Every time I catch up with my closest friends, our conversation turns to the same topic: money, or rather, our lack of it. It seems like everyone I speak to follows the same guilt-ridden cycle. We feel bad about the way we manage our finances, resolve to stop spending so much, then inevitably splurge, starting the cycle all over again.
The issue, I realized when I spoke to money expert Stefanie O'Connell, is that our solution focuses on deprivation, which isn't a great long-term strategy. "We talk a lot about cutting back on spending, but if you're making about $30,000 a year in a major city, you're going to be stretched no matter how much you scrimp and save," she points out.
Sure, curbing your spending is important, but O'Connell says it's crucial to focus on the flip side: growing your income. "Take a look at your skill set, see where you can uplevel, ask for a raise, and find other sources of income like a side hustle," she says. "It's just as important as curbing your spending."
It's okay—you can stop feeling bad about buying coffee every day. Focus on boosting your income instead with these 35 creative ways to make money.
Original illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis
If You Have an Hour...
Sell your travel photographs. A ton of stock photography websites will pay to use your original images. Upload it once to a site like 500px, and you'll be paid every time it is purchased.
Become a translator. Put your bilingual skills to use by offering to translate documents at an hourly rate. Sites like Gengo can help connect you with clients.
Take a survey. Companies are eager to know about your shopping habits and product preferences. Try a service like SurveySavvy to be paid to share your opinion.
Rent your parking space. Got a spare garage or parking space? List it on JustPark for the hours it's available to receive regular payments.
Scan your groceries. Research company Neilsen wants to know what you buy at the grocery store. Get paid to shop by downloading its Homescan app and scanning each item as you shop.
Sell your data. Neilsen also wants to know about your cell phone and computer-browsing habits. Download their app, and they'll pay you to keep it installed on your phone as they gather data.
Sign up for Fiverr. Complete quick tasks like editing a résumé or resizing an image, and you'll be paid $5 each time. It mightn't sound like a lot, but people have set up whole businesses based on high-volume, fast turnaround projects.
Watch more TV. Inbox Dollars pays you to watch TV via its site, which has short advertisements in each show.
If You Have a Day...
Offer tuition. Make the most of your degree or ability to play the guitar, and offer hourly tuition.
Become a virtual assistant. Use your spare time by being a virtual PA and help other businesses outsource their administrative needs. Try Upwork to connect with companies.
Take part in focus groups. Got a few hours? Sign up to a local or online market research company to take part in a paid focus groups.
Rent your car, or offer ride sharing. If you catch public transport to work and don't use your car, offer it for rent on Turo.
Be a research study. It's not as creepy as it sounds. Some colleges or research firms will ask you to assist in a new study, like monitoring your sleep data, for compensation.
Nanny. The average hourly wage for babysitting or short-term jobs is $16 an hour.
Do a "micro job." Help businesses who outsource small-scale tasks on Microworkers.
Provide tech support. Put your IT skills to good use on Experts Exchange.
Rent your desk. Earn money by renting out your spare desk to freelancers and satellite workers.
If You're Creative...
Write about what you're passionate about. It's easier said than done, but there's a lot of money to be made from a monetized blog. The market is saturated, so write about something you're passionate about, and identify your point of difference.
Ghostwrite. Publishing houses will pay skilled writers with a strong portfolio to write on behalf of others.
Self-publish an e-book. Write an original book, and sell it on Amazon's Kindle program. It requires very little financial investment to get started.
Create an audiobook. Once you've penned an e-book, record an audio version to sell on Audible.
Start an Etsy store. Sell your homemade crafts and creations via a store on Etsy.
Design logos. Put your design skills to good use on Designcrowd, a graphic design marketplace.
Start a YouTube series. Again, it's easier said than done, but it's possible to make money for posting videos on a variety of topics, from product reviews to video game simulations.
If You're Decluttering...
Sell your old clothes on the RealReal. Got a designer item gathering dust in your closet? Send it to the RealReal, and the company will sell it on your behalf and give you a cut of the profits.
Sell any item you have doubles of. Search your home for duplicate items like unused electronics or accessories, and sell the double on Craigslist.
Raid your attic for antique wares. Turn trash into treasure by selling unused antiques or vintage items—even IKEA sells for a small fortune.
Turn your spare room into a rental. List your spare room or holiday home on Airbnb to make money off the extra space.
If You're Entrepreneurial...
Try drop-shipping. Self-made 33-year-old millionaire Trevor Chapman swears by this method, which involves setting up a deal with overseas manufacturers and having them ship items directly to U.S. customers when an order is placed. There's very little financial burden when you're starting a business.
Buy local, and resell. Is there a locally made item that might have a global market? Make money by sourcing boutique, locally made products that could be marked up for international sale.
Create a niche website. Build a unique website on a custom domain and start to attract readers in the hope of generating ad revenue in the future.
Teach an online course. Make the most of your unique skill set by teaching an online course.
Flip domain names. Buy domain names that might be coveted in future, and then sell them at an inflated price.
Use affiliate links. Monetize an existing blog by using an affiliate link service, whereby you earn money when one of your readers purchases an item featured on your website.
Use Mechanical Turk. Amazon's crowdsourcing marketplace allows businesses to task jobs to an online worker.
Have you tried any of these side hustles? Tell us if you'd recommend them.