These 40 People Told Us How They Make Money Without Getting a Real Job
If you’re looking for a variety of ways to work from home, you’re not the only one.
It’s a cutthroat work-from-home world out there. You’ve got to dodge the scams and take your time into consideration. Is one cent for an hour-long survey worth it? Probably not.
Warning: This post is a bit lengthy, so we suggest you slap a bookmark on it and make your way through it bit by bit — and watch your money add up in the process.
40 Ways to Make Extra Money
But we’re going to make the process a bit easier for you. Here are 40 ways real people have made money without a job.
1. Invest in Real Estate (Even If You’re Not Rich)
Want to try real-estate investing without playing landlord? Through the Fundrise Starter Portfolio, your money will be split into two portfolios that buy private real estate all over the U.S. You can get started with a minimum investment of $500.
Through Fundrise’s online dashboard, investors can see exactly which properties are included in their portfolios — like a set of townhomes in Snoqualmie, Washington, or an apartment building in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Katie Smith, who recently graduated from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., decided she was tired of her hard-saved money sitting in a low-interest account. She didn’t have “buy a house” kind of money on hand, but she had more than enough to start investing in real estate with Fundrise.
“I own a piece of an apartment complex in Ann Arbor, Michigan,” Smith says. “Property on the West Coast. Bits and pieces of apartment complexes in Texas and Denver, a construction loan, a mixed-use property.”
2. Stop Deleting Your Emails
It turns out deleting your emails could be costing you money. Intrigued?
One of our secret weapons is called Paribus — a tool that gets you money back for your online purchases. It’s free to sign up, and once you do, it will scan your email for any receipts. If it discovers you’ve purchased something from one of its monitored retailers, it will track the item’s price and help you get a refund when there’s a price drop.
Plus, if your guaranteed shipment shows up late, Paribus will help you get compensated.
Penny Hoarder contributor Susan Shain calls Paribus her “secret weapon.” It routinely gets her refunds when all she’s doing is shopping online like she normally does.
“Because I do most of my shopping online — where prices fluctuate all the time, even within the same day,” says Shain, “I’ve been super happy with Paribus so far.”
Think of it as the perfect way to pass time during commercial breaks.
Disclosure: Paribus compensates us when you sign up using the links we provide.
3. Squirrel Away Your Change
In a world of credit cards, spare change is a little more rare; our piggy banks have been looking a little thin.
But that’s OK, because Acorns is an investment app that collects your spare change and dumps it into the stock market for you.
When Chicago meter reader Jeremy Kolodziej committed to taking two major trips in July 2017, he effortlessly saved more than $2,000 for it with Acorns.
“It’s a virtual coin jar,” he explains. “You don’t even think about it.”
You can connect your debit and/or credit cards, and Acorns rounds up your purchases and squirrels away the change. For example, if you go to the grocery store and pay $32.02 for groceries, 98 cents goes from your account into Acorns.
Bonus: Penny Hoarders get a $5 bonus for signing up!
4. Share Your Opinions (Not on Twitter, Please)
These days, too many people resort to social media to share their opinion — wanted or not. But some companies do want to hear what you have to say. And they’ll pay you. Survey sites are a great place to snag some free money and gift cards through sign-up bonuses.
Writer Carson Kohler explains the appeal of taking online surveys: “You’re mindlessly making money — or at least more mindlessly than your 9-to-5 gig.”
One option? MyPoints.
You can earn gift cards for taking polls and filling out surveys. Once you complete your first five surveys, you’ll earn a $5 bonus.
5. Deliver Delicious Food
Ahhh, the sweet smell of takeout stinking up your car.
OK, it might not be the most appealing thing in the world — you might want to crack a few windows, depending on the type of cuisine you’re delivering — but Uber Eats offers flexible food-delivery opportunities.
“I would recommend this, if anything, for the schedule flexibility alone,” says Clint Nohr, a comedian in New York City who drives with the service. “If you’re really hustling and can navigate your city, you can actually make decent money.”
