Finding ways to make extra money is how I was able to pay off my $40,000 student loan debt in 18 months. Ever since then, I’ve been passionate about helping other people learn how to make extra cash, too.
Making extra money can help you attack your debt, save up for retirement, and start investing. Or, maybe figuring out how to make an extra $1,000 a month would reduce some of your financial stress.
But not everyone has the same time available to make money on the side, and that’s why I’ve broken down my top ideas into three categories:
- Easy ways to make extra cash: These are mindless, no-brainer ways to make a little side income
- Ways to make money from home: If staying home is your priority, you won’t have to leave the house for these ideas
- Flexible ways to make extra cash: These options prioritize a flexible schedule so you can work when you want
20 of the best ways to make extra money in 2021
Super easy ways to make extra cash
1. Take surveys
Back when I was trying to quickly pay off my student loan debt, I took online surveys to make a little extra cash. They don’t pay very well, but it’s one of the easiest ways to make extra money IMO.
Think about it like this: all the time that you’re spending playing Candy Crush on your phone, you could be taking surveys and making extra money. That’s how easy surveys are.
Survey sites do market research for big companies so that they can make better products and develop targeted marketing strategies. That’s why they’re willing to pay for your opinions: to learn your habits, and learn more about customer demographics.
There are a lot of online survey sites out there and some of my favorites (because they’re 100% legit) are:
- Survey Junkie: This site surveys only, and Survey Junkie pays in points that convert over to PayPal or gift cards.
- MyPoints: You can earn points that convert to cash for taking surveys, eating at your favorite restaurants, reading emails, and more.
- Swagbucks: Swagbucks pays in points that you convert to cash, and you can also shop online, watch videos, search the web, play games, and more.
Like I said, you’re not going to get rich, but you can easily earn $1-$3/hour taking surveys online.
2. Earn cashback when you shop
You’re already out spending your money, why not make a little extra money back when you shop? There are a few companies that will pay you cash when you download their apps and shop online through their portals.
One of the most well-known cash back apps is Rakuten. You create a free account – new users earn $10 just for signing up – then browse offers and retailers. When you find a cashback offer you want to claim, click on the retailers link through Rakuten and start shopping.
Some of Rakuten’s current offers are 4% back at PetCo, 6% back at Macy’s, and 4% at Old Navy. Offers change regularly.
Ibotta is another really popular cash back app, and it pays in cash via PayPal or Venmo. Ibotta is free to use, and you can earn cashback when you buy groceries, shop at Home Depot, order from Amazon, and more.
New Ibotta users can earn a $20 reward when they sign up and install the app.
3. See if you have unclaimed money
Have you ever checked to see if you have any unclaimed money? Unclaimed money comes from old bank accounts, forgotten pension funds, abandoned investment accounts, etc.
The easiest way to search is to type “unclaimed money [state you live in]” in Google. You will most likely be directed to your state’s treasurer's office, and you can do it for any state you’ve lived in.
USA.gov created this graphic to help you find unclaimed funds, plus how to avoid scams.
4. Wrap your car
Carvertiseis a company that will pay you around $100/month to wrap your car in advertisements. Yes, you read that correctly.
Just think, your car could look like this:
Carvertise has professional installers wrap your car and uninstall if after the campaign is over, which typically lasts around 2-6 months.
The requirements for Carvertise are:
- Drive at least 30 miles a day
- Clean driving record
- 2008 model year car or newer
- Factory paint job
As long as you meet those requirements and don’t mind having your car wrapped in advertisements, this is one of the easiest ways to make extra money. Plus, you’re not trading time for money, making it an incredibly passive income stream too!
5. Open a new bank account
More and more banks are offering cash bonuses when customers open a new checking or savings account. These are promotional offers that encourage new customers, and it’s a really easy way to make $100-$200.
