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Your time is valuable, so aim high. Your target rate: $50 per hour. Let’s assume asking the boss for a big raise isn’t going to get you there. What else can you do to make that hourly wage?
First let’s get the bad news out of the way. The strategies covered here are only good for a few hours at a time of highly-paid work. No full-time gigs.
The good news is that there are several ways to be paid well for you time. Frugal strategies are also included because saving money can be like making money. After all, if you spend a dollar less on something, you’re basically a dollar richer, right? Better than that, a dollar saved is all yours, while a dollar earned will be taxed.
So let’s take a look at some of the ways you can make or save $50 per hour…
1. Earn Credit Card Signup Bonuses
I was approved for two new credit cards in the last two weeks. One offers a signup bonus of $100 for spending $1,000 on the card in the first 90 days. The other will pay me $200 for putting just $500 on the card in the first 60 days.
The application process takes a few minutes. When you get the card you have to call to activate it, which takes a few minutes at most. Then you just start using the new card to make purchases you would normally make, possibly taking some time to track expenditures so you’re sure you’ll meet the required minimum “spend” to earn the bonus.
As you might guess, making $50 per hour doing this is not difficult. I recently received a bonus of $500, and I figure I spent an hour or so dealing with the application and tracking my expenditures. That means I made ten times our target rate.
Although this is not something you can repeat endlessly, I’ve made as much as $2,000 in a year from credit card signup bonuses. Also, there are at least sixteen other ways to make or save money with credit cards, some of which might yield $50 per hour for you efforts.
2. Go Green Selectively
Whenever we buy a home (five in the last ten years) I quickly change out some light bulbs and do a few other things to increase our energy efficiency. Is it worth the time? More to the point of this article, can you save $50 for every hour of your time spent on “going green?”
You can if you make the right changes.
The wrong changes are ones that cost too much for the savings. For example, switching out an old light bulb in a corner of a rarely-visited basement is a waste of time. The savings on your electric bill may not ever even pay for that $5 LED bulb.
On the other hand, the U.S.Department of Energy says, “By replacing your home’s five most frequently used light fixtures or bulbs with models that have earned the ENERGY STAR, you can save $75 each year.” It might take you an hour to buy and replace five bulbs, so even if you stay in your home for just a couple years the effort could be worth more than $100 per hour.
Which efforts will pay (save) the most for your time depends on your home. For example, a leaky toilet flapper can cost $70 per month in water, so that’s probably worth fixing.
The Department of Energy has a Home Energy Audit video that walks you through the process of checking out your homes efficiency. That can help you identify where you’re likely to save the most money.
3. Buy Discounted Gift Cards
If you go to Raise or Cardpool to buy Walgreen’s gift cards, you might get a 12% discount. On a $25 card that’s $3 you’ll save. If you buy Walmart gift cards, with their typical 2% discount, you’ll save just 50 cents on $25. Either way it takes time to find the best deal and place the order, so how do you use discounted gift cards to save at least $50 per hour?
Buy only high-discount cards and apply them to large purchases.
For example, Home Depot and Lowes gift cards can often be found online for a 7% discount. If you order enough to pay for a $800 hot water heater or a washer/dryer combo, it will save you $56, and probably take less than an hour.
4. Upgrade to a Better Bank Account
Let’s say you have $6,000 saved, and it’s earning the current average money market savings account rate of 0.11%. If you move that to one of the banks that offer $1.05% on savings you’ll make an extra .94%, or $56.24 per year.
That’s not a dramatic gain, and you could easily spend more than an hour moving your money. But the thing about changing bank accounts to earn more interest is that the extra earnings keep coming in. In three years you’ll be $168 further ahead, which means you made at least $50 per hour for the time it took to change accounts
And, of course, if you have more money saved, or you continue to add to your savings, you’ll do even better.
Changing banks can also save you a lot of money. For example, if you pay $10 in monthly fees for checking, and you move to a free checking account, in the first three years you’ll save $360. That’s worth a few hours to research, locate, and move to a better bank, right?
5. Play Monopoly at Your Supermarket
By the time you read this it may be too late to play the Monopoly Game at Safeway and other stores (Albertsons, Vons, Shaws, and more). No worries, just wait; it seems to be an annual event now. Sadly, the odds of a big prize (or even a $5 grocery gift card) are so terrible that playing the game isn’t likely to pay even $1 per hour.
