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I’ve quit at least 30 jobs in my life, some after the first day. I once backed out of buying a liquor store after two week of negotiations. My wife and I bought a rental property last year and sold it eight months later because I was tired of being a landlord.
Let’s face it, when it comes to making money, some of us have a problem with making a long-term commitment. Maybe that describes you too. If so, I have some good news. There are many ways to make money with a minimal commitment of time and capital. Here are ten of them…
1. Do Odd Jobs
Earlier in life, I found work landscaping, washing dogs, shoveling snow, cleaning foreclosed homes, babysitting, and chopping wood, among many other odd jobs.
It all started with me doing a few things for friends and family. Once you do enough of these kinds of tasks you develop a reputation, and the offers come in for you to accept or reject as the mood (and your financial situation) strikes you.
But now you don’t even have to bother with word-of-mouth marketing, thanks to TaskRabbit Open an account and connect with people who need errands run or small jobs done.
TaskRabbit notifies you when work is available nearby and you decide whether or not you’re interested. You have no commitment beyond the tasks you choose to do.
You can also find odd jobs by downloading the Gigwalk app to your iOS and Android device.
2. Work for a Day Labor Company
This is the only item on this list that’s an actual job, and the pay is awful, but there are reasons it’s included here and on my list of best second jobs. First, day labor is easy work to get. Often, you can apply and start working the same day.
Second, you typically get paid daily, when you finish working. Instant cash is nice, and this also means that when you quit you won’t have to go back weeks later to ask for your paycheck.
Third, you might like the variety of work. As a day laborer in Florida I held a sign on the side of the road for a big RV show, I installed restaurant equipment and wall-mounted televisions, and I did construction cleanup while keeping an eye on the nearby alligators. I opted out of joining the minimum-wage ditch-digging crew.
Fourth, this is the most informal low-commitment job you’ll find. I worked when I felt like it (you show up in the morning to see if work is available), and at some point I just stopped going. A company rep called much later to see if I was available, apparently unaware that I found a new job and hadn’t been there in months.
The application process is more involved and they might require a minimum commitment of time. You can find true day labor companies like Labor Works and Labor Finders (the one I worked for) by Googling “day labor” plus the name of your locality.
3. Do Some Freelance Writing
I enjoy writing for my favorite clients, so I don’t mind making a commitment to them, but I’m not sure I could ever write as a full-time employee. Fortunately, as a freelancer there are a number of ways you can write when you want to and stop when you want to.
First, you can find lists of blogs and websites that buy unsolicited articles, and choose the sites that fit with your preferred topics and style.
Keep in mind that even if you write fast, you’ll spend time on articles that don’t sell, as well as time filling out submission forms, collecting your pay, and organizing your business. So stick to websites that pay $50 or more.
You could consider writing for content mills. These companies provide cheap content for websites and pass along the savings to writers in the form of lower pay — much lower pay.
On the other hand, writer Heather Seggel says writing for content mills is not as bad as you think. She says they’re a great way to make some money while learning skills like how to write fast and write on any topic. I personally recommend using iWriter.
If you want a little fame and glory along with some money, you can try entering writing contests. The good ones charge nothing to enter, and some of them have prizes of $10,000 or more.
4. Sell Scrap Metal
Scrap metal recycling is here and on our list of businesses you can start for less than $200. It can become a big business from a small start, but that, of course, would require a major commitment of time and effort. Fortunately it can also be a way to make a few bucks without any investment or further commitment.
Start by setting aside and rounding up any metals around your home. You might have beer cans, old broken aluminum chairs, or a busted air conditioner (they have valuable copper coils and aluminum fins).
Find scrap metal buyers near you online and call them all to see which ones pay the highest prices. Then bring them your stuff and collect the cash.
Once you know metal values you can keep your eyes open for bigger opportunities. A friend tells me he offered to haul away some old air conditioners for a store, and made two hundred dollars selling the metals in them.
If you see old washers and dryers and other metal appliances in the garages or basements of friends and family, that’s an opportunity.
5. Rent Out Your Spare Bedroom
I paid off my first mortgage by renting out rooms, and I didn’t invest anything other than some time to clean them. I loved the income, and with no leases plus weekly rent it was easier to ask tenants to leave than it was when I owned rental homes. But living full time with others might be too much of a commitment for you.
In that case, you might prefer to just do occasional rentals for a night or a week. For that you can use platforms like Airbnb. If you live in one of the cities with the highest Airbnb rates, renting out a room for one weekend per month can put thousands of dollars annually in your pocket.