Offers change regularly and have specific requirements, but here are two recent promotions:
- HSBC is giving a $200 bonus offer when you open a new account, set up direct deposit, and have a minimum deposit of at least $1,500 total over three months
- Chase is offering new customers up to $500 – $200 when you open a Chase checking account and set up direct deposit, $200 when you open a Chase savings account and deposit and maintain a balance of $15,000 or more for 90 days, and $100 extra if you do both at the same time
6. Earn credit card rewards
This is one of my favorite easy ways to make extra money, and I’ve been able to earn cash and free airfare. If you’ve ever heard of travel hacking or credit card churning, that’s basically earning credit card rewards.
Credit card companies want new customers to sign up, so they offer big sign-on bonuses if you spend a certain amount on your new card in the first few months.
Below is an example of a current offer* from Chase:
*offer subject to change
The only way these offers make sense is if you can pay your balance off at the end of every single month. Otherwise, you run the risk of racking up high-interest rate consumer debt, which is some of the hardest debt to pay off because it’s so expensive.
It’s also worth noting that you’ll need a good to excellent credit score to be approved for the best offers.
How to make extra money from home
7. Run Facebook ads
When I first quit my job to run this site full time, I wasn’t making much and needed a way to make some extra money. I learned how to run Facebook ads as a side hustle and landed my first client: the local jewelry store that sold me my wife’s engagement ring.
The client quickly turned into another, then another, and a few months later, I was making more money running Facebook ads each month than I ever did as a teacher.
Running Facebook ads is doing digital marketing for small or local businesses. You create highly targeted ad campaigns to drive new customers to their business.
This is something big businesses have been doing for years, but it’s only been the last few that small businesses have started leveraging Facebook’s massive reach and robust advertising platform.
Because there’s a lot to learn to run an effective ad campaign, small business owners realize that their money is better spent on a trained Facebook ad manager. You can make an extra $1,000-$1,500/month running Facebook ads.
If you’re interested in learning more, check out the Facebook Side Hustle Course. I teamed up with my buddy Mike Yanda (lawyer turned digital marketer whose agency brings in ~$30k/month) to create a comprehensive course that teaches you a system to do these three things:
- How to run a Facebook ads campaign for small businesses
- How to find the kinds of businesses that need these services
- How to get those business owners to say “yes” and move forward with your services
8. Start proofreading
If you nerd out on grammar, punctuation, and spelling you can make extra money working as a proofreader. Proofreaders are needed to find errors for freelance writers, bloggers, professionals, academics, and more.
You can learn how professional proofreader Caitlin Pyle started proofreading and eventually left her day job to proofread full time in her free Proofread Anywhere Workshop.
9. Start a blog
Blogging is hands down my favorite of these ways to make extra money. Yeah, I know, you saw that one coming, haha.
There are a lot of reasons why I love blogging so much, but the biggest is that it’s insanely flexible and can be incredibly lucrative.
I started this site on the side of my teaching job, I earned my first blogging income ($3 from display ads) a few months in, and I’ve grown my site into a 7-figure business.
Not all blogs will have that same trajectory. Honestly, blogging is a slow business model overall, but you can start and monetize your site in your own time – in the evenings, on your lunch break, on the weekends, etc.
If you’re interested in starting a blog, I highly recommend a WordPress blog hosted through Bluehost. You can start a professional-looking site from day 1, and Bluehost is as little as $2.95/month.
You can also check out Launch That Blog – my free blog installation and set up service – if setting up your own site feels too overwhelming.
10. Become a freelance writer
Freelance writers contract out their writing services for all kinds of different projects, from marketing campaigns, blog posts, web copy, and resumes.
One of the writers on my team, Ariel, has been freelance writing and editing for a few years now (it started as a side hustle and now she does it full time), and she’s worked on:
- Sales copy for a high-end jeweler
- Emails for a professional who says he hates writing emails
- E-book for a New York Times bestselling author
This is a great way to make extra money for anyone who has a natural ability for writing – you probably know if that’s you or not. And, no, you don’t need a degree in English or creative writing to work as a freelance writer.
