Real Ways To Make Money At Home Shared By Actual People Bringing In Up To Five-Figures

Justine Nelson
December 13, 2019
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There are plenty of real ways to make money from home. But how do you know which ones are cash cows and which ones are cash duds? There’s a difference between earning a measly $5 to bringing in five figures.

While it is helpful to have a solid list of cash-inducing activities to choose from, I decided to hit the virtual streets to find out just how much money you can make while working from the comforts of your couch.

Whether you decide to sell homemade pies or rent out your car, these ideas could help you uncover extra cash. But don’t be fooled into thinking you can make money watching Netflix (though there are surveys that pay you to watch videos). You’ll need to put in some upfront work and evoke some creativity.

There are more than 25 ideas listed below to get you started. Each idea comes with a list of what you need and an estimate of time commitments.

Implement these ideas and you’ll be singing, “I just got paid,” like our boys from N*SYNC.

Make Money From Shopping

I’m sure you’re thinking, “How can I make money if I spend money?” But here’s the thing: Your mom still needs a gift on her birthday. You probably want to avoid the mall and shop for new tops from the comfort of your own home. Enter into the fabulous world of e-commerce and retail reward programs.

 There are several programs that incentivize you for shopping, but there a few noteworthy apps you might want to download first.

Earn money from home with Fetch Rewards

Fetch Rewards helps you earn free rewards by simply scanning your grocery receipt into the app. All you need to do is save your receipt from your latest grocery store run and take a photo of it within the app. No more clipping online coupons that apply to only a select amount of products. Your entire purchase can earn points which you can redeem for a variety of gift cards.

 You can earn points at grocery stores, club stores like Costco, or convenience stores. Target purchases can earn you points, too, even if all you bought were undies and mascara. Who knew you could make money by spending money on groceries?

 What you need:

 Time commitment: Five minutes

Ibotta can help you earn cash

Similar to Fetch Rewards, Ibotta earns ypu cash back for shopping. You’ll need to add offers within the app prior to shopping which can be a pain if you don’t remember to check the app first. The savings can stack up, though because the app also offers rewards for other categories.

 Earn cash for purchases made at stores like Amazon, Target, Casper, Gap, Pier 1 and others. If you want to earn points by shopping online with these retailers, you need to open the Ibotta app first and launch the retailer app from Ibotta.

 What you need:  

  • Download the Ibotta app
  • Saved receipts from the grocery store and retailers

Time commitment: 15-20 minutes including clipping coupons and uploading receipts 

Rakuten (formerly known as Ebates)

I hate to admit it, but I stayed away from Rakuten for years because I thought the app would only encourage me to spend more money. After testing the app for myself, I realized just how much money I have saved on purchases that I was already going to make.

If you enjoy online shopping, then you’ll love the cost savings when you install the Rakuten plugin. You’ll need the Google Chrome browser to install the extension. Once installed, create an account and go about your normal shopping. If Rakuten has cashback offers for a particular website, a banner notification will pop up in your screen so you can apply the cashback offer.

Rakuten sends me cashback each quarter. It’s like a nice little bonus every three months. In the past year, I have earned $194.58 in cashback by using the Rakuten plugin. The nearly $200 in cost savings can now be applied towards other financial goals, like that plane ticket to Cancun that I have been eye-balling for awhile.

What you need:

Time commitment: 2 minutes

Sell Unwanted Items

You have probably heard of this strategy as a way to make money from home, but are you doing it right? Your Marie Kondo-worthy efforts have led you to believe that yes, there is cash to be made from the closet!

 But then, feeling overwhelmed will probably set in. It can be daunting to list ten items all at once, not to mention managing all of those items. Instead, here’s how you can do this correctly.

Start by selecting just three items that you want to sell. Take pictures in a clean and brightly lit area. There should be nothing in the background of your photo, buyers like clutter-free images. Then write a substantial description. People like to paint the picture of how they can use the item or what it might look like in their home. 

 Lastly, list your item in multiple online marketplaces at the same time. It’s a great way to triple your efforts and capture a larger audience. Try listing your item on apps like Letgo, Offer Up, and Facebook Marketplace. Test each platform and see which one works best in your area. You can easily make consistent income as long as you are quick to respond to inquiries and move items fast.

What you need:

  • Items you want to sell
  • Download a buy/sell app like Letgo, OfferUp, or use Facebook Marketplace
  • Photos and descriptions of each item

Time commitment: 10-15 minutes per item to get them ready to post, plus the flexibility to meet up with buyers or to ship items.

