16 Ways to Make Pocket Money
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.”
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!
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 Marks