Freelancing, overall, is a growing field and many freelancers find their first jobs on freelance marketplaces like Fiverr. This platform is open to all kinds of freelancers – graphic designers, web developers, editors, translators, marketers, and more.
11. Work as a virtual assistant
One of the reasons I’ve been able to grow this site is because I’ve hired people to help me do things that I don’t need to do… and, some things turn out better if I don’t do them, like web design.
My virtual assistant (I call her my logistics manager) has become invaluable to me because she takes care of all of the stuff I’d rather not do, and I get to spend my time on work that makes better use of my time. Talk to any business owner who has hired a virtual assistant, and they will tell you the same thing.
If you are highly organized and a good communicator you should consider working as a virtual assistant (VA) as one of the ways to make extra money. You’d be responsible for tasks like:
- Inbox management
- Data entry
- Blog management
- Preparing reports
- Event management
- Pinterest management
It honestly depends on the kind of VA you are and your clients’ needs. This job is also incredibly flexible – my virtual assistant works on the side of her full-time job.
12. Get rid of your old electronics
Decluttr is a company that buys, refurbishes, and then sells used electronics. You can make extra money by selling your old cell phones, video games, game consoles, iPads, tablets, laptops, and more.
Here’s how Decluttr works:
- Get a free valuation: You can find your tech on Decluttr’s website, app, or by keying the barcode. Decluttr tells you how much they’ll buy it for and then locks in the price for 28 days.
- Pack your items: You’ll be sent a welcome pack with a free shipping label you can use when getting your tech ready to ship.
- Send your package to Decluttr: Drop the package off at a UPS location, and Decluttr will cover the cost of shipping and insurance on your items.
- Get paid: Decluttr pays you 24 hours after they’ve received your item. You can get paid via direct deposit, PayPal, or have your money donated to a charity.
13. Sell your gently used clothes
Have gently used clothing to get rid of? Poshmark and ThredUp are two of the most popular used clothing companies online.
Poshmark is a marketplace where you can list and sell men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing and accessories. You’ll need to take clear photos, write listings that accurately describe each item, and price items competitively. You can browse their marketplace to get an idea of how to write and price listings.
Customers can purchase for your asking price or place a bid – you can accept or turn it down. Once you’ve sold an item on Poshmark, you get paid and ship the item. It’s free to sell on Poshmark, but once your item sells, you pay a $2.95 fee for listings under $15 or 20% of items over $15.
ThredUp buys gently used clothing from you with something the call a Clean Out Kit. Here’s how it works:
- Request a kit from ThredUp
- Fill it with gently used on-trend clothing – no signs of wear, no damage, no alterations
- Ship it to ThredUP using USPS or FedEx
- Get paid for the items they keep
Here’s how ThredUp calculates what you make:
It’s worth noting that ThredUp accepts an average of 40% of what is shipped to them. Anything they don’t keep can be shipped back to you or donated.
14. Sell your lesson plans
Teachers Pay Teachers is a website where teachers can upload lesson plans, worksheets, PowerPoint presentations, unit plans, flashcards, and much more. Other teachers can go on the site, browse by grade or subject, and purchase educational products from other teachers.
If you’re a teacher and wondering how to make extra money, I highly recommend Teachers Pay Teachers.
You can upload things you’ve already created and earn passive money from the site, on average a few hundred dollars. But, the top seller on TpT has made over $2 million!
Flexible ways to make extra money
15. Delivery groceries
These two companies are really similar for drivers – you pick when you work, take orders in the app, pay with a pre-loaded debit card, and then deliver orders to customers.
The biggest difference between the two is that Instacart has two different ways for shoppers to make extra money:
- Full-service shoppers: You shop for customers’ orders and deliver them. You’re technically an independent contractor.
- In-store shoppers: You take customer orders and shop for them, but someone else delivers them. You’re considered a part-time employee.
