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There's easy money to be made if you're willing to wade through the junk to find it.

3 minute read

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.

A few weeks ago, I attended a “jury focus group,” an ad I found in the gigs section. I had to be at the law firm by 8 a.m., but they served breakfast and decent coffee. I listened to three lawsuits, gave my opinion, and was out of there by noon with a cool $75 cash. That’s the second jury focus group gig I’ve done. The other one paid $50 cash for two hours in the evening and was equally painless.

There’s cash to be made with Craigslist gigs if you’re diligent and avoid the scams.

Here are a some easy gigs I’ve nabbed…

  • Feeding a cat, two weeks: $210
  • Dog sitter, one week: $250
  • Jury focus group: $50 and $75
  • 90-minute focus group for a grocery chain: $80
  • Two-hour focus group on body soap: $125
  • Dog walker: $60 per week for five 30-minute walks. I did this gig for eight months, used the money to pay off credit card debt, and even saved enough to take a short beach vacation.

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? I’ll even give you a few tips.

1. Look for focus groups

This is a fun and easy way to earn a chunk of cash. It’s not unusual for marketing companies to pay $75-125 for a 90-minute focus group. I’ve got a friend who earned $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.

2. 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? I saw an ad for an inventory scanner last week that paid $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.

3. 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.

4. Beware of surveys promising payment

I recently saw an ad promising to put $50 in my PayPal account if I took a three-minute survey about health insurance and uploaded a photo of my health insurance card. Curious, I searched online for this company and “scam.” I found people who said they took the survey and never got paid. I found others who received payment right away.

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.

5. 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.

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

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