It happens to the best of us. It’s been a few months, and despite sticking to your budget, you didn’t quite save what you had planned to for an upcoming trip. When there are shortfalls in our personal budgets, usually the phrase “belt tightening” comes up, and difficult discussions are had that involve giving up things we enjoy so we can achieve other financial goals.
However, cutting spending isn’t the only way to meet your budget goals. Bringing in extra income is another way, though it can often seem impossible due to a lack of time. There are a few methods you can employ, though, and if successful, you won’t have to give anything up (unless you want to).
Sell your stuff
The days of garage sales as the only way to get rid of items you don’t use or want any more are long gone. Websites like Amazon and eBay, among others, provide a much more convenient way to ditch anything from books to skis. Remember though, just like a garage sale, it’s not free. Plan your overhead—things like shipping, fees, and other costs—into your price(s). To avoid worrying about shipping fees, sites like Craigslist and apps like Wallapop and LetGo allow you to do it all easily (and locally) from your home.
Start a side business
This might not be the first choice for many people—business owners will be the first to tell you about the costs, risks, and other issues that go with the territory—but if you have the time, wherewithal, and business savvy to take it on, it might be the way go.
- Are you crafty? Sites like Etsy and Amazon let you market your homemade products to millions of people.
- Do you have expertise? Becoming a consultant might bring in some extra dough.
If you do decide to go this route, make sure to talk to your accountant about the tax implications. Your side job might start costing you more than you were trying to bring in.
Get a part-time job
Again, this may not be a first choice for some, but if you don’t mind giving up a few nights or weekends a month, a little extra work might go a long way. With the economy adding lots of new jobs, some companies are opening positions faster than they can fill them. Some places, like coffee giant Starbucks, even offer benefits to part-time employees. Online jobs (make sure they’re legit) especially present a big opportunity to save on gas and mileage on your vehicle.
Be an investor
Short-term investments can provide a reasonable way to generate income for medium-term savings goals like a vacation. Check out what kind of rate you can get on a certificate of deposit at your bank or credit union. Other products like securities offered through the Treasury Department can provide a less volatile alternative to the stock market. Although these types of investments are considered “safe” they do carry risk, so familiarize yourself with those before committing money.
Be a part of the sharing economy
The sharing economy is something we’ve written about before on The Dime as a way to potentially save money as a consumer, but it’s also an opportunity to make some extra income. It’s not quite the same as part-time job, but it has the potential to be the same (or more) money for less work. Being an Uber driver, renting out your spare room on AirBnb, or being a part of any of the other new opportunities that seem to pop up every day can be an easy way to pad your budget. It’s not without potential pitfalls—like taxes, insurance, and other unforeseen costs—so always plan ahead.
There are a lot of places, especially online, where you can earn small amounts of money for your time. Surveys, secret shopping, and other options are still prevalent, but one of our most interesting finds was being an online juror for lawyers looking to test their cases before trial. The options are only going to continue to expand as time marches on, so be on the lookout for the next big, lucrative trend.