Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Saving the Moola: the best income-producing ideas for your personality type

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A reader and dear friend recently asked:

What would be your top pick for a way to bring in a little extra cash if you could only pick one? I've seen your blogs about Swagbucks and such but I'm not sure where to start. I'm trying to maximize my downtime and minimize our budget.

When I thought on it, I realized there really is one top income-producing strategy we utilize, but how one chooses to increase their income really is all dependent on one's personality. I'm also going to answer this question assuming that everyone reading this is already living a frugal lifestyle. You have a budget, you menu plan every week/month, you have a garden, you turn off the lights when you leave the room, you dry your clothes on the line when the weather is appropriate, etc.

If you're not coming from that kind of place, I really recommend you do all of the above things to maximize the income you already have.

If, however, you're already living a frugal lifestyle but still find yourself needing extra income, I have good news for you! There are ways to improve your income without taking on a traditional 9 to 5 job.

Jason and I know the struggles of living on a modest income. We both work full time, and while we're very grateful for our jobs and careers, we really don't make a lot of money. We've become very good at managing the money we have, but we have big goals for the future. To ever meet those goals, we've had to improve our income in non-traditional ways.

The No. 1 Best Way to Produce Extra Income
If you're willing to do anything to make extra money and you cannot take on a traditional second job, Swagbucks is going to be the best for you. When Swagbucks was first introduced, each household could only have one account. The company has since changed their policy, and now more than one account can exist per household. When Jason and I both focus on Swagbucks, together we earn $50 in gift cards per month.

This helps our budget tremendously as we use those gift cards to order things like groceries, personal care items and items for Bug {like a Baby Bjorn potty seat}.'s Subscribe and Save program helps maximize our gift cards. We are then able to put the cash earmarked for these items toward our other goals because we didn't have to pay for these items.

Swagbucks is the best way to earn extra money for a couple of reasons:
  1. Anyone can do this. You don't need a special skill set to earn money... except for knowing how to navigate a computer. So if you're reading this blog post, congrats! You have the required skill set.
  2. You can Swag as little or as much as you want. Miss a day? Who cares!? I do Swag activities most days, but the day our car was totaled, I never went on And I didn't have to explain myself to anyone.
  3. It involves very little work on your behalf. It does require time: it takes however many seconds to complete the Daily Poll. But in general, if you want to earn money, that takes time. There's very little thought that goes into earning Swagbucks, though. You don't need to build a customer base, you don't need to design anything to sell. You just need to sit at a computer and complete activities.
There are many rewards you can choose from if you don't shop at often. You can even just cash out your rewards with PayPal if you so choose.

To maximize your Swagbucks earning potential, be sure to complete each day's Daily Poll and NOSO. For an easy buck, use the Swag toolbar. Aim for two search wins a day, and be sure to allot time for surveys most days of the week. For extra bucks, be sure to refer all your friends to Swag. You'll get up to 1,000 Swagbucks for each friend you refer. If you shop online at all, be sure to check if the store you're ordering from is part of Shop & Earn. Some of my favorites are Land's End, Kohl's, QVC and JMS.

With just completing the Daily Poll, NOSO, using the toolbar and getting two search wins a day {and only earning the minimal amount each time for a search win}, you'll earn $60 in gift cards a year. You can read about Jason's take on Swagbucks here.

Take it up a notch!
Swagbucks recently released a Swagbucks credit card. For every dollar you spend, you'll earn 1.25 Swagbucks. On your first purchase, you'll get a bonus 1,000 Swagbucks. If you use your card once each month for six months, you'll get a bonus 2,500 Swagbucks. While Jason and I are not a fan of credit cards, PerkStreet is closing their doors and we were looking for a way to earn perks on our normal purchases. We now have a Swag credit card and are using it for groceries, gas and our "fun money" each month. By using our card for these items, we'll earn about $10 in gift cards each month.

If Swagbucks isn't your thing and doesn't sound like something that piques your interest, no worries. I have a few more ideas, and one of them is bound to suit you.

If you like to cook or craft, sell your items to friends/family
This can be a great way to earn extra income. Jason and I can jam for ourselves and have made a few dollars by selling jars of jam to relatives. We also give jars of jam for Christmas gifts {we make all our Christmas gifts so this saves us money in that regard}. I make beaded earrings and have earned a few dollars by selling my designs. I've also given earrings for Christmas gifts.

Take it up a notch!
Participate in craft shows and sell your goods there. Jam and jewelry are just two examples of items you can sell. You can sell knitted items, homemade food, such as muffins and breads, simple sewn items such as scarves or handbags - the possibilities are endless. If you find craft shows are going well or there are no craft shows in your area, open an Etsy shop. I recently bought a homemade headband for Bug on Etsy for a very reasonable price from a work-at-home mum.

If a hobby of yours is shopping, why not pair shopping with earning money?
Secret shopping is a fantastic way to earn money for shopping and dining at establishments you may already frequent. Jason is a mystery shopper for multiple companies and earlier this year, he bought a Kindle Fire with his profits. He easily earns $40 a month in profits from mystery shopping - not to mention the free food and other products he is reimbursed for. You can read more about this here.

One note for secret shopping: if you live in a very rural area, this may not work well for you. Check out what shops are available in your area. There are many shops in our area so mystery shopping works well for us. If you live in Cheboygan in Michigan as one example, you probably won't have as much luck finding shops in your area.

Take it up a notch!
Sign up for all the legitimate mystery shopping companies available. Make up a route to hit multiple shops in one day. This would be a good way to spend only one day a month shopping and earning a lot in that one day.

If you like to write or share what's on your heart, find your niche in the blogging world
We earn a modest income from this blog. And by modest, I mean our income from this blog is three figures. We don't take any pay from the blog, in that we don't take a salary. Whatever money we earn from the ads placed here, we just use to pay our blogging fee {$5 per year} and put the rest toward whatever is needed in our personal lives. Our last blogging check paid for quite a lot of needed items, such as cat food, water fountain filters, gas in our car, groceries, etc.

Anyway, I digress. If you like to write, start a blog! It will be free or very low cost. You can maximize your blog's visibility by utilizing Pinterest and creating a Facebook page for your blog. This blog is super fun for us to run, so it's just silly we actually earn money from doing it.

Take it up a notch!
Write and sell an e-book in your area of expertise. Price your e-book low so your every day reader can not only afford it, but is compelled to buy it. Generally speaking, I'll buy most anything for $1. I've long considered writing an e-book but haven't yet found the time. And with a little one on the loose, I doubt I'll find the time soon, but I hope to one day!

You can do this
Let me reassure you that if you're looking for creative ways to improve your income, you can do this. Jason and I are amazed at all the things we do that add up to several hundred dollars' worth of extra income over the course of each month. We could make it on our income without these things, but we live what we consider a luxurious life because of these extra perks. There's nothing like going out to a sit-down restaurant and enjoying a night out for free because Jason's completing a mystery shop so our food is free and he earns a shopper fee for his time. It's really nice when we cash in our Swagbucks points for gift cards and can order a big bag of food for Preston for free. By doing that, we just saved $30. When a blog check comes at just the time when we're needing extra items and don't want to pay for them, my heart sings for joy.

Share with us: What is your favorite way to earn extra money on the side?

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