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In the U.S., full time workers average 47 hours of work per week. And they take only half as many vacation days as European workers.
Hey, I like money (who doesn’t?), but I prefer to work as little as possible to make it. For example, I’m lying in bed writing this article right now, but I’ll quit in an hour and finish it tomorrow.
I could make more money if I worked more, but when it comes to income-generating efforts I prefer to aim for efficiency rather than quantity or frequency. Some will call this laziness, and that’s okay; it takes too much energy to care what others think.
Why not look for the easiest, least-time-consuming ways to make a buck? Doing so leaves you with more time and energy for… hiking in the mountains.
Okay, that’s my hobby; maybe you want time to play with the kids, read a book, travel the world, or engage in other non-work-related activities. If so, keep reading.
And you might also want to read “The Lazy Person’s Guide To Frugality.” Spending less money means you won’t need to make as much, which means even less work.
Of course you do still have to make some money, so let’s look at a few strategies for doing that with as little effort as possible…
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1. Start A Business The Right Way, And With An Exit Plan
It can take a lot of work to make a business successful. So perhaps this isn’t the route for the truly lazy. On the other hand, that work doesn’t necessarily continue. In fact owning a business can mean a lot less time and effort over the years, versus working at a job.
For example, my wife and I worked hard to build our internet publishing business, but within a few years we were doing six-figures and could ignore the business for a month at a time while we traveled. Or we could work just a few hours weekly.
We also banked enough money to semi-retire when we want (like now).
The problem with building a business is that the long hours and hard work can become a bad habit. So have an exit plan. When you start, understand how (and when) you’re going to sell or close down the business.
Also, stay away from businesses that require a lot of capital and large overhead expenses. If you invest very little and have no heavy lease payments or other regular expenses, and things go wrong, you won’t lose money and you won’t have to have to work for years to pay off debts.
For example, our business, which we started for a few hundred dollars, and which had less than $100 in monthly operating expenses, has essentially failed, but it has never shown a loss.
And remember, your goal is to make the most you can in the least amount of time, so you can save some money and then relax.
2. Earn Bank Bonuses
In 2018 I opened (and closed) about 15 bank accounts to earn account-opening bonuses. I’ve been doing this for a while now, earning up to $3,000 in some years. As explained in my article on how to make thousands of dollars from bank bonuses, I probably make close to $40 per hour for my efforts.
A list of the best current bank bonuses will get you started. Aim for the highest-dollar offers ($200 and up), because the point is to make as much as possible for your time.
In fact, that’s a key to my lazy man’s approach; find projects that pay you more per hour than a job, and do enough of them to avoid employment. Here’s another example…
3. Make Money With Credit Cards
I’ve written about the many ways to make money with credit cards, but you might find some of them to be pretty tedious. If you don’t enjoy playing financial games like I do, stick to the ones that earn you $30 or more per hour for your effort.
For example, many of the best credit card signup bonuses can be earned just by using your new card for normal purchases. Do the easy ones that pay at least $100. I’ve topped $2,000 in credit card bonuses some years.
When you’re not working on earning a signup bonus, be sure to use your best cash-back credit card for every purchase you make. It can take very little extra effort to make a few hundred dollars extra each year.
4. Move Your Bank Account
Moving your money from one bank to another may seem like a pain, but again, it’s a way to make a good amount of money for your effort.
For example, if you have an average balance of $10,000 and you move from a 1% account to one of the better bank accounts that pay, say 2.45% at CitBank, that’s roughly an extra $150 in interest per year. If it takes two hours you made $75 per hour the first year.
While you’re at it you might also move your account to avoid fees. Eliminating a monthly account fee of $10 saves you $120 the first year (and more as time goes by). That’s worth an hour or two of trouble, right?
Move that bank account! Or consider the options more broadly, and…
5. Invest Wisely
If you have a little more money saved, evaluating your investment options in general will pay you well. With $40,000 invested, the difference between 3% (US treasuries, for example) and 8% (online REITs, for example) is $2,000 more income annually.
That extra money keeps coming in for years, so it might be worth spending a few (or even a few dozen) hours studying your options and reinvesting your savings.
6. Learn To Calculate Your True Hourly Wage
I’ve explained the concept of “true hourly wage” in an article detailing a job where I made just $2.71 per hour. The short version: Subtract from your income all expenses related to earning it (taxes, transportation, tools, etc.), and divide the result by the total of all hours needed to make it (including drive time, etc.).
The point is to know what you really make so you can compare your income-generating options fairly. If you’re like me, you value your time above all else, so how much you make for each hour of effort is more relevant than what you make per week or year.
7. Rent Out A Room (Or Two)
When I was younger, one of the easiest ways I found to make money was to rent out bedrooms in my home. It took relatively little effort to set up each stream of income (up to $4,000 per year from each room).
You can learn more from my article on how to pay off the mortgage by renting out rooms (and yes, my first home was owned free-and-clear within a few short years).
Doing short-term rentals using Airbnb might work well for you too, although it seems like a lot more work to me.
8. Get A Raise
Asking the boss for raise might not be fun, but for the time invested it can be one of the most productive things you can do. For example, if you spend two hours preparing for and getting a raise of 50 cents per hour, you’ll make an extra $1,000 in the next year. That’s $500 per hour for your effort!
Considering the amount of extra income a raise can mean, you should do more than just make a casual request. First prepare by investigating what employees in similar positions make, and have a list of what you’ve done to help your employer make more money.
9. Skip College
A college degree can mean a larger salary. That’s if you get the right degree and put it to use, which may not happen. Consider that in the U.S. more than 100,000 janitors and 300,000 waiters have bachelor’s degrees.
And even that higher income is to some extent deceptive. After all, a degree cost money and time. You pay big bucks to struggle with that schoolwork year after year. So don’t forget those factors when calculating the value of that piece of paper, and maybe consider just skipping those years of hard unpaid work.
Education is always a great idea (that’s what this article is about after all), but get the right kind at the right price. To help you out, we’ve previously covered ways to skip college and get paid to get educated.
We’ve also covered ways to be successful without a college degree. For example, there’s a reason so many people with a degree work as waiters and waitresses. When bartending or waiting tables in the right places they can make more money than they would have at jobs where they used their degrees.
10. Develop Passive Income
The idea of passive income is that you put in the work upfront, and then the income keeps coming in more or less automatically. Some strategies are more passive than others, but in any case, you should be able to maintain the income with very little effort.
The classic example is rental real estate. When my wife and I rented out a condo we owned, we hired management, at which point our “work” for the next year was one phone call to authorize a toilet repair.
Income from websites can be an even better stream of income. As mentioned, our online business has largely failed, but even so I still make $100 or so every month from websites I haven’t even looked at in years.
You can find other suggestions in my article, “17 Ways To Create Passive Income.”
Call it lazy or just call it smart, but there are ways to work a lot less and still get the bills paid.
If you have found some easy ways to make money, tell us all about them … and keep on frugaling!