But you don’t have to play the game to win, because there are “instant winners” in the form of coupons for freebies. So to (possibly) make $50 per hour, open the cards, throw away the game pieces, and keep any coupons for freebies. So far, for a few minutes of my time in recent weeks, I’ve received for free:
- A bottle of aspirin
- A bagel
- A loaf of French bread
- A container of salt
I didn’t use any special techniques to collect more game cards. I only hit the sales at Safeway, and only occasionally, because it’s too expensive for regular shopping.
A confession: My wife and I keep the game pieces despite the the likelihood of winning nothing from those.
But if you do play the game, it’s inefficient to tear apart and paste the papery pieces onto the “game board.” Instead, check them against an online list of rare monopoly pieces to see if you have any valuable ones. If you do you’ll have to complete the winning ticket with more common pieces, or just sell the rare ones on eBay.
6. Get a Raise
Yes, we agreed that your boss isn’t going to give you a raise to $50 per hour. On the other hand, you might get something if you ask, and that can be well worth the time and effort.
For example, let’s say you spend two hours to prepare for a raise request and it results in an extra 50 cents per hour. That adds up to $1,000 per year if you work full time.
Of course, your employer is going to recognize your value and give you a raise at some point anyhow, right? So let’s just say the two hours you spend on preparation (researching wages of other employees, writing up a list of accomplishments, etc.) gets you the raise six months earlier than when you would have received it. That’s an extra $500 for two hours’ work, or $250 per hour.
A raise is not the only way to make more money at work. You also might be well-paid for your time if you look over my list of ways to use your job to make more money and implement one or two of the strategies there.
7. Find a Better Insurance Policy
When we recently moved to Tucson Arizona I bought insurance for our condo and car in hurry, thinking I got a good deal on each policy. Later, after we had settled in, I called around and found policies that saved me almost $200 per year.
Total time invested? Maybe two hours. Savings rate: $100 per hour.
Set aside a time to briefly check out all of you insurance policies, and if you suspect that any of them can be bought for less, get online and get on the phone to get quotes.
8. Rent Rooms in Your Home
I recently wrote about how I paid off my first mortgage by renting out rooms. One issue I didn’t address was how much time it takes. You have to place ads for tenants, interview them, have occasional talks with them, chase after rent payments, etc. That all takes time.
How much time? I figure I spent an extra 50 hours annually dealing with all rental matters. So in the years when I made a profit of more than $10,000 I earned $200 per hour being a landlord in my own home. In all the years I rented rooms I never made less than $100 per hour for my time.
I rented out two to three bedrooms at any given time. If you rent out just one bedroom at $100 weekly you’ll bring in $4,800 annually (figuring $400 for expenses), and you’re unlikely to spend more than 40 hours on “landlording duties.” You can do the math.
9. Collect Bank Bonuses
As soon as I finish this article I’m headed to a Chase Bank to open a new savings account. I’ll keep it open for three months to earn a $200 bonus. That’s $150 more than what I would make from interest if I left the money where it is (you have to do the math). The bank is two miles away, so there I’ll drive a total of 8 miles to open and close the account, at a cost of $0.30 per mile, or $2.40. Total profit: $147.60.
I’ll spend an hour (at most) to open the account, and another hour to monitor and close it. My rate of pay for this project: $73.80 per hour.
Like all of the strategies here, this one is limited. You can’t find and open endless bonus-offer bank accounts. But you can open a few. As I reported in my post on how to make thousands of dollars from bank bonuses, I made over $2,300 last year. I may have spent 40 hours doing that.
10. Clip Coupons
Some frugal bloggers say it’s possible to make $100 per hour clipping coupons. I doubt most couponers make a tenth of that, but it does depend on how you do it.
For example, grocery coupons are often a waste of time for my wife and I. We don’t buy many name brand foods, and even with a coupon they can still cost more, not less.
On the other hand, we eat out pretty often, so when we see “buy an entree get one free” coupons for local restaurants, we save those. And we definitely used the free movie coupon we recently received from a new theater in town.
It takes time to search for, cut out, and organize coupons. So to save at least $50 per hour for your effort, focus on high-value coupons for things you normally buy.
A fifteen-cent coupon for almost anything is hardly worth the effort of picking up the scissors. On the other hand, finding, clipping, organizing, and using $5 coupons for things like your usual dog food or a case of your favorite beer may take only three minutes each on average. Coupons like those put you close to $100 per hour for your effort.
What have you done to make or save at least $50 per hour? Tell us about it below, and happy frugaling!