6 Quick Ways to Earn Money Without Committing to a Business

Make money quickly
Nick Ares under Creative Commons

Most of us would like to boost our incomes by earning a little extra cash.

The Penny Hoarder has covered lots of options for earning more money, from freelance writing to building catios. But what if you just want to make a little extra money to pay for a vacation or a new television — without the commitment of working a second job or starting a business?

Putting in a few days of work on a short-term project can help you earn the money you need without a long-term commitment. When you’re finished, simply walk away — you won’t have invested a lot of time or money in these projects, so if you don’t want to turn them into a larger business, there’s no harm done.

Here are six short-term, money-making projects. Which one sounds most appealing to you?

1. Be a One-Time Affiliate

Maybe you’ve heard of affiliate marketing, but you don’t want to commit to building an online business. Fortunately, if you’re already connected to enough people online, you can make a one-time score just by finding and linking to one product you like.

My friend was a popular leader/moderator in an online role-playing game when I explained how he could make money as an online affiliate. He found a product he liked on ClickBank, an affiliate marketplace, and told other players about it using his affiliate link. His recommendation resulted in about a dozen sales, and the 50% commission paid on each netted him a total of over $170 in one day.

You can do this with Facebook friends or Twitter followers, or anyplace online where you connect with others. To get started, sign up as an affiliate and search the Marketplace for something you like enough to recommend and which pays a decent commission. Then tell your friends about it.

For example, there’s an audio meditation product for around $60 that pay a 50% commission. If you mention that (with your affiliate link), and a dozen friends buy it, you’ll have made a few hundred dollars in a couple of days.

There is a catch — you’ll wait a month to actually get paid, so don’t try this route if you need to pay rent tomorrow.

2. Gather Free Stuff and Sell It

People are always giving things away just to get rid of them. Why not gather up those free items and sell them?

The Penny Hoarder previously explored how to sell Craigslist freebies and even how I made $50 on a junk-picked table. You can start with those sources of free stuff and perhaps ask your friends and family for other items they’d like to get out of their homes and garages; old appliances can be especially lucrative.

Once you have a good pile of free stuff, hold a big garage or rummage sale. You could make a few hundred dollars, and whatever doesn’t go at the rummage sale can be advertised for sale on Craigslist or donated to a thrift store for a tax deduction.

3. Be a Consignment Store Middleman

You need two elements in place for this project to work; a good consignment store that sells their stuff for top dollar, and a source of really cheap stuff you can sell. When we lived in a small town in Colorado, rummage sales provided the cheap inventory (although the freebie route mentioned above might work too), and there was a great little furniture consignment shop.

The idea here is to buy really cheap items and let someone else sell them for you. For example, we bought an oak table for $20 at a rummage sale and it sold in the furniture consignment store for $80. We got $48 after the store took their 40% commission.

We did this several times with various pieces of furniture. You might wait weeks or longer to get paid, but you could spend just a few days gathering up things to sell and delivering them to the consignment shop. At that point your work is done, and if you bought right you won’t have to wait too long before the profits start coming in.

4. Flip a Car

The Penny Hoarder has talked about flipping cars before. In fact, you can even flip a used car without touching it, if you have a partner who is car-savvy.

Whether you do it on your own and keep all the profits or share the payday with a friend, the basic idea is simple enough. You make low offers on popular used cars until you get one cheap. Then you clean it up, have any necessary repairs done, and put it up for sale. The whole process might take weeks or just days, and you can make $500 to $2,000 or more.

5. Write a Book

Writing and publishing a book might sound like a big undertaking, but it depends how you do it. If you keep it short and make it an ebook you can have it for sale by next week. I previously explained how I made $2,000 with an Amazon Kindle book on lightweight backpacking. Writing about something you know is easier, but you can research any topic online.

For example, I later created my “Backpacking Weight Reduction Guide” in only two days. It’s just a list of everything backpackers carry, with several ideas on how to reduce the weight of each item. Almost anyone could have visited backpacking forums and articles online to get ideas for cutting pack weight, and then put the resulting list together in a couple days.

The book is only 6,000 words (six times the length of this article). I make $2.09 on each $2.99 sale and it’s made me $600 to $700 over the years. I just checked and it still sells a couple copies a month — not bad for a couple days of work.

Why not find a topic you like and get started?

6. Sell Estate Goods

Estate sales typically take two forms. One way families dispose of their deceased loved ones’ things is with a rummage sale. The other is to auction off items or groups of items. Either way, these are great events for finding items to resell for a profit.

Look for collectibles to sell on eBay, and check current selling prices on your smartphone before bidding. Aim to get things for half or less of what you’ll sell them for. When you buy big items like couches and dining tables, list them for sale on Craigslist before you even leave the sale.

With a good estate sale or two, you might be able to make a few hundred dollars in profit within days.

Your Turn: Are you going to try one of the money-making projects above? What other ways have you made a quick profit?