Getting serious about your finances usually means paying off debt or saving money. Those goals are made easier by increasing your income. The amount needed varies depending on your situation, but if you’ve ever wondered how to make an extra $500 a month, we’ve got you covered with this list of side hustles or small businesses you can start.
The most straightforward way to make more money is to work more hours at your regular job.
If that’s not an option, look for side hustles or a small business to establish, as long as those activities are not a conflict of interest with your current job. Some types of jobs are tricky like that, so make sure you understand any restrictions that apply to your current position.
I’ve built up a virtual bookkeeping business over the last 7 years, so I know from personal experience that it is a relatively affordable side hustle option with great potential. With my client base & experience, I can earn over $2000/month working 15 hours a week or less.
The cheapest & easiest way to start a bookkeeping side hustle is to work for someone else. You may need to become certified in some way, such as a Certified Public Bookkeeper or an Intuit Certified QuickBooks User.
Working as an employee allows you to avoid most start-up costs and takes away the struggle of finding new clients. Marketing and new client orientation are some of the most difficult areas for small business owners, making employment an attractive option.
On the other hand, working as an independent contractor gives you more control over the services you provide. For example, I strongly dislike tax preparation, so I choose to only prepare taxes for a few family members. It’s not a service I offer to other clients. On the other hand, I don’t mind preparing checks, so I offer bill payment services to my clients.
Starting your own virtual bookkeeping business isn’t incredibly complex or expensive, but this side hustle should only be taken on if you have the knowledge and experience. I have a Master’s of Professional Accountancy, which is overkill for a bookkeeping position. I do recommend at least an associate’s degree in accounting unless you have previous experience under an employer.
Dog walking is another way to make an extra $500 a month where you can work for yourself or for through a platform.
Again, starting your own business will be a slower process and involve more startup capital. Advertising for new customers would fall on you as well. You would have more flexibility regarding rates, scheduling, and who you work with though.
Walking dogs through an online platform is a much easier way to get started. Clients are more likely to be waiting for you and your income could be more consistent, depending on demand in your area. You will probably have to pay fees to use the platform though and they might control your rates, depending on which platform you use.
Some of the most common websites to match dog walkers and pet owners are Rover, Wag, Barkly Pets, Holidog, and PetBacker. How to Make Money Walking Dogs – Best Dog Walking Jobs has a great breakdown of the benefits and drawbacks for each of these platforms. Make sure to pay attention to the number of pet owner users in your area. Signing up with a really great app won’t help if there are no local owners using it.
The above article also provides information on becoming a certified dog walker. It’s not necessary but will help you stand out in a competitive market.
Pet sitting and/or house sitting
Pet sitting involves caring for someone’s pets while they’re out of town or working long hours. You may be asked to walk or exercise a dog in addition to feeding and watering the animals.
House sitting means staying at another’s home while they’re away and caring for the house, collecting mail, etc. House sitting and pet sitting jobs can be combined, especially when the pets need more involved care, such as elderly pets or dogs vs. cats.
Many of the dog walking platforms have options for pet sitting, as does Care.com. You could also start your own business and find clients by yourself.
A clean background check and impeccable references are essential to success in a position like this, where trust is so important. You also need to be up for a variety of duties, such as cleaning and basic home maintenance.
Providing cleaning services is another way to make an extra $500 a month, either as a small business owner or by working for another provider. If you require clients to provide their own cleaning supplies, your startup costs will be pretty low. Not providing supplies could reduce the number of interested customers you come across.
Offering unusual hours, such as evenings or weekends, could help you find loyal customers who haven’t had luck with other services. Of course, make sure to not put yourself in a dangerous situation. Another good off-hours option is cleaning commercial spaces while they’re closed.
Take your new business a step further by getting insured. Insurance will help homeowners feel more comfortable leaving you alone in their homes.
Babysitting or daycare
Parents always need someone to watch their children. I’m a stay-at-home mom and would love some childcare help so I could get more done, both around the house and work-wise.
To find children to watch, reach out to your network first. A simple post on Facebook might be enough to kick off this side hustle. If your local contacts don’t have opportunities, a website like Care.com or a childcare-oriented Facebook group is a great place to find a job.
