Money should never be the central focus of your life. However, there’s no question that it can ease financial pressures and help pave the way to different financial goals and dreams you might have.
If you’re feeling the pinch from a lack of finances, here are a few different ways you can go about earning some extra income to help pursue your personal goals.
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Advancing in Your Career and in Life
Before you settle for that first side gig that comes along, take stock of both your professional and financial goals and ask yourself whether making some extra money will help or hinder them.
Assessing Your Financial Goals
Assess your financial goals. Are they achievable and strategic? Setting up sound, reasonable goals for your finances provides a focal point that you can use as you plot the course for your career.
Before you pick up a side hustle, make sure that you’ve taken the time to sit down, think through, and set up some attainable financial goals. Consider what is required to reach your goals, whether it’s a salary increase, a reduction in expenses, or additional investments.
Focusing on Professional Growth
While there’s wisdom in the idea that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, that knowledge doesn’t always apply to your finances. Sometimes investing in career development can be more advantageous than simply earning quick cash. In other words, take time to hone your resume and determine how you can use your skills for a career that will be lucrative and fulfilling in the long run.
Extracurricular investments in your professional life — even when they don’t come with hefty paychecks — can often expand your network, develop your skills, and help you land better jobs with more income in the future.
Before you start looking for a way to earn some income on the side, make sure that you’ve taken the time to create a career development plan. This should include both short- and long-term investments with measurable and achievable goals in place.
Developing your career is one of the best long-term financial investment options, and sacrificing it for short-term gain isn’t a wise choice unless it’s completely necessary. Once you have a plan laid out, you’ll be able to better gauge how much a particular side hustle will help or hinder your long-term career goals.
Earning Supplemental Income
Whether you’re looking for a way to pay down debt faster, cover an emergency expense, go on vacation, or simply invest more into your personal finances, here are a few of the most common ways to earn a supplemental income.
Earning Money Online
While there are still ways to make money through physical labor, many of the best opportunities for side gigs are online. The internet marketplace offers countless different sources of income. The most accessible of these tend to come in two forms: investments and side gigs.
There are myriad options for online investments. A few of the most common include:
- Stocks: A stock is a single stake that makes you a partial owner of a company. Purchasing stocks is a high-risk, high-reward form of investment and you can even use a credit card — although you should only do so as part of a financial strategy. Never buy stocks with a credit card if you have another option.
- Exchange-traded funds: If you’re looking for a safer investment, you can purchase stocks in the form of exchange-traded funds (ETFs). In essence, an ETF purchases a portion of a shared portfolio of various related stocks.
- Mutual funds: Mutual funds are another form of pooling money together with other investors in order to mitigate risk. In this case, the collected funds are professionally managed and easy to diversify.
- Bonds: A bond is an IOU or a loan sold by an investor with the intention of paying it back with interest in the future. While stocks can vary in value, bonds appreciate at a fixed rate.
- Index funds: An index fund is an investment product — most commonly a mutual fund — that contains securities from a market index like the S&P 500 or the DOW Jones Industrial Average.
If you can’t see yourself staying up late after work managing your investments, you may want to look into a side gig instead. The gig economy is a term used to refer to a massive (and growing) network of temporary employment opportunities.
These jobs are meant to be short-term in nature. Many are online, although quite a few are offline as well. They allow individuals to earn extra money, sharpen their existing skills and form new ones, and develop their professional network.
A few of the most popular gig economy jobs include:
- Graphic designer.
- Freelance marketer.
- Affiliate marketer.
- Rideshare driver.
- Delivery driver.
- Dog walker.
- Mystery shopper.
Whatever your skills or proclivities, there is most likely a gig economy job that fits your taste and experience. Once you pick a gig you’re interested in, look for sites that help workers score contract jobs.
Freelance writers, for instance, can use sites like Upwork, Fiverr, or Problogger to find writing jobs posted on a regular basis.
Covering Emergency Expenses
A good side hustle is a great way to generate short-term income over a period of a few weeks or months. However, at times an emergency can lead to the need for more money quickly.
If you don’t have time to launch a freelance career or find a slew of dogs to start walking on a regular basis, look into other options that may be beneficial to your budget.
Best Ways to Earn Money Fast
If you’re searching for an accelerated side hustle, here are a few suggestions:
- Crowdfund: The internet has made crowdfunding easy and effective. Simply set up a page on a site like GoFundMe and start sharing the news. Americans donate hundreds of billions of dollars to charity each year. If your emergency situation fits the bill, make your case and ask if others will help fund your need.
- Auction off your stuff: Look around for any unused or unwanted items and sell them. You can have a garage sale, open up an Amazon seller account, or start a bidding war on eBay.
- Sell your body to science: There are many ways to make money through the power of science. For instance, you can sell your plasma for around $50 per donation or sign up for a paid clinical trial. Just be aware that plasma donation companies are accused of targeting the poor.
- Look for “micro jobs”: These gig economy jobs are extremely brief, often paying dollars or even pennies, and varying dramatically in nature. Sites like Amazon Mechanical Turk (Mturk) and Clickworker are popular platforms to find micro jobs.
Financial Resources for the Unemployed
If you’re unemployed and looking for financial assistance, there are several options available:
- Start with Benefits.gov to see a list of over 1,000 different benefit and assistance programs.
- While it’s more focused on food than finances, the Feeding America Foodbank Network is another way to help locate a food bank near you and ease the cost of your daily grocery bill.
- The website Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services provides helpful information regarding health insurance for young and old alike.
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