Uber And Lyft Drivers

While driving for Uber and Lyft isn’t an at-home gig, you can set up work hours when it is convenient for you. The money you can make as an Uber or Lyft driver makes this a great addition to our make money from home list.

Olivia Tchinnis, a 25-year-old from Philadelphia, earns between $20 and $35 per hour driving for Lyft. “I typically drive between four and six hours per week,” she told us. “I mainly drive so I can make extra payments towards debt or put it towards a goal.”

Keep in mind that your hourly rate is dictated by the amount of time you spend accepting rides and the area you live in. Drivers who live in more populated areas like Philadelphia could see higher income than those in less populated areas.

Food Delivery

Food delivery services have finally evolved past pizza delivery. There are several food delivery services available, including DoorDash, Postmates, and Uber Eats. Each one has the potential to make you some serious side cash.

Chris Browning, host of the Popcorn Finance Podcast, earned a substantial amount of side hustle money by delivering food in the LA area. “My best month I made $1,000 before expenses such as gas,” he told us.

While food delivery isn’t truly a “from home” way to make money, you won’t be driving to an office. Your car becomes your office and you get the flexibility to work when it is convenient for you.

How much can I earn from being a food delivery driver? 

Liz Eischen, blogger at Kitchen Table Finances, put food delivery earnings to the test. She tested DoorDash and Postmates and made 25 deliveries each in the Portland, Oregon area. Each driver’s situation will be different, but Eischen was able to earn $272.56 with DoorDash and $234.01 with Postmates. This breaks down to roughly $10.13 in earned income per ride.

Eischen attributes her customer-centric work ethic to her driver status. “Let your customer’s know your status with quick check-ins and updates on their delivery,” she shared with us. “I always finish the deliveries with a follow-up text and thank you.”

What you need:

  • Own or have access to a car
  • Insurance
  • Current driver’s license
  • Pass a background check

Time commitment: 10+ hours per month

Freelancing

Have a skill? Most likely it can be outsourced through freelancing. If you are a writer, graphic designer, photographer, videographer, or coder, you could make money from home. The key is to find a niche or industry that you love working in and connect with people in those communities. 

Jacob Allen, a 28-year-old freelance writer from Bellingham, Washington, earns an average of $400 to $500 per month this way. He decided to start up his own freelance writing business and blog, Money by Jake. “I enjoy writing for personal finance, fin-tech and start-up blogs,” Allen told us. He splits his time between creating blog posts and newsletters.

A great way to see if freelancing is a good fit for you is to list out all of your skills on a sheet of paper. Circle the top three skills that you love doing in your spare time. Then, make a list of activities that you typically do within those skill sets. 

For example, if you enjoy graphic design, you may do a variety of activities that all relate to graphic design. Your activities could range from photo touch-ups in Photoshop, pin creations for Pinterest, or web banner images for websites. Select the top three activities you enjoy within your skillset and start marketing the pants off of it.

What you need:

  • Skill set you enjoy doing
  • Supplies or equipment at home, such as a laptop

Time commitment: A few hours per month

Take Online Surveys

Online surveys don’t replace a full salary, but completing a few during your idle time could cushion your beer budget. There are several online survey companies out there that are reputable, so make sure you check out the ones that I suggest below.

Survey Junkie

I’m a big fan of Survey Junkie for ease of use and how quickly it is to earn cash within their portal. Make sure you fill out your profile so you are correctly matched to the right survey. Otherwise, you run the risk of taking several surveys that you don’t qualify for which wastes time and doesn’t earn you points.

Points can be redeemed for cash withdrawal if you have a valid PayPal account or a U.S.-based bank. If you don’t want to mess with connecting your bank, you can redeem points for e-gift cards from Amazon, Target, Starbucks, and more.

E-Rewards

If you want to add points to other loyalty programs or get free magazine subscriptions, take a look at e-Rewards. Earnings from e-Rewards can be redeemed for a variety of rewards categories, including clothing, food, music, magazines, and travel.

You can’t redeem points for cash in e-Rewards, so this option is best to supplement your restaurant or clothing budgets. It’s still worth noting as a way to make money because it offsets the amount of money you spend in these areas.

