Improving our finances is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions and, to do it, many of us resolve to at least attempt to make more money. Yet, we’re still in the midst of a pretty tight job market; asking for a raise is out of the question for most of us and finding new jobs is difficult.
Wouldn’t it be helpful to know what alternatives there are to help us supplement our incomes or even simply maintain it, aside from asking for more job perks? Here are eight.
Throw a Gold Party
Forget candle and Tupperware parties—the trend right now is to sell your gold in style. Gold parties involve appraisers pricing and purchasing gold (or other metals, though gold demands a high price right now) jewelry from party-goers. It seems like a great way to entertain and get rid of a few old and forgotten pieces of jewelry while making some extra cash. Find a legitimate jewelry appraiser in your area who will come to your house, invite a few friends over (you could even make it a potluck to save more money), and pick out the jewelry pieces you’re ready to part with. Do some research and take the pieces to a few appraisers in your city before the party to ensure that you don’t get ripped off.
Have a Yard Sale
For those with more than just gold jewelry collecting dust around the house, yard sales are a perfect way to eliminate clutter and earn some spending money. Pick a Saturday or Sunday, gather up clothes, books, CDs, and other items that you’re done with, and put it all on the front of your street. Make signs advertising the sale and place them around your neighborhood, or just post your sale on a Web site like Craigslist. One benefit of the weak economy is that people are willing to buy used things to save money, which benefits our wallets and the environment, too.
Try Virtual Yard-Selling
If planning a yard sale seems like too much work, or if your weekends get filled up quickly, another option is to put all of the stuff online instead. Craigslist is a hugely popular virtual market where people sell everything from collectible tin cans to high-quality electronics.
Another way to make money is by using the popularity of websites like Ebay (and the increasing proof that people will buy almost anything) to your advantage. Sometimes people are unaware that what they’re selling at their yard sales is actually valuable. Sometimes it’s really not all that valuable, but there’s still an interest in it online. The public really does collect anything and everything, as my family member learned when he turned his hobby of garage sale shopping into a profitable business. He studies what sells well on Ebay (old comics, collectible toys, cool lunch boxes, etc.—recognize the nostalgia pattern?) and hunts for them at garage and estate sales. He has made a steady profit on almost everything he’s put up on the Web site.
Write Reviews Online
A little bit of free time and some basic knowledge about various products could yield a modest profit. Web sites such as SharedReviews and ReviewMe pay writers a small sum for a certain amount of reviews. Before he found a new job, one of my friends wrote reviews for Amazon.com to fund his movie habit. This is a good way to work from home and make some extra money in your down time. Do some research online to see what companies work best for you, and be mindful of scams, which run aplenty on the Internet.
Become a Blogger
If you’re passionate about a certain topic, why not start a blog about it and join a blogging community? Bloggers, especially those who get a good amount of traffic, can make an impressive amount of money through advertisements on their websites. However, making a profit from blogging requires time and a great deal of effort. That’s why those who blog need to choose a subject that will keep them interested, whether that’s cooking, politics, or parenting. Becoming a part of a blogging community is important, too; advertising your site on other blogs will increase traffic. Starting a website seems overwhelming, but using a site like BlogHer or Word Press can break it down into simple steps.
Start a Change Jar
Sounds suspiciously simple, but think about how much change we accumulate throughout the week. A few coins may not seem like much initially, but if we make a habit out of storing all received change away for an allotted amount of time, the results could be surprisingly rewarding—think of the cliché, “Out of sight, out of mind.” If it’s not in your wallet, you can’t spend it, right? All of those loose dimes and nickels add up quickly, too. My parents just cashed in their change jar and put over $300 in the bank—and they didn’t even deposit all of the change! A change jar doesn’t produce a profit per se, but it is a free, simple way to start saving and prevent needless spending.
Those of us really strapped for cash might consider getting a part-time job. Many retail businesses, for example, hire seasonal employees during the holidays. This is possibly one of the worst experiences I ever had, but it did provide me with money to buy gifts for my loved ones—and a disturbing look into the dark side of humanity. If stocking and cashiering aren’t your things, brainstorm what you’re actually interested in and good at and post your services around town or on an online job board. If you’re a math or grammar nerd, consider tutoring. If you don’t mind screaming kids, try babysitting. The best part about these types of jobs is that we can adjust them to our schedules and work however many hours we want throughout the week.
If one of your skills is creating things that people want to purchase, such as clothes, accessories, or fun trinkets, try selling them online. Websites like Etsy give burgeoning designers and crafters a venue in which to sell their goods. Also look into craft fairs taking place around your area; they are quite popular during this time of year because people are looking for unique gifts and seasonal decorations at affordable prices.
Get a Rewards Credit Card — And Use It Responsibly
Most of us have credit cards that we use frequently… probably more than we should. They’re a necessary evil, and while sticking one’s credit card in the freezer is a good way to temporarily prevent using it, some items that we need to live—like groceries or a bed to sleep on—need to be purchased whether we can afford them at the time or not. Since we know that we’re going to use credit cards at some point, it benefits us to get a credit card that rewards us for our spending. If you can qualify (and use your credit card responsibly, because the bonuses won’t count if you’re paying even more in interest per month), consider getting a rewards credit card.
These ideas may be small in financial impact, but in tough times like these, it’s worth exploring whatever we can do to make ourselves financially stable. By attempting at least a few of these tips, we could be well on our way to affording perhaps not the best of everything, but at least what we need to live happily.