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 — for example, Discover Bank and EverBank pay almost 1% for your money. 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% and 7% 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  UpWorkGuru, FreelancerAmazon Mechanical Turk and other similar sites for leads.
  4. Make money with YouTube.
  5. Make money on Twitch.
  6. 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 blog. Use the following articles to learn more about starting a blog:
  7. Write for money using a platform site like HubPages.
  8. You can also write for TextBroker and Constant Content. Apply to write for various websites that hire freelance staff writers.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Offer skilled services such as tutoring, resume writing, business consulting, blog development, and logo design.
  12. Turn your hobbies into income streams. Many hobbies, like photography, videography, quilting, gardening, and woodwork are ideal revenue generators.
  13. Sell handmade products on Etsy.
  14. Write and sell eBooks. This is easier than ever with the help of Amazon and the Kindle.
  15. Enter contests and giveaways (use Google Alerts) and sell the prizes.
  16. Search for freebies and sign up bonuses. For example, you can typically get a $100 bonus from a credit card sign up.
  17. Turn your everyday spending into college savings with Upromise.
  18. Become an Amazon Associate, and ask your friends to use your affiliate link when they make purchases.
  19. Sell unused items on eBay or Craigslist. You can also buy bulk items and resell them individually.
  20. Sell your collectibles.
  21. Start a bulk candy vending machine business.
  22. Mystery shopping.
  23. Find missing money using sites like MissingMoneyWhere’s My RefundTreasuryHuntPBGC database, and GovBenefits.gov.
  24. Create and sell CafePress T-shirts.
  25. Set up niche online store. Some good examples are Amazon.com aStore and eBay Niche Store.
  26. Participate in paid focus group studies.
  27. Sell your body parts and fluids.
  28. 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. 5 Ways To Make Some Extra Money at Bible Money Matters
  8. 52 Ways to Make Extra Money at Prime Time Money
  9. Everyman’s Guide to $30 / Month in Passive Income at Money Smarts Blog
  10. Spend less than you earn – the wrong way to think at Brip Blap
  11. 20+ Free Passive Income Resources at Life Optimizer
  12. Passive Income: How to Earn More and Work Less at About.com
  13. 8 Ways To Earn Passive Income Online at iSiteBuild.com
  14. Automate Your Income to Simplify Your Life at Zen Habits
  15. Passive Income is the Key to Freedom and Retirement at All Financial Matters
  16. Defining Alternative Income at Lazy Man and Money
  17. 40 Ways to Make Money on the Internet at Dumb Little Man
  18. 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 Dec 13, 2016
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 has enjoyed a diverse career as an investor, entrepreneur, business executive, educator, and financial literacy author.

Leave Your Comment (89 Comments)

  1. Kevin Clarke says:

    I can say that it is so true about assets. If you are working in a job and need to escape the rat race, build assets and not liabilities. Very good info

  2. Big Dave says:

    Very comprehensive list of passive income ideas, thanks for posting!

  3. Jonathan says:

    Earning higher interest on your savings is always a winner for me and it’s so easy to do. It seems that switiching bank accounts can feel scary to some people but I’ve recently switched to a higher earning intrest account. It took 30 mins. Fantastic

  4. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life says:

    I’ve done so many of these. Nothing is as easy as renting out a spare room though.

  5. Maggie@SquarePennies says:

    Great list! Personally I wouldn’t sell any body parts, etc. If a person has skills or experience in something they can teach others for money. Students can earn money tutoring–all the while they are learning the material even more thoroughly! I’m bookmarking this. Thanks very much!

  6. Kostas @ Finance Blog Zone says:

    You have a fairly comprehensive list here, although I’m not sure I would consider most of them to be passive income! A few of them are outdated too, but all in all there is plenty of choice for those in need of some extra cash.

  7. Suresh @ Myinvestmentideas.com says:

    Some of the ideas like cashcrate.com have become outdated and they do not provide any value now. You may please correct it.

  8. getrichwithme says:

    great ideas – will try a few of these out

  9. Adam says:

    Wow! This is a pretty comprehensive list. Thanks for taking the time to put it together. It will be very useful.

  10. David Bressler says:

    With respect to #4 – Invest in dividend paying stocks. I couldn’t agree more.

    I’d like to point out, per the author’s reference to dividend aristocrats… when you focus on the aristocrats you’ll get annual dividend increases. I like to refer to those increases as “raises” (thinking of the dividend payment as a “side-business paycheck”).

    When you reinvest the dividends, and use dividend aristocrats, you can accumulate 10-15% raises annually. That’s pretty good, especially if you can start doing this young enough. Your “side income” will double after 5 years and quadruple after 10 (if you can manage to keep this money set aside, and not spend the dividends). If you start with an average of 2-3% dividend, that means after 10 years, you’re earning 8-12% on your initial investment (EVERY SINGLE YEAR). Of course, if you can keep reinvesting at that point, your income will continue to grow dramatically. If you have a really long time horizon, the same as if you were buying a house with a 30 year mortgage, this becomes a very powerful approach to safety in retirement.

    By the way, you would have to pay taxes on the dividends if it’s not in a retirement account, so that’s another consideration.

  11. Free Money Minute says:

    Lot’s of great resources. How long did it take before you saw passive income from your website? How much do you expect each day in income from your blog alone?

    • Pinyo says:

      @Free Money Minute – I am hesistant to call my website income passive, since I do update it regularly. At the same time, if I stop doing everything, it will probably keep running without losing too much traffic or income. I guess it took about a year for the site to be self-sufficient enough for most of the income to be “passive”.

      I don’t have any set expectation for daily income since each day is different, but the total income-to-date has been unexpected and life changing.

