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Extra money is good when times are tight. Heck, extra money is good in general. But right now, many of us are trying to avoid being exposed to new people, which narrows the range of options.
But there are ways to earn money online — which means no contact with anyone new.
Declutter & sell
While I’m not a minimalist, I like to think I don’t have too much extraneous stuff. But since joining a Buy Nothing group and seeing requests, I’ve been startled by how many things I do have and don’t use. If you start looking around and asking yourself when the last time was that you really used certain items, you may be surprised too.
And since we’re all stuck sitting in the house anyway, now’s a good time to start going room by room and decluttering. And then to make money selling the items.
Incidentally, I think some people rule out online selling because you have to mail the items. But here’s where I remind you that you can request package pickup from USPS, FedEx and UPS. You can even have USPS deliver a supply of priority boxes to your door. So you don’t can absolutely sell online and make money without leaving the house.
But where do you sell?
Let’s face it, most of us women have at least a few pieces of clothing or some shoes or jewelry that we just aren’t going to wear anymore (if we ever did).
Well, Poshmark and eBay are good platforms to sell those. While eBay’s fees are lower, I feel like you might be able to set a higher price on Poshmark. But you can always make the decision after checking both platforms’ prices for similar items. (Don’t forget the eBay completed listing feature so you can see what things sold for, not just what they are listed for.) Or I suppose you could list on both and take down the second listing when the item sells on the other platform.
If you’re not already signed up with Poshmark, use the link above and enter the code SEATTLEGIRLUW to save $10 on your first purchase.
The next obvious items to sell would be any electronics not currently getting used.
If they’re older or not working, you might not get much money through trade-in programs, but you can always list them on eBay to see if anyone wants them for replacement parts.
Of course, working electronics can be listed on eBay too, but there are also sites like It’s Worth More, BuyBackWorld and Decluttr. Amazon even has a trade-in program where you’re paid in Amazon gift cards, and Best Buy will buy some electronics in exchange for store gift cards too.
I haven’t used any of these programs myself, so I can’t vouch for them personally. But a quick Internet search should get you some reviews pretty easily.
Obviously, the go-to site for selling anything else would be eBay, but other sites may be options too. For example, Decluttr accepts books, DVDs and even LEGOs.
You can also sell books (or anything, really) as an Amazon seller. Other options to sell books are Sell Back Your Book, BookFinder and Powell’s. (I’d recommend shipping the books media rate to keep mailing costs from cutting into your profits overly.)
As with the last section, I haven’t used these sites, so I can’t speak to them personally. But again, you should be able to find reviews pretty easily.
Did some well-meaning soul give you a gift card to a company you never use? Might as well get some cash for them!
Once again, eBay is a good venue to list these, but you can also sell to sites like Raise and CardCash. For a quick comparison, Gift Card Granny has a tool that will let you plug in the store and value of your gift card, then show you multiple sites’ offers. But it doesn’t include some sites like CardCash, so be sure to check there separately.
A word about local seller apps
There are, of course, also options like Craigslist, OfferUp and LetGo. Some Twitter folks I follow have said they managed contactless sales by having the person come by, check out the item, then pay by Venmo or PayPal payments.
Maybe I have too little faith in people, but I feel like that’s a prime opportunity for someone to walk away with your item without paying. But it’s worked for others, so it’s always an option.
Use rewards programs
Rewards programs are a great way to earn money online. You can make money from home if you put in at least semi-regular effort.
Admittedly, earning money through rewards programs will be slower going than selling things online. Still, diligent users can make $50 or even $100 a month (though the latter is often when couples each have an account), but it’s more likely that with consistent efforts, you’ll make around $25-50 a month per company.
Swagbucks and InboxDollars let you take surveys, watch videos, upload receipts, print/use coupons, sign up for free trials and even make charitable donations for rewards. InboxDollars also sends paid emails that you can click for two cents each. (Hey, every little bit helps, right?) Both sites also have search features that can earn you points or rewards.
