Do You Have One of These 13 Guilty Pleasures? How to Use It to Make Money

Male Lifestyles in St Petersburg, Fla., on May 5th, 2018.
Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder


On a recent weekend, I had nowhere to go, no one to meet. It was beautiful. So I went to the grocery store and bought a pack of sugar cookie dough, a bag of natural Cheetos and a bottle of cheap wine.

Date night… with myself.

I promptly drove home, slipped on sweatpants, plopped on the couch and flipped on Bravo. When I got tired of “The Real Housewives,” I switched to “Broad City.” Then I flipped to Netflix and finally started watching “Queer Eye.” I laughed, and I cried. Somewhere in there, I napped. Maybe more than once.

I’ll stop there, before I really embarrass myself.

We all have guilty pleasures. But there’s no need to feel guilty — especially when you can turn them into cash.

13 Ways to Turn Your Guilty Pleasures Into Cash

Your turn to confess: What are your (PG-rated) guilty pleasures?

Could you turn those into cash? We’ve brewed up a few ideas to get you thinking creatively.

1. You Love Watching Cooking Shows — or Really, Anything on TV

Close up of woman in armchair with tv remote control changing television channels.
Popartic/Getty Images

If you love watching anything and everything on TV, consider signing up for a service that’ll pay you to watch videos online.

There are a couple options out there, but we suggest starting with a reader favorite, Swagbucks. Run by a company that’s A-rated by the Better Business Bureau, Swagbucks is a rewards site that’ll pay you to watch videos.

Pick your favorite genre: cooking, celebrity gossip, politics or fashion.

For each video you watch, you’ll earn SBs, which you’ll exchange for gift cards to big retailers like Amazon, PayPal or Walmart. You could earn up to $90 a month watching Swagbucks videos.

Heck, you can even mute the videos and open Hulu in another tab.

Bonus: You’ll snag $5 when you sign up.

2. You Buy a Scratch-off Ticket Each Time You Fill up

Friends playing with Lottery scratch game ticket
LeoPatrizi/Getty Images

We get it. Scratch-off tickets are tempting. You pay $2 for a chance to win $100. But when’s the last time you got lucky?

Instead of paying for disappointment, you can play digital scratch-off tickets on a free app called Lucktastic.

Each day, it releases new tickets with instant winnings ranging from $1 to $10,000. You can also earn tokens you can exchange for free gift cards to retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Kohl's and Sephora.

The app is supported by advertising, which allows it to keep the payouts high and the games free. For more info, check out our full Lucktastic review.

3. You Pass Hours — Sometimes Days — Playing Video Games

Friends play video games on Saturday June 16, 2018.
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

You spend hours trying to get to the next level, but guess what? You can play games and take your savings to the next level.

OK, that was a cheesy line from someone who’s obviously not a gamer, but listen: Blast is a savings app for Android made by gamers for gamers. It allows you to save, earn and win cash for playing games.

It works with every game in the Google Play Store, as well as top PC games, including Counter Strike Global Offensive.

The app is free, with no hidden fees.

While you play, the app works in the background and transfers small sums from your checking account into a high-yield Blast savings account based on “triggers” you set — things like the number of opponents you defeat or enemy bases you destroy. You can earn extra cash by completing “missions” that allow you to test new games or take familiar games to the next level.

Your Blast savings account earns 1% interest, is FDIC-insured and is secured by bank-level encryption. You can withdraw your money anytime or just let your savings grow.

4. You Take to Social Media to Complain

Young woman got bad news with her smart phone
petekarici/Getty Images

I get it. Venting into a void on Facebook is somewhat satisfying, but I’m going to be honest: No one truly cares about your political opinions.

Instead of opening a can of vicious troll-worms, get paid to share your opinion on survey sites. There are a ton out there — some pretty spammy — so here are a few we’ve tested and know are legit:

  • Opinion Outpost: What sets this apart from other survey sites is it gives away $40,000 every year. It has a quarterly drawing for a $10,000 cash prize — and for every survey you complete, you’ll get one entry into the sweepstakes!
  • VIP Voice: These surveys are relatively quick to complete and reward you with points you can redeem for cash or gift cards. Plan to login a few times each week. You’ll have no trouble earning an extra $30 this month with almost no work.
  • InboxDollars: This site offers several short, daily surveys you can take. If you take all of them each day, you could earn an extra $730 a year — not too bad.

Surveys aren’t a get-rich-quick type of income. However, it can be a good way to make extra money when you’re lounging around.

5. You Indulge in a Cheap Bottle of Wine Every Now and Then

Relaxed young woman reading a book with a glass of wine
filadendron/Getty Images

You gotta do what you gotta do.

Because I don’t know much about wine, I use the Ibotta app to help make my decision. (I can’t be the only one who gets overwhelmed in expansive wine aisles, right?)

I open the app, choose my preferred grocery store and peruse the cash-back deals on wine. I can get $2.25 back on Seven Daughters wine? Let’s do it! Once I check out, I take a photo of my receipt and — boom — earn some cash back.

Sometimes Ibotta’s deals align with in-store promos, too, so I can get a bottle for a steal.

Once you download the app and claim your first cash-back offer, you’ll snag a $10 bonus.

Pro tip: Don’t drink and drive. (Duh.) Ibotta offers $1 cash back on Uber rides, too.

