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I’ve had multiple people come to me lately about easy ways we make money, so here you go: I’ve made a list of step-by-step instructions on exactly what to do to earn extra money today, and the next day and the next week… The list is long but don’t let it get overwhelming. This is why I made a post of this- and of everything else I’ve ever written- so you can take it or leave it, and/or come back to it anytime.
Now Greg and I are simple people and we love simple ways to contribute to our dedicated Side Hustle savings account. Like scanning receipts for the chance to spin a piggie slot machine to win coins you can redeem for Amazon gift cards. None of these are get-rich-quick schemes, but they are seriously like, super easy. So easy you can get your kids to do them. And should, instead of paying them an allowance for their mere existence. Some are a slow burn, and some stack up super quickly, but I love that all this is just extra income we weren’t planning on earning. I’m trying to see if we can earn enough from these passive side hustles this year to fund our HSAs for 2019, but these would make excellent contributions to a travel savings account, or allowances for adults or kids, or even a retirement fund. It’s free money, people, and (say it with me) you all… know how I feel… about free money.
But before I get started I want everyone to know: I make money off of this stuff. Never off my readers, but from companies whose products I advertise and recommend. Not all of my links are affiliate/referral links*, but a lot of them are. When you click through and sign up/buy something through one of my affiliate links I get paid, even if what you’re signing up for is totally free. And many of the products I know and love will offer you referral money for recommending them to your friends.
I put a lot of heart and soul into this blog and putting affiliate links on my site helps offset the enormous amount of time I spend writing and maintaining it. I know you have tons of options out there to sign up for websites, or shop, or apply for new credit cards, and while you never have to go through our links, we very much appreciate when you do.
Now let’s all make some money.
Lesson #1: Get Paid
Sign up for PayPal. It’s a totally free online money service that allows you to send and receive money from people you know, as well as businesses. If you want cold, hard cash from any of the following programs, you’re going to need a PayPal account. Or PayPal.ca* for all my Canucks up in here. I read recently that term is derogatory coming from an American. Is that true? I’m not here to offend anyone, but I’m taking it down until I hear from a Canadian.
- Go to paypal.com or paypal.ca and click Sign Up.
- Choose Personal Account.
- Input your personal information.
- Link your checking and/or savings accounts, debit cards, and credit cards.
- Once you have a balance you can transfer it to your checking or savings for free. Or to someone else if you want to use PayPal to pay for bills or services.
Lesson #2: Get Paid To Shop
Sign up for Ibotta* and get $10 free for redeeming grocery and household rebates. We all have to eat, you might as well get some money back for it. If you didn’t sign up on your smartphone, you’ll need to download the app to start shopping. Eligible stores include Walmart, Target, Whole Foods, Sam’s Club, Trader Joe’s, Reasor’s, Sprouts, and many more.
- Go to Ibotta and sign up.
- Once you’re signed into the app, click Find Offers.
- Click Grocery.
- Find your favorite store and click it.
- Start scrolling through the products and click the + sign of any rebates you want to add to your account. You can do this before or after you shop. I do both.
- Watch the video or answer the question and click Add $ Cash Back Offer.
- Do this for all the products you might want to buy then go shopping. This site updates all the time, so I like to hold onto my receipts for about a week, just to see if something I bought last time is now eligible for a rebate. Note: I just pulled an old receipt out of recycling and scanned it for the sake of this post and got another $0.25. #winning
- After you go shopping open the app and click Redeem and the store you visited.
- Hit Continue, then scan the QR or barcode at the bottom of your receipt. If there is no QR code, take a photo of your receipt instead.
- Depending on the store, the app automatically finds the products you’ve purchased and allows you to add them to your account. Some products are eligible for multiple redemptions so BE SURE TO UPDATE THE QUANTITY to get full credit. Sorry for yelling, but it took me like two years to realize that was something you could do.
- Confirm your purchase, and make sure to add any products the app may have missed. Occasionally they miss something, and you may be required to scan the product barcode to verify you actually purchased it, but this is no big deal. It’s free money. Click Verify Purchase.
- Voila! Free money!
- There is a $20 minimum to redeem your cash, and cash can be redeemed for gift cards, PayPal, or Venmo.
- Refer Ibotta to all your friends and make even more money!
