One of the best ways to get out of credit card debt is the old-fashioned way – earn more money.
Making extra money requires extra effort, and a lot of us would rather just watch Netflix. But put away the excuses, the digital revolution is making it easier to find and create revenue streams.
You can earn money doing just about anything these days, from watching video games to drinking beer to renting your garage to renting yourself.
Even traditional extra-income sources like babysitting, tutoring and selling garage-sale stuff have been transformed into excuse-proof tasks.
The drivers of all this are apps, which cut through hassles like finding customers or getting them to notice you. All you need is a computer or a smartphone.
But be forewarned, it also helps to have realistic expectations.
Chances are slim that you’re going to get rich, but that’s not the point. You’re just out to earn some extra cash to help pay the bills and manage your debt.
An extra $50 or $100 a week will do that and some of these jobs will pay more than that.
There are hundreds of them, but we’ve narrowed them to four categories. We’ve listed some of the apps, but there are plenty more coming online every week.
1. Odd Jobs
Are you a handyman/woman? TaskRabbit and Thumbtack will connect you with people who have odd jobs that need tackling.
It’s not just work around the house. Customers routinely hire people for a variety of tasks, from bartending to making phone calls to picking up dry cleaning.
People have been making money babysitting forever. Now sites like Sitter.com, Care.com and SitterCity make it easier to find clients. And the apps aren’t just for babies.
There are pet-sitting apps like Rover and house-sitting apps like Mindahome.com, housecarers.com and Mind My House.
Driving a taxi has been a money-maker since the invention of the car. Services like Uber and Lyft revolutionized that business by turning your car into a taxi. They are still industry leaders, with drivers making $50,000 a year if they average about 60 fares a week.
Then there’s the old-fashioned garage sale. eBay turned it into an online auction years ago, but now apps like TredUp, Poshmark, VarageSale and LetGo give you more options if you want to sell second-hand stuff.
Apps have allowed that business to specialize in all that stuff. If you have old books to sell, BookScouter will search online buy-back sites for you.
If you can draw, paint or design any sort of artwork, sites like CafePress, Red Bubble and Society6 sell your creations. You can even sell your hair at BuyandSellHair.com.
If you’re the brainy type, tutoring has been streamlined by online tutoring companies like TutorMe, StudyPool and Tutor.com, which are always looking for qualified teachers.
Or maybe you’re a good student, the type that always shows up to class and takes meticulous notes. You can make money off not-so-good students by uploading your notes to sites like Stuvia or Notesale.
Who doesn’t dream of being the next Warren Buffett? The hitch it that investing is complicated, time-consuming and you might lose that shirt you just bought off eBay.
Now along comes Stash. It curates investments from professional fund managers and lets you choose where to put your money.
You can start with a $5 investment and there’s a $1 monthly fee for balances less than $5,000.
People have made (and lost) fortunes in real estate. Playing that game has traditionally required a lot of capital, but now you can start with only $500.
A company called Fundrise will invest that in its Real Estate Investment Trust, which claims to return up to 11% per year. There’s no guarantee, of course, but Fundrise has paid distributions every quarter since mid-2016.
3. Data collection
Much of the burgeoning digital economy is based on knowing what customers like. You can now make money simply by taking surveys.
Sites like MyPoints, InBoxDollars, PointClub and Swagbucks will pay you for your opinion on specific items.
If you like something enough to have bought it, you can get paid for simply scanning the receipt. Just download apps like Ibotta, Receipt Hog, Dosh and Rakuten and start scanning.
You don’t even have to buy anything to get a few bucks. Shopkick will send you gift cards just for walking in certain retailers like Walmart and Target.
If you think that’s easy, Secret Hopper will pay you to rate breweries. Yes, you can get money for drinking beer.
Then there are apps like Online Verdict and Online Mock Juror, which help lawyers prepare cases. They ask you to review evidence on your computer and offer your opinion. Just don’t engage in too much Secret Hopper money-making before rendering a verdict or someone will call you an O.J. juror.
4. Rent Your Stuff
Cars, rooms, houses, clothes, yourself. These days you can make money renting just about anything.
If you’re not using your car, sites like Turo, JustShareIt and Getaround let you rent it to pre-screened customers. RVshare does the same thing for RVs.
You can also get paid to wrap your car in advertising by using Carvertise. If you rent that car, motorists won’t even be staring at you as the vehicle gets around town.
If you don’t have a car but have a garage, apps like ParqEx will rent your garage or parking space.
If you have a spare room, you can make some decent money by listing it on apps like Airbnb and Homestay.
And if renters or other people remark how much they admire you, you can now rent yourself out. No kidding, the app RentAFriend is where paying users contact you to attend functions with them. You can charge up to $50 an hour to pretend to be their friend.
As with all the apps, you should research and read the fine print. But if you want to pay off debt there is a brave new digital world of money-making possibilities out there.
To take advantage of it, however, still requires old-fashioned dedication and a willingness to work. At least until somebody invents an app that pays you for making excuses.
Joey Johnston has more than 30 years of experience as a journalist with the Tampa Tribune and St. Petersburg Times. He has won a dozen national writing awards and his work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Sports Illustrated and People Magazine. He started writing for InCharge Debt Solutions in 2016.
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