Unconventional Ways to Make Extra Cash

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Men Holding Money

Want to put some extra cash in your pocket? If you are brainstorming for ways to improve your income, read on for six ways to make money. Some of these methods are more conventional than others, some requires more effort, some more time, still others more risk. All of them, however, will bump up your top-line.

Donate Plasma

Brings the phrase "blood money" to a whole new level, doesn't it? If you are squeamish about needles or faint at the sight of blood, this might not be for you. Otherwise, plasma donation can be a quick way to make some money and provide a public health service. Plasma is the liquid part of your blood (without the red and white blood cells) that is often used in research and to make drug therapies. People with rare and chronic diseases such as hemophilia or von Willebrand disease may need plasma proteins to replace the proteins they lack. You will be compensated for your plasma at $20 to $30 per container, depending on your location and the clinic. If you donate plasma twice a week, that would be over $200 a month in change. (Check here for a list of locations.) Although donating plasma is not as lucrative as say, donating eggs or participating in medical trials (see below), it is much less invasive.

Turn Your Home into a Temporary Hotel

If you live in or near a big city or tourist destination, and you have room to spare, plenty of people will be willing to pay you for it. Do you have a cool condo overlooking the beach in Santa Monica? Or a 2-bedroom fit for a family in the Big Apple? Take advantage of them! A one bedroom with a shared bath in Boston can rent for more than $100 a night. Rent out your room just 3-4 nights a month, and that is a cool $300+ in your pocket (minus any fees you incur, of course). True, you will have to sacrifice some convenience / privacy, and you'd probably be spending some time and money making sure the sheets are clean (so you can get good reviews!). But many people are still happy playing (paid) hosts and hostesses. In addition to the monetary rewards, you get to meet interesting people from all across the country - and you might even make a few new friends. For an added level of protection, go through websites such as AirBnB and Crashpadder - they provide listing and payment transaction services to room-seekers and room-providers.

Along a similar vein, you can also rent out your garage for storage or your parking spot. If you live in an area with very limited parking and you don't have a car, or you are willing to partake in the excitement of street parking, a rented out parking spot can go for $100-$300 a month depending on your location.

Run Errands for Pay

If you have some time during the day (especially good for college students or workers with a flexible schedule), why not start a personal concierge business? Miss T includes this in her list of tips to make extra cash. Many harried 9-5ers would be willing to pay for someone else to take care of daily life's annoying "to-do" list. Whether its picking up a busy mom's kids from elementary school, taking the car in for an oil change, shopping from the grocery list, or standing in line at the Consulate, chances are some people are willing to pay you for it. If you can run errands on your own, you don't have to share your fees with a service. If you'd like access to a bigger group of clients, though, check out sites such as TaskRabbit.

Be a Human Guinea Pig

Where else are you going to receive free medical attention, be on the forefront of medicine, and get paid to boot? Of course, before you undertake this step, be sure you are very clear on how the process is run and the risks and benefits of participation. Not for the fainthearted, the uninformed or the risk-averse, paid clinical trials are nonetheless a way for people to earn from $100 to up to several thousand dollars for their efforts, while they help scientist discover new drugs and therapies. You can find clinics that are running trials at ClinicalConnection.com.

Participate in Focus Groups / Online Surveys

Everyone has an opinion, and if you join a market research panel or participate in online surveys, you will get paid for yours. Focus groups range from $20 to $70 dollars per hour of work. Online surveys pay less, but a $3 survey here and there may still be worth it. See an earlier post I wrote on focus groups for more information and best places to find paid groups.

Provide a Car Pool Service

If you are making a trip, say, from Los Angeles to San Francisco, there may be people who are eager to join you. If you are willing to take on a few seatmates, you can recoup the cost of your gas and make a little bit of extra cash along the way.

Go Shopping as a Mystery Shopper

Get paid to shop? It sounds almost too good to be true, right? Not if you become a mystery shopper! Companies employ mystery shoppers to gauge the customer service / product quality from their stores or restaurants. For example, you may be asked to go to a consumer electronics store and act as if you were a customer interested in a big-screen TV. You may have a specific list of questions to ask. After the trip, you will fill out a survey and rate your experience. After you submit the form within the required time frame (often just several hours after the mystery shop excursion), you will be eligible to be paid in 6-8 weeks. Little Miss Moneybags, who has consistently worked as a mystery shopper for four years, wrote an in-depth field guide to mystery shopping. As Little Miss Moneybags notes, mystery shopping is not easy money - the payments takes up to six weeks to process, the surveys are very detailed, and good opportunities go fast. For the right person (detailed-oriented, organized, living in a larger metropolitan area), however, it can be a fun source of additional income. See also Mystery Shopping Providers Association for more information. One note of caution: do not pay money to join a mystery shopping company or pay for an "exclusive list of opportunities." Places that require you to pay to join are scams.

What unconventional money-making method have you tried before?

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