Who can be mad at having a little extra cash in their pocket? And with summer coming to a end, and fall/winter quickly approaching, now is as good a time as ever to begin thinking about squirreling away some money for the holiday season. Of course, the following methods are great tips to keep your pockets padded beyond holiday season as well. So whether your goal is to make a major purchase, pay down some debt, or increase your savings, maybe one of these tips will be a great start for you. Here are three of my favorite ways to start boosting your bank account now.
Become a Mystery Shopper
A mystery shopper, or a secret shopper, is someone who gets paid by a company to pose as a regular customer in a retail environment then evaluates the products and services. You then report your experience back to the company, which (ideally) they use to improve their services. And the only tools you need to be successful are a computer and reliable mode of transportation. Just beware of scams; any company claiming you need to send money in to them first is probably not legit. Start by familiarizing yourself with one of the following membership organizations: Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA), International Association of Service Evaluators (IASE), or the National Association for Retail Marketing Services (NARMS). Here you can find lists of companies to work with in your area, and you can even sign up on their sites. You’re not going to get rich as a mystery shopper. You might be able to expect to take away $10 – $15 per trip, but there are some perks – for example, an assignment to test out a restaurant = free food!
Put Your Skills to Work as a Freelancer
In a down economy, companies will look for contract and freelance work more frequently as an alternative to full-time positions in order to save on overhead and benefits. If you have a marketable skill or talent like graphic design, web design, or writing, you can take advantage of those employers’ effort to save money – while making money for yourself. Hourly pay for freelance work tends to be higher than for salaried positions. Of course, this is not always steady money so you may need have to account for gaps between assignments if this is your primary source of income. Before you start, you’ll want to research online markets to determine the going rate for the type of work you’ll be doing. Additionally, there are multiple web sites where you can advertise your skillset and search job listings, including elance.com, ratracerebellion.com and flexjobs.com. Or create your own website (and market yourself as a small business) for little to no money at all!
Take Your Goods to Market
Say your marketable skill is not a service you can provide freelance. If your talent is of the cooking or craft making variety, you can still make a profit from your efforts. Consider taking your baked goods or handmade earthenware to a framer’s market. The rules for farmer’s markets vary by location, so do your research first because you may very likely need a license. Visit local farmer’s markets to determine what the best fit is for you. Take into consideration the location, hours, customer base and competition. Then put some thought into advertising and display – remember, when people go to a farmer’s market, they are looking for handcrafted items made and sold with pride. Look into the specific rules for farmer’s markets in your area, and check here for more universal information: http://www.wikihow.com/Become-a-Farmers-Market-Vendor
So Frugalistas, what are some of the creative ways you’ve turned your skills into a side hustle?