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How to Make Extra Money to Pay Off Debt » Build a Budget that Works for Your Goals » How to Make Extra Money to Pay Off Debt



Are you looking for ways to earn extra money to pay off debt? Be it credit card debt, back taxes, or student loans, if your budget is not covering all your expenses you may need more income to offset your bills.  There are some quick cash options or longer-term income options to boost your budget.

Embark on a temporary spending fast

The second component of saving money is spending less. Decide which is worse: Depriving yourself of takeout, weekend partying, going to the movies and other luxuries that eat your paycheck, or dealing with the IRS to work out a payment plan that includes penalties and interest.

It’s easier to hunker down and work more if you know the situation is only temporary. However, when you see how much money you save, you might even adopt a few of your new money-saving practices full-time.

Search for unclaimed money

While you’re not likely to get rich searching your state treasurer or another official unclaimed money site for funds in your name, you won’t know what’s in there unless you look. There could be utility deposits or money from a former employer or retirement plan, especially if you’ve moved or changed jobs.

Sure, you may find only $5, but you could also have $100 or more waiting to be claimed. To search for unclaimed money in your state, avoid any site that makes you pay and go straight to your state treasurer or another official website to search for unclaimed money.

Find out: 7 Ways to Snag Up Hundreds of Dollars in Free Money

Activate rotating credit card rewards

On a higher cash-back rewards card, you can earn bonus rewards for purchases like gas, wholesale clubs, and restaurants every quarter. That’s when cashback may jump from around 1 percent to as much as 5 percent on specific types of purchases. Earning more cashback is a sweet deal. Unless you forget to reactivate the rewards every quarter. Don’t miss out on more cash back.

Go to the card’s website and find the cashback calendar, which displays categories and quarterly reactivation dates. Then add those dates to your own calendar to make sure you earn maximum rewards.

Sell stuff online or have a yard sale

If you are looking for a quick buck and are willing to part with some of your possessions these options for fundraising might work for you.

A close cousin to selling stuff online is throwing a yard sale. It’s more work but faster money. If you want to spend two or three days on a sale, go for it. Otherwise, just do a Saturday sale, post signs everywhere, advertise on Craigslist, and raise as much as you can in one day.

Clean out everything

If you tend to stuff cards and receipts into the car console or cup holder, you might be sitting on a few lost dollars. So clean out your car, you may find money under seats and floor mats, along with numerous loyalty punch cards for pizza or coffee that you can combine to get a free item. Don’t forget to check all your purses, jackets, backpacks, and laptop bags for misplaced items while you’re at it.

Hit the used bookstore

Sell your books and CDs at Half Price Books or a similar used bookstore. Don’t expect big bucks, though. If the store already has lots of copies of your Stephen King novels, you won’t get much. However, other books, especially non-fiction, pay better. If your books and CDs are gathering dust anyway, why not pass along The Celestine Prophecy, and that old Backstreet Boys CD along with a couple more boxes of music and literature to someone else for a little cash.

Sell your exercise equipment

Have your dumbbells become “dustbells” because you never lift them from the floor or the expensive rack you bought to hold them? What about that weight bench and barbells you never use, the treadmill you never run on, or the stationary bike you never ride?

You can always sell exercise equipment on Craigslist or another online marketplace. Will you get what you paid for the equipment? Probably not, if you want to sell it fast. But you’ll have quick cash in your hands, and some lucky recipient can start his or her new fitness regimen.

Tip: Price large items like treadmills lower than the competition and offer to deliver at no charge.

Tools and machinery can fetch a pretty penny

Plenty of people are looking for hedge trimmers, lawnmowers, power washers, ladders, and tools for yard cleanup and home maintenance.

Tip: Place the link to the item listed at a big box store in the ad so buyers can see how much it costs new, read the specifications, and look at professional photos.

Sell your old bicycle

If you have a bike that you never ride, how about letting someone who will love and use that bicycle get a good deal while you score extra cash?

Tip: List or place a link to the bike, frame, and wheel specifications in the ad and photograph the bike outside rather than in a dusty garage or basement.

