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16 Ways to Make Pocket Money

Updated on March 28, 2018
"All You Collect May Be Sold," a photo used by permission of Henry Garciga
"All You Collect May Be Sold," a photo used by permission of Henry Garciga

Making sidebar money can save your tail!

Hey, when times are hard, nearly everybody needs extra cash, a.k.a, that “put it in your pocket and forget about it kind of money.” So here are 16 ways you can earn such money:

1. Work as a House Player in a Cardroom

I’ve actually done this, but it was a long time ago. In order to work as a house player or shill, you’ll need to go to one of those cardrooms that offer player-versus-player games, not where everybody plays against the house. Then you play cards using house money. They pay you so much per shift, and then you can stuff the cash in your pocket with no audit trail. You could also get work as a so-called proposition player, which pays perhaps $20 per hour, but prop players have to play with their own money. Trouble is, one “unlucky” streak could wipe out your bankroll. That's too much like gambling!

Anyway, this kind of independent contractor work, if you will, works best in establishments where they offer games such as lowball or draw poker. California has lots of these so-called casinos. But don’t just walk into one of them and ask if you can work as a shill! You’ll need to inquire discreetly – and you also better be able to play poker like a pro. Good luck!

2. Use Your Vehicle as a Taxi

You can charge people whatever you want to give them rides around town. I charge at least $5 for a short drive and as much as $20 or more for a long one. You can charge even more if you use your vehicle to move stuff such as building materials, tools, furniture, pets, trash or whatever. You could also charge people for being the “designated driver” for a night on the town.

This way of making extra cash probably worked better before the advent of Uber cabs, whose fares vary according to one’s location. Uber cabbies also make you pay for the time it takes to get to your destination. So, if you don’t charge for your time, just the distance, you may be able to undercut their fares somewhat - or a lot.

3. Recycle Aluminum Cans, Plastic or Bottles

If you’re inclined to dumpster dive, you can make money by collecting used aluminum cans, plastic and bottles. This place in South Sacramento pays $1.90 per pound for aluminum cans and 93 cents per pound for #1 plastic (the clear plastic often used for beverage containers.) For other plastics they pay different amounts, and 10 cents per pound for glass bottles. Some recycling centers pay more than others, so you should shop around. But be careful, some communities have ordinances against people scavenging for cans and such! Incidentally, some people make $25 or so a week doing this, working only an hour or two a day, and all you have to do is sign your name (or someone else's ) when you cash in your recyclables. Since the income is nontaxable, you don't need to show ID.

Actually the state of California tries to make people pay taxes on this type of income, but if you’re a low income person, you won’t have to pay state income taxes anyway. Of course, other states have different tax laws.

If you want more information about collecting, please click on the following link: Trash Money.

4. Wash Windows at Homes or Businesses

If you wash the windows of businesses, you can make perhaps $25 per hour, because, after all, few people want to do windows! But you’ll need some equipment – a ladder or two, squeegees, buckets and some window cleaner. Also keep in mind that if you work for a business, they’ll probably have you fill out a W9 form, initiating an audit trail for this money. Perhaps you should wash windows for private citizens who generally don’t bother with such paper work. Also, you can promote your “business” by printing some flyers on your computer printer.

5. Sell Bottled Water

These days, just about everybody buys bottled water. So go to the grocery story or wherever and buy some half-liter bottles of water for as cheap as you can possibly get them. (By the way, you can purchase water, bottled or otherwise, with food stamps.) Then find a place that gets lots of foot traffic and sell your water for a $1 a bottle. You can sell this water at flea markets, art walks, concerts or sporting events, but you’ll need a business permit, sales license or tax account (whatever they require), as well as the permission of the people having the event, all of which would complicate matters considerably and bite into profits.

6. Sell Used Books, Magazines, CDs, DVDs, Vinyl, VHS tapes, Cell Phones or Smart Phones

This stuff is easy to sell at garage sales, and the cheaper you sell it, the quicker it will go. Try selling your paperbacks for 50 cents apiece, hardbound for a $1 and somewhat more for the other items. Of course, there are many stores that buy this kind of used merchandise, but they probably won’t give you what you think they should.

As for the relatively high-tech stuff such as cell phones and smart phones, you could try selling those on EBay or Craig’s List.

7. Cash-in Pennies or Other Change

Stores such as Safeway pay you cash for your change and charge you 10 per cent for their trouble. But make sure that your nickels, dimes and quarters don’t contain silver, for which you can get somewhat more money by going to a coin shop or collector.

8. Sell Home-Grown Vegetables or "Herbs"

If you live in a place such as California, you can grow vegetables or whatever throughout the year and sell them for a profit. Naturally, this option is only for people who can produce enough products to sell, because you should consume as much of your own vegetables as you possibly can to save money and to maintain a healthier diet as well!