6. List Your Space Through Airbnb
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,” since Michael. “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.”
(Hosting laws vary from city to city. Please understand the rules and regulations applicable to your city and listing.)
7. Sign Up for a Cash-Back Site and Score $10
Believe it or not, there are sites that will give you free gift cards just for signing up with them.
One of our favorites is Ebates, the cash-back shopping site. It’s giving away $10 gift cards if you sign up as a new member and earn your first cash-back rebate. You can choose a $10 gift card from Target, Walmart, Macy’s or Kohl’s.
“It’s super easy to navigate and allows me to earn cash back on purchases I’d be making anyway,” says Colleen Rice, email marketing manager at The Penny Hoarder, who earned $264 from Ebates over four years.
“Plus, I’ve discovered brands that are totally new to me. Ebates suggests similar retailers if the one you search for isn’t featured.”
You do have to wait 30 days for the payout, but it’s free money, so can you really complain?
8. Help Small Business Owners
If you’re having trouble finding that solid work-from-home job to support yourself and perhaps your family, consider launching your own business.
It’s not as difficult as it might sound. Tons of online programs will teach you the tools of the trade and how to get started.
“A lot of — actually most — business owners struggle with keeping accurate and up-to-date bookkeeping records,” says Ben Robinson, a certified public accountant and business owner who teaches others to become virtual bookkeepers.
After years as an accountant, Robinson started Bookkeeper Business Launch to help home-bodies like you get your business off the ground.
“My favorite benefit is the freedom a bookkeeping business affords,” he says. “As a virtual bookkeeper business owner, you have the freedom to choose where you work, when you work and with whom you work.”
9. Slide Into the Driver’s Seat
Need a fun, flexible way to earn money while also meeting lots of new people?
Try driving with Lyft!
Demand for ride-sharing has been growing like crazy, and it shows no signs of slowing down. 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.
Best of all, he does it on his own time. You can work days, nights or weekends — it’s up to you!
Right now, Lyft is offering a $300 sign-on bonus to new drivers when you use code EXTRA300.
Here’s what you need to qualify:
- You must be approved to drive within 30 days of your application start date.
- Once you’re in, just complete 100 rides within your first 30 days of being a Lyft driver.
And just like that, the bonus cash is yours. Easy, right?
10. Start Investing — the Easy Way
Investing is a smart way to make money. You’re basically making your money work for you. It seems really complicated, though — something that’s restricted to the wealthy elite.
That’s baloney! The sooner you get started investing, the better off you’ll be later in life. Try starting with something easy and simple like SoFi Automated Investing , which is ideal for beginners.
You can open an account with only $100. It’s a no-fee robo-adviser that manages your investments for you, and you also get free access to real human certified financial planners — live customer support seven days a week.
Based on your answers to a few questions (like your age and your tolerance for risk), SoFi Automated Investing will funnel your money into a portfolio of investment funds, not just one or two stocks. You’re not putting all your eggs in one basket, so you spread out your risk.
11. Catch Writers’ Mistakes
Do you have an eye for typos and a serious dedication to the laws of grammar?
You could be a perfect candidate for a side hustle in proofreading.
The average per-page rate for freelance proofreaders is 35 cents, according to Proofread Anywhere founder and long-time proofreader Caitlin Pyle. If you read at an average pace of 50 pages per hour, you could make $17.50 per hour!
Test your grammar wiles with a tricky quiz, and learn how to find freelance clients, in Caitlin’s free introductory course for proofreaders.
12. Declutter Your Closet
If you have boxes of old CDs, DVDs or video games, think: When was the last time I touched these?
Consider selling them on a buyback site like Decluttr. Plus, enter FREE5 at checkout to get an extra $5 for your trade-ins!
Matt Wiley got sick of hauling around his collection of DVDs and Blu-rays, so he sold them on Decluttr and quickly made more than $50 for a bunch of stuff he didn’t want anymore.
