The general rule for emergency funds is that you should save between three and six months’ of expenses. This is one of the most important things you should be doing with your money, more urgent than buying stocks, maxing out your 401k contributions, or hopping on the Bitcoin craze.
The major reason you want to save up a healthy emergency fund is because when you encounter setbacks of any kind—and setbacks are inevitable—you’ll want to be able to pay your way through out of the emergency fund instead of having to take out high-interest loans.
Below are five methods (and over 60 resources!) we love for raking in extra money this year.
1. Sell things you don’t need
We all have stuff sitting around that we don’t use. Why not get rid of it and pocket some extra cash? We all know the conventional methods like garage sales, eBay, and Craigslist, so I’m going to look beyond those methods to help you find some new ones that might be worth your while.
This is by far my favorite method of unloading crap I no longer need. I was recently introduced to “BST” by a friend and I have to say—it works. You search for “[Your City or County] Buy Sell Trade” on Facebook and a few should pop up. For example, if you live in Orange County, search “Orange County Buy Sell Trade” or “Orange County BST”. Join the group and start posting your stuff. You’ll have to get used to the acronyms, such as “PPU” (porch pickup) or “NWT” (new with tags) but there are plenty of guides out there to help.
Essentially, you just take a picture of anything you want to sell (believe me, people will buy anything) and put an asking price, then post it. I’ve gotten hits within a few minutes for people interested (“INT”) in buying my stuff. Then I just leave it out on the front porch in a box and they leave the cash—no face-to-face interaction at all.
Of course, this will depend on the value of the item you’re selling. If you’re asking $200 for something, you probably don’t want to leave it on the front porch.
The first question I asked when I signed up was “how can you trust other people to just leave money?” The fact is, people WANT to be a part of these groups because you can find amazing deals, and if someone fails to leave payment, they’ll get blasted on social media across the entire group. That should prevent them from being able to join another one again.
Overall, yes, there’s a certain level of trust you need to have, but I can’t see myself having another garage sale again after finding this gem.
Aside from Facebook BST, there are quite a few apps popping up that will allow you to sell your stuff almost instantly. Sometimes locally, sometimes anywhere. Here are a few of the best:
- Gone. If you’re looking to sell something (especially electronics) fast, Gone is the app for you. You find what you’re trying to sell in their database, upload some pictures, and you’ll get price quotes to sell it almost instantly. Once you decide to sell, Gone will send you a box and shipping label to send it to their warehouse and you get paid.
- LetGo. Similar to Facebook BST, you can post items for sale locally and arrange pickup in person, or do a porch pickup. They offer the option to register with a Facebook account, too, which increases the trust level and security.
- Tradesy. If you have branded items (like Louis Vuitton bags) that are in excellent condition, you can use Tradesy to sell them. They’re positioned as a higher-end seller’s marketplace, so you’ll have to have top-notch stuff in nearly perfect condition to list and sell it.
- Vinted. Perfect for getting rid of clothes, Vinted connects you with buyers who are looking for that pair of gently used, designer jeans that no longer fit you. Declutter your closet and make some extra cash with Vinted.
- Trove. An app for selling vintage items, Trove offers an excellent visual layout of products for sale and even allows you to “boost” your post (which will cost you extra) so more people will see it.
- Depop. This is a little more involved than just selling random stuff around your home. Depop is an app that lets you create your own virtual storefront to sell things you have. Think of it like Etsy or eBay Marketplace.
- Shpock. Shpock is an online classifieds section beneath a sleek-looking app. Like many others, you can register with Facebook and sell pretty much anything you have lying around.
- Swaptions. A new app that allows you to buy, sell, and trade (‘swap’) items with other people locally.
- Boxes. This app is pretty sweet. It’s more than just a buy and sell app, but one that allows you to share your collections of things with other people. For example, if you’re an avid comic book collector, you can display your entire collection, then list the ones you have for sale or listen to offers from other people who are interested in similar things. You can also just use it as a way to interact with other like-minded collectors.