9. Dog Walking

Many people have dogs they are willing to pay you to walk, and you can charge them whatever you want. But don’t do this for less than $20 to $30 per hour, including or not including expenses. Anybody who can afford to pay you to walk their dog or dogs, can afford to pay you at least that much. By all means, charge more if you can. Also keep in mind that once the dogs are in your care, you could be held responsible if one of them bites somebody or destroys property.

10. House Sitting

The sky is the limit on what you can make watching people’s homes, ranches, apartments, boats or whatever. I’ve heard of people getting $100 for a three-day weekend plus all they could eat. Or you might prefer a long-term job, where they let you stay rent-free for weeks, months or whatever, and in exchange you do a little work around the house, such as taking care of the pets, etc. This kind of job could turn into a caretaker position for which you could be paid a salary, but that would probably remove this position from the realm of “pocket money.”

11. Babysitting

This job may be more suitable for the female gender, but I’m sure guys could do it too. In ancient times, babysitters made 50 cents per hour, but during the contemporary era they can make around $10 per hour, depending on the location, of course. What the heck, charge what you want and see what happens. This is a great way to make money you can simply stuff in your pocket and forget about it. However, you could start your own staffing agency for babysitters. But at this point you’d probably want to turn legit, if that’s the way to describe it.

12. House Cleaning

Some companies pay their employees minimum wage to clean houses. But those are slave wages for such hard work! Instead, charge $15 per hour or don’t bother. Do a good job and many people will be happy to pay this much. I know a woman who charges this amount and has plenty of work – payment “under the table,” thank you very much!

13. Panning for Gold

If you live in an area where it’s possible to pan for gold, then you may want to give it a try. I live in Sacramento, California, which is near Coloma on the American River, where gold was discovered back in 1848, and they say millions of dollars in gold is still in the Sierra Nevada. Unless you must camp where you pan, you’ll need little more than a pan, some tweezers and a vial in which to place your precious gold. The great thing about making pocket money this way is that you can keep your gold until you’re ready to convert it to money, at which point you may be able to find somebody to pay cash for it, perhaps eliminating an audit trail. So, hit the road and pan for gold!

Here’s the link to a Web site which provides information about panning for gold in California and elsewhere:

14. Donate Your Plasma

I actually did this many years ago. I remember having to take protein pills so I could keep donating. Anyway, if you’re willing to put up with getting poked with hypodermic needles, this is an easy way to make some quick cash. You have to let them give you a blood test and perhaps a simple physical. If everything goes right, you can donate your plasma two days per week and get paid about $65 every week. (People travel from Mexico to the U.S. to make money this way.) Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be such a business in the Sacramento, California area.

15. Mow Lawns

If you’re an able-bodied person, you may consider mowing lawns and doing other yard work such as chopping wood, raking leaves, sweeping up and trimming trees and shrubs. But make sure you use their tools and not yours, because buying such things could cut into your profits. Also, if so inclined, you may consider working as a handy person, expanding your possibilities. Anyway, it’s recommended that you accept cash only for this work and no checks, which could bounce like a rubber ball!

16. Dumpster Dive

If you live in an area such as Sacramento, California, where people often throw their unwanted personal property into dumpsters, alleys and parking lots, you could haul away the sellable stuff. Hey, it’s amazing what people throw away! And then sell these discarded items at a garage sale. In fact, you could have a garage sale every week or so. Don't laugh. Some people do this.

Good luck on your quest for pocket money, and please leave a comment.

© 2009 Kelley


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    • nestle02 profile image

      nestle02 4 months ago from Florida, USA

      Got it lol

    • Lauren Flauding profile image

      Lauren Flauding 4 months ago from Sahuarita, AZ

      A lot of these are really innovative ideas! I think I’ll try panning for gold, but maybe just as a hobby...

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 4 months ago from California

      Thanks for the comment, nestle02! I've checked into MTurk and other ways of making money online, but they all connect to an audit trail. People need to make money without worrying about paying taxes based on it. You get it?...

    • nestle02 profile image

      nestle02 4 months ago from Florida, USA

      Awesome ideas for earning pocket money! I've been making extra money by taking surveys, some are better than others. I can earn way more in mTurk than Cashcrate but then some people tell me they make more with Cashcrate than mTurk. I guess you just gotta find the survey platform that works best for you.

    • Guckenberger profile image

      Alexander James Guckenberger 6 months ago from Maryland, United States of America

      I got you! :D

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 6 months ago from California

      Uber drivers have lots of expenses, including commercial auto insurance which could cost thousands per year. Uber drivers also have to pay income taxes, but people who make "pocket money" do not. Get it? Thanks for the comment, Mr. Guckenberger!