Dog crates can be sold online

Remember when you paid anywhere from $50 to $150 for a dog crate for your new rescue dog? If that dog was a puppy, you may even have shelled out more money for at least one larger crate as your furry companion grew into an adolescent or adult.

Now your dog is housetrained and lounges on the couch and bed like he owns the place. So why not sell your used dog crate to a new pet owner and make extra money while giving someone else a great deal?

Tip: Clean and sanitize the dog crate and be sure to mention that selling point in your ad.

Cat carriers are always in demand

No one wants to get scratched to death trying to bundle up a freaked-out kitty in a towel for a trip to the vet. That’s just one reason cat owners need cat carriers. The carriers also come in handy for moving or traveling.

So, if you have an extra cat carrier around the house because your cat passed away or you upgraded to a cat carrier you like better, you’ll sell the item fast.

Tip: Price your cat carrier $5 lower than what other sellers are asking online to beat the competition.

Lamps are a bright idea to sell

Unless your lamp is so high end that few can afford it or so rickety that nobody would want it, you can almost always sell a floor or table lamp quickly online.

Tip: Take photos of the lamp while it’s lighted and price on the low end to sell fast and make the item stand out from other lamps listed.

Sell your old office chair if you upgraded

Office chairs are expensive, and if you’ve upgraded from your original desk chair, you can sell the earlier version online to someone setting up a home office.

Tip: Clean the chair well and photograph it beside a tidy, spotlessly clean desk so the buyer has an image of how the chair might look in his or her home office.

Sell scrap metal, gold, and other precious metals

There are many different kinds of scrap that recyclers are willing to pay good money for! Whether it’s electronic scrap, plastic bottles, aluminum cans, or precious metals, selling scrap is an excellent way to help you pay off credit card debt while preserving the environment too!

There are many types of scrap metal that recyclers are looking for. Aluminum, stainless steel, copper, lead, nickel, tin, titanium, brass and zinc are good moneymakers.

You can offer to haul away old cars to the junkyard, clean up scrap from construction sites at no charge, and make money from the metals you collect.

This is one way to earn money that adds up quickly if you put some effort into it!

Selling your old scrap jewelry is also quite profitable! Most jewelry contains some amount of silver, gold, or palladium, which are extremely valuable to precious metal recyclers.

It’s easy to do and a great way to earn money from home with very little effort!

But you don’t want to take your precious metal scrap to just anyone. Generally, if you take your scrap to a jeweler or a storefront gold buyer, you’ll only get a fraction of what your scrap is worth.

Inventive ways to make money to pay off debt

Make quick cash selling blood

Selling Plasma can be quite profitable!

The US is one of the few countries where it’s legal to sell plasma. In most medium to large cities, you can find clinics that will pay you $35 or so for donating plasma.

They will allow you to do it as often as twice a week. The process involves 30 minutes to an hour of filtering the plasma from your blood and returning the rest to your body.

To qualify, you’ll need to be drug-free and healthy. However, if you’re afraid of needles, this probably isn’t a good fit for you.

Sell your hair

If you have long hair, you can make quick cash selling your hair. The hair must be:

  • At least 10 inches long
  • Clean
  • Not colored or processed
  • Well taken care of (healthy, not overly dry or damaged)
  • The longer and better cared for your hair is, the more money you’ll make!

Websites such as The Hair Trader will show you everything you need to earn money selling your hair.

You can make a few hundred to over a thousand dollars depending on the quality and length of the hair you send. How’s that for a simple, quick way to pay off credit card debt?

Participate in medical research

Drug companies constantly need people to test out new drugs and medical devices. They will pay you hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars depending on the study. To get more info and get matched to a study, you can go to
I’m always amazed at the number of people who don’t know how to use Ebay or Craigslist.

That’s where you can help!

Seek out friends and family who want to sell stuff they don’t need, but they don’t have the time or the knowledge of how to do it. Offer to help them out for a cut of the proceeds.

You’ll earn money to pay off your credit card debt and your friend/family earns money getting rid of their stuff without having to lift a finger.

Everybody wins!

