Sometimes, you just want some spare cash. Your day job pays the bills, but that’s all it does, and you haven’t had a paying gig or sold an album, novel, painting, or article in a while. And you really want a new guitar, or laptop, or maybe even a few extra takeout meals, some new clothes, or an easier time going Christmas shopping next year.
Generating spare cash is for non-emergency needs and wants. If you just agreed to play in somebody’s Christmas show, or write someone’s holiday newsletter, and you suddenly don’t have a working guitar or laptop, or if you have nothing to eat or wear or daunting credit card bills from last year’s Christmas shopping, you have an emergency, not a need for some spare cash. Most ways to generate spare cash do not give you the money instantly, and most “make money today” opportunities are either scams, or they require you to do something dishonest to someone else.
Here are five honest ways to fund those times when you just need a little something beyond paying the bills.
Credit Card Churning
Credit card churning is the practice of opening up credit cards with cash offers, doing what you need to do to get the cash, and then cutting up the card. The key to using credit card churning is avoiding actually “charging” anything on the card. Instead, use the card to pay your regular, boring household bills until you’ve reached the cash back amount, making absoluely sure to put cash on that card to cover the expense immediately. If I find a credit card that will pay me $200 if I charge $500 in the next three months, and my monthly grocery budget is $250, I can charge my groceries to the card for the next two months, use the money I had budgetted for groceries to pay the charges off right away, and earn my $200 a few weeks later.
Bank Account Churning
Similar to credit card churning, bank account churning involves opening up a free checking or savings account with banks that offer cash rewards for depositing a certain amount of money. This may be an option for you if know you’re not to be trusted with a shiny new credit card, but it isn’t quite as easy as credit card churning. If you have a pension or retirement income, or money from a side hustle you can have deposited separately from your usual paycheck, it shouldn’t be difficult to fill out a new direct deposit slip, or simply start depositing that money into a different account for a while. If your income arrives in your bank account in one sum, such as a single social security check or salary from your day job, you may have to combine this one with another method, or with a side hustle or side gig.
Fast Side Projects
A side gig or side hustle is steady or semi steady work done in addition to your day job and/or art work. The work of a side gig is either done every day or week, or returned to as needed. If you’re a guitar player and songwriter, a restaurant manager by day, and you drive for Uber as a side hustle, you probably drive for Uber either during your usual down time, or any time you need additional funds. A fast side project is not this steady. It is something you can do one or two times or for a very short period to bring in some extra cash. I teach writing skills to adults at the university where I am on the faculty, write for the Artist Cafe Utica website and Utica area artists, and write novels as my writing career. If I decided to start writing two non-arts articles for people who were not artists each month, or teaching ESL lessons online through one of those Chinese companies, that would be a side hustle. If I took a single article assignment that had nothing to do with the arts in Utica, or agreed to tutor someone to help them pass a single test, that would be a fast side project.
Single Item or Collection Flipping
As with doing a fast side project, the key detail that differentiates flipping as a spare cash generator from flipping as a job is the amount of time and energy you devote to it. But you want to make a fast flip as inexpensive and low risk as possible too. If you plan to flip items on a regular basis, you will want to invest in furniture that needs minor repairs, painting, and cleaning, phones with cracked screens you can have repaired before selling for a profit, or collections you need time to put together and clean before you sell. You may not even mind having the items around for a while until they sell. For spare cash, your goal is to find something you have a strong chance of re-selling as quickly as possible. Search thrift stores and online marketplaces for items that appear to be brand new, or that only need to be cleaned and/or packaged together in order to be re-sold, such as a nearly new name brand handbag that only needs to be cleaned, or a set of like new dishes and a similar set of cookware you can sell as a set.
Extra Pre-Paid Debit Card Plus All Those Cash Back and Cash for Points and Coupon Programs You Already Know About
Everybody knows that if you stick to buying things you were already going to buy anyway, the rebates from Rakuten amount to extra cash. You may also be able to redeem the points you earn from the credit card you already use anyway for cash. If you use coupons for items you normally buy at full price, the difference is some extra cash in your pocket. But these things don’t feel much like extra cash, because they tend to be spent quickly. See your small amounts of extra cash add up by taking out a new pre-paid debit card. Make sure you choose one that has no regular fees or minimum balance. If you can’t find one, open a free, no minimum balance checking account at a bank and use the debit card you get there. Use this account as the gathering place for all those $10.00 rebates from Rakuten and $25.00 and $50.00 rewards from accounts. If you use coupons for something you usually pay full price for, transfer the difference into the new account. Save these small amounts of free cash toward a goal, or set a limit you have to reach before you can spend it.
Generating spare cash is not always going to be fast or easy, but there are ways to earn a little extra money for those small splurges. Remember to keep all safety guidelines, both for Covid-19 prevention and for personal safety, in practice when your efforts to generate spare cash involve meeting up with other people, both online and offline.
Stephan, G. The 7 Best Side Hustles That Make $100 Per Day.(2020) Graham Stephan YouTube Channel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koaxIXweIP0&t=609s