    • Guckenberger profile image

      Alexander James Guckenberger 6 months ago from Maryland, United States of America

      As far as your number two goes, Uber drivers seem to be doing pretty good. Thanks for the thoughts and time!

    • profile image

      Chloe 2 years ago

      Brilliant idea of getting your passive income - Referral Program ( If you didn't ever try it being a student I highly recommend that you start. It is a very convenient way to study and earn simultaneously. Moreover, it needs no experience or a special backgrounds to do so.

    • profile image

      jenn 3 years ago

      Try doing surveys. There are some legit companies out there if you do your research. I made $220 dollars last month sitting on my butt. I'm a stay at home mom and the extra money is nice. check out cashcrate they are very reliable

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 3 years ago from California

      Thanks for the comment, crysolite. Hey, tell me about some of your ways to make pocket money and I'll add them to this list. What's fair is fair! Later!

    • crystolite profile image

      Emma 3 years ago from Houston TX

      Very interesting hub! I've got lots and lots of things to sell, but i feel i still have need of them! like some used gadgets of mine. there are many other ways to get pocket money, but i thin yours is insightful!

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 5 years ago from California

      Thanks for the comment, Katherine Monaco. Unfortunately, cash made on the computer tends to create an audit trail, which removes it from the realm of pocket money - at least what I call pocket money in the context of this article. You know what I mean? Later!

    • profile image

      Katherine Monaco 5 years ago

      Nowadays, most individuals needs extra income. This blogs give ideas to all readers who want to earn extra cash.

      Sitting in front of your computer can give you extra cash. It is the best way to earn extra cash, you are working with no worries and in a very comfortable way.

    • M-Chen profile image

      M-Chen 5 years ago

      Really interesting article,humm.

      Okay, my friend did some lawn work during the summer, his record was $80+ during 30 mins.

      I usually do some paid work on Elance, and take some paid survey online...well, i got paid by paypal.

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 5 years ago from California

      Hey, Rabbit3407, this list includes all the ideas I have, though I suppose one could mow lawns or rake leaves for cash. If walking dogs doesn't work out, try some of that. Later!

    • profile image

      Rabbit3407 5 years ago

      i need 2 pay back a friend $45. i am going 2 try out walking dogs, but that is the only one of these ideas that would work. any ideas?

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 5 years ago from California

      Five hundred sounds about right, so that one K would have to be declared as income. Bummer! So I can't put anything like clinical research on this list. Too bad. I was ready to update this hub. Later!

    • Kimberly Vaughn profile image

      Kimberly Vaughn 5 years ago from Midwest

      You must declare it over a certain amount a year. I believe the limit is $500.

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 5 years ago from California

      Thanks for the comment, Kimberly Vaughn. I've heard about people making money by engaging in medical research or whatever one wants to call it. But, must you declare the money as income? Please let me know, if you get a chance. Later!

    • Kimberly Vaughn profile image

      Kimberly Vaughn 5 years ago from Midwest

      Great suggestions! Along the selling plasma line, I have participated in a medical study to make some extra bucks. It pays pretty well. It is usually around $1000 and you spend two weekends at the facility. Each weekend you are given one pill and they monitor your blood, blood pressure, etc. The research facility that I worked with usually did generic drugs that were in the last phase of testing before going onto the market.

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 5 years ago from California

      Hey, Sam, I'll bet a few people can make money washing dishes. I'll do it for 20 bucks. Any takers? Later!

    • profile image

      sam 5 years ago

      here's a tip do the dishes i have to do it every night and every weekend i get about 10$ or 20$ so just try it

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 5 years ago from California

      Thanks for the comment, techhound. During tough times, I was constantly trying to think of new ways to make pocket money. I wish I could come up with more, but I haven't been able to. Later!

    • techhound profile image

      techhound 5 years ago

      It's amazing when you think about the various ways to make some extra cash. Think about your hobbies too and how to capitalize on them.

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 6 years ago from California

      Thanks for the comment, Ingenira. Writing online does provide some passive income, but it also creates an audit trail. Sooooo . . . ! Later!

    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 6 years ago

      Interesting and useful ideas.

      I sell used books and things at home that I do not need any more to get extra pocket money.

      Writing online is another good way to earn extra pocket money, in fact, it gives us passive income continuously.

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 6 years ago from California

      Thanks for the comment, Coachcatherine. I've added information to this hub a couple of times, and it seems to be one of my most useful and popular. Later!

    • CoachCatherine profile image

      CoachCatherine 6 years ago from Altamonte Springs, FL

      This is a well written hub with creative ideas.