6. You Consider Yourself a Professional Napper

woman lying down in bed
AleksandarNakic/Getty Images

Just because you, a full-grown adult, value naptime, doesn’t mean you’re lazy. No, you can still hustle while you’re sleeping… Ever heard of passive income?

Here’s a simple way to get started: Invest in real estate. “Simple?” you scoff. Yes! And you can start with as little as $500. Hear us out.

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.

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 at least Q2 2016, 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. You Might Sorta, Kinda Impulsively Shop Online

Aileen Perilla carries packages that were delivered using Amazon Prime in St. Petersburg, Fla.,
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

I failed to mention… in the midst of my binger this past weekend, I bought a swimsuit online. Yeah… after eating all that cookie dough. I don’t know what came over me.

Before you make your next impulsive purchase online, you’ll want to check out Ebates, a cash-back site that rewards you nearly every time you buy something. For example, at the time I wrote this, you could score up to 5% cash back on Amazon. Or up to 8% cash back on Jet.

Simply sign up, and search the retailer you’re shopping with. It’s connected to thousands, including Walmart, Amazon and Target.

When you make your first purchase of at least $25 within 90 days of signing up, you’ll pocket a $10 Walmart gift card.

8. You Can’t Get Enough of Those Poorly Written Romance Novels

woman reading book in downtown new york
Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder

Maybe, just maybe, someone’s looking for a book review of one of your guilty pleasure reads.

We rounded up several websites that’ll pay for your online reviews. Rates vary, but some pay up to $100 per review. Not bad for a guilty pleasure!

9.  You Buy Too Many Snacks From Trader Joe’s

Kristy Gaunt shops at Trader Joe's in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Have you ever walked into Trader Joe’s for two things and walked out with a cart-full of cheese, cookie butter, mini quiches and ice cream sandwiches?

Uhh… yeah… me neither… Anyways…

To earn some rewards for those impulse buys, try telling Nielsen what you bought.

Yeah, the Nielsen company. The one that’s always tracked TV ratings? Well, now it wants to know what’s in your fridge.

Once you sign up to be on the Nielsen Consumer Panel, you can either use your smartphone, or the company will send you a free barcode scanner. Every time you go shopping, you simply scan the UPC codes on the back of each product and send your data to Nielsen.

Nielsen will reward you with gift points, which you can redeem for free electronics, jewelry, household items or even toys for the kids.

10. You Love a Good Cuddle

Professional snuggler Samantha Varnerin poses in her bedroom in Medford, Mass., on Sept. 24, 2016
Professional snuggler Samantha Varnerin poses in her bedroom in Medford, Mass., on Sept. 24, 2016. Erik Jacobs for The Penny Hoarder

Disclaimer: We don’t recommend you just willy-nilly go out and start offering paid cuddling services.

However, you can gleam some creative inspiration from Samantha Varnerin, the “Top Snuggler of Massachusetts.” Varnerin, a construction project engineer by day, can make over $1,000 some months by cuddling with clients. She uses the extra money to pay rent.

Varnerin shared her professional snuggling experience with us.

11. You Go to the Movies by Yourself

Man eating popcorn in the movie theater while watching a serious movie.
South_agency/Getty Images

Venturing out to the movies is an expensive hobby nowadays. But there are ways you can get paid to see a movie.

Back in the day, The Penny Hoarder’s CEO Kyle Taylor earned $20 for going to a “Harry Potter” premiere. How? He was mystery shopping.

Theaters and movie studios want to collect data about their audiences — you — through “in-theater checks.” To apply, you’ll need to fill out an application with the mystery shopping company Market Force Information.

The application is just a few questions long, and nearly everyone in the U.S. and Canada is eligible.

Once you're accepted as an auditor, keep an eye out for email alerts for new assignments in your area. You can accept or decline any assignments — so if a movie's not even worth watching for $30, you don't have to see it.

In-theater checks don't come with huge pay days, but you'll get a free movie and earn about $10 to $20 an hour for your time.

12. You Blast Spotify’s “Summer Hits of the ’00s” Playlist and Sing Along

Lyft driver Paul Pruce drives in in Philadelphia, PA on January 13, 2017
Lyft driver Paul Pruce drives in in Philadelphia, PA on January 13, 2017. Jessica Kourkounis for The Penny Hoarder

All right, you might want to turn it down a bit, but if you love cranking up the music, letting the windows down and driving around town, why not drive with Lyft?

To be eligible, you’ll need to be at least 21 years old with a year of driving experience, pass a background check and own a car made in 2007 or later.

We talked to Paul Pruce, who’s been driving full-time with Lyft for over a year. He earns $750 a week as a driver.

Best of all, he does it on his own time. You can work days, nights or weekends — it’s up to you!

13. You Know You Dine out Too Frequently (But C’mon — It’s So Good)

friends eating chinese takeout
Rawpixel/Getty Images

Nothing beats takeout… except Chinese takeout… and earning cash back on takeout.

Yelp has a cash-back program that rewards you when you dine out. Here’s how it works: Sign up and register your most-used debit or credit card. That’s it!

Each time you visit a participating restaurant and use one if your linked cards, you’ll automatically earn 7% to 10% cash back.

Note: You cannot earn cash back for online orders or delivery. However, pick-up and to-go orders are fair game.

Carson Kohler ([email protected]) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She revealed way too many embarrassing personal details in this post.

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