Lesson #3: Get Paid Even More To Shop
Sign up for Checkout51*. We all have to eat, you might as well double-dip into grocery/household rebates for it. This program is also free, but doesn’t (yet) offer a sign up bonus. You can most definitely use this in conjunction with Ibotta, and eligible stores include Walmart, Safeway, Reasor’s, Costco, even Aldi. If you didn’t sign up on your smartphone, you’ll need to download the app.
- Go to Checkout51 and sign up.
- Once you’re in the app, simply scroll the list to find items you might like to buy, or click Filter to first choose your store.
- Click the + next to the products you want then go shopping!
- After you go shopping open the app and click Redeem.
- Choose what products are on your receipt, making sure to include quantity, and click Continue.
- Take a photo or your receipt, or multiple photos if you have an extra long receipt, and click Finish.
- Voila! Free money!
- There is a $20 minimum to redeem your cash, and cash can be redeemed for a check mailed to your home.
Lesson #4: Get Paid To Check Emails
Sign up for MyPoints*, “Your Daily Reward Program” and get $10 free when you make a qualifying purchase. I’ve used MyPoints for years for their email program, which offers up to 5 points just for clicking on an email. You get several emails a day, but this is passive income at its finest. You can also earn points by shopping online, taking surveys, playing games, or watching short video playlists. When my employer allows it, I start a video playlist and earn points while I actually work. My mother uses MyPoints to stock up on gift cards throughout the year that she then uses to buy Christmas presents. Good idea, Deb. 158 points = roughly $1 and points can be redeemed for store and restaurant gift cards, PayPal, and United MileagePlus miles. Stores and restaurants include REI, Walmart, Target, Amazon, Red Lobster, Starbucks, and many many more.
- Go to MyPoints, enter your name and a password and click Join MyPoints. You will then be directed to your Dashboard where you can take a look around at all the offers.
- Check out your Daily 5 in the top right corner. You don’t even have to do what they say, like printing off coupons- you just have to click on them to earn an easy five points. I always vote in the daily poll, then click Visit (whatever the website of the day is), Discover A Deal, and Print Coupon. Your Daily 5 is also where you can find surveys and video playlists.
- Click Shop at the top left and earn points/$ for shopping online through their site.
- Click Travel to the far right of Shop and earn points/$ for booking travel online through their site.
- Refer MyPoints to your friends and make even more money!
Lesson #5: Get Paid To Shop Online
Sign up for Ebates* and get $10 free the first time you shop through their site. Ebates is the best-known of all the cash back portals out there. Cash back portals advertise via affiliate links for companies who pay them for their advertisements and they’re all totally free to join. They then kick back some of that affiliate income to you in the form of cash back, which Ebates automatically sends you via Big Fat Check or PayPal deposit. Greg and I have made hundreds, nay, thousands of dollars from cash back portals just for booking travel and shopping online for things we were already going to buy. This is free money at its best.
- Go to Ebates and click Join Now on the popup or in the top right corner.
- Browse the stores on your homepage or go to Search at the top and type in your favorite store. I’ll use Moosejaw because I love Moosejaw. Type in Moosejaw and click the magnifying glass.
- The Ebates Moosejaw homepage shows you Ebates is currently offering 4.5% cash back (at the time of writing).
- Check the current Coupons and Promo Codes to see if there’s anything else you can add to your order. At the time of writing there was a coupon code for 5% off clearance items. Click any code to add it to your cart, or write it down for later.
- Once you’re ready to shop, click Shop Now on any of the red buttons throughout the screen.
- You’ll be redirected through Ebates to Moosejaw’s real home page where you can shop as you normally would.
- Refer Ebates to your friends and make even more money!
Lesson #6: Get Paid Even More To Shop Online
Sign up for TopCashback*. I brought Ebates up first because they’ve been around a lot longer and people are more familiar with them, but I actually prefer TopCashback which is also totally free to join. Their site is just as easy to use, and they almost always offer more cash back than Ebates, I suspect because Ebates advertises so much more. That said, I do always check both (as well as a few others) to see who’s offering the most cash back and shop accordingly. TopCashback also frequently has cash giveaway promotions where you have to solve a daily clue for a chance to win even more money. Find the hummingbird, get a prize! It’s goofy, but I love gimmicks. Cash back earned can be redeemed in the form of a check, PayPal deposit, or gift card.