  12. Lester says:

    Wow! This is quite the in depth article! I appreciate all the hard work you put in. I cannot believe how much money there is out there on this kind of stuff but things have changed greatly in the past decade. I will pass this article along to a few of my friends who can make MUCH better use of it. I did enjoy the read though.

  13. David Sneen says:

    The lesson behind all this is that there are still ways to earn money, even beyond the accepted 9-5 job. You wrote 40 ways, and there are a couple dozen suggestions just submitted by your readers.

  14. Shil1978 says:

    Wonderful list you have in here, Pinyo. All of these ideas are extremely doable. I should know having tried out my hands on a few of them. Some others in here are new to me and I’d be giving them a try quite soon.

    I don’t know how some people do well at surveys and stuff like that. I’ve never found them to be productive or worth my time, but I guess some folks know how to get it to work for them. Thanks for this excellent write-up 🙂

  15. Judy says:

    It occurred to me while thinking about this topic of some resourceful, proud entrepreneurs I came across while working in an outback town in Australia. The town catered for many itinerate workers a long way from home.

    1. The local town clerk (local govt) once completing his regular employment for the day had a small business which entailed him using his minibus to show tourists and locals around his town pointing out and informing his passengers about the various sites of interest. The bus trip was approximatley 1.5 hours. The cost was reasonable to learn as much about the town and it’s history and he provided a running an educated running commentary and the occassional joke. The tour was completed in time to stop by another local business described below.

    2. This business was a local eating house (for want of a better word) it was named as a ‘restaurant’. The entrepreneur was a woman who held a part-time job at the local post office.Her family were grown. After completing her day time job at 1pm she would come home and prepare a meal as she would for a large family (home cooking) and serve it to her guests who called at her home from 6pm sat a tables set as for family meals. The dining room for guests was her enclosed from verandah. The menu varied and had three courses each night. If she knew in advance, she would prepare for special occassions such as birthdays, anniversaries and so forth. The eating house was BYO alcohol.

    I visited the restaurant twice while working in the town. The cook provided entertainment through her life stories and additional social history of her home town. It was the next best thing to being home in the harsh enviroment of the town’s location.

    On my visits I estimated her taking for one night to be approximately AUD$1,500.

  16. Judith Morgan says:

    The more I read about the options available to make extra income, the more I am drawn to writing. I believe the art of writing can be utilised night and/or day; regardless of the weather and no significant costs.

    I would be delighted to hear from anyone who is writing – whatever form it may be apart from blogging 🙂 to learn how you make income from writing and publishing online.

    I am not sure if I have the imagination to write interesting fiction (but I will try) if I believe it could be worth my while. Obviously I have much to learn!

    Over time, I have written many personal letters to friends and aquaintances about whatever is happening in my life or about my occassional travels; comments regarding whatever is happening at the time (social, political, my career and so forth) and I have been thrilled to receive compliments for my writing. Of course, I have written many an obligatory essay for university. Whether I have what it takes to write and interst a wider audience and make money is yet to be tested.

    I would appreciate any advice from those writing online to earn an income and utilising a their natural talent.

    Thanks,

    Judith

  17. Mina says:

    Such a great post! I’m a college student and have always wanted to help my mom with our finances since she’s a single mom. This post provided me with so much inspiration. I think I could finally do something (within my reach) that could actually help her without sacrificing my studies. Thank you for your effort in sharing these stuffs. It really helps A LOT! More powers to you… I’m sure you will be blessed even more. 🙂

  18. Really an excellent site to get enough information for a need. Thanks for writing such an excellent article and starting this site. Your income ideas are a little unique and but i don’t think that it will be easy for everyone to utilize them. Still it is a good list. Can i ask you a question? How long did it take for you to get these ideas.

  19. This is an excellent posts, and should be required reading for anyone looking for extra income ideas. I personally like point #8, having a comfortable passive income from 2 properties that I have purchased in early 2000, allowing me to live freely now.

  20. Raven says:

    I especially like blogging. Blogging for money is a great way to earn some extra income. Blogger and WordPress are two great sites to get started.

  21. Mae Russell says:

    Working from home can get boring and tedious, so have to have the right attitude in order for any home based work or business to succeed.

    One of the easiest way to earn online is to sell people your services. For instance you are willing to design a new graphic ad for $5. This way you can put your talents at work and generate income.

  22. Nail Yener says:

    Lots of income ideas here and many of them can be easily put into action. Lately, I started to upload products on Zazzle and I am sure it will be a nice source of income for me in the long term.

  23. Ann says:

    Great article. Like many others I am already practicing many of these alternative methods since the economic depression. I have found that every little bit helps!! I currently work a day job, babysit at night and on weekends often, & also have my own online business.

    Affiliate marketing is a great extra stream of income but you have to get the right education first and avoid throwing time and money into the countless ways people are promoting that you can make quick, fast money online. There is no such thing — Passive income streams take hard work, dedication, and months to build up. Yet now is the time for many to start building before you are left out in the cold by a job cut, pay cut, business failure, whatever. Or if you have a spouse who has a secure good paying job today and you can stay home. This may not be the case tomorrow and it is best to start preparing in advance if you have the time. It may not be for all but could be a viable option for some.

  24. Mel says:

    Full of new information (well at least for me). I tried tutoring, decluterring and the usual recycling stuff. I would like to learn more about website development and more of the freelance jobs. But I don’t think my stomach can take plasma donating and selling of body parts. I faint at the sight of blood. I didn’t know you could make fast money from dog walking. But that’s okay I don’t like dogs, actually just cats… I’ll click the links on your article later so that I can learn more of these nice opportunities. I have a nice job; but dire financial straits require me to have a side job to earn money fast.

  25. These are some great tips, I actually did not think of many of these before, so thank you for the ideas!

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