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 6 years ago from California

      Hey, Dave, be happy you have people who pay for plasma where you live. Alas, here in Sacramento I've found none.

      Thanks for the comment. Later!

    • profile image

      Dave 6 years ago

      Good ideas. The plasma thing pays here in Kentucky 50.00 a pop for the first four or five visits. Make sure when you go that there are no defects of any kind on your arms. (They will flag you for a misquito bite on the left arm, even if you are going to give from the right).. No small itty bitty bruises itty bitty cuts or itty bitty anything. The arms must be immaculate. Dave

    • VENZKHVAM profile image

      VENZKHVAM 6 years ago from Milk way galaxy, trying to find a more adventurous place in another galaxy with my great followers


    • Lyn.Stewart profile image

      Lyn.Stewart 6 years ago from Auckland, New Zealand

      A very interesting read

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 7 years ago from California

      You know how to make money, amurbach! Garage sales are tremendous ways to make pocket money. Thanks for the comment. Later!

    • amurbach profile image

      amurbach 7 years ago from Arizona

      I've flipped great garage sale finds for extra cash. Recently, I bought a changing table for $5 in great condition and sold it within 3 hours for $35.

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 7 years ago from California

      Of the options on this list, the best ways to make money quickly - and not have to pay taxes - are to sell what you don't use anymore, collect cans and plastic and use your car as a taxi. Those all work. I haven't been able to find anything more imaginative than these thirteen. If you know of something, let me know and I'll add it to the list. Keep in mind, if they aren't practical, there's no sense in putting them on such a list. Later!

    • profile image

      ruffridyer 7 years ago from Dayton, ohio

      A good hub but most of your suggestions are pretty standard. The first one, house player, wouldn't work for me since the only card game I know is uno. Selling water seems rather complicated, perhaps if you check out the weather report and on a particularly hot weekend set up a card table on your lawn. Just like the old lemonade stands kids had. I would like to try housesitting. If a person was low on funds and honest he or she might get free housing out of the deal.

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 7 years ago from California

      There are many ways to make pocket money. You just have to keep looking and be creative. Later!

    • 6hotfingers3 profile image

      6hotfingers3 7 years ago

      Great ideas for earning some quick cash. Some of these ideas are unique to me but are practical suggestions. Thanks again!

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 7 years ago from California

      Hey, Sunnyglitter, I've made money with most of these methods. Tell your friends. Later!

    • Sunnyglitter profile image

      Sunnyglitter 7 years ago from Cyberspace

      This was a great article. I know quite a few people who need to read this.

    • profile image

      Deb 7 years ago

      here is a good way to make extra money i signed up for ths website and i make about $400 a week doing it the url is check it out for yourself

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 7 years ago from California

      Thanks for the kudos, MtShastaWriter. I'll check out some of your writing. Later!

    • MtShastaWriter profile image

      MtShastaWriter 7 years ago from Mt. Shasta Valley, CA

      This is a great hub. I enjoy your writing style.

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 7 years ago from California

      Have you ever played the game "Careers"? You start a business and when it begins making good money you sell it and start another one. That's Capitalism at its best. Later!

    • seanorjohn profile image

      seanorjohn 7 years ago

      Good work Kosmo.The great thing about the window cleaning business is that you can build up a round and then sell the business. Then start up again and sell the business....a never ending loop. Thanks for linking .

    • profile image

      jared redd 7 years ago

      Very Impressive Kosmo! I am a new observer and participant within this forum quite by accident. I wish to add that many of my 'found' discards, when being intelligently selective, have been recycled back on Craig's List for a modest gain. It illustrates the connective power of potential customers throughout the internet spectrum.

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 8 years ago from California

      Thanks for the long comment, BkCreative! Housesitting does sound like a good idea. Perhaps I should advertise that I'm available; however, they might want to 1099 me at some point, which would spoil the fun. Also, there must be an art to dealing with life in NYC. Later!

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Selling books has worked for me. I have sold on and last summer I just put a table out front and sold books cheaply - people grabbed them.

      I think I would like to do housesitting. I plan to retire next year and it would be ideal to travel around and housesit - I can take my computer with me - even write a hub about house sitting while I housesit. Hmmmmm.

      Dog walking is a super big business here in NYC - there is no yard to leave your pup in.

      Thanks for the ideas - I wrote a hub about how folks are earning money in NYC - we have to hustle because our taxes and services are the highest in the nation - in addition to State and Federal taxes - we also pay city taxes and the highest - well on everything. And get nothing back.

      Nice to meet you too!

    • Chloe Comfort profile image

      Chloe Comfort 8 years ago from Long Island

      In this day and age, everyone could use a little xtra in their pockets! Have already used a few of the suggested ideas! Kudos Kosmo!


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