Inbox Dollars

Surprisingly, it took me just 15 minutes to earn my first $5 with Inbox Dollars. What sets this survey platform apart from the rest is that each survey has a monetary value associated with it. Have five minutes? You could earn $0.25 to complete a short survey.

One big drawback to Inbox Dollars is the amount of email you can receive. If you opt-in for their PaidEmail offers, you might receive four to five emails per day. I suggest turning off this feature because most of the time Inbox Dollars wants you to sign up for a partner program in order to earn money. Not worth the effort, in my opinion. Stick with the surveys.

Another drawback is that you must earn $30 before you are able to withdraw your funds. Survey Junkie’s minimum threshold to receive payout by comparison is $10. However, if you hate the monotony of written surveys, Inbox Dollars will pay you a few cents for watching online videos. 

Swagbucks

Similar to Survey Junkie, Swagbucks is an online survey platform that helps you earn points so you can redeem them for gift cards or cashback via PayPal. In addition to surveys, you can earn points when you shop with retail partners.

Install the extension on your browser and Swagbucks will send you a pop up notification any time there is an existing coupon that can be applied to your purchase. Plus, you can earn Swagbucks points which will be added to your points total.

It is important to note that when you take online surveys they aren’t always available to take on your phone. Most surveys will require a laptop or desktop computer, so on-the-go surveys are few and far between. If you spend a lot of time on a laptop then you could see higher earnings through online surveys.

What you need:

  • Laptop or desktop
  • Valid PayPal account or email address to accept gift cards

Time commitment: 5-30 minutes per day

Get Paid To Cook

I’m not talking about getting behind the grill at Chili’s, either. If you love to bake or cook, this can be a great way to make money from home. Liz Eischen, a blogger at Kitchen Table Finances, makes pies during the holiday season and sells them locally. “It’s a seasonal side hustle for me but effective. Easiest $500 I made this month.”

You don’t need a fancy website or storefront to start this hustle. Eischen attributes word-of-mouth and her personal social media page to help make her pies profitable. Her tantalizing pie pictures do the selling for her.

A great way to start is by sharing your creations on social media. Think of all the things you can easily make and then mention it to friends and family, especially those in your life who don’t like to cook. 

In fact, my neighbor isn’t comfortable in the kitchen and pays a friend to cook her healthy dinners that are delivered to her home. People will forget the expensive meal subscriptions and look to you as their personal chef.

What you need:

  • Love for cooking
  • Kitchen
  • Food supplies
  • Bakeware and plastic containers

Time commitment: 5+ hours per week

Online Coaching

There is something satisfying about helping others. Whether you like to help people succeed with weight loss, minimalism, or a new business, online coaches can make a great income from home.

Ben Huber, co-founder of Dollar Sprout, makes between $200 and $400 per month through online coaching. “I usually coach clients on online business-related topics such as SEO, scaling tactics, and gap analysis,” he shared.

You don’t have to be an expert in your field to be an online coach, either. For instance, if you learned how to setup a website on Squarespace and consider yourself an intermediate Squarespace user, you have enough knowledge to pass down to someone who is a beginner. 

Often times, people are looking for coaches who are just a few steps ahead of them. It makes online coaches more relatable because you were just in their shoes. Think of what you can teach to others and how you might want to market yourself. You can easily create a Facebook page for free and post content and videos to highlight your expertise.

What you need:

  • Facebook page or website highlighting your services
  • Method to accept payments, like PayPal or Stripe
  • Laptop or desktop to host coaching sessions

Time commitment: 30 minutes to one hour per client

Teach English Online

Have a knack for teaching? It’s a common misconception that you need an English degree to teach English online. And that’s not the case. If you are a fluent English speaker, have a reliable internet connection and a webcam, you can teach English online.

There are several ways to teach online, including the option to set up your own business through a blog or YouTube channel. If you want to get started right away, signing up with an existing tutor company is your best bet.

VIPKid

You may have heard of VIPKid as there are a lot of reviews related to this company. Teachers can expect to have students primarily from China. Once your application is approved, you can set up your hours so students can book a tutoring session with you.

Wendi Nicole, a 27-year-old from Ohio, makes between $600 to $800 per month and teaches around 25 classes through VIPKid. Nicole has two young children and teaching English from home has helped her have more time with her kids.

“I took nearly three months off of working for VIPKid when I had my second child and I was able to jump right back in with no issues. It has allowed me to work part-time and stay at home with my kids,” she shared. 