- Go to TopCashback and sign up.
- Browse your homepage for stores or go to the search bar and type in Moosejaw, then click the magnifying glass icon.
- Click on the Ebates Moosejaw homepage. Why, TopCashback is offering 13% at Moosejaw! At the time of writing.
- Be sure to check the Special Deals & Coupons for codes you can use. They’ve got the same 5% off clearance so make sure to copy that code.
- Click Get Cashback Now.
- You’ll be redirected through TopCashback to Moosejaw’s real homepage where you can shop as you normally would.
- Refer TopCashback to your friends and make even more money!
Lesson #7: Get Paid For Now Hiring Signs
Sign up for JobSpotter. JobSpotter is the app Indeed uses to find new job postings, and they depend on the general public to keep the postings updated. All JobSpotter wants is pictures of Now Hiring signs and a picture of the company doing the advertising. Two pictures and you can make anywhere from minimum $0.05 to well over $1/business, and money earned is redeemable anytime in the form of Amazon gift cards.
I just bought all our personal-finance-book graduation gifts (spoiler alert!) with the money I’ve earned since December, and Greg is funding our annual Amazon music subscription. This is probably the Warckens’ favorite app. If we’re on vacation or already out shopping it becomes a game to see who can get the most points by the end of the day. Two people can’t submit the same store right away, so we take turns. My nephew and I did this one day and made enough to offset both our lunches. Sure, we ate Sam’s Club pizza, but that’s a meal we didn’t have to pay for with points we earned getting our steps in and enjoying the sunshine. I changed my mind- THIS is free money at its best.
- Download the JobSpotter app and create an account.
- Find a Now Hiring sign and click on the camera icon at the bottom.
- Follow the directions and take one photo of the sign, and another photo of the front of the store that’s hiring.
- Click Submit and wait for approval.
- While you’re waiting for approval, click Verify, then Verify Submissions.
- Answer yes or no to the questions “Is this a clear photo of a hiring sign posted at a business?” and “Is this a clear photo of [insert name of business here]?” Get $0.10 per twenty stores verified.
Lesson #8: Get Paid To Exercise
Download Sweatcoin*. Sweatcoin is the app that pays you in Sweatcoin currency for steps taken. Steps have to be outside and Sweatcoins (sc) earned aren’t going to make you rich anytime soon, but I do find it motivating knowing that I am earning something while I walk, or run, or pick up trash, or take pictures of Now Hiring signs. There are different membership levels and while the higher levels allow you to earn more Sweatcoins per day, they also charge a predetermined amount of Sweatcoins per month. This is all free, of course, and there is a free membership level- “Mover”- but it limits you to earning just 5 sc per day. When we go backpacking I blow those limits out of the water so I do pay 30 sc/month for “Breaker” level and can earn up to 20 sc per day. Sweatcoins can be redeemed for gift cards, discounts and products, and $1,000 PayPal cash, which is what I’m striving for.
- Download the Sweatcoin app.
- Sign up, turn your location on, and start walking.
- Refer Sweatcoin to your friends and earn more Sweatcoins!
Lesson #9: Get Paid To Shop At Walmart
Sign up for a Walmart account. Walmart Savings Catcher is a free service Walmart offers to find you the best deal on everything you buy in your area. When you scan a receipt into the app, Walmart automatically searches ads from nearby competitors to see if anyone is offering a cheaper price for something you bought at Walmart. If they find something cheaper, the difference is automatically added to your Walmart account on a gift card that you can use to shop online, or at the register using Walmart Pay.
- Download the Walmart app and create an account if you don’t already have one.
- Click the ≡ menu at the top left.
- Scroll down to Services and click Savings Catcher.
- Click Add A Walmart Receipt.
- Scan the QR code at the bottom of your Walmart receipt.
- Back to the Savings Catcher page, you can click Your Results to see any receipts you’ve scanned in, as well as Your Reward Dollars to see how much credit you currently have.
- To use your Savings Catcher credit click Use Walmart Pay. The app automatically uses your gift card credit first, and puts the remaining amount (if any) on the credit or debit card of your choice.
- The credit card scanner machine shows a QR code and after opening the Walmart pay you just have to scan the code with your phone.
