40+ Passive Income Ideas and Ways to Make Extra Money

Do you want to earn $100, $1000 — or even more — on the side? You can start earning extra income today with the help of this list of ideas I’ve put together. Spend an hour or two each day working on items that are practical for you, and you can build alternative income sources to help you improve your financial situation  While many of the items on this list are passive income ideas, not all of them are. Some items require you to actively work for success.

While compiling this list, I did my best to avoid scams, and stick with practical ideas that work. I have tried many (but not all) of these ideas. Some of these helped me earned a few dollars here and there, but there are some that helped me earn extra money on the side every single day — and some are still providing me with revenue! Note that not all ideas will fit your skills and abilities. What works for you depends on your abilities and your current financial situation.

alternative-income
Photo by ErRbBbiiIE via Flickr

Passive Income Ideas

Passive income involves ideas or methods that, once you set in motion, require minimal maintenance work. The following money making ideas are mostly passive, and are proven to work.

1. Earn Higher Interest on Your Savings

One of the easiest ways to increase your passive income is to shift your savings to a bank that pays a higher yield on your savings. Although it doesn’t sound like much (especially in this low interest environment), little things do add up and eventually interest rates will rise.

2. Build a CD Ladder

For a slightly higher yield, build a CD ladder.  Break your money into smaller chunks and buy a series of 1-year high yield certificates of deposit. To learn more about this, take a look at How to Create a CD Ladder.

3. Lend Money via Social Lending Network

Lending Club is a platform where you can lend your money to other people. You’re the bank. Each note is only $25, so you can invest $1,000 and lend money to 40 people. There are many grades of loan (from safest to riskiest) and investors earn, on average, between 5.49% and 13.55% annualized returns. For more information, check out Investing and Making Money with Lending Club Peer-to-Peer Lending and my real money Lending Club Portfolio.

4. Invest in Dividend Paying Stocks or Funds

If you’re looking for current income, investing in the dividend paying stocks (or dividend funds) is a good way to earn money regularly. Pay particular attention to the S&P Dividend Aristocrats; these are companies that have long histories of increasing their dividend payouts each year.

5. Use Cash Back Reward Credit Cards

You buy stuff every day: Why not make the most of your purchases? Take a look at these credit cards that pay 5% cash back on your purchases. When you make your day-to-day purchases, use a rewards card and get money back. My family receives several hundred dollars a year from using these cards.

6. Get Cash Rebates When Buying Online

When you shop online, go through Ebates. This web site provides you with extra cash back (on top of your credit card cash back) when you buy through them. Install the browser toolbar for even better results.

7. Earn Money When You Search

You probably do a couple of web searches each day. If you do all your web searches through Swagbucks.com (instead of Google or Bing), you can collect points called SwagBucks. Trade your SwagBucks for a variety of prizes, including gift cards for Amazon.com, Walmart, PayPal, and more.

8. Real Estate Investing

This is mostly passive once you have it all set up, but it does take a lot of work at the beginning. Real estate investing also requires occasional maintenance. Currently, we invest in a couple of rental properties and earn about $500 profit from each per month. You can read more about my rental properties at MoneySmartLife.com: How and Why I Became a Landlord.

If you don’t want to get your hands dirty, you can gain exposure to real estate investing through Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). REITs invest in real estate and mortgage, and pay out 90% of the taxable income to shareholders annually.

Ways to Make Extra Money

In addition to the passive income ideas listed above and other broad income generation ideas such as starting a businessgetting a second job, and learning how to invest, here are specific money making ideas you can try. Most of these items require ongoing work to maintain the income.

