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Slide Show | August 2011

11 More Ways to Get Extra Cash

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Coming up with extra cash to pay the bills, cover unexpected expenses, boost savings or perhaps even finance a vacation isn’t always as hard as it seems. There are plenty of legitimate moneymaking opportunities out there that require neither a daily commute nor a 9-to-5 commitment.


In fact, we found 11 more strategies, on top of the 11 ways to get extra cash that we’ve already shared. Some of these are good for a fast buck, while others could turn into long-term opportunities. Find out which cash-generating ideas could work best for you.


11 More Ways to Get Extra Cash

Sell Your Stuff on Consignment

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Consignment stores make it easy to unload items you no longer want and get cash for them without the hassle of actually trying to sell them yourself. Look for upscale consignment stores that get a lot of traffic if you want top dollar for clothing, furniture, linens, china, glassware or artwork. Expect to split the profit 50/50 with the store. (Ask for details, though, because store policies vary.)


We took a children’s train table to a consignment store, where it was priced at $100. It sold at full price. Our cut was an easy $50, which is probably more than the train table would’ve fetched at a yard sale considering it was a few years old and missing a piece or two. Consignment is also a less labor-intensive alternative to eBay, which involves online registration, active monitoring and a PayPal account.

Sell Your Stuff on Consignment

Participate in Clinical Trials

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If you're willing to be a human guinea pig, you can pad your pockets by participating in clinical research trials. Compensation depends on the nature of the trial and the amount of time involved, but payment can range from as little as $25 for a couple of hours of your time to thousands of dollars for longer-term commitments.


Legitimate studies are sponsored by medical institutions and pharmaceutical companies. You’ll be required to undergo a health screening to determine if you’re eligible to participate. Come-ons for clinical trials litter the Internet. Many are scams. A better bet is to peruse studies that are actively recruiting participants at ClinicalTrials.gov, a database run by the National Institutes of Health. Search by location to identify local trials.

Participate in Clinical Trials

Find a Roommate

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Here’s one way to get cash in hand on the first of every month: Recruit a roommate to share living costs. The housing bust has taken a far-reaching toll, so you shouldn’t have too hard a time finding a renter. Can’t stand the thought of living with a stranger? Ask a friend, co-worker or family member to move in.


A little rental income goes a long way. The average apartment rent in the U.S. is about $800. Let out a spare room -- or even a spare couch -- for $200, and you’ll reduce your monthly rental expense by 25%. The savings can be more dramatic if you own a home. Let’s say you have 20 years left on a 30-year, $200,000 mortgage at 6%. By putting that extra $200 a month in rental income toward the mortgage, you’d save $32,000 in interest and pay off your home loan almost five years early.

Find a Roommate

Sell Valuables to a Pawn Shop

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Pawning is usually a bad deal for borrowers. Sure, it’s tempting to be able to give a pawn shop something of value, and in return receive cash immediately. But you’ll only get your stuff back when you repay the loan plus interest. While quick access to cash has its advantages, it’s the interest that stings. Short-term interest charged by pawn shops can equate to annual percentage rates in the triple digits.


A better bet is to sell your valuables outright to a pawn shop, where you’ll often find a cash-rich buyer for items with good re-sale value such as jewelry, electronics, musical instruments and even firearms (where permitted). Just don’t walk into a pawn shop unprepared. Research the worth of your stuff ahead of time. Check online auction sites, and peruse the shelves of pawn shops to get ideas on pricing. Big-ticket items such as diamonds and antiques might call for formal appraisals. Get offers from several pawn shops before you commit, and don’t be afraid to negotiate.

Sell Valuables to a Pawn Shop

Become a Blogger

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If you like to write, or think it would be fun to share your knowledge about a particular subject, start a blog. WordPress.org and Blogger.com offer free blogging platforms. You’ll need to pay a small amount (as little as $5 per month) to have your blog hosted. Try GoDaddy.com.


You probably won’t rake in dough right away, but you can once you attract an online audience. J. Money, who authors a blog called Budgets Are Sexy, says it took about six months before he started seeing any payoff. Now, he says, he gets a steady stream of income from advertising revenue generated by the blog -- enough to cover all his monthly bills and replace 80% of the salary of his previous full-time job.

