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8 Surprising Ways To Earn Extra Cash on the Side

You can boost your cash flow doing everything from watching videos to standing in line

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Looking for ways to get more cash in 2024 but don’t want a run-of-the-mill desk job? From watching videos to renting out space, there are several surprising ways to earn extra money. 

A word of caution when pursuing some of these out of-the-box side hustles: Scams are rampant. Bad actors use fake job postings on social media sites, online job boards, text messages and emails to trick you into giving up your personal information, which they then use to steal your identity and money. They can also misrepresent themselves when answering ads you place.

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As a result, it's important to make sure to vet the job posting or person you are doing business with to ensure everything is legitimate. A good rule of thumb: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

That’s not to say real opportunities don’t abound. There are several surprising and legitimate ways to shore up cash, including these eight. ​​

1. Take surveys

Companies will pay you to take surveys, review products and provide information about your shopping habits, household spending and preferences. In exchange, you’ll be paid a nominal fee. Kashkick, SurveyJunkie and Swagbucks are examples of companies that will pay you to take surveys.

Who should skip it? If you are worried about sharing personal information or aren’t into the internet, this gig probably isn’t for you. ​

2. Become a mystery shopper

Job companies pay you to shop, eat out and try new products and services. Beware when looking for mystery shopper jobs: Scams designed to steal your cash are common. With a legit company, you’ll get reimbursed for the money you spend as well as a small fee. You can find legitimate mystery shopper gigs through the Mystery Shopping Professionals Association (MSPA Americas). The trade association has a list of companies that have gone through a vetting process and adhere to an international code of ethics. You should never pay to become a mystery shopper, the MSPA warns.

Who should skip this? If you are looking for serious cash or don’t like leaving the house, this job probably isn’t for you. The Federal Trade Commission sums it up: “Many professionals in the field think of mystery shopping assignments as part-time or occasional work — not something to replace a full-time job.”

3. Rent out space in your home

If you have unused space in your home, garage, parking space, pool or backyard, you can earn extra cash renting it out. Word-of-mouth referrals, asking at your religious institution, library or community center, and placing an ad in your local paper or online are all good options to find renters. If you don’t mind giving up a cut of the rent, you can use a third-party service like Airbnb, Neighbor, RVShare and Swimply to rent out your space. Make sure to vet your tenants and check with your insurance providers. You may need additional coverage to protect yourself.

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Who should skip this? If the idea of letting a stranger in your home makes you uneasy and/or you don’t think you will be able to properly vet the renter, this isn’t for you. There is a risk that your property or someone could get hurt. Weigh those risks with the income you’ll bring in. 

4. Use cash back credit cards

Regardless of what you spend money on, you can get cash back if you use a cash back credit card.  Some cards give extra cash back in certain categories like travel or groceries, while others rotate it quarterly or offer a flat rate across all purchases. 

When should you skip it? If you are the pay-cash-only type, this option probably isn’t for you. ​

5. Become a writer, proofreader or copy editor

If you have a knack for writing and/or editing, there are plenty of writing-related jobs available that you can do from the comfort of your home. Your experience and the scope of the work will determine how much you’ll get paid.   

Who should skip this? If writing isn’t your strength or you are looking for a less effort-intensive side hustle, this may not be for you. Often, you have to bid on projects, which means providing samples and/or taking tests. The time could be wasted if you ultimately don’t land the gig.​

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6. Watch videos online

If you are a TV or movie buff, you can get paid for watching your favorite shows. Some require you to write or answer questions about what you viewed, while others just want to track your viewing habits. It’s important to work with a reputable company as scams are commonplace. Nielsen, Swagbucks and kashkick will pay you to watch videos. 

Who should skip this? If you are time-strapped or don’t want a company tracking what you watch, you may want to skip this opportunity. The videos can be long and may require you to provide a summary or answer questions at the end.  Plus, you’ll have to offer up information about yourself and potentially family. 

7. Stand in line

Standing in line to buy tickets or get a new mobile device can be frustrating, which is why some people pay others to wait for them. That is where a line stander comes in. To become one, sign up with one or more of the line-sitter companies, which include taskrabbit, InLine4Yoü and Spotblaze. They will match you with people who don’t want to wait in line. ​

Who should skip this? This job requires you to stand on your feet for an extended period, which can be tiring. The terrain and weather could also make the task uncomfortable, particularly if you have to stand on hard surfaces like concrete. ​

8. Teach online

Online tutors and virtual course instructors are in demand these days. You can take the knowledge gleaned from years in your career and earn money spreading that expertise. You can find online teaching jobs via employment websites. “Jobs that offer flexibility and freedom for older workers can be found in areas such as administration and consulting, data entry, education and training,” says Toni Frana, a lead career expert at FlexJobs.

Who should skip this? If you aren’t tech savvy, don’t like to be on camera or aren’t the teaching type, this gig may not be for you. It also requires a commitment and a more structured work schedule. 

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