“These DVDs and Blu-rays used to, in one way, add value to my life,” says Wiley. “But now, they just collect dust in a cabinet. But now I’ve found a way to make them literally add value to my life.”
Next, tackle your clothes. When was the last time you put that on?! List your clothing items on Letgo to market to people in your area.
13. Grocery Shop for Someone Else
Some people really enjoy grocery shopping. Like really.
Perhaps they enjoy the methodical movements through the aisles or the sweet whiffs of cookies from the bakery.
If you can relate, consider getting paid to do someone else’s grocery shopping through an app like Shipt.
We chatted with Destiny Frith, a 24-year-old Nashville-area resident who’s started doing it full-time. She picks up groceries and delivers them to Shipt customers. She finds it’s an easy way to make extra money on her own schedule.
Recently she’s been making an average of $17.50 per shopping trip, which takes about an hour to accomplish. She works about 35 hours doing four-day weeks. Including tips, she takes home about $600 a week.
14. Monetize Your Love for Disney
We’re from Florida, so we’ve seen firsthand that Disney fans are, well, fanatical.
Don’t let all that love, passion or random trivia go to waste. There are several ways you can capitalize on it:
- Like Los Angeles-based artist M. Alice LeGrow, you could become a professional party princess, dressing up as Cinderella for kids’ birthday parties. She’s found it to be a lucrative and fun weekend side gig.
- You could work from home for a Disney-themed travel agency, using your expertise to plan vacations to Disney attractions.
- Keep up with any notable Disney happenings through our work-from-home jobs portal. (That’s where we share our favorites.)
15. Look for a Flexible Work-From-Home Job
This post is all about branching out from that 9-to-5 grind, and one easy way is to find a flexible work-from-home job — one that allows you to set your own hours.
Easier said than done.
We recommend starting your search with ZipRecruiter.
If you spot a job that interests you, be prepared to act fast because the good jobs are always in high demand. But when you land one, it’ll be worth it.
To get a better idea of what it’s really like to work from home while raising children, we talked to four moms who run their own businesses from home while being the primary caretaker of their children. They told us how they got where they are now, what their struggles are, and their most useful survival tips.
16. Get Paid to Lose Weight
So this is the part where you scratch your head and say, “No way.”
HealthyWage is a program that allows you to place a bet on your weight loss. The idea is that maybe, just maybe, a cash prize will motivate you.
It has worked for many others.
Take Katelyn Pincock and her husband Cort, who bet $75 per month for six months. She wanted to lose 40 pounds, while he wanted to lose 60.They ended up winning almost $3,000.
“You know, it’s just crazy what money is out there if you’re willing to [work for it],” she says.
17. Get Rewarded for Paying Your Bills on Time
This app kind of rules them all: MoneyLion, a free all-in-one app for managing your personal finances.
MoneyLion offers rewards to help you develop healthy financial habits and will literally pay you for logging onto the app.
You can earn points in the rewards program by paying bills on time, connecting your bank account or downloading the mobile app.
You can redeem those points for gift cards to retailers like Amazon, Apple and Walmart.
If free money isn’t enough incentive to step up your financial game, maybe this will be: We talked to Robyn Bri, who saved $85,000 for retirement… before she turned 19.
Does that inspire you to buckle down?
18. Sell Your Smartphone Photography
Those thought-out photos you take can get you more than just Instagram likes.
Consider uploading your iPhone photos to stock photography sites.
You likely won’t become a millionaire; sites like Foap pay about $5 per purchase.
If you have a nice camera, you can step up your game like this stock photographer, who quit her corporate job to sell photos full time.
19. Hang out With Your Favorite Fur Babies
You’ll definitely have to leave the house to take this to the level that traveler and writer Jake Belknap has, making his way across Europe by pet-sitting various animals.
“Pet-sitting is a wonderful opportunity for homeowners and sitters,” says Belknap. “The sitter gets free accommodation and work space, while the homeowner gets a trustworthy person to watch their house and pets.”
