7 Smart Ways to Use Your Time to Earn $100+ per Hour
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How much money do you make if you put in an extra hour at work?
If you’re on a fixed salary, nothing. If you’re paid by the hour, you might earn some overtime pay. But there are only so many hours in a week, so you’re better off thinking about how to get more money for your time, not putting in more time.
Here’s an example: Instead of working that extra shift, implement a plan to get a raise.
If it takes you 10 hours of preparation to get a $40-per-week raise now instead of in a year, you made an extra $2,080. That’s more than $200 per hour for your effort!
In addition to making more money from your job, activities outside of work can pay well for your time.
Here are seven creative ways I came up with for how to make money — and they pay at least $100 for an hour’s work.
1. Switch to an Online Bank Account
My wife and I were earning 0.61% interest on our savings account, and 0.45% on our checking account, both of which are pretty good rates compared to some banks. But we could do better.
When I switched to an online account, I started earning 1.05% interest on our money. It took less than an hour to set up the account and transfer the money.
That promotion is over now, but if you’re looking for a deal like this for yourself, check out Aspiration’s Summit checking account.
You can set it up in about 15 minutes, and you’ll earn 1.00% interest on your balance of $2,500 or more. For balances less than $2,500, you’ll earn 0.25%, which is still more than the average savings account.
If you keep healthy balances in your savings and checking accounts, it can be worthwhile to move money to accounts that pay more. And remember you’ll earn that extra interest for years to come.
If we keep this latest account for three years, I figure I’ll have earned at least $300 per hour for the time I spent switching to a new bank.
2. Collect Credit Card Sign-up Bonuses
Wondering how to make money with almost no work?
If you have a decent credit score, you can get sign-up bonuses for opening credit card accounts.
You may get offers in the mail already. If not, just Google “credit card sign-up bonuses.” Which ones should you apply for? Here are my criteria:
- A bonus of at least $100
- A spending requirement of $1,000 or less (some are as low as $500)
- At least three months to meet the spending requirement
Typically, you’ll spend less than 10 minutes applying online and a few minutes activating the card when it arrives. Put the card in your wallet, and use it until you hit the spending requirement.
That part takes no extra time — you have to use some card to pay for your normal purchases, right?
In one six-week period last year, I made $670 from credit card sign-up bonuses. I spent no more than a few hours on this project, so my rate of pay was at least $200 per hour.
3. Open a New Bank Account
Chase Bank recently sent me a coupon offering a $175 bonus to open a savings account. I went to a local branch, and 30 minutes later my account was open. After I left the money in my account for the three months the offer required, it took 20 minutes to close the account.
I made $150 more than if I had left the money in its original account, and it took me just 50 minutes of work — which works out to a rate of $180 per hour.
Keep an eye out for offers in your mail and email, and check out our list of the best bank promotions for offers of up to $300 for opening a new account.
4. Lend Money on Real Estate
If you know people who invest in real estate and you have substantial cash in the bank, you might have an opportunity to make a great return on your money with very little work.
My wife and I have friends who flip houses and regularly need money quickly.
Banks don’t lend on projects like these, and they don’t close loans quickly in any case. We do both. The result is thousands of dollars in interest for a few hours reviewing paperwork and a few emails back and forth with an attorney.
Be careful if you decide to try this kind of investment. We have three rules that have kept us safe so far:
- Never lend more than 70% of the value of the property.
- Always have a first mortgage on the property.
- Have an attorney prepare and/or handle everything.
Sitting in our bank account, the money earns about 1% annual interest (and that’s a good return), but investors pay us 10% and guarantee five month’s interest even if the house is sold more quickly than that.
I figure we make at least $400 per hour for our efforts versus leaving the money in the bank.
5. Rent out Rooms in Your Home
I paid for my first home by renting out rooms. Once the mortgage loan was paid off, the rental income covered all the bills and gave me extra cash to spend.
Living with other people doesn’t work for everyone, but if you own a home, it is perhaps the easiest way to make a lot of money. Plus, unlike the other projects suggested here, you can keep collecting money every month for years, with little additional effort.
Think of it this way: If you rent out a bedroom for $100 per week, is it going to take you more than an hour per week to deal with the tenant? Not likely.
At one point I was collecting more than $800 per month of rental income from the home I lived in. I spent a few hours each month nagging renters to clean up after themselves or to pay on time, so I made at least $200 per hour renting rooms.
If you don’t want tenants in your space all the time, try short-term rentals with Airbnb.
Good hosts with a desireable space can earn hundreds — or even thousands — of dollars a month.
(Hosting laws vary from city to city. Please understand the rules and regulations applicable to your city and listing.)
6. Get a New Insurance Policy
Many of the best ways to make good money for your time involve cutting your expenses. After all, if you find a way to get the same thing for $100 less, you have exactly $100 more to spend on anything else you want — or to put toward paying off debt.
When I switched insurance companies for our car and home, I spent an hour checking rates and another hour at the agent’s office.
The savings amounted to $145 per year, which would seem to put the project below the hourly pay target of this article. However, savings like these continue every year without additional effort. If we stay with this company for three years, I will have saved more than $200 per hour I spent getting new insurance.
7. Cut Your Housing Expenses
Again, the big advantage of savings like these is they’re not a one-time benefit. If you find an apartment that costs $200 less per month than your current place, and you stay there for three years, you’ll have $7,200 more to put toward other items in your budget.
It’s not always practical to move, but there are other ways to save on housing-related expenses, too.
Try these home improvements that can save you hundreds of dollars per year. For example, you can swap incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescents in less than an hour and save about $100 per year on electricity.
Finding ways to reduce regular expenses is one of the easiest ways to free up spendable income.
As for our move, it was cheap (We used our own van and bought a home just 80 miles away.), and we now spend at least $1,300 less per year in housing expenses. Plus we kept our previous home and now earn rental income.
Although I can’t calculate the time involved with any accuracy, I’m sure we beat the $100-per-hour target for our effort.
Steve Gillman is the author of “101 Weird Ways to Make Money” and creator of EveryWayToMakeMoney.com. He’s been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror, and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).