If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that job security can vanish for even those who once thought their position was bulletproof. That’s why something like an emergency fund, or some extra cash is so important. Having said that, wouldn’t it be nice to find a few more bucks in your pocket from time to time? The good news is that making some extra money is easier than you think. Here are a few interesting ways to help you make a little extra scratch. They won’t make you independently wealthy - or enable you to quit your regular job - but they’ll add to the coffers nicely.
1. Donate blood products - Most blood banks don’t pay cash for whole blood donations anymore. Some, however, may compensate you with premiums and/or gift cards. American Red Cross actually just sent me an email that says I would receive a $5 Amazon gift card if I donate blood before the month ends. These offers are few and far in between though. Some blood clinics do pay $20-$40 for plasma. Plasma donation is a similar procedure to blood donation but, instead of once every eight weeks, plasma can be drawn twice in a seven-day period with at least two days between donations.
2. Go with your strengths - It would hardly be novel to suggest you earn extra money by doing things you do well for people: bake a cake, pet sit a dog, troubleshoot a computer, mow lawns, write a resume... What is novel is cluing you in on a website that could help you market those skills to more folks than a handful of friends, family, and neighbors. Fiver.com is a marketplace for people who have a skill - any skill - and who are willing to perform it starting at five bucks - a fiver if you will. List the task you’re willing to perform for $5 and people from all over the world will have the opportunity to take you up on your offer. It’s better than a poster with tear-strips tacked on the supermarket bulletin board, and it helps you get in the door. And once you are in, you can start marketing your services for the longer-term and for a higher price.
3. Participate in consumer research - Research companies conduct product studies to learn consumer opinions. They pay people for participation in these studies in which they sample a product and share their thoughts about it. These could include participating in focus groups, product or taste tests, or usability trials. Search out marketing research companies and inquire as to whether they recruit participants for consumer studies. There’s no certainty that you’ll be chosen on any regular basis, but it’s easy money and the job can pay from $25 to hundreds, depending upon the length of the study and your participation requirements.
I’ve done a few studies for the cars that I purchased before. They end up being a few hours each, but I’ve gotten a few hundred dollars in checks one time and a $100 gift card another time. These jobs are real and they are actually quite fun because you get to influence future product development. I’m a manual transmission type of guy. I like to feel the car more by shifting on my own and I’d like to think that I’m helping preserve this way of driving when I tell them in their research how certain cars absolutely need to keep the traditional way of gear shifts.
4. Be a mystery shopper - If you’re observant, this might be a good gig for you. Mystery shoppers perform recognizance for stores and restaurants, providing intelligence on its operation. You look for certain things and report your findings to the company performing the test, providing valuable marketing and customer experience feedback. Mystery shopper assignments vary greatly and pay between $15 and $100, depending upon the company and what’s required of you.
A good gig takes time to build up though. Companies will only start giving you the better gigs once you build a reputation and portfolio of the mystery shopping experiences, so start by doing a good job on less lucrative experiences and work your way up.
5. Be a poll worker - Be part of the democratic process and get paid in the process. Poll workers assist voters on election days. Pay rates vary by state but in general, poll workers are paid up to $200 for training and $100-$200 for the day they serve. Specifically, here is what election workers earned in the recent Election Day in California.
- $150 for working on Election Day
- $40 for attending a mandatory two and a half hour in-person training plus completing the Inspector training online.
- $50 for picking up the set of Polling Place supplies and returning them after they were done for the night on Election Day
- $100 for working on Election Day
- $40 for attending the two-hour in-person training
Neighborhood Voting Center Directors got:
- $100 for working on Election Day
- $40 for attending a mandatory one-hour in-person training plus completing online training
As I said, it won’t replace a regular job but the money isn’t bad when it’s all extra. Plus, you are helping our country’s proud democratic process!
6. Participate on ejury.com - Not many people are frilled when they are called on jury duty, partly because you need to miss work to go there and you don’t really get compensated for your time off when you don’t get to choose which days you show up to the courthouse. But the calculus changes when you get to decide when you are available to be a juror. On ejury.com, you basically sign up on their website and are emailed a notification when an ejury case in your county comes up for decision. The first 50 mock jurors who choose to participate in the case read the details and answer questions, providing feedback for attorneys in the preparation for the actual jury. You only get paid $5 or $10 per case but think of it this way: you don’t get paid a penny for watching Law and Order reruns and here you’re helping the wheels of justice turn.
These are just a few of a multitude of ways you can put your time and talents to work to make a little extra dough. With a little work, you can probably find a ton more.
What ways have you found to earn a little extra money?