Monday, May 4, 2009

11 Ways to Make Extra Cash

By Cameron Huddleston, Contributing Editor,
April 2009

Who couldn’t use a little more moolah these days? If you’ve lost your job, taken a pay cut or are just looking for ways to boost your income, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance can help.

Sell Your Stuff Online

Kiplinger’s Senior Editor Jeffrey Kosnett and his wife recently made $200 selling flatware they no longer used through the popular online auction site eBay. You, too, can unload everything from furniture and furnishings to collectibles and clothing on eBay or Craigslist. Sell your old, unwanted books on Amazon. Kosnett’s wife, Deborah, says the key to selling your wares on the Web is to research similar merchandise that has been sold recently through the site and price competitively. (See the Art of the E-Deal to learn more.)

Be A Shopping Spy
You can get paid up to $20 if you agree to browse a store and provide feedback on customer service, merchandise quality, and other quality-control metrics. If you like to shop, can pay close attention to detail and can be dispassionate, this could be a good money-making opportunity. It’s best to approach several stores simultaneously, because it can take awhile to be contacted by retailers. And watch out for scams, which require you to pay a fee or wire a cashier’s check. Start by visiting the Mystery Shopping Providers Association’s Web site ( to see a database of jobs with legitimate companies.

Operate A Call Center From Your Home
You might consider a job (for up to $14 an hour) with a virtual call center, such as Arise Virtual Solutions (, West Corp. ( or Alpine Access ( As an independent contractor (or, in some cases, an actual employee with benefits) for one of these virtual call centers, you would provide customer support for companies such as Office Depot, Sears, J.Crew and even the Internal Revenue Service. In general, you must provide your own computer, designated telephone line and high-speed Internet connection --and, in some cases, pay for your training to become a certified agent. But if you have the time, companies need “operators standing by.”

Tutor Students

Some parents are willing to pay big bucks to see Junior and Janie succeed. So if you speak a second language, such as Spanish or French, or have great math, science or writing skills, you might be able to earn extra cash imparting your knowledge to kids – even college students -- for $20 to $30 an hour. Check with local schools and universities to see if you can advertise your services on their bulletin boards. Or post your services on Craigslist.

Join A Street Sales Team

This is a relatively easy way for young adults who are outgoing and articulate to earn some fast cash. Street teams promote products, films, albums, events and more by handing out samples, interacting with people on the street, or dressing as mascots. To get a job at $17 to $25 an hour, sign up with a company such as Street Team or A.D.D. Marketing. Actually, if you sign up with several companies, you’re more likely to get a steady flow of jobs, says James Aquafredda, managing director of Street Team Make sure, though, that the company has a contract that specifies when you’ll get paid.

Take Rover for a Walk

Why not get a little exercise while you earn anywhere from $15 to $30 an hour? Working folks will pay plenty for you to take Rover or Scruffy on a daily stroll while they’re at the office. If you don’t want to brave the elements, you might consider pet sitting for people while they’re on vacation. Advertise your services in veterinarians’ offices and on Craigslist.

Be A Babysitter

Just graduated and can’t find a job? Retired and looking for a little extra dough? Like children? From full-time gigs to occasional stints, babysitting can be a fun way to put money in your pocket. In big cities such as New York and Washington, expect to earn up to $20 an hour as a babysitter or nanny. (In small and midsize cities, the going rate is closer to $7 to $10 an hour.) Advertise your services on Craigslist, the bulletin board at your local house of worship, or by word of mouth.

Write For The Web

Sorry, isn’t hiring. But plenty of Web sites are looking for freelancers to write blogs, commentary, and reviews for about $15 to $30 an hour or article. For example, if you know a lot about a particular subject or region, you might be able to be a “guide” and write articles for ( ). In all major U.S. cities, Craigslist has ads for writing gigs. Demand Studios ( offers freelance work for writers, copy editors and filmmakers.

Make Your Hobbies Pay Off

Amateur photographers are in demand to shoot weddings and events, especially in a recession when people are reluctant to hire high-priced pros. If you’re a great cook, you could hold a workshop or prepare meals for a busy family. The tech-savvy among you could teach classes on Web design. See what your services might fetch by checking out ads on Craigslist or in your local paper or community Web site. Then hang out a virtual shingle.

Sell Your Unwanted Gold Jewelry

Although the price has dropped a bit since the beginning of 2009, the going rate for this precious commodity was still nearly $890 an ounce recently. That’s a pretty penny for jewelry you no longer wear or bling that reminds you of a best-forgotten suitor. Gold-buying shops are popping up at malls across America (see Turn Gold Into Green for legitimate buyers).

Adjust Your Tax Withholding

This is probably the fastest and easiest way to put more cash in your pocket. If you got a big refund this year, you’re not alone: The average refund so far this year is $2,700. But think about it: You’re letting Uncle Sam hold on to your money for a whole year and paying you 0% interest. Why wait until next spring to get the money you really need now? To see how much you could gain by adjusting your withholding, try our easy-to-use withholding calculator.

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