Rent storage space in your garage

Do you have some empty space in your garage? Charge your friends and neighbors to store their stuff with you instead of a storage facility. You can charge the same or less than a storage facility would, but for you, it’s pure profit!

Renting out space in your garage is ideal because you’ll have a steady stream of passive income month after month without having to do any work.

How easy is that?

Answer customer service calls remotely

Even in a troubled economy, some industries are busier than ever. For example, health insurance companies probably need more people to take calls and review claims. You may be able to find part-time remote call center work in many industries, including credit cards, technology, order fulfillment, marketing and cable, and streaming providers.

You won’t get rich on $10 to $15 an hour but you’ll have a steady income, and that’s worth a lot during troubled financial times.

If these “Do-it-Yourself”solutions won’t move the needle on your debt repayment it’s time to seek professional help.

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Join a focus group

Focus groups are opportunities for companies to get feedback on different topics related to an issue that they are trying to solve.

This is a fun and easy way to earn a chunk of cash. There’s cash to be made with Craigslist focus groups if you’re diligent and avoid the scams.  It’s not unusual for marketing companies to pay $75 – $125 for a 90-minute focus group. You can earn $150 and a free lunch for a two-hour banking and financial services focus group. Also, when you see ads from local marketing companies, sign up for future focus groups. That way, companies will contact you with projects.

Tip: Some focus groups are scams, so stay local and contact the company directly to make sure it’s legit.

Issues working in a focus group

  • Perceptions about a particular type of product — a company may decide to sell a new product but before they do, they will bring groups of people in to experience the product (eat it, hear about the concept, or interact with new packaging) that feedback will help the company with its final decision making related to the product.
  • Litigation related issues — I’ve participated in focus groups, where lawyers from both sides of an issue being litigated participate in the same focus group to see how likely it is that they will win or lose the case. And, many times legal focus groups are convened with the idea of figuring out how much a jury may potentially award in a lawsuit.

What about the pay?

There is a range anywhere from $50-$300 depending on what the research team would like participants to do.

When deciding what focus groups are right for you, consider the following:

  • Amount of time vs. actual pay — If you are looking at a focus group that pays $75 for 3 hours of your time that may or may not be worth your time. But, if your normal side-hustle pays $13 an hour, then this is a good exchange of time for money. For example, a 2-hour focus group at a minimum of $125 which equals $62.50 an hour.
  • How you’re paid — Recently, I’ve noticed that companies have also begun paying participants in Amazon credit and Visa gift cards. That is not the ideal situation. You can typically use Visa gift cards to pay bills. But you may need to check the bill that you would like to pay and see if they will take a Visa debit gift card. Issuing these types of payments kind of dictates what you will do with the money. But, cash is king.
  • When you’re paid — Opt for focus groups that pay at the end of the experience. There is no point in having to follow up on a payment for a quick side-hustle. Walk out the door with cash in hand.

Most focus group participants have to go through an initial qualification process and then a secondary qualification process. It will be a little annoying because they ask A LOT of questions. Keep it in perspective though; you’re going to get paid a nice chunk of cash to share your honest opinions about whatever topic they are researching.

The initial questions that most focus group researchers will ask:

  • Age
  • Occupation
  • Ethnicity
  • Where you live (neighborhood or district)

If you’re comfortable sharing those details, then you’re prepared to go through the approval process to participate in a focus group.

Each group is usually looking for a fairly specific mix of people to be a part of the conversation. Some things to be aware of when looking for focus group side-hustles:

  • Companies now keep databases and prefer that participants don’t participate in groups all of the time. They may want you to wait 6-12 months before participating in the next group.
  • Read everything you just might not qualify for the group based on where you live and your demographic information.
  • Live in a suburb of a bigger city? Look for opportunities based on your location.

Focus groups are one of the easiest low-stress ways to add some extra money to your wallet from time to time. It has been a while since I’ve participated in a focus group, time to begin looking to earn money for the holidays!

Read: Red Flags a Paid Survey May Be a Scam

Do odd jobs posted on Craigslist

Craigslist has a “Jobs and Gigs” section where you can find plenty of ways to make extra money to pay off debt. You’ll find everything from odd jobs around the house to gigs requiring specific skills such as real estate, nursing, and software engineering.

