If you’re in debt and you want to climb your way out of your hole, it’s a mathematical reality that you have just two options: Cut your expenses, or increase your income.
I’m a big fan of cutting expenses anywhere and everywhere you can, because it’s a sustainable way to make sure you end up with extra cash at the end of every month. This is a great plan as long as you are disciplined enough to keep track of the money you save and make sure you always write an extra check for that amount to send off to your credit card company (or whoever you need to pay off).
If you’ve already cut back on everything you can — or if your willpower is weak and you know there’s no way you’ll remember to put a nickel here and a dime there onto your bills — then it’s time to seriously consider earning some extra money.
You Need a Part-Time Job
Think there’s no way you can fit a part-time job into your busy schedule? Think again. The internet is an amazing place, and it’s easier than ever to pick up some extra work in your spare time — sometimes even from your own couch. I’m not talking about get-rich-quick schemes or anything unsavory. There are real, honest jobs you can take on to earn some extra cash.
Try these on for size:
- Answering Surveys
Now that people don’t answer their phones any more, opinion polls are taking place online — and they pay you for your time. Companies like iPoll and e-Rewards pay you for your time, and all you have to do is fill out a profile and answer some questions about your shopping habits, or how you feel about an upcoming election, or whatever they want to know.
You won’t get rich this way, but it doesn’t take much concentration or effort — try doing them during commercials while you’re watching TV or on your phone while you’re stuck waiting in line somewhere. Some offer payment via gift cards instead; if you pick ones for Amazon or CVS, you can treat it as bonus grocery cash. Otherwise, apply cash directly to the debt when you accumulate enough for a payout.
- Short Tasks
If you like the idea of working online but get tired of answering surveys, there are plenty of other short tasks that companies will pay you to do, from watching videos to doing a little internet research or website testing. InboxDollars and CashCrate include reading emails and playing games in their list of jobs and — as their names suggests — will pay you cash to do it.
Payment from sites like this is similar to the survey companies. If your prefer to work for gift cards — it’s a great way to earn your clothing budget if you’re a fashionista! — try Swagbucks instead.
- Freelance Writing
If your grammar and spelling is on point, you can make some extra money by writing internet articles for websites and blogs. Content marketing is a big deal these days, and everyone is looking for posts to attract eyeballs to their websites — and somebody has to write them!
Online brokers connect writers with buyers. Try signing up with Textbroker, Fiverr or Upwork to get started. Pay rates aren’t astronomical when you’re first starting out, but many sites have systems in place to let you earn experience points and command higher rates as you gain experience. If you’re good, there’s potential to develop your writing gig into a real freelance business in your spare time.
- Sell Your Skills
If your skillset doesn’t involve a computer keyboard, you can still set your own hours and pick up some extra cash in your spare time — you just have to market yourself. So what are you good at? People need everything from dog walkers and house sitters to welders and tutors, so figure out what superpowers you can sell and put an ad on Craigslist.
It can take time to build a clientele, but as you work more often in your local area, your reputation will grow. You can do as much or as little as you like, but don’t be surprised to find yourself having to turn down work if you’re good at what you do! I began my writing career as a part-time side gig and eventually had so much work I quit my day job, so it’s definitely possible.
- Sell Your Stuff
If you don’t think you have any skills to market, you can always sell your extra stuff. Craigslist or eBay are perfect for unloading things you don’t need: clothes that don’t fit, exercise equipment you don’t use or antiques you don’t care about are all good candidates.
Clearing your life of extra clutter can be hugely reinforcing. If you like your new, streamlined house, it can be a great incentive to keep going. And if you discover you have a real knack for sales, you can leverage those skills to start a small business selling your own product.
You’ve Got the Paycheck – Now What?
Once you find yourself earning real money with your side gig, it’s time to manage your cash. Follow these tips to keep tabs on your extra income.
Don’t Forget the Tax Man
Technically, you need to claim any extra income on your taxes. If you make enough from any one website, you might receive a 1099 form to file; if not, you can claim it as miscellaneous income on your own. Save 20 to 30 percent of your earnings in your savings account to cover yourself, since you won’t have taxes withheld from your side gig money.
Start a Snowball
With the remaining 70 to 80 percent of your extra earnings, you can begin to pay down your debt. Choose the debt with the highest interest rate and throw all your extra cash towards that to get the biggest bang for your buck. Once that debt is paid off, you can take all the money you would have paid regularly plus your extra income and slide it all over to your next debt so that one gets paid down even faster.
A little bit of extra money from a part-time job can go a long way if you dedicate it to your debt — and your side gig doesn’t have to take over your life. Choose a job with flexible hours — preferably working for yourself — and you’ll be well on your way to getting out from under your bills.
What’s you favorite side-gig? Share with your fellow readers below!