Fast Cash: Ways to Make Extra Money

When I was a kid my sister and I used to sell cupcakes and cookies in the neighborhood.

Sometimes we’d get asked, “What are you selling these for?” to which my sister, ever the entrepreneur would reply, “For us!”

As an adult there are many ways to make money on the side and a lot of them people are unaware of.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Make money doing what you love.

Take some time to determine what you really enjoy and are good at and you may find a hidden source of income, says one career coach.

“Things that we are naturally, instinctively good at, things that are our talents, we take them so much for granted that we don’t realize that not everybody has that talent, and we can take that to the workplace,” said Helen Harkness, president of Career Design Associates, Inc. in Garland, TX.

My best friend does floral installations on the side for individuals and the holidays are an especially lucrative time for her.

You can grow and sell organic produce, sell computer items you find, sell crafts at your local flea market by renting a small booth for fee, and sell homemade CDs and tapes to friends.

Harkness has seen many examples of women finding ways to make money doing what they love with their talents.

“If we’re going to succeed in today’s crazy world, we have to know our skills and our talents,” she says.

Try dog-walking on for size or sign up with a pet sitting service for holiday pay. At Thanksgiving or Christmas you’ll make a lot of money.

You can make up to $16 per hour or clear $600 in two weeks like I did at Christmas the first year I worked for Abbeys Pet and House Sitting in Fort Worth.

Pet sitters serve several local neighborhoods and the boss generally looks for people from those neighborhoods or who don’t mind driving a little distance that are available and flexible.

What started out as a hobby for some becomes a full-time business but if you’re just looking to supplement your income try working for an established company that is bonded and insured.

If you’re working for a pet-sitting company you have control of your schedule for the most part.

For more information about pet sitting, check out the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ web site at petsitters.org.

Answer a casting call.

“A lot of people think it’s hard to get into this business but it’s not,” said Tracy Terrell, producer and casting director for Key Squared Productions in Las Colinas in a local newspaper article.

Terrell said the Dallas area is a great place to find work as an extra or helping out a film crew.

The best way to find work is to skim through newspaper classifieds and Web sites, such as Craiglist.org, Mandy.com, and Myspace.com, she says.

“Sometimes it’s just food and they’re promised a copy of the finished show,” said Terrell.

If you decide to answer the call, make sure you’re cleared your calendar for the day, since being an extra almost always requires a lot of waiting around, she says.

As with any offer to make quick cash, though, you have to be aware of scam artists.

“To make extra money in this business you do not need to spend money,” said Terrell.

Terrell say she’s always looking for extras in the area and you can email her at tracy.terrell@comcast.net to be added to her talent list.

Be a mystery shopper.

You’ve gotten Spam emails touting the earning potential for mystery shoppers, but there is a legitimate market for mystery shoppers – with no investment required.

The Mystery Shopping Providers Association estimates there are 1.5 million mystery shoppers in the country.

Not all jobs pay but give reimbursement for the service being researched.

You should never be asked to pay to register with a company or get information on mystery shopping jobs and you should be told up from what your compensation will be.

The Mystery Shoppers Association Web site, mysteryshop.org, offers a wealth of information on mystery shopping as well as an assignment board to search for jobs.

Sell your books, CDS, and DVDs at Half-Price Books for the price of a $1 Jumbo Jack at Jack in the Box or a couple of dollars for gas.

To find the closest store go to halfpricebooks.com.

Turn in used video games.

If you’ve got games you’ve finished playing or the kids have outgrown, take them to GameStop (gamestop.com) or EB Games (ebgames.com).

“We buy back all games,” said Chris Olivera, director of public relations for Game Stop in a Dallas News article.

Sell it in the classifieds.

Newspaper ads are a great way to sell things you no longer need or want.

Since its start in 1995, Craigslist has gained a following with its simple design and non-commercial approach.

Ads are free in Dallas and that site currently gets more than 20 million page views and more than 30,000 new classified ads each month, says spokeswoman Susan MacTavish Best in a recent interview.

A relative newcomer to the local-classifieds business, LiveDeal.com was founded in 2003 by eBay veteran Rajesh Navar.

LiveDeal uses a slightly different model than Craigslist, offering users the choice of browsing a local region within a 50mile radius of their home or by city and state.

Like Craigslist, the site also has measures to block spammers.

Or sell it in The Dallas Morning News classifieds.

Put it on the auction block.

If you’ve been wondering what to do with that extra piece of furniture or a record collection gathering dust in the attic, maybe it’s time to try you luck on eBay.

According to a recent survey conducted for eBay by ACNielson International Research, 1.5 million people said they supplement their income by selling on eBay.

Do research studies for extra money by checking out local universities and hospitals. If you live in Dallas/Fort Worth, the University of North Texas Health Science Center (hsc.unt.edu) has research studies year-round practically except for in the summer.

Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas does numerous research studies on bipolar disorder and other health issues for compensation.

You can also go to benchmarkresearch.net and sign up for research studies there. The only glitch on that company is they don’t pay till the study is over and they last several weeks.

Ask your doctor’s office if they have any research studies going on – on a regular basis. You get financial compensation and medical exams plus medication for free.

Participate in focus groups. These are held a lot in Dallas. Check the newspapers and do a Google search on the web to find them.

Sign up to be part of a mock jury trial by perusing the general help wanted or miscellaneous ads of your Sunday paper when a law firm will place an ad for those interested. They pay cash and provide lunch and it’s usually an all-day thing but it’s very interesting and enlightening.

Of course there’s always the yard sale which requires lots of advertising and good prices for success.

You can also sign up with temporary agencies for holiday help or go to the mall and apply for seasonal jobs but you have to do this early before all the school kids snatch them up.

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