money.

Make a Lot of Money — Without Getting Another Job or Degree

At The Penny Hoarder, we’ve tested hundreds of ways to make extra money. We’ve also talked with hundreds of people who’ve found creative ways to cushion their bank accounts.

For this list, we’ve compiled our most lucrative opportunities that don’t require taking on a second full-time job or going back to school. Nor will you find online surveys or customer service opportunities. (Those can be great, but they’re not the best way to make a ton of money.)

Instead, here are our favorite flexible ways to make extra money:


1. List Your Spare Bedroom (or Backyard Tent) for Rent

Bedroom interior
DrazenVukelic/Getty Images

Have a spare room? Might as well try to earn some money by listing it on Airbnb.

If you’re a good host with a desirable space, you could add hundreds — even thousands — of dollars to your savings account with Airbnb.

A few simple steps can make the difference between a great experience and a less-than-satisfactory one. We talked to Terence Michael, an Airbnb superhost based in Los Angeles.

Here are some of his tips:

  • Break out the labelmaker. “I have the entire house loaded with labels,” Michael says. “They look nice; they’re modern. This helps people feel less helpless.”
  • Be a good host, and stock your place with the toiletries you’d expect at a hotel — toilet paper, soap and towels. Here’s a little hack from Michael: “I order on Amazon and have it delivered when people are there.”
  • Be kind to your neighbors. “I say, ‘I’m not going to put anyone here who I think won’t be good for you,’” Michael explains. “And I turn a lot of big groups away, especially in Nashville. I don’t want anyone going to the cops or the city.”

How much can you make?

How much you make listing your space on Airbnb will vary, but if you want to see how much money you could potentially make each month, use Airbnb’s calculator.

(Hosting laws vary from city to city. Please understand the rules and regulations applicable to your city and listing.)

2. Become a NASA Research Participant

Did you know NASA pays volunteers to participate in bed rest studies? Yup! You can get paid to chill in bed for 60 days — all in the name of science.

Sure, you’re tired right now, so it sounds amazing, but it could be tougher than you think. You’ll have to bathe, dress, exercise and eat all from bed. Plus, if you have a full-time job, kids, pets or other responsibilities, you’ll have to sort the logistics out there.

But the good news is the gig pays…

How much can you make?

One of the more recent calls for volunteers we found offered $19,000 for 60 days.

Want more information on sleep studied? Jillian Shea, who made $12,000 while sleeping, answers all the important questions.

3. Build a Freelance Business

Have you thought about freelancing in your free time?

You can build a flexible side business as a freelance writer, editor, graphic designer, translator, transcriber, artist, tutor, photographer, social media manager, programmer, web designer — you name it.

Perks include setting your own schedule, hand-picking your clients and dictating your rates.

How much can you make?

How much you make will depend on how often you want to work and how much you charge for your services.

You can make this a very part-time gig — something you work on after work — or dive in full time, like writer Jamie Cattanach. She quit her 9-to-5 and started freelancing full time. She shared her tips on becoming a freelancer.

4. Find Unclaimed Money From the Government

OK, this isn’t a guaranteed way to make money, but how would it feel to stumble into thousands of dollars today?

That’s what happened to one South Carolina man, who, back in 2017, got a phone call from his state treasurer letting him know he was entitled to $763,000 in unclaimed money.

Now, this is a rare occurrence, but did you know state treasuries throughout the U.S. have more than $43 billion in unclaimed funds, according to The New York Times? Just sitting around. Waiting for you to come play lost and found.

To see if there’s unclaimed money in your name, check with the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. (Beware: There are several look-a-like sites out there. Be sure you’re searching legitimate ones.)

How much can you make?

Like we said, this isn’t a guaranteed way to pocket extra cash today, but it’s too easy not to look into.

Penny Hoarder reader Kelli Howell heeded our advice, performed a quick search and found $56 in unclaimed money in her husband’s name. Not bad!

5. Create and Sell Online Course

If you have a specialized skill, you could make money teaching others that skill. No need to start hosting demonstrations in front of a ton of people. Instead, create an online course.

Whether you code, play guitar, write books, flip homes, draw, knit — whatever it is — you can create an online course through an online learning platform like Udemy. There, you can create an online course, filled with guides and how-to tutorials. Then, share it.

How much can you make?

On a platform like Udemy, you set the price for your course.

Penny Hoarder contributor Nick Loper had heard stories about folks making millions of dollars selling online courses. He gave it a go and created a Kindle ebook course, which made him more than $4,000 in its first three months.

6. Invest in Real Estate Online

Want to try real-estate investing without playing landlord? We found a company that helps you do just that.

Oh, and you don’t have to have hundreds of thousands of dollars, either. You can get started with a minimum investment of just $500. A company called Fundrise does all the heavy lifting for you.

Through the Fundrise Starter Portfolio, your money will be split into two portfolios that support private real estate around the United States.

This isn’t an obscure investment, though. You can see exactly which properties are included in your portfolios — like a set of townhomes in Snoqualmie, Washington, or an apartment building in Charlotte, North Carolina.

How much can you make?