- You won’t receive a paper receipt when you use Walmart pay, but purchases can still be submitted to Savings Catcher.
Lesson #10: Get Paid To Scan Receipts
Download the Receipt Hog app. Receipt Hog likes to see where you’re shopping and rewards you with points for scanning receipts into its app. Earn slot pulls, sweepstakes entries, and coins that can be redeemed for Amazon or Visa gift cards, or PayPal cash. Sweatcoin + JobSpotter + Receipt Hog (with receipts we find in the parking lot) = Our favorite date night. After plasma dates, of course.
- Download the Receipt Hog app and sign up.
- Click Camera to take a picture of a receipt.
- Click Snap to actually take the photo.
- Click Done, then Submit Receipt.
- Answer one question and rate your trip and click Done.
Lesson #11: Get Paid To Search The Web
Sign up for Microsoft Rewards. Bing is Microsoft’s search engine and they want to pull your attention away from the almighty Google. So… Microsoft offers five Microsoft Rewards points every time you search on Bing instead of another search engine. You do need a Microsoft account- Outlook or Hotmail- to sign up but of course those are free. I made Bing our homepages, and I’ve gotten into the habit of searching every site I need to go to, even if its a site I visit all the time. With all their other ways to earn rewards- reading their emails, taking lightning quizzes, participating in daily polls- points add up incredibly fast. Rewards earned can be redeemed for gift cards to Walmart, Target, REI to name a few, for charitable donations, or for sweepstakes entries. I personally redeem for Walmart gift cards and use them to buy groceries.
- Bing (I’m using that as a verb) Microsoft Rewards and sign up for an account if you don’t already have one, or sign in with your Microsoft account info.
- Explore your new dashboard- take some quizzes, click on some buttons, and watch the points add up.
- Make Bing your homepage.
- Search on Bing for every site you want to visit. I don’t know about you, but I’m looking at new sites all the time, so this searching really adds up.
Lesson #12: Get Paid To Fill Up At Shell Stations
Sign up for FuelRewards*. This free programs saves you at least $0.05/gallon every time you fill up at a Shell station, and we’ve linked our account with our IHG Rewards Club account to save $0.06/gallon total. And there are other ways to earn extra $/gallon off- shopping online, booking travel, going out to eat, linking a MasterCard- so the rewards can really stack up.
- Download the FuelRewards app and sign in.
- Click the ≡ menu at the top left.
- Scroll down and click Link A Card.
- Scroll down and click Link A Card or Account and add your IHG number if you have one.
- Use Chase Pay to pay for Shell gasoline purchases and save even more $/gallon. If you don’t have a Chase credit card, the Chase Freedom is an excellent place to start, with 5% cash back in certain categories like ‘gas stations’ or ‘Chase Pay purchases’. Using Chase Pay at a Shell station can save you up to $0.35/gallon and earns 5% cash back with the Chase Freedom.
- Refer FuelRewards to your friends and save even more money!
Lesson #13: Get Paid To Fill Up Anywhere AND Find The Cheapest Gas In Town
Sign up for GasBuddy*. GasBuddy depends on the general public to keep its gas prices updated nationwide, and can tell you where the cheapest gas is in your area. We use this religiously on road trips, and often find a $0.05-$0.20/gallon price difference between gas stations maybe half a mile apart. Earn points for updating current gas prices and redeem points for the chance to win free gas. I’ve never won, but I keep the faith. They also have an option to Pay With GasBuddy to save even more, but I’ve only recently signed up for it, so all I know is that you can save at least $0.05/gallon when you pay with a card you’ve linked to GasBuddy. I’ll let you know how it goes.
- Download the GasBuddy app and sign up.
- Make sure your location is on then click Find Gas Near You.
- Search by list or map for the cheapest gas available in your area.
- Move around the map to see how much gas costs in the next town (particularly useful on road trips).
- Once you’re at the gas station of your choice click Find Gas Near You again and verify whether the price advertised is the same price on the app. Either way, you want to enter the current gas prices to earn points, so click the the dollar amount shown and put it all the current prices.
- Click on the trophy icon at the bottom of the homescreen to use your points for a chance to win free gas.
- Refer GasBuddy to your friends and save even more money!