In my area, reliable, qualified babysitters are worth their weight in gold. Becoming CPR certified or having great references could be enough to fill all your free time with babysitting jobs.
I’m also part of a group of parents of young children with disabilities or complex medical needs. We all agree that competent, qualified care is almost impossible to find. If you have special skills, like a background in nursing, special education, or as a therapeutic provider, you could target special needs families when looking for caregiving jobs… and probably be overwhelmed by the options available.
Research your state’s laws, but you may also be able to watch children in your home. There are rules about how many non-related kids you can watch at one time. That’s a nice option if you have children of your own who need care at the same time. Even if you watch two children a few days a week, you can easily make an extra $500 a month, depending on rates in your area. Part-time care is usually difficult to find in a traditional daycare setting, so this could be the perfect solution for you and a local family or two
The internet has made finding freelance writing gigs easier than ever before. You can start your own blog, write for Medium, or reply to Help a Reporter Out (HARO) requests.
There are about a thousand blogging courses out there, and so many ways to spend money before you make any. Trust me, blogging isn’t a quick money-maker… but it is possible.
Writing for Medium is another option for getting your content in front of readers. Once you have an audience established, you can earn money through Medium by putting your writing behind a paywall. Obviously, there are steps to follow to monetize on Medium, but it’s a pretty simple way to make a little money.
Help a Reporter (HARO) is a service that matches reporters with sources. You can sign up to be a source, and you’ll receive three emails each weekday with reporters’ requests. Email back with a well-thought-out response. When your pitch is chosen, you should be credited and your website linked to, which builds your authority. Accreditation and/or a link aren’t always given, and most of your pitches will be rejected, but HARO is one of the most highly recommended methods for increasing authority and your reach.
Driving for Lyft, Uber, etc.
I have never driven for a fee before, but driving could be a way to make an extra $500 a month. On the surface, setup is pretty easy – just sign up with the provider you prefer, log into the app when you’re ready to drive, and fulfill requests.
There are other considerations though; you can’t just start driving and rake in the cash. Rates vary by location, date, and time. Surge pricing, or higher prices, happens during high traffic events, but those fares may be more difficult to get. The ethics of surge pricing are also questionable.
Drivers are 1099 contractors, meaning the companies do not withhold any state or federal taxes from payments. You need to remember to save at least 25-30% of each check to cover taxes at the end of the year. Many forget this step, meaning they can owe more than they have available in savings.
Personal auto insurance policies don’t typically cover the use of personal vehicles for commercial purposes, such as delivery driving. Uber or Lyft may provide coverage when a passenger is in your car, but the time between accepting a passenger and picking them up is a gray area that doesn’t usually have coverage.
Any accidents during that time would be your personal responsibility with no insurance assistance. You may be able to get a commercial policy to cover that gap, but they’re usually significantly more expensive than personal policies.
You also need to ensure that the fare offered is enough to cover at least fuel and your time. Even better, you should try to earn enough to cover auto insurance, repairs, and maintenance on your vehicle.
I’ve never tried to sell my collection of Target clothes, but if you already own nicer pieces you can make money by reselling clothing. If you don’t have a full closet, you might be able to find high-quality items at thrift stores and resell them.
Anyone with a love for fashion or accessories could easily make an extra $500 a month reselling thrift store finds, but the time commitment could be significant. Make sure you’re earning a reasonable hourly rate for your efforts.
One of the biggest clothing resale platforms is Poshmark, which also acts as a social site. There is a strategy to list items and share postings, which is detailed more in How to Make Money With Poshmark.
Pursue your talents to make an extra $500 a month
You have unique talents and skills, so monetize them if you can. You’ll be happier making money in a way that you enjoy versus slogging through boring tasks.
Turn your particular skills into money as a:
- Musician or singer
- English teacher
- House painter
- Car detailer
- Personal assistant
- Virtual assistant
You can change your future, but it will take work. Saving money and cutting expenses is great, but you can only cut so much. That’s when you have to get creative about increasing your income.