Most grocery delivery drivers work for more than one company at a time so they can use their time efficiently and maximize their earnings.
16. Deliver food from local restaurants
On-demand food delivery has been one of the most popular ways to make extra money in 2021, and just last week I got an email from Postmates saying that they were looking for new couriers throughout the U.S.
Just like grocery delivery, there are several companies you can use to make extra money – an average of $15-$20/hour – and here are my top two picks:
Postmates is the “anything, anytime, anywhere” food delivery service. Customers can place orders 24/7 – that means there’s work at any time of the day.
You take orders in the app, and what you earn is based on location, drop off, pick up, minutes spent in-store, and rate per mile. New Postmates drivers can earn sign-on bonuses after delivering a certain number of orders by a specific date.
This service delivers from local and chain restaurants, plus convenience stores to more than 4,000 cities across the U.S.
Customers place orders in the app from more than 300,000 restaurants that have partnered with DoorDash. Dashers pick up the order, use a prepaid debit card if the order wasn’t paid for in the app, and deliver it to the customer.
Dasher pays drivers based on their Dasher Pay Model:
Base pay is what you earn no matter what, and drivers always keep 100% of their tips.
17. Become a dog walker or pet sitter
One of the best ways to make extra money for pet lovers is to list your services on Rover. This platform connects pet owners with people in their area for pet sitting, boarding, grooming, dog walking, house sitting, and more.
You are in control of the services you offer on Rover and what you charge for those services. Rates vary based on location, but you can realistically expect to make around $20 per walk or $50 for an overnight stay.
I’ve used Rover in the past when my wife and I’ve gone out of town, and we’ve found someone who’s a really good fit for our dog. Many pet owners end up finding people they like using and keep booking them in the future.
18. Start selling on Amazon FBA
Amazon FBA stands for Fulfillment By Amazon. These are private sellers who find items to list on Amazon, ship them to Amazon, and then let Amazon handle the orders, payments, and shipping.
Basically, you’re sourcing things to sell on Amazon, shipping them to Amazon, and letting them take care of the rest.
It can be a surprisingly lucrative way to make extra money – I talked to one M$M reader who made over $25,000 last year alone selling gently used books on Amazon. And they did that while working a full-time job.
If you’re intrigued, read What is Amazon FBA? | How it Works, Fees, & More. You’ll learn what to sell, how to source your items, and tips for setting up your business.
19. Find a part-time job
When people search for lists of ways to make extra money, they’re usually expecting new side hustles, online work, etc. Those are all really great options… which is why I’ve listed many of them… but lots of people overlook a good, old-fashioned part-time job.
One of my readers recently shared how he’s making extra money: delivering pizzas for Dominos.
He said that once tips were factored in, he makes around $17/hour.
Here are a few more ways to make extra money with a part-time job:
- Work at Starbucks as a barista (Starbucks offers benefits to part-time employees)
- Work as a golf shop attendant
- Work the front desk at a gym or health center
- Load packages for UPS (UPS also offers benefits for part-time workers)
- Wait tables
20. Become a Tasker
TaskRabbit is a website where you can list services for doing basic repairs, contactless deliveries, cleaning, organizing, gardening, laundry services, lifting heavy furniture, assembling IKEA furniture, and more.
When you sign up, you’ll get an idea of what Taskers charge in your area. Here’s an example below:
Taskers set their own rates and keep 100% of what they charge – customers pay an additional 15% of the total amount they pay you as a service fee to TaskRabbit. There is a $25 registration fee to start listing your services.
The final word on ways to make extra money
You just learned about 20 different legitimate ways to make extra cash. Each of these ideas has the potential to help you destroy your debt faster, save up for retirement, start investing, save for a vacation, and more.
There’s also room to grow in the blogging world or with Facebook ads, and both of these allow you to stay at home if that’s important to you.
Listen, no matter what your goal is, you just learned about 20 awesome ideas, and now it’s on you to get started. Your future financial self will thank you.