This Making Money Page contains a growing list of tips from our readers on ways they make money and save money on everyday expenses!
This page includes ideas for making money such as checking contracts for things purchased or rented; selling on Swip Swap; checking household bills for accuracy & unneeded items; IRS deductions to take; employment that offers discounts, perks or free services and earning gift cards with Swagbucks!
Retail Arbitrage? Is it a legal way to make money?
We have met a number of people at Goodwill, Garage Sales and rummage sales who search for deals and then resell the things they buy on eBay and Amazon. They are making a living doing arbitrage (reselling things for a profit).
Some are doing it to supplement their full-time job. Others have replaced their 9 to 5 job with Retail Arbitrage. Read about 4 people who make a full-time income doing Retail Arbitrage in this blog.
Cans Can Make Money
I recycle aluminum soft drink cans. I mentioned this to my boss and now about every other month he and his son bring me a large trash bag full of aluminum cans. There are 28 cans in a pound and in our area I can turn them in for about $.65 per pound. So if you recycle aluminum cans for extra cash, tell your friends to save their cans for you too. Verna Enlow — Huntingburg, IN
2017 Update: Prices for recycling aluminum vary by location and from year to year. Currently, in the Phoenix area, aluminum cans are fetching about $.40 per pound. But if they are labeled with a CRV (cash redemption value) they can earn as much as $.80 per pound.
Is It Deductible?
There are several ways to determine the IRS allowable value of donated items. The Salvation Army has a valuation guide online at http://www.satruck.com/donation-value-guide, I personally find it a bit vague, but somewhat useful. I currently use the ItsDeductible software that includes the valuations for thousands of household and clothing items at three different levels of condition. I’ve been using it for a few years and find the annual $20 cost more than worth in the amount of work I save (and the deduction I get on my taxes!). ItsDeductible can be found online (www.itsdeductible.com) or in retail stores. AnnMarie J. – Oshkosh, WI
Perks From Work
Consider working part- or full-time at a place that offers employee discounts on services or products that eat into your budget? I work 20 hours a week for an animal hospital. Not only do I earn some extra cash, but I receive discounts on all services, products, etc. for our three dogs. My mom is considering working part-time at a home improvement store in order to cash in on product discounts and closeouts. This idea has saved us lots of money. Kelli T. – Mascoutah, IL
Paying Attention Saved Me $1100
We just moved into a new house this week and this is how I saved and also made money.
- I called Hertz to complain that my “full-sized pick up” was actually an extended cab pickup that had a VERY short bed. Well, I needed the longer bed to move household goods into storage and pick up a 168 SF carpet roll along with some drywall . . . it just wouldn’t fit. In response to my polite complaint, Hertz gave me the 2-week rental FOR FREE, saving me $450.
- I noticed an insurance claim depreciated my roof shingles for 8 years. They were only 7 years old. Scrutinizing the information saved me $350.
- When reviewing the closing papers on our house sale, I asked why I was paying a particular fee that had to do with the mortgage. The title company’s response, “Oops! That was supposed to be in the buyer’s column. “They fixed it right away after I brought it to their attention. Questioning the details saved me $140.
- The Title company asked my wife to go to the notary and Office Depot to fax documents several times in the closing process. When I asked them why all of these documents weren’t all completed at the same time, they agreed to reduce our fees by $75.
- I received a $75 discount on a one-year storage unit rental just because I asked.
- And the last savings happened when my wife received a sales flyer from the store where I recently purchased a TV . . . that had since gone on sale. I went back to the store (we were going there anyway) and they credited my card the difference. $20. Ka-ching!
Total savings? $1110. In one week. Jim Hodges – Washington, DC
I’ve earned more than $1000 in the past month selling left-over yard sale items on Facebook. My town and several surrounding towns have a Facebook group page (Princeton Yard Sale Page) and you post a picture, add a price and cha-ching, you are making money! I’ve only had three items not sell.
Once it’s sold, I drive 2 miles to town and meet the buyer in a public place and voila, money in the bank! I’ve made money on un-needed stuff that was just lying around the house. So far items usually sell within a few hours some sell in seconds. Of course, it could be different in a big city. I live in a pretty small town of 12,000. I can get to town in about three minutes. Traffic is never a problem … we only have 2 stop lights! Amy – Small Town USARelated Savings: Make Some Extra Cash by Taking Surveys Taking surveys in your spare time can be a great way to earn some extra money. Check out Survey Junkie which will pay you instantly with cash via Paypal. They have more than 6,000,000 members and an 8.9/10 rating on Trust Pilot.
Go through your bills and identify expense charges on items that don’t make sense! I just went through three accounts and “found” what amounts to a total of $535.56 in annual “savings.” This includes eliminating a worthless insurance plan on a three-year-old cell phone and eliminating a second HD Cable Receiver Box in a spare bedroom that apparently already gets HD channels from the main box in the living room.