You can also use Craigslist in conjunction with some of the suggestions above to find work tutoring, detailing cars, and so forth.

Maybe you’ve searched the Craigslist gigs section a few times and determined it’s nothing but scams, perverts, and people wanting something for nothing. True, you’ll find your share of those ads.

However, if you’d like some extra cash occasionally, and you’re not searching Craigslist gigs every day, you’re missing out on easy money that you might actually enjoy earning.

If you’re not in a rush for supplemental income, why not check the Craigslist gigs every day for a month and see what happens?

Skim over the scum

You don’t want to get sucked into a porno movie or a prostitution ring, so don’t answer ads that use any of these words: girls; guys; hot, film; model; small role; topless maid; adult; open-minded; body rub. You get the idea. Better to earn nine bucks an hour at Old Navy than be forever haunted by a pornographic dalliance because you couldn’t pay your light bill.

It all comes down to the fact that there are plenty of jobs out there that you don’t even know exist. If you like variety, Craigslist gigs are a great way to supplement your income without tying you down to a part-time job commitment. And don’t forget the best part: With a one-time gig, you never have to see your boss again.

Beware of surveys promising payment

$50 in you PayPal account if you took a three-minute survey about health insurance and uploaded a photo of your health insurance card. Searched online for this company and “scam.” Always do your research.

Either way, sending your health insurance ID into cyberspace is a bad idea, since the information could be sold to criminals and used for identity theft. Don’t ever give out personal information like birth date, employment history, Social Security number, address or bank or credit card information. The potential identity theft mess isn’t worth a few quick bucks.

Watch for one-off jobs

You probably don’t want to scan inventory every Saturday night but what if that menial task was a one-time thing? An inventory scanner might pay $14 an hour for one seven-hour shift. That’s $98 for one night of tedious work. But that $98 can buy groceries, fund a few restaurant meals, or pay a utility bill.

Search under events. You’ll find everything from handing out flyers one morning or manning a convention booth for a weekend to handing out drink samples at music festivals. Put in a few hours, make some money (often cash), and you’re on your way to the next easy gig.

Don’t dismiss manual labor

Some people just want something done. The job might be raking leaves, laying a small section of tile, repairing a fence or helping move a couch to another room. As long as the gig pays decently and doesn’t wreck your body, some of these jobs may be worth your time.

Start a side hustle to help pay down debt

Take your occasional odd job to the next level and consider creating your side hustle. It’s easy. All you have to do is think of something that people hate to do (or can’t do) themselves. Then offer to do the work for a fee. Side hustle opportunities are available all year long if you’re bold enough to go out and find them.

Lawn work

You can hit your debt hard if you mow several lawns a week, or you can chip away at the balance with what you earn mowing just one or two yards weekly. What about trimming hedges? People will also pay you to clean their gutters. You could even pull weeds in a neighbor’s flower garden. It’s all hard work but the cash adds up.

Pet sitting

What’s easier than tossing dog food into a bowl and sipping your morning coffee while watching little Cosette do her business in the backyard? If you walk the dog, charge more. Cats are even easier. Feed, pet, purr. Maybe scoop a little poop. You’ll find plenty of pet sitting work during summer vacation months.

House cleaning and organizing

Cleaned a friend’s house and drive their stuff to a thrift store, earned around $300 in a couple of days. Or, if you’re a neat freak, earn money organizing closets, offices, basements, garages and kitchens. You’ll probably even enjoy the work.

Haul thrift store donations

If (or when) thrift store donation sites are open, earn money by picking up and transporting items that your self-quarantined friends, family, and neighbors set outside for you after decluttering while stuck inside.

Put flyers on neighbors’ doors. Announce availability on your Facebook neighborhood group page. People will happily pay you to load their unwanted stuff and take it away in your van, SUV or pickup to donate.

Clean gutters

Gutter cleaning is a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. Why not you? For an hour or two of work, you can earn anywhere from $30 to $200, depending on the size of the house and how long the job takes.