You can earn money through quarterly dividend payments and potential appreciation in the value of your shares, just like a stock. Cash flow typically comes from interest payments and property income (e.g. rent).

(But remember: Investments come with risk. While Fundrise has paid distributions every quarter since 2014, dividend and principal payments are never guaranteed.)

You’ll pay a 0.85% annual asset management fee and a 0.15% annual investment advisory fee.

7. Become a Virtual Tutor

Are you interested in becoming a tutor? You don’t have to schlep into a classroom — or even have formal teaching experience — thanks to online tutoring programs.

You can teach English to kids from around the world, thanks to online learning platforms. You’ll create an account, get the training you need, then set your own schedule.

How much can you make?

To give you an idea of how much money you can make as a virtual tutor, we talked to Jennifer Ross, who works part time for tutoring platform VIPKID and brings home more than $520 a week (or about $22 an hour).

8. Sell Items Through Amazon (Without Stashing Inventory)

Have you heard of Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)?

The selling program allows you to make money by peddling products through Amazon — without having to store inventory. You just get products to sell and ship them over to Amazon, where it’ll hold them. Then, once an item is purchased, Amazon handles everything, from shipping to returns.

How much can you make?

Of course, Amazon takes a cut of your income and charges you fees. To get an idea of how much you can make, we chatted with FBA seller Tyler Philbrook, who pushed $74,000 in sales in 2018 and pocketed about $15,000 of that. Still, this was an extra $15,000 from what he calls a “very part-time gig.”

9. Sell T-Shirt Designs

Two computer screens show Merch by Amazon
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Merch by Amazon allows you to design T-shirts — without actually getting them printed. Just upload your design and set your price. When folks buy your T-shirt, Amazon handles the printing and shipping.

How much can you make?

You’ll face some fees, but we chatted with former Penny Hoarder staff writer Jen Smith, who earned more than $11,400 through Merch last year.

10. Write an Ebook

Have a way with words? Know a whole lot about a specific subject? You can self-publish a book through Amazon’s Direct Publishing program. You’ll set your prices and earn up to 70% royalty. You’ll also retain the rights to your book. The most difficult part? Sitting down and writing.

How much can you make?

Author Steven Gillman took a few days to write a book about ultralight backpacking (no, you don’t have to write a 500-page novel). He had made about $2,000 at the time he shared his self-publishing tips back in 2014.

11. Complete Virtual Tasks for Others

You might have heard of Fiverr. It’s an online freelance platform that can help you get your side business off the ground.

Whatever your skills (writer, designer, programmer, recruiter, etc.), create a seller account on the site. Use your profile to highlight your degree, credentials and work experience. Then, you’ll create a gig to advertise your services and attract buyers.

How much can you make?

Each gig starts at $5 (hence the site’s name), but your earnings are limitless.

Take Charmaine Pocek, for example. She’d spent 15 years as a corporate recruiter and started advertising her resume-writing services through the platform. In about eight years, she made more than $2.4 million through Fiverr. Not bad for something that started as a simple side gig!

12. Sell Your Plasma

If you’re not afraid of needles, you could consider selling your plasma. It’s a way to get paid, and it also helps others in need.

The process takes about two hours, but it’s relatively simple. You’re free to read or watch TV while a machine draws your blood and separates the plasma.

Interested? Search “plasma center + [your city]” for options, and ask your friends for referrals — many centers offer referral sign-up bonuses.

How much can you make?

It’s common for plasma donation centers to pay between $20 and $30 per visit, up to twice a week. That means you could make $240 a month — just for hanging out and helping others!

13. Flip Garage Sale Finds and Craigslist Freebies

Are you that person who’s always spotting the coolest pieces of furniture at garage sales? Or thrifting for the best deals? Or perusing Caigslists’ freebies listings?

You could turn your hobby into a side gig. It’s simple: Find items for cheap, and resell them for more money. This includes furniture, books, clothes — you name it.

How much can you make?

How much you make will depend on what you kind of treasures you’re able to find and how much you can resell them for.

Looking for some inspiration? Meet the Flea Market Flipper, Rob Stephenson. He’s made up to $30,000 a year finding flea market gems and reselling them on eBay. He once found a prosthetic leg for $30 and resold it for $1,000.

Read his tips on finding sellable products.

How to Avoid Get-Rich-Quick Scams

Now that you’re feeling inspired, we’ll leave you with some final advice: When looking for ways to make money, be wary of scams.

Here are some of our favorite strategies — the same strategies we use here at The Penny Hoarder to vet opportunities — to keep yourself safe:

  • Avoid anything that requires you to invest money upfront (unless your investing, of course); you shouldn’t have to pay to simply start working. Additionally, never hand over your credit card or banking information to a source you don’t trust.
  • Do your homework. If you’re looking to work through a specific company or platform, search online reviews, read recent news articles about the company, look up Better Business Bureau ratings and even call the company to ask a real person some hard-hitting questions.

As a rule of thumb, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Best of luck, and happy earnings!

Add to your skill set without going back to school. We have great deals on courses you can complete from home.

Carson Kohler ([email protected]) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.