It happens to the best of us:
It’s been a few months, and, try as you might, you just haven't been able to save what you had wanted to for that upcoming trip. When our personal budgets fall short, the phrase “belt tightening” inevitably comes up, as do difficult discussions with ourselves and with others that typically revolve around us having to give up things we enjoy in order to achieve other financial goals.
However, cutting spending isn’t the only means of helping you meet your budget goals; you might also consider bringing in additional income. Check out the possible methods below, and if you're successful, you might not have to give anything up (unless you want to, that is).
Sell your stuff
The days of relying on garage sales to get rid of items you don’t use or want anymore are long gone. Websites and apps like Amazon, eBay, and Poshmark, among others, provide a much more convenient way to ditch anything from books, to skis, to clothing. Remember, though: just like a garage sale, they're not necessarily free. Plan your overhead—things like shipping, fees, and other costs—into your price(s). Trying to avoid shipping fees altogether? Gazelle will provide a free shipping label for you to mail in your old iPhone, MacBook, or other electronic device that just isn't cutting it anymore. And, there are sites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, as well as 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 everyone's first choice—business owners will be the first to tell you about the costs, risks, and other issues that come with this scary/exciting 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? Become a consultant or freelancer to 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 end up bringing 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 could go a long way. After all, Colorado's amazing unemployment rate means that some companies are opening positions faster than they're able to fill them. Some places, like coffee giant Starbucks, even offer benefits to part-time employees. Online/remote jobs are especially cost-effective because you can save on gas and mileage. (But, make sure they’re legit.)
Become an investor
Short-term investments can provide a reasonable way to generate income for medium-term savings goals like a vacation. Apps like Acorns and Stash have been especially successful at taking the intimidation out of investing, allowing you to invest a few dollars (or cents) here and there right from your phone. You can also look into the rates your bank or credit union are offering on certificates of deposit. 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 your commit your hard-earned cash.
Be a part of the sharing economy
While it’s not quite the same as a regular part-time job, becoming a part of the sharing economy does give you the potential to earn the same (or more) money for less work. Driving for Lyft or Uber, renting out your spare room on Airbnb, or jumping on the bandwagon of any number of 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 be sure to 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 the opportunity to be 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.