Lesson #14: Get Paid To Play Trivia
Sign up for SwagBucks*. SwagIQ is the daily+ trivia game you can play on your smartphone for a chance to win cash prizes in the form of Swagbucks (SB). Swagbucks can be redeemed for store and restaurant gift cards, Visa gift cards, and PayPal cash. I like SwagIQ because you don’t have to win to earn a few SB- you get a few just for getting certain questions right. SwagBucks also offers points for taking surveys, watching videos, shopping online, even going out to eat.
- Sign up for SwagBucks, then download the app.
- Click the ≡ menu at the top left
- Download the SwagIQ app and sign in.
- Unless you turn off notifications, SwagIQ will send you reminders that it’s time to play.
- Play trivia, win money.
- Refer SwagBucks and SwagIQ to your friends and make even more money!
Lesson #15: Get Paid To Take Short Surveys On Your Phone
Download the Google Opinion Rewards app. These surveys are only 1-3 questions and you can earn up to $1.00 per completed survey. Android users can redeem money earned for Google Play credit, but Apple users can redeem for PayPal cash. You can also sign up for Google’s Audience Measurement at home and earn rewards for letting Google see everything you watch on tv and browse on the internet. Don’t get all Ron Swanson on me, you can go incognito when you don’t want them to see what you’re doing. I don’t personally do the home thing, I’m just letting you know about it. But I do the smartphone survey every chance I get.
- Download the Google Opinions Rewards app and sign up.
- Make sure your notifications are on and Google will send you surveys as they become available.
Lesson #16: Get Paid. Period.
Go to missingmoney.com and search your name for any unclaimed property you might have out there. Unclaimed property is money that is left behind and turned over to the state to hold for the rightful owners. And the states want you to take your cash. I heard about this from Clark Howard so you know it’s legit. I did myself last year and got paid over $50 each from two different states for money owed to me from when I was 20. So, three years ago.
PSYCH! The unclaimed money was going on 15 years old. Missing money can be from anything- bank accounts, safe deposit box contents, stocks, mutual funds, bonds, dividends, uncashed checks and wages, insurance policies, CD’s, trust funds, utility deposits, escrow accounts, and on and on and on. My personal claims were for a cell phone bill and a state tax return.
Don’t just dismiss this one. If you don’t do anything else on this list, do this. I’ve had multiple people tell me “Oh, no one owes me money”, yet I’ve found dozens of people I know on these lists. And I’ve told all those people and some of them still haven’t claimed their money.
This is your money that someone owes you, people. Go. Search. Your Name. Some states don’t participate in the Missing Money site, so if the state you’re trying to search is greyed out, you’ll need to go directly to that state’s unclaimed property site to make a claim. I had to do this for Wyoming, it works. If you don’t believe me just Bing ‘(Your State) Missing Money’. They want to pay you.
- Go to missingmoney.com.
- Look for the greyed out box that says “Start your FREE governmental search for missing money” and put in your first and last names, and resident state.
- Look for any addresses you may be associated with. My Montana claim was under my uncle’s address because I used his to procure a cell phone when I was living in Wyoming.
- Search your maiden name, search your married name(s), search all the states you’ve ever lived in. If you are in charge of a deceased person’s estate, search their name. SEARCH EVERYONE YOU KNOW. I have found cousins, in-laws, step-parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, friends, coworkers, and obviously my person. Warning: It can be addictive.
- If you find your name on a list, click it. If you can answer yes to any of the questions you can file a claim!
- Please let me know if you get any money from this. Just so I can get really excited for you.
There you have the easiest ways we Warckens make money. But… I wanted to mention two more things that may not be considered physically easy, but financially are still super simple.
Lesson #17: Get Paid to Get Healthy
Check out HealthyWage*. Full disclosure: This may not be the easiest money you’ll ever make, but it could potentially be the best. HealthyWage is a company that pays you a cash prize based on a bet you place on your ability to lose weight. You can read my full post about it here, but very quickly: HealthyWage is funded by governments and corporations, and by those who have lost their personal wagers, which is how they’re able to pay out these sometimes obscene amounts of money, just for losing weight. I love, love, love this and would love to see everyone I know who needs to lose at least 10% of their body weight give it a go. Getting paid… for losing weight… IS A WIN WIN.