Wyzant

Wyzant is another company that allows you to teach English online. If you don’t fancy teaching English, Wyzant also offers other subjects to teach, such as math, physics, Spanish, and test prep.

What’s cool about Wyzant is that it was founded by two former Princeton graduates and they keep things fair. You can create a profile and list it in their free marketplace. There’s no premium feature to get listed so students can scroll through a list of available tutors. This is a valuable feature especially if you are just getting started.

Tutor.com

If you are a teacher, professor, or Ph.D. student, start with Tutor.com. This platform prefers professional educators however they will consider industry professionals. You must pass a subject exam, mock session, and a background check prior to being accepted.

Military spouses are encouraged to join the Military Spouse Employment Partnership program. Mention this on your application and you could be hired as a tutor, choose your own schedule, and work remotely. Perfect for military families who feel like they live on three-year timelines.

What you need:

  • Fluency in English
  • Desire to teach
  • Reliable internet connection
  • Computer with webcam 

Time commitment: 25 minutes to an hour per session

Become A Blogger Or YouTuber

Who says being a blogger or YouTuber isn’t a real job? It is if it comes with a paycheck. Don’t expect overnight success (unless you go viral) with these virtual gigs. If you love social media, marketing, and being creative, then you could bring in extra money from home as a blogger or YouTuber.

Jessica Thiefels, an organic marketing expert and owner of Jessica Thiefels Consulting, says a great way to make money as a YouTuber is to stay in it for the long-haul. “To make [YouTube] sustainable, it will be a long-term game,” she told us.

You can make money through an array of sources, including Google Ads, affiliate marketing, or your own digital products. But with any business, you’ll need to focus on growth and getting people to your content first.

“You have to get people to your site which requires great organic marketing or paid marketing to drive them there faster. It’s doable but you have to be willing to put in the work.”

What you need:

  • Reliable internet connection
  • Website
  • Camera or phone
  • Video editing software

Time commitment: 10+ hours per week

Virtual Assistant

Those who don’t enjoy the spotlight with blogging or on YouTube may find virtual assistant (VA) roles more rewarding. Small business owners and CEOs often need help with the details of their day. That’s where VAs come in. VAs do a variety of tasks, including project management, calendar scheduling, social media, or booking travel.

In an interview with Kayla Sloan, a full-time blogger and VA, Kayla reports that she earns more than $10,000 per month working as a VA from home. Curious how it works? “It’s kind of like an administrative assistant at an office, but you work virtually and set your own schedule,” she said. 

Indeed.com reports that the average pay for a VA is $15.85, but Sloan says you can earn more. “These days $15 per hour is on the low-end for a starting VA and I don’t recommend new VAs to take any less than that. In fact, if you have some basic skills already, you should be charging more from day one.”

What you need:

  • Laptop or desktop computer
  • Reliable internet connection
  • Good communication skills
  • Good project management skills

Time commitment: Variable. Work a few hours per month and grow it to full-time status.

Cuddle With Puppies

If you love dogs, then you have to check out Rover. Rover is an online marketplace for dogsitters. The site claims that you can earn up to $1,000 per month just by taking care of other people’s fur babies. You can choose what services to offer, such as dog boarding, dog walking or doggy daycare.

Vee Weir, owner of Weir Digital Marketing, has made $3,000 this year as a dogsitter on Rover. “Rover is the easiest, safest, most fun, and most convenient side hustle I have ever done,” she told us. “It’s helped me a lot this year by supplementing my income as I transitioned from the corporate world to a small business owner.”

You’ll want to make sure you have the time (and energy) to support someone else’s dog. Dogs are family members and reviews will make or break your reputation on Rover.

What you need:

  • House or apartment that allows pets
  • Good with pets
  • Flexible schedule
  • Pass a background check

Time commitment: A few hours per month

Invest From Home And Earn Money

Another way to earn money from home is to invest it. Money that sits idle in an interest-free checking account could serve you better in an account that earns interest. Investing won’t replace your full-time salary unless you plan on becoming a full-time trader, but it can still be an important key to supplementing your income. 

More realistically, you could try your hand at investing a small amount of money on a variety of investing platforms and experiment with what works. I decided to test how much I could earn from home by investing $1,000 on Betterment. Betterment is a robo-advisor platform that invests your money in the stock market.

I chose to be aggressive with my investing strategy and split up my investment into 90% stocks and 10% bonds. This past year I have earned nearly $200 in passive income through my Betterment account. Not bad for not putting in a lot of effort.