MyPoints is another site that offers rewards for emails, free trials, videos, coupons, etc. However, the points needed to redeem rewards tend to be much higher compared to the other programs, so I don’t recommend putting real effort in here. Sign up and get emails you can click through for points, but otherwise stick to the previous two sites.
Incidentally, if you prefer to just focus on surveys then you should check out Survey Junkie.
Use receipt cash back programs
Make money with your receipts! There are a fair number of apps that will reward you for purchases you make at the grocery store, drugstore and some major retailers. It’s a good way to earn money online, even if it’s in dribs and drabs. Those add up more quickly than you’d think!
This app is well-known enough that you probably already belong to and use it. If not, the short explanation is that the program gives you rewards for purchasing various items at the grocery store.
Before your grocery shopping trip, you can open the app and see which items have cash back offers, then just click on any you might buy. (Alternatively, if you don’t want to be tempted to buy items that weren’t already on your list, just check the app afterward and click on any items that you bought.) After the trip is done, go in the app and take a picture of the receipt. Ibotta will scan for eligible items and credit you accordingly.
If you’re one of the three people on Earth not already using Ibotta, please consider using my referral code (nimjwra) if you sign up.
Like Ibotta, Fetch Rewards lets you upload receipts. You can also link your Amazon account and email. This way, whenever you make online purchases with those companies, you tap an icon in the app and it checks your inbox for the confirmation emails/Amazon account for shipped orders and credits you for any it finds.
You get 25 points for any receipt you upload, but there are featured brands that will get you bonuses. Unlike Ibotta, you don’t have to find the items yourself. You can just upload the receipt, and the program will credit you for any special products.
Now you can also get points when you use GoodRx!
If you join and use code PNT6C you’ll get 2,000 points when you upload your first receipt.
By the way, it’s worth noting that for the first couple of weeks after I joined, there were a multiple days when I got a notification that I would get a 2,000- or even 3,000-point bonus if I uploaded a receipt that day. So if you have a few receipts at a time in the first few weeks, consider spacing out your uploads a bit to see if you get similar offers. Just be sure to upload the receipts within one week of the purchase date.
This app is only semi-contactless — in that it lets you watch videos for some “kicks” (its name for points), and you get one daily kick for opening the app.
Unlike Fetch Rewards, this program doesn’t give you points for uploading just any receipt. But if you are going to a store, click that retailer’s icon in the app, and you’ll see any qualifying items.
That said, items can get you points even if you don’t buy them. The only catch: You have to be in the store. So unless you’re already running an errand at a given store, you are risking extra exposure.
But if you’re at the store anyway, you might as well use the app. You get points just for walking into some stores (like CVS). You get more for scanning certain products, which can be magazines, candy, beauty items or even things like “any bread product.”
If you decide to sign up, please consider using my referral code: YAY045135
If you own a car, you’re going to have to get gas anyway. And most of us eat out at some point. You might as well get cash back, right?
Get Upside is pretty easy to use. When it’s time for your fill-up, go into the app and see the cash back offers at nearby stations. (As a bonus, this will show you the station’s prices, so you can find the cheapest per-gallon cost too.) Click the station you want to go to and get gas there within four hours of clicking. Then just upload your receipt for cash back.
Unfortunately, the app doesn’t seem to offer cash back for Costco or Sam’s Club or for at least some grocery stores’ stations. And if you use grocery store rewards to lower the per-gallon cost (such as using Fry’s Food rewards at Circle K), your cash back will be lower.
The app has now added some local and national restaurants for cash back too. Just like the gas setup, you need to find the restaurant, click on it and then upload the receipt within four hours.
If you choose to sign up, please consider using my invite code: 2TKBA. You’ll get $0.15/gallon back on your first fill-up.
Do tasks for others
While it may not feel like it, there are ways to earn extra money through the gig economy that don’t require exposure to new people.