Rules are: Your weight loss goal must be at least 10% of your body weight over the course of at least six months. You can’t be a professional trainer, athlete, or body builder. You can’t be pregnant, or have bariatric surgery during your challenge, and there are no refunds. But you know what there is? You… losing weight and winning money. Note: The Warckens have not done this ourselves because neither of us have 10% to lose, but I would be all over it if I did.
- Go to HealthyWage.
- Click Calculate Prize.
- Play with the calculator to see your personal prize range. This is determined by how much you want to lose, in what amount of time, and the monthly amount you’re willing to bet on yourself.
- Total time to reach your goal must be at least six months, and the minimum bet must be $100, or $16.66/month for six months. The higher your monthly bet, the bigger the prize you could win.
- After putting in the info, click Go To Step 2 and follow the instruction re: sex, height, estimated weight, waist size.
- Create your password and get your prize amount! There are no obligations up to this point, and you can always recalculate your bet before you commit.
- In fact, you should click Calculate Another Bet and easily make some changes to your initial wager to see how your ROI changes.
- Refer HealthyWage to all your friends and make even more money!
Lesson #18: Get Paid to Help Others
Sign up for CSL Plasma or BioLife Plasma Services. Oh God, here she goes again about giving plasma. That’s because it’s great money for little effort. And you can do a bunch of the other stuff on this list while you give plasma. I don’t love giving, it’s not my favorite thing to do, mostly because I can’t stand waiting in lines. But… our plasma has earned us thousands of dollars in extra income over the years that we’ve used to go to baseball games, to go to the movies, to go out to eat, etc. Which, of course, I love. Especially when we’re happily unemployed. I’ve recently started buying discounted gift cards with our plasma money that we can use at Walmart, or Sprouts, or at any restaurant imaginable, to save a few more extra dollars. I’ve made anywhere from $20-$50 per donation and you can donate twice a week.
I used to have an unhealthy fear of needles, and I still hate IM (intramuscular) injections, but those big ass plasma needles going into my antecubital fossa (those big ass veins in the crooks of my arms) are no big deal. It feels like a lil’ pinch, then I’m off to pumping and filling out surveys, or verifying Now Hiring signs, or reading a book, or just vegging out on Twitter. I’m a firm believer that being broke is a choice. If you’re broke, get your ass down to the nearest plasma place and start pumping. Note: Avoiding any and all downtown locations is probably in your best interest. Other note: You can’t give if you’re a gay man, have been incarcerated recently, have recently gotten any piercings or tattoos, or are giving blood or plasma at any other locations. Other, other note: If you’re reading this and you’re broke, and have recently gotten any new piercings or tattoos, the inability to give plasma is the least of your worries. #youneedalifeplan
There are definitely certain centers we prefer over others, but we’ve never received questionable treatment or care anywhere. One of my nephews, God rest his soul… Oh he’s not dead, just stubborn… thinks plasma places reuse rusty needles and let untrained people off the street stick them in your bodies. I’m a medical professional and I can tell you with great confidence everything is just as clean and sterile and wasteful as any intensive care unit I’ve ever worked. Don’t listen to your friends about shady plasma centers, those friends are probably broke. And you know what I always say (say it with me) “I’d rather live like I’m broke… than actually be broke.”
- Bing “Plasma donation (your town)” and find the nearest location in a good part of town. Let’s all be honest here and just leave it at that.
- Go to the website of the location you’d like to visit. Search the site, read up on plasma donation, calm your nerves, find out about current promotions, and eventually click Become A Donor. Tell them I sent you. That’s J-a-m-i-e W-a-r-c-k-e-n.
- You can register online, or just go to the location of your choice and tell them you’d like to sign up, or call them and set up an appointment in advance. Your initial screening appointment could take upwards of three hours so take some entertainment- they’ll provide the drink and snacks. After that, depending on the line, I’m in and out in under an hour.
- Get a physical, have some blood drawn, make your first donation.
- Go back for at least four more donations to get the big ass first-five-times bonus cash.
- Keep ears and eyes out for promotions, like get an extra $80/month, or an extra $15/donation after six donations.
- Refer a friend to BioLife or CSL and make even more money!
When you have a firm grasp on your finances, every little cent counts. And you know what I always say (say it with me): “A penny saved is a penny I don’t have to earn”. Happy saving! If you’ve got any great ideas I didn’t mention here, send me your referral link!
*Denotes affiliate/referral link.