Investing platforms to make money from home

Before you decide to ride out into the wild, wild west that is the stock market, be aware that with most investments there is a risk that you could lose money. If you want to save money for a specific goal, you should look at a more conservative approach, like a high-yield savings account.

Okay, now that we got the word of precaution out of the way, let’s saddle up and pick a direction. There are a few investing apps, like Robinhood or Stash, that can help you buy stock right away. 

Make sure you look for any fees first. Stash charges $1 per month for a beginner plan, but you could pay up to $9 per month on the Stash+ plan. If that’s the case, make sure your investments are earning more than $9 per month in order to see a return on your investment.

Here are a few resources to check out:

What if I don’t want to invest?

If investing on your own sounds too overwhelming, there is an even simpler solution: switch bank accounts. How long have you been with your current bank? Have you checked how much you have earned in interest recently?

If your money is in an account that earns little to no interest, it might be time to switch bank accounts. In fact, I realized that I had a substantial amount of money sitting in a money market account that was earning just 0.7%. Not even a whole percentage. That is sad.

I shopped around online for a new bank that pays better interest. I noticed that a lot of high-yield savings accounts were with online-only banks. This is mainly due to the fact that online banks don’t have a lot of overhead, thus passing along the savings to their customer.

There are plenty of banks that pay close to 2% in interest if you open a high-yield savings account. My experience was straightforward and I was able to earn a significant amount of interest on money that is earmarked for emergencies. Easy way to make money with little effort.

Host An Airbnb Experience

Martin Dasko, blogger at Studenomics.com, says you don’t have to rent out your home as an Airbnb host, but to consider becoming an Airbnb Experience host instead. An Airbnb Experience is an activity designed and hosted by locals

Let’s say someone from the Northeast decides to vacation in Fort Lauderdale, which happens to be your neck of the woods. You know all the local hotspots and know how to experience the city like a local. An Airbnb Experience goes beyond typical tours by immersing you in the local culture.

There are a variety of experiences that you can apply for, including:

  • Tastings
  • Shows
  • Hikes
  • Food
  • Coffee
  • Walking tours
  • Surfing

Dasko was able to take his love for coffee and turn it into an experience for Toronto tourists. He sought out the best cafes and created a coffee crawl that currently runs for $16 per person. Most tourists will likely be game for an experience during the weekend or in the evenings, so make sure you plan accordingly.

Try hosting a tour in your neighborhood or use an existing workspace to host an arts and crafts night. Work with what you love and you could have tourists raving about you, and you can get paid in the process.

What you need:

  • A planned experience
  • Supplies and equipment, if necessary
  • Flexible schedule

Time commitment: Up to a few hours per experience

Rent Out Your Stuff  

Utilize empty space or a parked car by renting it out. If you don’t use your car often, consider a service like Turo. You could earn money by listing your car. Turo will set your car’s price based on several factors, like location, market value, and time of year. Expect to earn between 65% to 85% of the trip price, depending on the vehicle protection package you choose.

You can also set a mileage limit, minimum daily price and get your car returned re-fueled. It’s a pretty sweet deal if you don’t need your car every day. Make sure you have valid insurance, certificate of registration, and your vehicle has gone through a safety inspection test.

Put that unused parking spot to use

In addition, you can rent your parking space or storage space. This can be especially lucrative if you live in an urban area. Look for areas in your home that you could easily rent out. Have an extra parking spot in a secured garage? Someone could pay you to park their car in your spot.

People are willing to pay a premium, too. My husband and I share one vehicle and decided to rent out our second parking spot. We bring in $150 per month just by renting our parking spot. It’s helpful that we live in a high cost of living area to charge this amount. We view this income as a reduction in our astronomically high rent. Win-win.

What you need:

  • Unused parking spot or car

Time commitment: Less than an hour if you choose to rent out your car

Which real way is your favorite to make money from home? The opportunities are endless to earn extra cash and do so from your humble abode. If you don’t have a favorite, start at the top of this list and work your way down. You’re bound to make money and find a favorite method in the process.

Feature Illustration: Laura Caseley For The Money Manual

Justine Nelson is the founder of Debt Free Millennials, an online community to help millennials get out of debt. Justine enjoys writing and speaking about all things personal finance. This Midwest millennial paid off $35k in student loan debt and now resides in San Diego with her husband living the DINK life (Dual Income, No Kids).