- Carousell. Another newer app that allows you to connect with other people to buy and sell items. The app claims that you can list something for sale in less than 30 seconds.
- OfferUp. Most have already heard of this app, but that’s because it’s grown in usage quite a bit. OfferUp is similar to the other apps in this list, only it’s huge—you can find buyers and sellers in pretty much any city.
- VarageSale. Featured on sites such as Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal, and The Globe and Mail, VarageSale is a quickly-growing community of local buyers and sellers. They advertise themselves as the ‘safe way’ to buy and sell locally, being built around their Safety Pledge. If you’re apprehensive about buying and selling to local people, this might be the first app to check into.
- Chairish. Another high-end marketplace, Chairish is aimed at design lovers who want to buy and sell items. There’s a minimum of $75 for listed items, so your item will have to be somewhat valuable to sell. The plus-side of this, though, is that you get people who are interested in higher-end things like mirrors, rugs, and art, that will pay you top-dollar for your stuff.
2. Use apps that pay
If you have time to kill while waiting at the doctor’s office or sitting on the subway for your morning commute, you could be making some extra cash with AppTrailers by watching short trailers for new apps. You get points for each video you watch and once you hit 500 points, you can start exchanging those points for gift cards or cash.
Perform audits and research for various companies. Once you download the app, you can become an ‘agent’ and take on small jobs reporting information back to companies. You get two hours to complete a job and can make up to $12 each time.
Mobile market research. By doing things like taking pictures, recording prices of products, and voicing your opinion on services, you’re providing companies valuable information for their market research. In return you make a little extra cash on the side.
Download apps and talk about them on social media. Each app has its own requirement, but you get paid a small fee for downloading an app and doing something with it—such as watching a video or sharing the link with your friends on Facebook.
“Earn cash for living healthy, paid by members that don’t.” Yes—that’s the tagline for Pact—an app that has you wager money against yourself to live a healthier lifestyle. You can do three different ‘pacts’—Veggie (eat more vegetables), Gym (go to the gym), and Food Log (track what you eat). If and when you don’t complete these goals, you have to pay that wagered money to the other community members. Now, if you’re on the other side of this, you can make some easy money—especially considering we’re in a new year and 92 percent of people don’t actually achieve their resolutions.
Slidejoy is a new mobile app, currently for Android only, that will show you ads on your phone when you unlock it. Sound annoying? Possibly, but the creators of the app have made it a point to ensure the app is ‘beautiful’, while saying that the average user will earn anywhere from $5 to $15 per month on average.
This one might be my favorite on the list. Have you ever wanted to be a photographer but don’t want to spend the time or money to do it? Clashot is for you. This is an app that pays you for taking pictures on your phone and selling them on Depositphotos. Say you’re taking a trip to the Grand Canyon—you can snap hundreds of beautiful photos, upload, tag, and describe them, then if and when someone wants to use it, you get a chunk of the royalties. Another great part is, this is residual income—meaning that as long as your photo stays uploaded and people are buying it, you can earn income forever off of one photo.
With Mobee, you can make extra cash by mystery shopping. Simply download the app, register, and look for jobs in your area. Once you get into the store, Mobee gives you five to 10 questions to answer about your experience. The stores you’re answering the questions about then use that data to improve their overall experience to customers, and in return you’re compensated.
This is an app that pays you credits (called ‘kicks’) to either go into a store, scan items in the store, buy things (using a credit card), and submitting receipts for what you’ve purchased. Of course you don’t have to do all of these things, and there are limitations, but if you’re going shopping anyway, it might be nice to make some extra cash with Shopkick.
With Iconzoomer, you may not even have to leave your home. The assignments you get from this app are all centered around your consumer activity. The example they give is “What’s in your fridge?”—so you’d take a snapshot of what you currently have in your fridge. Doing small assignments like this ultimately gives companies valuable consumer data, and you’re paid just for taking pictures.
If you’re active on social media, this one’s for you. With Loot!, you get paid for promoting different brands on social media. For example, you can post a pre-written tweet about a company that will @ mention them for $0.75. A word of advice, though… if you do this for too many companies or ones that you don’t actually use or stand behind, it can eventually come across as a little icky and fake. So find companies you love and promote them when you feel it’s necessary—not 24/7—and you’ll make some extra change on the side.