You’ll need an extension ladder with stabilizers, which could set you back $100 to $200 initially, but you can easily recoup that money and more in a single weekend. Don’t know how to clean gutters? No problem. You’ll find plenty of instructional videos online.

House sitting

Neighbors on vacation need someone to retrieve their mail, water plants and switch lights off and on. This job takes less than 15 minutes a day.

Tend flower beds

Now that it’s spring, flower beds all over your neighborhood need flowers planted, weeds pulled and beds cleaned. Most people hate doing the job themselves and will gladly pay $30 and up for someone else to do it for them, early in the spring and all summer long.

Working with earth is calming, and it’s hard to be in a bad mood around a bunch of flowers. Listen to music while you work. Wear sunscreen. Be grateful for the work, and keep in mind there are much worse ways to earn money to pay the electric bill.


If you have specialized knowledge that others need, you can make money as a tutor. If you were a Math or English major in college, this could be right up your alley!

Also, there are people that could use help with fields as diverse as computer programming and foreign languages. No matter what skills you have, there is someone you can teach those skills to.

Parents will pay you to improve their child’s math, science and reading skills before the kid heads back to school. Depending on your specialty and where you live, tutors can charge anywhere from $20 to $85 an hour.

First, ask around at your local schools. There are always parents needing a good tutor for their child who struggles in a particular subject.

There are also plenty of online sites you can use for tutoring.

Pay varies depending on the website and subject. Some jobs also require certifications or degrees for some subjects. Here are a couple of tutoring sites you should check out:

  • studypool
  • tutor

Tutor ESL students online

Did you know you can earn up to $22 an hour teaching English as a second language (ESL) online to Chinese students? Online tutoring could be an option if you speak native-level English, have a bachelor’s degree, a good internet connection and a decent laptop with a camera, microphone, and earphones.

You can make great money tutoring!

Make money selling baked goods

If you have a talent for baking or have some awesome family recipes, this is a great one to try!

Starting a business baking sweet treats doesn’t take a lot of money. If your treats are good, you’ll always have repeat customers!

Detailing cars

Some people just don’t have the time or motivation to keep their car clean. But that’s OK, a lot of those people are willing to pay someone like you to do if for them!

You’ll need to buy a few supplies (they don’t cost a lot) and work up some prices for different levels of service. You can make anywhere from $50-$100 or so per car!

Of course, if you do a good job, you’ll get plenty of repeat customers.

How to find clients

Before you can earn any side hustle income, you’ll need to line up some work. Here are some tips to get you started.

1. Stay close to home

Only do side hustles within a one-mile radius. There’s no point in driving all over town, burning up my profits in gas cost.

2. Create fliers and business cards

You can find free business cards and flier templates online or use Microsoft Publisher, Mac publishing software or a program you already have on your laptop. Design pet sitting business cards with Microsoft Publisher and paid around $15 for several sheets you can get copied and cut yourself at a local printer.

3. Meet your neighbors

Be out in the yard watering plants or sweeping the driveway during prime dog-walking hours. When someone strolls by with a dog, introduce yourself, explain that you pet sit for people in the neighborhood and hand the person a card. Also, take a walk around the block and hand out cards or fliers about your services to people working or socializing in their yards.

4. Put up fliers

Post fliers with detachable contact info at coffee shops, grocery stores, community centers or your apartment complex clubhouse.

5. Don’t advertise on Craigslist

If you’re looking for clients close to home, don’t compete with 50 others offering the same service when you can simply get your neighbors to hire you.

6. Socialize

Tell people about your side hustle at parties and other events. Bring along some business cards.

Now that you know how to get a side hustle going, set a goal for how much you want to earn  Then commit that amount toward paying down debt. Who knows? Your side hustle could lead to a business.

The downsides of a side hustle

Many jobs hire side-gig workers as 1099 contractors, which means that you are responsible for withholding taxes. Depending on the side gig there may be other costs like dealing with wear and tear on your car from driving, and looking at your Uber and Lyft drivers.

However, you decide to make extra money to pay down debt stay safe!

No matter what kind of debt you have, can help you solve it.

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