A plurality of Americans lacks the financial capacity to absorb a $400 unexpected expense. Many more are cash flow negative, meaning they spend more than they earn — not because they’re living high on the hog, but because mundane non-discretionary expenses like food, shelter, and clothing eat up their entire take-home.
For many consumers living paycheck to paycheck, boosting after-tax income is a more realistic and satisfying budget-management strategy than slashing expenses, which very often isn’t possible. Those with long-term career ambitions or deeply held passions may be willing to return to school to earn in-demand professional credentials. But the drawbacks of going back to school later in life are nothing to sneeze at, and the prospect simply isn’t realistic for many people.
Fortunately, substantially increasing your income doesn’t require a return to school. These five pursuits are almost certain to boost your take-home without monopolizing your time or disrupting your current career.
- Devote 5 Hours Per Week to Non-Competitive Freelancing or Consulting
If you love what you do, but don’t love the relative lack of challenges and opportunities offered by your current employer, consider devoting a few hours per week to freelancing or consulting on the side. Professionals with in-demand skill sets, like web development or graphic design, don’t have to look far to find fulfilling, well-compensated side projects that don’t overlap with their employers’ purview.
- Become a Fundraising Distributor
Want to give back to worthy causes in your community and earn real money in the process? Consider becoming a fundraising distributor — a flexible work-from-home opportunity that can support nonprofits, school groups, and ecumenical organizations serving your friends and neighbors. To get started, check out these innovative school fundraising ideas from the experts at ABC Fundraising.
- Monetize Your Personal Vehicle
If you have a reliable car, consider driving for extra cash in your spare time. During peak hours, ride-hailing drivers earn serious money, as do delivery drivers and couriers. This is a great seasonal opportunity, as well; during the holiday shopping season, demand for package delivery workers soars.
- Rent Out a Spare Bedroom or Guest Suite
Turn that disused spare bedroom or bonus room into a cash cow by renting it out for a few nights at a time. Use a reputable platform like HomeAway or Airbnb to keep everything aboveboard and ensure you’re starting off on the right foot. Check out this detailed overview from Airbnb for more on how to get your space ready.
- Start an Etsy Shop
If you’re a crafty type, consider selling your handiwork to folks who’ll appreciate it. One of the highest-visibility places to set up shop is Etsy, a popular ecommerce platform for independent craftspeople and resellers. Once you’ve got your foot in the door, consider expanding to other platforms, like eBay and Amazon.
A Little of This, a Little of That
Don’t feel limited to just one of these opportunities. As long as you have the time, energy, and skills, the sky is truly the limit for your extra income potential. After all, it’s better to keep your options open than to throw all your eggs in a single basket.