As with everything else listed here, you have minimal commitment. If you get tired of having house guests, stop advertising. When you’re ready to do it again, you’re back in business with a few clicks.
6. Flip Stuff on Craigslist
I once took a kitchen table from a dumpster and used it for a year, and then sold it for $50 on Craigslist. You might be surprised by the valuable finds waiting for you in dumpsters. Peruse the dumpster diving thread on Reddit for more examples.
You can also flip Craigslist freebies. Under the Craigslist “for sale” section, click the “free” link and you’ll see many things being given away. Some are valuable enough to sell as they are, as long as you can grab them before someone else does. Other items might need some minor repairs and cleaning to sell.
Free is a great wholesale cost, but you can also flip things you pay for. Ryan Finlay, a regular Craiglist flipper, made $700 one day, and that included selling a clothes dryer for $200 that he bought for $25.
7. Play Financial Games
By “financial games,” I mean small projects that don’t involve normal investing or business practices. I’ve previously written about how I made $2,375 from bank bonuses last year. You do have to commit some money to this process, but you don’t risk anything.
Another example is collecting credit card sign-up bonuses. That’s made me at least $2,000 per year for a few years now. It also explains why, even after closing at least one account per month, I still have over 20 credit cards.
Another example: I used to buy five $200 debit gift cards at a time at Staples, load them onto my Bluebird account using the Walmart “Money Center,” then move the money to my bank account. I paid $29.75 in fees for the cards and collected $51.49 in cash back on a business card that pays 5% cash-back at office supply stores.
The profit was about $20, and I tried to do it at least once every week on my way to play chess. Sadly, Bluebird changed the rules and recently started shutting down accounts.
Again, there is no long-term commitment. I haven’t opened a bank account in several months (a long time for me), because I haven’t felt like dealing with it to make a $150 or $200 bonus.
8. Be a Website Tester
I put on my headset, logged in to my account, found an assignment, and clicked through to a website. Then I clicked “record” and described what I saw as I explored the pages. Ten minutes later I clicked the button to submit my review. I was done and I was $10 richer. I did this work for a few months.
That’s basically what you do as a website tester. It helps owners know if their sites are easy to understand and navigate, and where they might make changes to improve the user’s experience. Depending on the particulars of the website and the client’s requirements, the process takes you 5 to 20 minutes.
You’re typically paid $10 for each website tested, and you may get only a few assignments per month from a given company. But if you sign up with several companies that have these positions you might make a nice part-time income. Here are three companies that hire website testers:
The biggest problem I had was the qualification process. Clients want a certain demographic, and often, after answering several questions, I was rejected for an assignment. This waste of time can reduce your hourly pay substantially.
To avoid this problem (somewhat), carefully and completely fill out your profile when you first sign up. That way you’re more likely to be offered testing assignments for which you’ll actually qualify.
The general qualifications for these positions vary by company, but you almost always need to have the following:
- A computer
- A microphone
- Broadband internet
You’ll also fill out that profile with your age, gender, and other details of your life and experience, and you may have to do a sample test or two before you are deemed eligible. You usually need a PayPal account to get paid.
9. Do Some Busking
I haven’t tried busking, otherwise known as street performing, but I’ve added to the pile of currency at a few performances.
If you’re a musician read up on how to make big money as a street performer and get out there. Once again, this is something you can do when you feel like it. There are no commitments or schedules for street performers.
If you can’t sing, juggle, play guitar, contort your body, or do magic tricks, invest in a costume and take tips from people who want their photo taken with you. My wife and once I gave a giant multi-colored robot $2 for this honor, and we watched others line up to do the same.
10. Donate Sperm
This is another one I haven’t tried, and I’m not sure prospective parents are looking for DNA from seldom-employed, fifty-something writers.
But if you want to try this, an online sperm bank directory will point you to the nearest depository. If you’re a woman, one egg bank says, “donors are reimbursed for their time and effort $3,000 – $6,000 for each cycle.” But that’s a much more involved process.
Sperm donation, while not as profitable initially (but still up to $1,000 per month according to one sperm bank), is less invasive and requires less commitment.
This isn’t necessarily easy. Sperm banks are rejecting redheads and excluding many others for various reasons. Still, it seems like a nice irony that someone else will commit to 18 years of child-rearing using your DNA, for which you make decent money — without further commitment.
What minimal-commitment work have you done to pay the bills? Tells us all about it, and happy frugaling!