One of the best ways to work towards your financial goals is to find ways to make more money. That can mean a side hustle or earning passive income, but trimming your budget can also put more money in your pocket.
That’s the thing I love about learning how to make more money – there are legitimately a bunch of different ways to do it. Whether you have tight time constraints or are already living frugally, there are ways to increase your income.
It can take some sacrifice… I lived with my in-laws for months, so I can commiserate with you on that… but the rewards more than make up for the pain.
Let’s talk about those rewards – why make more money?
Take a second to think about what your financial goals are. You could want to:
- Pay off your student loans
- Get rid of your credit card debt
- Save up for a down payment on a house
- Travel more
- Start saving for retirement
- Retire early
- Bulk up your emergency fund
- Stop living paycheck to paycheck
Every single one of those goals is worthy and attainable. Some of them will take learning how to make a lot more money to pull off, thinking specifically of early retirement. But can it still be done? Heck yeah.
The other thing is that extreme frugality only goes so far. Maybe that’s a hard truth, but the people who make the swiftest progress towards big financial goals are the ones who both save money and learn how to make more of it.
There’s more than one way to make more money
When you read the title of this post what was your first thought? Was it something like “he’s going to give me some side hustle ideas and that’s it.”
I’m definitely going to give you some side hustle ideas because they work really well for increasing your income, but I’m going to tell you about four different ways to make more money:
- Hidden money. This is easily reducing some of your largest expenses.
- Earn more at your current job. What your options are and how to negotiate for a raise.
- Passive income ideas. There is something for everyone here – low barrier to entry to higher cost investment ideas.
- Start a side hustle. I’m listing all of my favorite side hustles and what makes for a good one.
How to make more money
1. Find hidden money
This isn’t checking your cushions, it’s taking your current expenses and finding a way to save money on them. It’s like pulling money out of your bills and putting it into the bank.
I’m also not talking about extreme frugality, like turning your old t-shirts into toilet paper or never ever turning the AC on. If you can do those things, kudos to you. I just couldn’t live like that for too long.
Here are four ways to find hidden money:
Negotiate lower rates on your bills
This is something you can do right now. It’s just picking up the phone, calling a few companies, and saying, “Hi, I’ve been a loyal customer of yours and I wanted to know if there is anything you can do to lower my rates.”
They might say no. More often than not, they say yes.
You can do this with:
- Car insurance
- Gym membership
- Cell phone bill
- Credit cards
I recently did this with my car insurance and they reduced my rate by $40 a month.
Cut back on subscription services and membership fees
Every few months go through all of the streaming services, subscription services, and apps you’re paying to use every month. It’s really easy to sign up for one, then another, and another. They might feel cheap individually, but they’re not when you add them all up.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
- Netflix $12.99/month
- Hulu $5.99/month
- Amazon Prime $12.99/month
- HBO add-on $14.99/month
- Gym membership $40/month
- Apple Music $9.99/month
That’s about $100 a month.
If that looks familiar, ask yourself some questions…
Can I cancel at least one of those streaming services? GoT is over, do I still need HBO? Do I go to the gym enough to justify that cost? Are there free or less expensive online music services?
Read more at 7 Easy Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget.
Refinance your house
Depending on when you purchased your home, you might be able to save thousands of dollars every year with a refi. You’ll need a good credit score to qualify for the best rates, but the money you save is money in your pocket.
Here’s an example taking a $150,000 mortgage at a term of 15 years:
- At a rate of 6%, you pay $77,841.34 in interest
- At a rate of 4.5%, you pay $56,548.19 in interest
Refinancing puts a little over $20,000 back into your pocket over the course of your loan.
Refinance your student loans
Your student loans are a bunch of smaller loans at a variety of rates, and refinancing is when you bundle all of those loans together and borrow at the same, and ideally lower, rate. You make money when you save on interest.
The ideal candidate for student loan refinancing is:
- Able to make their monthly payments on time every month
- Has a high number of student loans
- Not trying to qualify for student loan forgiveness
If you’re interested, I highly recommend checking out Credible, which is an online marketplace that lets borrowers shop around for rates and terms with a variety of lenders. You can read my full Credible review to learn more.
2. Earn more at your current job
When you’re trying to find ways to make more money, don’t forget about what you can do with your current job.
Negotiate for higher pay
Besides seeing an increase in your paycheck, the other benefit is that this gain can add up year after year – you’ve upped the baseline for future raises, even if it’s a cost of living one.