While some of Taskrabbit’s options would require interacting with new people (such as furniture assembly or running errands), some are contactless. For example, people can hire you to do yard work. They have to describe the work they want done when they put through the work order, so no need to meet with them to discuss it, and you’d either bring your own tools or presumably the person would leave the necessary tools outside.
Another option for work on TaskRabbit is being a virtual assistant. What on earth does that mean? According to TaskRabbit:
“A virtual assistant can do pretty much anything you need… This includes managing your email inbox; organizing music files or pictures; teaching parents or relatives how to set up video chat accounts; and researching afterschool programs for kids.”
AirTasker is a similar site. While most of the categories on the site would involve interaction, there are some (yard work, accounting, gutter cleaning, pool maintenance) that would be contactless.
If you have skills that can be done online, Fiverr is a good place to market yourself. There’s demand for a vast array of skills: document formatting, voiceovers, help with social media, site setup, app creation, graphic design, illustration, translation, data entry, writing, life coaching, being a personal stylist, craft lessons, and more. Basically, think of any skill you might have — no matter how random — and check Fiverr. There’s probably a place to list the service.
Deterred by the idea of $5 jobs? Well, you’re allowed to name whatever rate you want. But even if you do start at $5, there are ways to pad the price.
For example, offer only the most basic service for $5 and charge extra for any enhancements or more in-depth work. Or simply offer a quicker turnaround time for a premium.
In addition, customers are given the option of tipping you, so hopefully people will do that to help make your efforts worthwhile.
A similar site to Fiverr is UpWork, which offers a variety of virtual services too. That said, it’s not quite as extensive as Fiverr from what I can tell.
While SideHusl.com isn’t a marketplace platform itself, it does list and link to various opportunities and it reviews them. So you can see whether it’s on the up-and-up and whether the pay is worth the effort.
Be a freelance writer
Not everyone wants to write, of course. But if you feel like you have (or could have) a way with words, why not see if you can make some money?
(If you’re interested in honing your writing skills, here’s where I blatantly stump for my mom’s writing course. She was a newspaper journalist for almost three decades, then wrote for MSN Money and is now a freelance writer.)
But for those of you who already have the skill, your obstacle is how to get started and how to find companies that will pay reasonable rates.
Many people have done this on their own, building up their work and rates over time. So you don’t need a course to get started freelancing. That said, the courses I’m about to mention will help you figure out what types of stories editors will want, how to hone your pitch and how to get more money for your work. So it’s worth considering investing in one of them.
The first is Freelance Writer Academy and was created by three experienced freelancers who each make at least $10,000 a month: Ben Luthi, Kat Tretina and Miranda Marquit. Kat recently posted on Twitter that she cracked $200,000, and Ben tweeted that 2019 was when he started making more than $300,000.
If you want an in-depth look at what the course offers, my mom wrote up a review of the course, heartily endorsing it. And through the end of today, Monday November 30th, you can get 50% off with the code THANKFUL.
To be clear: The courses won’t be cheap, even with the discount. The regular rates for the three levels (beginner, intermediate and advanced) range from $249 to $347, with discounts if you bundle either the beginner/intermediate courses or the intermediate/advanced courses.
But the beginner course includes advice on to pitch your stories (and yourself) and ways to secure better pay, meaning you’re less likely to start working for the lowest pay. So you should make your money back before too long.
The second course to consider is Earn More Writing by Holly Johnson. Holly writes for tons of websites and makes more than $225,000 a year freelancing. ‘Nuff said.
It’s worth noting that Holly offers a free workshop, which do include some tips. So check that out. But the best information will obviously be saved for the course itself, which is $199.
Again, you can build a freelance writing career on your own. So if you don’t have the money to invest in courses, don’t give up. Write some sample pieces and then start pitching those and/or other ideas to every germane site and magazine you can think of. It will probably take longer to work up to the big bucks, but if you have the skill and determination, you can get to a reasonable or even impressive income on your own.
Okay folks, what opportunities did I miss? Who has tried some of the ones I mentioned?