You can set your own rates and market yourself to others in your area. You can opt for simple dog-walking or go all in and stay the night. Either way, you’ll set your own schedule.
You could even take ’em to the local doggy bar, we suppose.
20. Sell Your Stuff Through Amazon Fulfillment
We all knew those Beanie Babies and Furbies would be worth something one day, right?
Well, maybe they’re not the cash cows we hoped, but if you have a stock of toys or other items like this, you could make some money selling them through Fulfillment by Amazon. You provide the goods, and FBA handles the rest, from storage and shipping to customer satisfaction.
It’s one of the simplest ways to run an online business from home.
The Penny Hoarder founder Kyle Taylor used to buy and resell toys, and he made $10,000 through FBA in November and December 2014!
21. Sell on Etsy — Without Crafting Anything
Janet Berry-Johnson, a Certified Public Accountant and freelance writer, earns an extra $200 a month on Etsy — without making anything.
She loves cross-stitching but knows selling her own designs isn’t a moneymaker. Instead, she’s found a creative way to cash in on the hobby.
“Because I love to cross-stitch and am active in needlecrafting social media communities, I know the types of kits and patterns needlecrafters want.”
Traditionally, items sold on Etsy have to be either handmade or vintage. But if you sell tools or supplies to make things, neither of those requirements apply.
Berry-Johnson buys kits and patterns at local thrift stores for a few bucks each and marks them up anywhere from 400% to 1,200% for Etsy buyers.
22. Search for Unclaimed Money
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.
Check with the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. Click your state on the map, and it’ll redirect you to your state’s appropriate search site. (Beware: There are several look-a-like sites out there. Be sure you’re searching legitimate ones.)
Penny Hoarder reader Kelli Howell heeded our advice, performed a quick search, and found unclaimed money in her husband’s name.
“As I was scrolling through, I saw his name and his middle initial,” she says. She asked him to confirm his old Florida address; he grew up in Tampa. Sure enough, Mark Howell was entitled to $56 from a “matured insurance policy.”
Sure, it’s $56, but that’s not bad for an unexpected check, right? We’ll take it!
23. Walk Into (and Shop at) Stores
Sick of shopping online and headed to a real, live store? Download the Shopkick app first.
Once you sign up, the app pays you “kicks” for walking into certain stores (including Target, Walmart, TJMaxx and more). You can redeem these for gift cards to Amazon, Target, Walmart, Starbucks, Sephora, Best Buy and more.
It pays you even more kicks for scanning items in stores and purchasing them with a connected credit or debit card, as well as for scanning receipts and mobile shopping.
Khiem Nguyen, a social-media video strategist for The Penny Hoarder, has earned more than $400 in gift cards from Shopkick in the past four years.
“This, to me, is easy,” Nguyen says. “It’s instant gratification. You watch some ads, and then [Shopkick] makes a nice chime noise, and it says here’s five points! I get addicted to it.”
24. Teach English to Chinese Kids — Without Leaving Home
If a classroom full of grimy squealing kids isn’t your scene… we get it. You can still work as a teacher. Better yet: You work as a teacher, set your own hours and work from home.
There are several online-learning platforms focused on teaching English as a second language to students in other countries.
Angela Brumbaugh is a QKids teacher. She teaches 36 half-hour sessions a week and makes up to $20 an hour.
“The curriculum is set for you before class, and your job is to simply guide the children through the lesson, offering guidance, smiles and tons of encouragement,” she says. That’s a big perk for many: No lesson planning.
“The students are hard-working, curious and light up the classroom with their smiles,” she says. “Class time actually goes by fast, and the only con I can see is sometimes I wish I had more time to spend with them!”
25. Get Paid to Drink Beer
The craft beer industry is hoppin’, so take advantage of it by getting paid to visit breweries.
When you sign up as a mystery shopper, it’s your job to go to a grocery store, gas station, restaurant or, in this case, a breweries, and provide anonymous feedback.