Here are some tips to negotiate a raise:
- Research your position and pay. Websites like Glassdoor and Salary.com make it really easy to see what your peers are earning in similar positions. Just make sure that you do an apples to apples comparison before relying on those numbers.
- Get your timing right. If you’ve just been given some new responsibilities or recently completed a large project, it might be a good time to ask for a raise. If you’re new to the job, it would be best to wait a while.
- Keep track of what you do. A few months before you ask for a raise, start tracking what you do, your results, and any accomplishments. If you need to prove your worth, this is how you’ll do it.
- Be calm and confident. Practicing your pitch can help here and it’s usually best to leave out personal stuff.
Don’t leave money on the table
If your employer offers a 401(k) match, take it. This is money that will make you more money for the future.
Also, if and when you do negotiate for a raise, this could be a point to bring up. Can they offer you a match, or do a higher one?
Will more education or training lead to higher pay?
When I was a high school band teacher, I noticed a number of my coworkers going back for their master’s degree because it led to a pay increase. This is a pretty common practice in a variety of fields.
Employers sometimes do pay for extra training or education, but if they don’t, weigh up the cost with the bump in your pay.
3. Passive ways to make more money
Whenever I talk to people about passive income, many of them think that passive income is this holy grail of unattainable and never-ending wealth. Nope, not at all.
Passive income is money you make when you’re not actively working for it. It’s something anyone can earn, and it can sometimes be really lucrative.
The most important thing to know about earning passive income is that it takes some kind of investment, either with money or time. You can’t make more money this way without first putting up one of those investments, and you’ll see what I mean as I explain each of these ideas.
Cash back websites
Websites like Rakuten, formerly known as Ebates, pay you to shop as you normally would online. Sign up is free, and to earn money back, you’ll need to go through their online portal before shopping at over 2,500 different online retailers. Rakuten gets a little commission for sending you to their partner stores, and they give you a little kickback as a thank you.
Rakuten pays you via check or Paypal, and there are no additional fees to use the site. The investment here is financial. You spend money, then get a little back.
Move your money into a high-yield account
Sticking money into a savings account is great, but you might only be earning 0.30% back – it’s often less than that. If you stick your money into a high-yield account, you can make more money to grow your savings.
Here are two options for high-yield accounts:
- Online savings account. Online banks don’t have the same overhead has brick and mortar banks, and they pass that savings onto their customers with higher than average APYs. Some of the best online savings accounts will have APYs of at least 2.10%.
- Money market accounts. These types of accounts are a little different than savings accounts because your money is invested in financial markets. They often have check writing capabilities, ATM access, and usually require a higher initial deposit. To find money market accounts with rates around 2%, check with your bank or brokerage.
Start investing to make more money
The reality is that investing is how most of us millennials are going to afford to retire one day. Pensions are pretty much gone, and stashing enough money into a savings account is going to be really tough.
With investing, you are making your money work for you.
It’s never too late to start investing, and here are a few different ways to do it:
- Invest with spare change. You’re not going to retire off of spare change, but micro investing apps like Acorns and Stash remove the barriers to traditional investing. These apps are easy to use and get you comfortable enough to eventually invest on a larger scale.
- Use an online brokerage. The biggest names in investing – Charles Schwab, Fidelity, Vanguard – have made strides to become even more millennial friendly, with online platforms, low to zero fees, and a variety of investment vehicles.
- REITs. With companies like Fundrise, average people can invest in commercial real estate with real estate investment trusts (REITs). You can start with just $500. You can read my full Fundrise review for more information.
- P2P lending. P2P stands for peer-to-peer lending, which is kind of like crowdsourcing loans that people typically wouldn’t qualify for under a traditional lender. Lending Club is one of the most popular platforms, but know that there is a 6-7% default rate.
Purchase an investment property
This one takes a financial investment for sure, usually a time investment too. The two most common types of investment properties are rentals and buying and flipping homes.
Rental properties are great for increasing your cash flow. If you want to make more money, this could almost feel like an extra paycheck every month. You will need to have a decent financial safety net in place for repairs, taxes, and in the event that you don’t have a renter. Property managers can make everything feel more passive, but that’s another cost to consider.
Fix and flips can take a huge time investment, especially if you’ll be doing the work on your own. Fortunately, you can make a pretty good profit when you estimate the costs well.
Read more at Real Estate Investing for Beginners.
