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11 Creative Ideas to Help You Earn Extra Money

old-3-compressor_x450By Holly Reisem Hanna

From a very young age, I was motivated to make money. I’m not sure if this was ingrained in me genetically or if my parents just taught me well — either way, I’ve always found creative ways to make money.

If you’re looking to increase your bottom line – here are some methods I have used throughout the years.

1. Making Money With Nature

One summer, I decided to collect salamanders from our backyard to try and sell them to pet stores. After finding nine salamanders, and storing them in a five gallon bucket with food and water, I went to the yellow pages and started calling pet shops. I remember I called a lot of stores, but after numerous attempts, one pet store owner agreed to purchase the salamanders for 50 cents a piece. Thrilled to find a buyer, I asked my Dad to drive to me to the store to make the sale – he did (thanks Dad)!

Yes, I only made $4.50, but that’s not the point. The lesson here is … if you think outside the box you can find creative ways to make money. While this salamander example isn’t going to translate well into a business today, there are people who make good money forging for wild food. In fact, here’s an interview with a guy who is making $30 an hour selling wild foods to restaurants – pretty impressive!

2. Sell Handmade Goodies

Like most kids, I made and sold lemonade from a stand in our front yard. But that’s not the only thing I created and sold … my friend and I made perfume and tried to sell it to our neighbors — we didn’t have any buyers, so we poured it down the sewer to make it smell better. We also made pet rocks and Christmas ornaments and went door-to-door and sold them to neighbors. Today you don’t have to go door-to-door or setup a stand in your front yard to sell stuff for money. Sites like CraftStar and Etsy allow you  to setup shop and sell handmade goodies to a worldwide audience. Love to cook? Sites like Feastly and EatWith allow you to cook for guests in your home while you make some hard earned cash!

3. Delivery Jobs

At the ripe old age of ten, I took over my friend’s once-a-week paper route. I can’t remember how she found the gig initially … It was a small, local paper that came out once-a-week and was delivered to the 100+ houses in our sub-division. The pay was $4.05 for delivering newspapers to the front doors of all these houses! In the snow, rain, and summertime heat — I delivered those darn papers for two years! I then passed the route on to my sister, and she later passed it on to another neighborhood kid.

While you can still find paper route jobs today, there is a new take on this old business model. Postmates is an online platform that allows you to use your bike, scooter, motorcycle, or even car to pick up items and deliver them to customers. With Postmates you earn the majority of the delivery fee — plus 100% of tips. According to their website most Postmates earn $25 an hour and payouts can be collected weekly.

4. Child Care

This is one of most lucrative and easy ways to make money! I started babysitting when I was in middle school. My Dad had a coworker who needed someone to watch their son while they went out for the evening. Being the oldest of three — babysitting was nothing new to me and I was beyond happy to make some money for my efforts. What started off as a one-time gig quickly turned into a recurring gig. Not only that, word got out and I started watching that coworker’s neighbor’s daughter and so on and so forth. I was booked almost every weekend night! I continued to babysit throughout high school and college.

Word-of-mouth tends to be one of the best ways to score these side hustles, but many neighborhood associations have free Facebook Groups where people post their needs for sitters and others post their childcare services. You can also find gigs for babysitters, nannies, and Au pairs on Prefer to work with adults? also offers gigs for companion care, personal care, and specialized help for individuals with dementia and Alzheimers.

5. Recycling Stuff

During the summers my friend and I would scour the nearby office park looking for aluminum cans. We would collect the cans and bring them to the nearby grocery store, which had a huge automated recycling machine. For each can you would deposit — you’d earn one cent. Not a lot of money, but it kept us supplied in candy bars and popsicles throughout the summer. Today you can still recycle your trash for cash — check out this post for a bunch of crazy, trash-moneymaking ideas.

6. Research Studies

Be sure to check with your doctor before signing up for any study!