You can also get paid to mystery shop — and drink — at breweries in your area through Secret Hopper.
The company is looking for detail-oriented beer drinkers to hop around to different breweries and objectively rate and review their experiences. Penny Hoarder writer Tyler Omoth gave the gig a try. He paid $16 on his visit to a local brewery. Secret Hopper paid him $20 via PayPal within a few days.
So, no, you’re not going to get rich, but you will get free beer, and that makes us hoppy.
26. Upload Videos to YouTube
Is your cat hilarious? Are you really good at impersonations? Maybe you like doing crazy stunts.
Upload a video to YouTube.
Contributor Steven Gillman did just that. He monetized his YouTube videos with Google AdSense. For example, he shot 10 videos about ultralight backpacking. No, they didn’t become huge hits, but he’s made more than $1,000 since uploading them.
“Alas,” says Gillman, “our videos never went viral, but they did generate more than one thousand dollars of income over the years.”
27. Test Drive Cars
Yes, you can get paid to test drive cars.
Try looking into a mystery-shopping company like BestMark, which will pay you to go out and test drive cars. I mean, you’ll also have to listen to a sales pitch, which isn’t as cool, but still.
The Penny Hoarder’s founder, Kyle Taylor, used to do automotive mystery shopping and reported earning $60 for each dealership he visited. Not too bad for less than an hour of work!
28. Teachers (or Not): Sell Lesson Plans
This idea is especially useful for teachers who are already frantically cranking out lesson plans.
If you find one you’re really digging, put it up for sale on a platform like Teachers Pay Teachers. This helps other teachers across the world as well as gives you some income.
Brad Hines isn’t a teacher, but he’s a big fan of passive income — money you earn without actively working. Hines wrote up a lesson plan about nutrition a few years back. Because the content is evergreen, teachers are still buying it today.
To date, Hines says he’s made about $1,000.
29. Get Paid to Draw
Are you an aspiring artist? Do you want to get paid for your art?
It’s not easy, but it can be done.
We talked to one artist who earns around $2,000 per month selling his art online. He markets his business through Instagram. He sells unique screen prints that he creates, and also does commissioned artwork for freelance clients.
His advice: Start small. Create marketable products. Push yourself.
30. Write Love Letters
Even in this digital age, greeting cards are still a thing, and you can contribute. You don’t even have to leave your computer!
Penny Hoarder writer Tyler Omoth has gotten paid up to $50 a piece to write greeting cards. But it’s not a way to get rich quickly.
“I sometimes sent in as many as 70 ideas for various holidays or occasions,” Omoth admits, “and would get a response saying, ‘We really like these three ideas.’”
Bottom line: It can be a fun and interesting side hustle, but don’t expect to make a fortune.
Some greeting card companies will pay you more for your words, art or photos. We put together a list of eight card companies that’ll pay you up to $300 for submissions.
31. Use Your Voice!
Janna Polzin, a stay-at-home mom in Toronto, earns money by talking to herself. In her closet.
After her son was born in 2013, this stage actress turned to the online acting community and kept hearing about one voice-acting platform again and again: Voices.com.
“I often walk away from my computer thinking, I can’t believe I just made money from that!” she says.
Voices.com is an international online voice-over acting marketplace that helps vocal talent — both professional and amateur — find clients who need them.
32. Monetize Your Phone Addiction
Let’s be real: That phone habit is hard to break. So you might as well make some money while you’re scrolling instead of totally waste your time.
Download AppKarma, a free rewards app that lets you earn cash and gift cards when you try out gaming apps and watch videos.
Android users can download the AppKarma app directly through the Google Play Store.
iPhone users: AppKarma is not in the app store, but you can use it from your mobile browser. Click on the link from your iOS device to access the AppKarma web app. Complete the first offer (and earn 100 points!) to get started.
Bonus: Penny Hoarders will get 500 extra points when you sign up, plus you’ll get an email shortly after signing up with a special promo code worth another 750 bonus points.