4. Start a side hustle
If I had to pick a favorite way to make more money it would be starting a side hustle.
Well, I live a pretty awesome life right now, and side hustling is what made it happen…
After I quit my job as a high school band director, I basically had two side hustles going at the same time, blogger and digital marketer. One wasn’t earning me anything in the beginning (blogger), and the other sustained me.
Both of them have played a major role in how I’ve been able to grow this blog and make more money than I ever realized I could make, so I’m going to start by telling you about those two first.
Run Facebook ads for local businesses
After I quit my job to blog full-time, I started my own mini digital marketing agency to help keep us afloat financially (an emergency fund helps with this kind of leap too). I had no professional training, but I knew enough about Facebook ads to give it a shot.
That was a few years ago, and Facebook has become one of the best places for small business owners to reach new customers. Large companies have been doing this for a while, with marketing teams doing all of the work. Small business owners, on the other hand, usually lack the time or knowledge to run a good ad’s strategy in a way that sees real results.
Knowing that there was a market for Facebook ads managers (and knowing what a great side hustle it is), I created an affordable course for my readers to start their own Facebook ad agency. The industry standard is to charge $1,000-$2,000/month per client, and you don’t need any marketing or website experience to get started.
In terms of time investment, after you onboard a client, create the initial ad, and do some testing (this only takes a few hours), the ads essentially run on autopilot from them on.
If you want to learn more about the course and hear from some of my students, click over to the Facebook Side Hustle Course.
Start a blog
The first thing to know about blogging is that it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. Don’t believe anyone who tells you it is. What I love about blogging, though, is that it lets you share things that you’re passionate about with a much wider audience, while one day helping you make more money.
You can really blog about anything you want, but tips for doing it well are:
- Regularly publish high-quality posts
- Love what you’re writing about
- Get to know your audience
- Learn SEO, my top recommendation for this is Money Lab’s course SEO for Bloggers
- Work on monetization methods to grow your income
If you’re interested in starting a blog but want a little help getting things started, I created Launch That Blog to do exactly that. It’s a free service that:
- Takes care of the installation and set-up process of a WordPress blog
- Teaches you how to use it
- Helps you make it look awesome
- Makes sure you have the essential tools ready to go
The only thing you need to pay for is hosting, which is only $2.95 per month through Bluehost. Seriously, that’s it. Jump over to the Launch That Blog page to learn more about the service and bonus freebies.
Become a Pinterest virtual assistant
You need to love Pinterest for this side hustle, but if you do, you can help bloggers and other online business owner reach a larger audience with a good pinning strategy.
Pinterest VAs do a variety of tasks, from designing, optimizing, and scheduling pins. Basically, your goal is to increase traffic to your client’s website.
If this sounds like how you’d like to make more money, the Pinterest VA Course can teach you:
- What a Pinterest VA does
- How much to charge for your services
- How to find and land clients
- How to grow your client relationships
- How to expand your business
This course is taught by Kristin Larsen, who have already helped hundreds of bloggers and online business owners grow their businesses with Pinterest VAs.
They estimate that the average client is worth about $500/month. To learn more about the course and how to make money as a Pinterest VA, check out the Pinterest VA Course.
Become a freelancer to make more money
Working as a freelancer means you are self-employed and working on a number of different jobs for a variety of clients. You can be paid on a per job or per hour basis, and you grow your business based on the types of services you offer and your level of experience.
There are a bunch of freelance job opportunities online for people who can work as:
- Web developers
- Graphic designers
- Copy editors
- Video editors
- Sound designers
Honestly, that list goes on and on.
Teach English online
If you have experience working with kids – professional teacher, having your own children, working at a summer camp, babysitting, etc. – then you most likely qualify to teach English to Chinese and Korean children through VIPKid.
You can easily work this outside of “normal” business hours and as many hours a week as you can fit in. Teachers with VIPKid make up to $22 per hour.
Read my full VIPKid review for more details.
Final word on learning how to make more money
Finding ways to make more money can allow you to do so many different things – debt payoff, plan for large purchases, relieve financial stress, early retirement, etc. There are small ways and big ways, and they all add up to creating a better financial present and future.
You can try one, two, or a bunch of them. Even starting with something small like calling your car insurance company to see about a lower rate is a step in the right direction.
But remember, to make big things happen, you’ve got to make big changes. It’s hard, but trust me, your future self will thank you.