When I was in college money was tight. I was constantly on the lookout for easy and flexible ways to add some extra cash to my wallet. One lucrative way I found was to participate in pharmaceutical research studies. Lucky (or not so lucky) I happen to live in the allergy capital of the world, Austin, Texas. As a sufferer of seasonal allergies, I qualified for all sorts of allergy medicine related studies. Most of the studies I completed were out-patient studies that required three to seven out-patient visits and paid between $200 – $400 upon completion. I did however, participate in a couple of in-patient weekend studies that paid $2,000! If you’re interested in participating in studies check out these websites:, PPD, or Pfizer.

Be forewarned – if you dislike blood draws, this is not the way to go. Most studies require a blood draw during each visit. The study I completed that paid $2,000, required something like 40 blood draws during the weekend — hence the big payout.

7. Catering

All throughout college I waited tables, so catering gigs came along quite frequently through the various restaurants I worked for …   However, my friend’s boyfriend worked for a catering company, and whenever they needed extra help we’d jump in. I’ve worked weddings, corporate lunches, concerts, and holiday events. Catering gigs are great because they’re one-off-gigs and they pay well. My Mom has also worked a lot of catering gigs — simply because she worked at an elementary school and had a connection to someone who owned a catering company. One time we even worked the same event! My Mom worked for the catering company that was doing the food, I was worked for the catering company that provided the bartenders and libations. If you don’t have catering connection, you can find these gigs in the want ads, on online job boards, and via catering companies in your city.

8. Sell Stuff

I’ve been selling stuff … well, forever! It started when I was young and I would sell my toys at neighborhood garage sales. In college I sold used clothes to consignment shops, used textbooks to the local book store, and jewelry from ex-boyfriends to pawnshops! Then when I had my daughter, I sold her used baby gear on Craiglist. I still sell stuff to this very day to make extra money. The cool thing now is …  you don’t even have to leave your home to sell your stuff. From clothes, books, and video games to electronics and toys — it can all be sold online! In fact, here’s a HUGE list of platforms you can use to sell your stuff.

9. Participate Focus Groups

I remember the first time I got called to participate in a focus group. I was in college and struggling to make ends meet. The focus group was for a local radio station that had gathered my name from a contest that I had entered. The two hour segment required me to sit a room and listen to snippets of music and rate each song on a scale from one to ten. After the session was over, I was handed an envelope with $100 in cash! Today you don’t have to “wait for chance” to participate in focus groups — there are many online portals where you can sign up to participate. From everything I’ve read, most focus groups pay between $50 – $150 per hour for participation and sometimes you’ll get free swag too! If you’re interested in joining some focus groups — here’s a list to get you started.

10. Cleaning Houses

Yes, I’ve done this too! A couple of friends I waited tables with decided to open a house cleaning business. For a change of pace, I decided to join their team once-a-week and clean houses with them. The three of us would clean two to three houses every Friday. Because there were three of us — we could usually knock out a house in an hour and a half, which left my Friday afternoons and nights open for fun. Depending on the size of the house and how many we cleaned, I’d make anywhere from $75 – $130 for a few hours of work. I actually enjoyed cleaning houses. I found it therapeutic and nice break from having to constantly talk to customers.

If you don’t want to start your own business, you can easily find house cleaning gigs on or you can use the short-task site, TaskRabbit to post your services. If starting your own business is more up your alley, FabJob has a complete guide on how to start your own cleaning business.

11. Smartphone Apps

If you have a smartphone you should be using it to make money! There are tons of apps where you can make money or earn gift cards by scanning receipts, scanning barcodes, taking photos, watching TV, answering surveys … and the list goes on and on! Most of these moneymaking apps are available for both iPhone and Android operating systems. If you’re interested in making some extra money with this method — check out this post for some of the best moneymaking apps.

Looking for more creative ways to earn money? This list has over 40 ways to do so, from taking online surveys and completing odd tasks, to sharing deals, and shopping online.

What creative ways do you use to make extra money?

11 Creative Ideas to Help You Earn Extra Money

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2 Responses to “11 Creative Ideas to Help You Earn Extra Money”

  1. 1
    Corina Ramos says:

    Hi Holly,

    This is great, very creative for sure! Thanks for sharing these ideas with us. The only one I’ve tried were making money using Apps. I didn’t make much but $5, $10 here and there was a sweet surprise. :)

    Hope you’re having a great day!

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