April 05, 2014 / Get out of Debt, Part 2
Ways to increase your income.
In part 1 of "Get of Debt", I discussed how you can analyze your budget and minimize expenses on things you spend too much money on.
Debt is income minus expenditures, and so minimizing how much you spend is only half the equation. So in the second part of this series, I’ll talk about how you can increase your income.
Beyond "Getting a Job"
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that getting a job, getting a raise at the job you already have, or getting a new job that pays more, are the easiest ways to increase your income.
However, I know those are not always easy options. You may be a student and find it impossible to balance that with full-time employment, or you may live in a city or state with high unemployment, or your boss might be an asshole who will never give you a raise. When it comes to typical employment, there’s already an infinite number of free resources that will you to apply for jobs or get pay increases at the job you have. So it’s not worth rehashing here.
But if it’s only a couple hundred bucks a month that will make the difference for you to no longer accumulate debt, here are some other options that I recommend, and that you may want to consider.
1. Sell Your Time
What is a job? It’s selling your time for money. If you’re a student, you may have some free time every week, but you might have trouble finding a job that can accommodate your class schedule.
But selling your time doesn’t mean you have to get hired full-time by a company that has you fill out a W-2 and gives you a paycheck on the 1st and 15th of every month. Visit sites like TaskRabbit, which will connect you to people looking for other people to run errands for them. If you have a car, look into being a driver for UberX or Lyft. These services can make it easy for you to sell your time piecemeal in a way that accommodates the rest of your schedule.
2. Rent Things You Own
Participate in the new "sharing economy." Lots of "sharing" services exist that will essentially let people pay you borrow things you own. If you have an unused room or even a couch at your place, consider listing it on Airbnb. This can work even if you live with your parents; why not try and make some money on that guest room they never use?
3. Participate in Research
In college I was able to make some decent money on the side by participating in various studies run by the psychology department. Usually these were studies involving things like short-term memory, and they’d pay you $20 for 15 minutes of my time. $20 isn’t a lot, but it was easy to piece together a lot of these studies and make a couple hundred bucks a month.
You can also get paid by taking online surveys from sites like Opinion Outpost, They may not pay that much, but you can take them at pretty much any time while you’re doing something else anyway, like watching TV. Also, try to find companies in your area that are looking for people to do product research for things like shampoo. If you’re willing to try something like a new shampoo for a month or so, you can sometimes make over $1000!
4. Sell Used Goods
Take inventory of your possessions. What are the things you may have spent a good amount of money on that you basically never use anymore? If you have an old X-box or iPhone, you can still make decent money by listing it on Craigslist or eBay. There’s no point in having clutter in your life anyway, especially if you can get money in exchange for getting rid of it!
This isn’t limited to your own possessions either! If you have friends or family that are going to throw away something like furniture or electronics, offer to take it off their hands and then try to sell it yourself. People can even make their entire living by picking up free stuff on Craigslist and selling it to other people on Craigslist.
5. Don’t Blow Your "Windfalls"
This doesn’t really count as something you can actively do for income, but it’s worth mentioning. Every so often, you’ll be lucky enough to get some sort of financial ‘windfall.’ These are things like your tax return refund, or a generous present from your grandmother. While this isn’t a consistent income source, you should still consider it income. Don’t view it as "free money" that you can blow irresponsibly. Blowing money irresponsible is how you get into debt in the first place!
These Ideas Aren’t Panaceas
Everything I suggested above are ways to flexibly put together some cash on the side so you can run a surplus every month to pay off your debt. If your credit card balance is something like $2,000, these ideas can make the difference in paying off your debt within a couple months or making credit card payments indefinitely.
However, what if you have so much debt that you feel it’s beyond some simple lifestyle adjustments with how you earn and spend money? What if you’ve tried to do some of these things, but feel like you’re not making any progress on your debt? Not to worry; I’ll cover these scenarios in part 3, and what options you have.