I really wished I looked at this last year, this money could have been put into my retirement account and have been earning interest. Well, at least it will be put there now! Helen – Eureka, CA
A Few Of My Favorite Things
There are always ways to save and make money if you are creative and you keep your eyes open. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Never grocery shop with children.
- Always buy used cars.
- Get a hobby that is fun AND pays money – I’m a Justice of the Peace.
- Always negotiate the purchase price.
- Use coupons when grocery shopping, especially if you can’t stand the store brand.
- Use your library card for museum passes (this works in our area).
Kate S. – Nashua, NH
Finding Money in Unexpected Places
Recently an interviewer said to us, “No one’s going to get rich by slicing open the toothpaste tube to get out the last little bits. But one of the things you said was, ‘It’s an attitude, and it’s an attitude that says ‘little things add up.’ What do you mean by that?”
Some people put loose change in a jar to reach a goal; others clip coupons or reuse aluminum foil and zippered bags to save money. None of these are revolutionary new ideas that will make them rich overnight. These are little things. But we’ve come to realize that if we pay attention to the little things—turning off lights, watching gas mileage, being careful at the grocery store—all those little bits of money, over time, add up.
More importantly, the attitudes of conserving, researching, planning and saving are being learned, reinforced and improved upon. If we have established a habit of paying attention to saving on little things, what will we do when we have a large expense? We will practice the same habits. The principle of “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in much” really is true!
Conversely, people who think that loose change doesn’t matter, who stop at the convenience store and drop a few bucks on a drink every day, will probably be just as spontaneous in their spending on more expensive items. Later, many of those items will turn up at garage sales—in wrappers, with the price tags still on them. This attitude results in folks wasting money and wasting a lot of it.
Here are a few other examples we’ve seen and excuses we’ve heard.
One day we saw a guy enter the grocery store with a five-gallon water bottle full of change. He lugged it through the store and over to the Change Machine. We heard the rattle of coins as he slowly voided the bottle of its contents. He spent almost eight percent of his savings just to pay for the convenience of not having to roll it or spend it. Many banks have free coin machines for their customers.
Convenience Stores, Coffee Shops and Smoothies
It’s just a couple of bucks. A soda, double decaf skim latte or a strawberry banana smoothie. But do it enough times and the dollars start to add up. With a little planning you can get the same “jolt” for much less by making your drink at home and bringing it with you.
Renting movies because “it’s the only thing we spend recreation money on,” may be a justification, but what is it costing you? Go back over the past couple months and add up what you’ve spent. If it’s more than the cost of a tank of gas, it’s time to re-evaluate. If you need a movie “fix,” check out your local library or borrow from a friend’s collection. That’s how we’ve introduced our kids to some wonderful old movies that support our values.
“Hey, they’re only a buck or two, right? No big deal, and if I hit it big, there’s so much I could do with that money!” Why not set aside that same money in a savings account and have a sure thing when you reach retirement age. And if you are retirement age and really don’t need the extra money—why not set it aside in savings bonds for your grand kids? We’ve heard it said that “the lottery is a tax on those who are bad at math.”
Balancing your checkbook
At least six times each year we find errors, overcharges or other discrepancies when compared to our receipts and our check register. At least once each year we discover we’ve been double-charged for an item. Most banks won’t argue over a few cents, and most mistakes can be corrected with one phone call.
Vending Machines “Cha-chang.” ’Nough said.
“Hey, twenty bucks here, twenty bucks there, it’s really not much,” and “It’s too much hassle to write it down in my check book, ’cause, I’m in a hurry!” Add in a few fees because you didn’t use your own bank’s ATM, and before you know it, boinggggg . . . things in your bank account will really be bouncing.
Little things do add up and they add up quickly. We aren’t talking deprivation, but planning. There is nothing inherently wrong with any of the indulgences mentioned above. The problem lies in thinking that spontaneity is a much-needed and deserved reward. If your financial goals are important to you, then you’ll enjoy making the changes necessary to save all the change you’ve been exchanging.
Swagbucks is Making Our Shopping Cheaper and More Profitable
We’ve been searching, getting cash-back, doing surveys and watching videos on Swagbucks for a year and have earned more than $700 in eBay, Walmart, and Amazon gift cards. It’s a great tool for Making Money. Read our extensive review of Swagbucks here, and our one year summary of Swagbucks earnings.
If you sign up for Swagbucks on the page listed above (or from this link) you can receive up to $20 in bonuses just for signing up. Read the details at the bottom of the page.
Another survey site that we’re testing is Survey Junkie – they aren’t as big as Swagbucks, but they do have 4 million members. They only do surveys on their site, but the differentiator is that you can cash in your survey earnings at any time, for any amount.
Steve & Annette Economides – Scottsdale, AZ
Related Article: There are dozens of other survey websites and apps out there. Read our Best Survey Apps blog to learn more.
If you have a money making tip or trick, please leave it in the comments below and we’ll review it for posting on this page.