3. Do smaller tasks from home
If you have even basic technical skills, you can do smaller, online-based tasks through various platforms for quick cash. Oftentimes these tasks pay very little, but also take little to no time if you have the foundational skills. Here are some sites worth looking into:
Mechanical Turk has been growing in popularity over the past couple of years, and for good reason. You can actually make a living if you dedicate yourself to it. Doing random tasks for $0.25 at a time might not seem like much, but if it takes you a couple of minutes, it might be worth it over the long-haul.
Everyone has heard of Fiverr by now. Yes, it’s competitive, but if you’re good at what you do, you can make some great extra money on the side. The most popular gigs are usually video creation and graphic design, so if you have some time on your hands and the skill to do this kind of work—I say go for it.
Basically a Fiverr clone, you can offer your expert services to those in need for a nominal fee.
Similar to Amazon Mechanical Turk, sign up to be a ‘Clickworker’ and process smaller jobs online to earn cash.
Formerly known as both Cloud Crowd and CrowdSource, OneSpace is a broad freelance network for getting all types of work, including data collection, transcription, and moderation.
Join “the Smart Crowd” and do online jobs like data entry for quick and easy cash. This site used to be known as Virtual Bee.
4. Do jobs for others
If you’re handy or just have some extra time on your hand, people will actually pay you do run errands for them, build things, or just do random odd jobs. Here are some sites to check out:
Do small jobs (tasks) for people, such as pack boxes, build furniture, or pick up groceries.
Formerly RedBeacon and now owned by Home Depot, Pro Referral is a network of people with specific trades, such as plumbing, electrical, and carpentry. If you have a specific skill set, sign up to get local jobs.
You can offer services like house cleaning, real estate, moving, and pretty much anything else on Thumbtack. You pay a small fee to send quotes to potential clients, but it’s a quick and easy way to get jobs.
If you’re a college student, you can take on small jobs and tasks from local people who don’t want to do it themselves. You can find anything on here from sending emails to being a security guard. It’s currently only available to students in the New York and New Jersey area, though.
Available in seven cities and growing, Zaarly connects you with local people looking for people do things like handyman services, gardening, window cleaning, and more.
This is for those looking for something a little more permanent. FlexJobs is a site that connects you with employers who are offering part-time telecommunication jobs—this can be anything from a Pharmacist to an Administrative Assistant. You’ll have to pay a monthly fee, however (~$15).
Another job site offering virtual assistant jobs. If you have the time and patience to be an assistant to someone, check this site out because they’re always posting new opportunities. Like FlexJobs, you’ll have to pay a small fee to join.
If you love dogs, you’ll love DogVacay, where you can register to be a dog sitter for people. The best part is you can be specific about the types of dogs you’re willing to watch, how much you want to make, and what your schedule is like. DogVacay also covers you with pet insurance and a customer service line.
Care.com is for more than just babysitters, you can do child care, senior care, pet care, or housekeeping and get hired by local people who need these type of services. All you have to do is sign up, create a profile, and start looking for jobs.
5. Do freelance writing or blogging
Whether you want to write long-form papers or quick blog posts, freelance writing might be a great side hustle if you love to put your words on paper (electronically that is). There are literally thousands of sites that offer freelance opportunities, but I’ve curated a list below of sites that offer some type of writing gig for cash—so feel free to explore:
- LinkedIn Pro-finder
- Constant Content
- Be a Freelance Blogger
- All Indie Writers
- Freelance Writing Jobs
- Genuine Jobs
- Online Writing Jobs
As you can see, you should have no reason not to set aside some extra cash this year. The resources we’ve provided can be useful for everybody from the incredibly lazy to someone who’s looking for a full-time side hustle.
Your turn: what methods will you use this year to boost your emergency savings? Share your ideas below!
- Emergency Fund Calculator
- Emergency Funds: Everything You Need To Know