You can exchange your Karma Points for gift cards to Amazon, PayPal, iTunes, Target, Starbucks and Walmart, among other retailers.
33. Start a Calligraphy Side Job
In a time when cursive handwriting is fading from many classrooms, calligraphy is making a surprising resurgence. While carefully hand-lettered invitations, place settings and envelopes tend to be reserved for weddings, many calligraphers find themselves working on a variety of celebrations and other projects.
We interviewed four successful calligraphers about maximizing your chances of success in this gig.
With rates for envelope addressing alone ranging from $2 to $5 each, calligraphy could be a lucrative side hustle.
34. Deliver Packages for Amazon
Amazon Flex is that service you’re utilizing when you choose one-hour delivery.
Flex needs drivers around the country. It’ll be your job to pick up packages from your local Amazon facility and deliver them to locals who use that one-hour delivery option.
It’s like a pizza delivery job — but you never know what people are going to order from Amazon. Plus, your car won’t stink.
We talked to one Houston driver who got into the program on the ground floor.
35. Enter Writing Contests
If you have a way with words, consider making money by submitting your fiction, nonfiction or poetry to writing contests.
Nope, writing contests aren’t just for middle school students.
“The fact that I can write stories to earn extra money makes my heart swell with joy,” says writer Carson Kohler, who put together this list of year-round writing competitions that pay at least $500.
36. Monetize Your Doodles
We talked to one guy who sells his art online and makes $2,000 a month.
His whole life, he always doodled in the corners of notebooks and napkins, but he never imagined he could make a living from it. Now he sells his imaginative drawings of pizza and sharks and dinosaurs.
Here are some tips to get started:
- Start small.
- Create marketable products.
- Push yourself. Look for opportunities to get better in your own work, even if it’s just watching YouTube tutorials.
37. Become a Professional Pooper Scooper
You could actually get paid to pick up dog poop.
A pooper-scooper can make $40 to $45 per hour if they work with an average of four clients per hour, says Matthew Osborn, former professional pooper-scooper and author of “The Professional Pooper-Scooper.”
We even found one guy who turned this crappy problem into a $1.5 million startup!
“The dogs really do the selling for us,” says Mark Guarino, who runs Mr. Dog Poop Inc. in Florida. “Most people contact us saying, ‘I’m up to my neck in dog poop. I’ve had it. I’m done. Please help me.’”
38. Earn up to $30/Day Watching Movies
When he was just getting started, The Penny Hoarder CEO Kyle Taylor used to get paid to attend movie premieres. He got $30 to see a Harry Potter premiere! (He would have totally gone for free.)
Theaters and movie studios want to collect data about the audience that attends their movie premieres. They want to know how many people buy tickets on opening day, which screening time is most popular and which previews are being shown. And they want independent data from third party evaluators — that’s where you come in.
These are known as “in-theater checks” and to apply, you’ll need to fill out an application with one of the largest mystery shopping companies, Certified Field Associates. The application is just a few questions long and nearly everyone in the United States and Canada is eligible to be hired.
In-theater checks don’t have huge paydays attached to them, but you can usually expect to make between $10 to $20 per hour.
39. Play Cupid
Have you ever played matchmaker? It’s thrilling when you can smoosh two friends together, and it actually works out.
You can get paid for this talent — some matchmakers make six-figure salaries.
We talked to four professional matchmakers who collectively earn millions each year about how they got started. All had similar stories: They were matchmakers long before they started getting paid for it.
40. Self-Publish a Book
Interested in publishing your book for Kindle? It’s free to set up, and you might even make some money from the online book platform.
When Penny Hoarder contributor Steve Gillman lived in Colorado, he took a break from exploring the mountains to write a little ebook about ultralight backpacking. He published it using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform.
“Having once self-published a print book for $850, I liked the zero-cost aspect of going this route,” Gillman says.
So far, he’s earned about $2,000 from his little ebook.
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