  1. College students: Sell your used books and textbooks at the end of the semester.
  2. Sign up for Cash Crate, complete surveys, and refer your friends.
  3. Freelance using  ElanceGuru, FreelancerAmazon Mechanical Turk and other similar sites for leads.
  4. Make money blogging. This blog has been providing me with daily income since 2007. You can learn more about blogging and start start your own. Use the following articles to learn more about starting a blog:
  5. Write for money using sites like SquidooYahoo Contributor Network, and Triond. You can also write for TextBroker and Constant Content. Apply to write for various websites that hire freelance staff writers.
  6. Ghostwriting. This is very similar to the idea above, but you write anonymously and the assignments are usually longer. You can ghostwrite articles, blog posts, and even books.
  7. Offer basic services, including babysitting, housekeeping, gardening, dog walking, painting, snow removal, and other similar “odd jobs.” These basic services can provide income for motivated teenagers — and most of these can be done right in your neighborhood.
  8. Offer skilled services such as tutoringresume writing, business consulting, blog development, and logo design.
  9. Turn your hobbies into income streams. Many hobbies, like photographyvideography, quilting, gardening, and woodwork are ideal revenue generators.
  10. Sell handmade products on Etsy.
  11. Write and sell eBooks. This is easier than ever with the help of Amazon and the Kindle.
  12. Enter contests and giveaways (use Google Alerts) and sell the prizes.
  13. Search for freebies and sign up bonuses. For example, you can typically get a $100 bonus from a credit card sign up.
  14. Turn your everyday spending into college savings with Upromise.
  15. Become an Amazon Associate, and ask your friends to use your affiliate link when they make purchases.
  16. Sell unused items on eBay or Craigslist. You can also buy bulk items and resell them individually.
  17. Sell your collectibles.
  18. Start a bulk candy vending machine business.
  19. Mystery shopping.
  20. Find missing money using sites like MissingMoneyWhere’s My RefundTreasuryHuntPBGC database, and GovBenefits.gov.
  21. Create and sell CafePress T-shirts.
  22. Set up niche online store. Some good examples are Amazon.com aStore and eBay Niche Store.
  23. Participate in paid focus group studies.
  24. Sell your body parts and fluids.
  25. Collect cans and bottles for recycling.

More Income Resources

  1. 19 Great Passive Income Ideas That You Can Build Now at Wealth Pilgrim
  2. 65 Home Business Ideas You Can Do From Your Kitchen Table at Good Financial Cents
  3. 15 ways to make $200 quick at Christian PF
  4. 10 Unusual Ways to Get Money Fast at Cash Money Life
  5. 25 Ways to Make Money Today at WiseBread
  6. Multiple Income Streams: 10 Ways to Earn Extra Income at The Dough Roller
  7. How to Make Your Income More Passive at Frugal Dad
  8. 5 Ways To Make Some Extra Money at Bible Money Matters
  9. 52 Ways to Make Extra Money at Prime Time Money
  10. Everyman’s Guide to $30 / Month in Passive Income at Money Smarts Blog
  11. Spend less than you earn – the wrong way to think at Brip Blap
  12. 20+ Free Passive Income Resources at Life Optimizer
  13. Passive Income: How to Earn More and Work Less at About.com
  14. 8 Ways To Earn Passive Income Online at iSiteBuild.com
  15. Automate Your Income to Simplify Your Life at Zen Habits
  16. Passive Income is the Key to Freedom and Retirement at All Financial Matters
  17. Defining Alternative Income at Lazy Man and Money
  18. 50+ Resources to Legitimately Raise Your Income at My Super-Charged Life
  19. 40 Ways to Make Money on the Internet at Dumb Little Man
  20. 102 Ways To Generate Extra Cash at Savings Advice

If you like this article, be sure to check out my Extra Income Guide.

About the Author

By , on Aug 13, 2013
Pinyo
Pinyo is the owner of Moolanomy Personal Finance. He is a licensed Realtor specializing in residential homes in the Northern Virginia area. Over the past 20 years, Pinyo have enjoyed a diverse career as an investor, entrepreneur, business executive, educator, and financial literacy author.

Leave Your Comment (69 Comments)

  1. Alex @ CreditCardXPO says:

    As a landlord myself, I definitely agree with your thoughts on Real Estate Investing. It’s one of the best ways to earn passive income, but it’s definitely not for everyone.

  2. Joe says:

    Thank for this extensive work. When you make extra money you need to think simple. First thing you should consider is whatever you do must be safe enough that you don’t lose your initial investment as well. Also, look at the ways you can reduce your costs. This could be car insurance savings or paying back expensive loans or card balances. Saving is making money as well.

  3. Jamie Sarner says:

    Some good writing here! I am a realtor myself and frequently get in touch with clients that consider buying a realty estate a conservative of investing. I once heard of a transport company in Vienna, Austria, which focused their entire profit on buying eventually every house available in the downtown for about 80 years. That must be some of a passive income!

  4. Jim says:

    Great post, very good information here. I am particularly interested in peer to peer lending and plan on doing some of this in 2014, plan on starting small and seeing how it progresses. Thanks for the insight!

  5. Leslie Tayne says:

    These are all interesting ways to make extra income without necessarily changing much of your daily life. Cash back reward credit cards are a great way to get money back for the purchases you make.

  6. Nick says:

    Wow – that’s a lot of ways! I’ll be experimenting with several ways to earn money online over the next 12 months. I haven’t been through all of the other sources, but I’m looking for some really odd ones to write about… fun+money, you know…

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