Don’t Put a Camera in Your Shower!

Does anyone remember live webcams? They were a strange, creepy,  and maybe even dangerous way for young women to make money. As we got more creative, we found less morally questionable ways to earn extra cash. For most of it, we still don’t have to leave our homes, but at least we aren’t letting strangers peep into our personal lives.

Here are some of my favorites:

Credit Card Rewards: My current card offers 1.5% cash back on everything I buy, no exceptions. In addition, they collaborate with some businesses to offer additional cash back as high as 10% for shopping at their partner stores. For example, when my dishwasher broke last November, my bank had a promotion for that month with Sears, so I opted to buy my dishwasher there, which gave me 10% back on the $350 purchase. Still, as part of the regular cash back program, I received $5.25 (1.5% of 350) for the purchase. I’ve also taken advantage of their 10% cash back at Hannaford’s Supermarket, Five Guys, Panera Bread and Autozone. There are many more offers that I don’t get simply because I don’t need the goods or services. I maximize the rewards by putting everything on my credit card and paying it in full every month. This leads to cash back and no interest charges, thus, they’re paying me to use the card.

 

Peer-to-Peer Lending: This is not for the faint of hearts. You’re making unsecured loans to people you don’t know. In other words, do not invest any money in there that you cannot afford to lose. I use Lending Club, but Prosper is another popular one. There are also niche versions of this model, for example, peer-to-peer lending exclusively for real estate. Given the recent news in China about their P2P platform that turned out to be a Ponzi scheme, I would advise you stay away from any foreign websites. While no country is immune to scams (see Bernie Madoff), the heavily regulated US securities market should lessen the instances of a rip off on a US-based platform. I’ve been at it for 16 months (I started in December 2014) and I’m quite happy with the results. My husband, who is even more risk adverse than I am, is slowly coming around after seeing our performance. We have yet to lose any money and all of our loans are performing. I don’t know how long that will last, but for now, I will keep collecting those interest payments and reinvesting them.

 

Focus Groups: This might not work very well if you don’t live in a major metropolitan area. I was chatting with this lady who told me that her unemployed friend was using surveys and focus groups to make ends meet. I went online and looked up a company that did those surveys in my area and signed up with them. It takes very little effort to start seeing results. To register, you complete a questionnaire so they can have your demographic on file (i.e. Single white mother of 1 with a household income of $60-75,000). Every time they have an event in your area, you will get an email asking you to take a survey. If you qualify based on the results of the survey, you get a call from their office and they give you a date and time to show up for the focus group. In February, I got paid $225 to give my opinion on an American Express card ad for 2 hours. They also covered my parking fee. There is no wait for the money either. I got my check along with my parking validation on my way out. While I waited for the valet to get my key, I used my banking app to deposit the check. I don’t know about you, but I don’t make $112.50 an hour at my job and I work a lot harder than giving my opinion. Next week I’m going in to talk about my insurance company. Expected pay out: $125.

 

Promotional Offers: Some banks will pay you to have an account with them. In a prior post, I discussed how I got $200 from Citizen’s Bank. Make sure you read all the fine print and follow all the rules. If you don’t, you may not only lose your opportunity to get the bonus, but you may actually lose money. In this case, they had a “one-deposit checking” account, where the monthly fee would be waived if you made one deposit a month of any amount. I deposited $1 every month until the 3-month deadline and I went and closed the account.

 

I’m curious to read about the interesting ways people have found to pick up extra cash. Are you an Uber or Lyft driver? Do you dress as a clown for kids’ birthday parties? I’d love to hear it. Please share yours.

 

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