I can’t relate to the desire to have a million side-hustles while working full time in order to make as much money as possible. I value my non-working hours as much as my working hours, and without them I begin to suffer the effects of burn-out.
However, there are a few ways I will sometimes engage in extra money-making on the side, when I have the time. Although these ideas aren’t all passive income sources, they are relatively low-effort, and are options that you can opt into when you have some spare time, and equally opt out of when you have too much else on your plate.
I’ve also rated these options on a scale from 1-5 on ease (how much work is involved?), how budget-friendly they are (how much money do I need to start?) and potential profit (how much can I make?).
1. Selling goods online
Budget friendly: 4/5
I have been a regular online seller for many years, as it’s also an effective decluttering technique. I regularly sell clothes, furniture, games, kitchen goods, gifts etc on Facebook marketplace, gumtree and eBay.
The main advice I can offer in how to do this effectively is take care of your items when you have them. If you buy a well-maintained second hand table and keep that table well-maintained, you can sell it later for the same price. Other than that, great photos will go a long way!
Online marketplaces are fairly intuitive to use, and it only takes a few minutes to post an ad. Ads are free to post, although most sites offer the option of paid ads for higher exposure. Facebook marketplace and gumtree take no selling fees, while eBay takes a small fee. Generally speaking, I would only recommend eBay for things that you are willing to post (e.g. small items that might have a niche audience and require wider exposure than the local community).
2. Market research surveys
Budget friendly: 5/5
Another method I use to make extra money each month is completing market research surveys. Surveys range in length from about 3 minutes to 30 minutes, and usually pay between $1 and $10 per survey. While this isn’t the most lucrative of options, it is extremely easy, and I usually complete surveys while I’m watching TV in the evening. I’m currently making about $100 extra each month.
I tend to stick to sites that pay in cash, rather than vouchers or online gifts. The two sites I currently use are Octopus Group* and PureProfile*, although if anyone has any other cash-paying sites (available to Australians) I’d be interested in hearing about them! The two sites I use are entirely free, earning this option a 5/5 for ‘budget-friendly’.
Although I only complete online surveys, you can also engage in more active market research, including focus groups and interviews. These will pay more than online surveys, but obviously also require more of your time.
3. Participating in university research
Budget friendly: 5/5
Profit: 4/5 (depending on the activities required)
Following on nicely from the previous option, you can also make money as a participant in university research. Check out the websites of universities in your local area to see if they are currently recruiting participants for any studies you might be interested in.
My partner loves running, and he recently participated in a study where he was required to run for 60 minutes in five different conditions (i.e. five runs of 60 minutes in total). He was paid $50 for each run. Conveniently, now that he has participated once, the university group continues to contact him when they require a participant for any similar upcoming research.
I’ve given this option a 1/5 for ease, as often it will require you to give up some of your time to complete the research activities. However, in my partner’s case, it was an activity he would have been doing anyway, so this wasn’t a big deal. It’s also likely to be a trade-off between ease and profit; the more extensive your participation, the more you are likely to receive as an incentive.
4. Passive investing (buy & hold)
Budget friendly: 4/5
Profit: 2/5 (short term); 5/5 (long term)
Investing in ETFs (exchange traded funds) is an extremely passive form of income, as the advice with these tends to be “buy and hold”. While interest earned on passive investing might seem negligible at first, over time, this will grow and grow, and you will begin to benefit from what’s known as compounding interest.
There was a time when investing was seen as something out of reach for most young people, as well as people without a wealth of stock market understanding and experience. However, with the rise of micro-investing platforms, this is no longer the case, and most people can start investing today with as little as $5.
The reason I haven’t awarded passive investing a 5/5 for ease is that I do recommend researching a little into which ETFs you would like to invest in, which platforms are available to buy units of these ETFs, and which fees and charges apply.
Depending on whether you are looking to invest small amounts or large amounts of money, and the frequency at which you would like to buy units, different platforms will be more suitable for you.
Another thing to keep in mind with utilising this strategy effectively is that you want to be sure that you won’t need the money you are investing in liquid in the short-term, as the longer you can hold your investments, the more lucrative they will be.
5. Matched Betting
Budget friendly: 3/5
No-risk matched betting involves taking advantage of betting site promotion deals that offer free bets (which they do regularly). Using free bets, you then bet on opposite outcomes on both the betting site and a betting exchange site, meaning you are betting both for and against an outcome, eliminating any risk or gamble.
I don’t engage in matched betting but my partner does, and he finds it enjoyable. I haven’t completely made my mind up on the ethics yet, as someone opposed to sites that profit from gambling. I’ll leave that up to you to decide for yourself. However, I will say it is by far the most lucrative of the options mentioned here (in the short term).
In order to place bets, you will need to have money in both of your betting accounts, which means some capital is needed for this option.
If you’re interested in matched betting, I would advise reading up to ensure proper understanding of the method first, as it can be tricky, and has high-stakes if you make an error. Once you are comfortable with the process, the ease drastically improves, as you can place bets from the comfort of your own home.
For more information and detailed instructions on matched betting in Australia BonusBank* is very useful. And in case of any confusion – matched betting is entirely legal, although if a betting company finds out that you are doing it they may suspend your account (they only like the type of betting that they profit from!).
*I’ve linked you to asterisked sites using ‘refer a friend’ links, but feel free to sign up separately if you prefer!
I’d love to know if you have any other quick, hassle-free ways to make extra money each month, or if you also take part in any of those listed here.