Google AdSense is a popular (and free) program that lets bloggers display ads on their sites and earn money. You can also try so-called affiliate networks such as Commission Junction and FlexOffers, which allow bloggers to pull in revenue by promoting products and services.

Become a Blogger

Search for Unclaimed Property

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Federal coffers hold billions of dollars’ worth of unclaimed property. Some of it could be yours, but it's up to you to track down the cash. The feds hang on to tax refunds, savings bonds, government-guaranteed mortgage-insurance refunds and pensions. There's no central database, so you'll have to check with individual federal agencies about missing funds.


State governments receive uncashed dividend checks, returned deposits, unclaimed refunds and uncollected insurance benefits. You can search for unclaimed property held by states at Unclaimed.org and Missingmoney.com.

Search for Unclaimed Property

Turn a Hobby Into Income

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Don’t ignore the money-making possibilities of your favorite pastime. Allison Millet, a stay-at-home mom in Bowling Green, Ky., transformed a passion for fitness into a business to help pay for medical bills and therapy for one of her sons. The certified fitness instructor created Backyard Bootcamp and started charging $100 per six-week session.


Whether you excel at sewing, taking photos, playing an instrument or just about anything, you can get paid for your skills. In the case of Millet, her only start-up costs were a business license and insurance fees because she literally teaches sessions in her backyard.

Turn a Hobby Into Income

Get Paid for Your Opinions

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Market-research firms are hired by big businesses to get inside the heads of consumers. Participation in an in-person focus group led by a moderator, such as those run by Delve, can earn you between $50 and $200.


In exchange for taking online and phone surveys, firms such as Harris Interactive and Schlesinger Associates offer rewards points redeemable for gift cards and merchandise. Plus, you can also be entered into cash sweepstakes that pay out hundreds or even thousands of dollars. You can earn rewards for taking online surveys, as well, by registering for the Kiplinger Advisor Panel. Beware scams, though. Legitimate firms won’t charge a fee or ask you to cash a check and wire back part of the money.

Lawyers are getting in on the act, too. Online jurors can earn cash for giving their opinions on legal cases. EJury.com pays between $5 and $10 per case. You’ll need a PayPal account. At OnlineVerdict.com, where cases start at $20, payment is made by check.

Get Paid for Your Opinions

Be a Good Sport

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If you have an interest in athletics, look into becoming a sports official. The work is often part-time and seasonal in nature, and many games are held on nights and weekends. Average hourly pay is $10.98, according to the U.S. Labor Department, not bad for a few hours behind the plate or on the court. School, youth and adult leagues hire umpires and referees.
Other potential employers include race organizers. Debbie Forbes, a massage therapist in Land O’ Lakes, Fla., earns money on the side as a triathlon official. She underwent training and worked a few events for free to learn the ropes. Now, Forbes makes $90 per triathlon, plus she gets reimbursed for some of her travel expenses.

Be a Good Sport

Redeem Rewards Points

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When it comes to credit card rewards programs, don’t limit your ambitions to free airline tickets. Look instead for opportunities to convert your points into cold, hard cash. Deposit 2,500 points earned with a BankAmericard Power Rewards card into your Bank of America account and you receive $25.


The next-best thing to cash-for-points is the general-purpose gift card. At American Express, for example, 5,000 Membership Rewards points earns you a $25 AmEx gift card that’s good in more than a million places, according to the company. You can get more bang for your points by selecting a retailer-specific gift card -- often $50 for 5,000 points -- but you’re locking yourself in to spending the money in one place.

Redeem Rewards Points

Start a Direct-Sales Business

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These days, Avon isn’t the only direct-sales opportunity calling. If you’ve got the entrepreneurial itch and want to earn extra cash, you can start a side business selling anything from cookware to clothing to home decor to, yes, even Tupperware. Popular possibilities include The Pampered Chef, Jockey Person to Person and Willow House.


With direct sales, start-up costs are usually low (figure $200 or less), your work schedule is flexible and earnings are commission-based (typically 25% to 30% of sales). Often you can increase your take by recruiting others to sign on. Internet Based Moms keeps a long list of direct-sales businesses.

Start a Direct-Sales Business

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