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How to Make Money without a real job

Updated on April 16, 2011

Do you need fast cash? I'm an expert at scraping together a few bucks to make the budget stretch. But, I have no interest in getting a real job** defined later** Here are some of my favorite tactics for earning money without having a job. 

Some of these might be considered "jobs", but I only include them as suggestions because they are temporary, interesting and generally provide a quick infusion of cash.


Fast Cash!

One of my favorite hobbies is trash picking, yard saling and thrift shopping. These all sort of fall into the same category, because when it comes to making money, it's all in the BUY. Pay the right price and you can make a profit on nearly any usable item. Knowing where to sell the items is the key.

Garage Sales: This tactic requires a set date and time commitment, a minimum number of items to attract customers, and usually requires nice weather. If you have a large garage or barn where you can set up shop once and hold sales a few times a year at your convenience, this is a great way to make instant cash.

Ebay: Some items are better offered on Ebay rather than in a garage sale, particularly collectible items that require a larger viewing audience in order to find the right buyer. Research the item before putting it into your garage sale. It is possible to make more money selling items on Ebay, but you do have to wait until the auction closes, and the buyer pays before you actually get money. But, you can have cash in hand in a couple of weeks.

Instant Cash for Electronics is another way to use Ebay to make fast cash.

Craigslist: Linked here. is one of my favorite ways to make a quick buck. Small collectible items sell well on Ebay and are easy to ship, garage sales make it easy to sell many items at once, increasing your pay rate per hour invested, Craigslist is great for times when you have large items, like furniture, but not enough total items to justify a garage sale.

NOTE of CAUTION: Our experiences with Craigslist have all been good; we have bought and sold items this way. However, there is a certain amount of risk involved in inviting strangers to your home to view items to purchase.

Some suggestions for your safety:

Ask a friend ( READ: big, strong man) over for coffee during the same time that you are showing the furniture.

Borrow someone's guard dog for the day.

At least make sure someone knows that you are having someone over the see the items, and ask them to call you if they don't hear from you by an agreed upon time.

Post several photos of the item for sale - this will help potential buyers to decide if they want the item without needing to come and see it.

If someone contacts you who makes you uncomfortable, don't give out any personal information. Another buyer will come along.

Do what kids do! Don't be ashamed to do what the kids do; mow lawns, rake leaves, shovel snow. Then, think about what else you can do; detail cars, minor home repairs, housecleaning, etc.

I had an arrangement with a local Realtor for years, and whenever they had a home that needed cleaning prior to listing, they called me. I would add it to my to do list, go clean at my convenience, and then get paid. I like to look at houses, so it was interesting, temporary, and paid well.

What can you do to save someone else time so that they can do what is important to them?

Half-priced books: This is a national chain that will buy your used books. Your community may have other used book stores that purchase outright. You would probably get more money on Amazon or in a garage sale, but HPB pays instantly. 

How it works? You bring in a box of books, they look them over and make you an offer. You accept the offer, and they print you a receipt that you take to the cashier and get cash. 

Warning: It usually takes about 15 minutes and you get to shop while you wait, so be careful you don't spend more than you make.

Our experience has been that they pay about 20cents each for paperbacks and 70cents each for hardcover. They might pay more or less depending on the books you bring in.

Medium Speed Cash

These technically are "jobs", but they are temporary, interesting, and provide nearly instant cash.

Waiting Tables: I've worked in 24 hour greasy spoons where patrons leave 25cent tips to upscale restaurants where patrons leave $25 tips, and a large variety in between. The pay, usually around $2.15 an hour, is terrible, and you wouldn't get that for at least two weeks, so think of that as a future investment. Today, find some little diner type place that has a now hiring sign - I have literally been hired 'on the spot', here's a uniform and a menu, there's your section. Depending on how much cash you need, this could be an instant money maker.

How to get BIG tips? Be nice. Remember, you're only doing this temporarily to make some fast cash. You don't have to like it, you just have to be SWEET to the customers.

Telemarketing: This is another job you can pretty much get by answering the ad - turnover is tremendous, but you don't care because you're not staying long. If you can read and have a semi-pleasant sounding voice on the phone, you can get this job.

I've sold coupon books, home-delivery groceries, and done medical surveys.

What to look for? These are generally minimum wage jobs, but they often have incentive programs. Twenty years ago, I sold coupon books and received a $1 bonus for every book sold. The supervisor had a stack of dollar bills on his desk that he passed out every time someone made a sale. Instant Cash.

Amazon: This is a great place to sell books, but it can take a long time to make a sale. Some books sell the day they are listed, and that makes for fast cash, but it generally takes several weeks. Not every item listed sells, but it is free to list, so once you put them up, if you have space to store the books, then you can just wait for an email saying, "Your item has sold!"

Slow money, no work...

Here are a couple of thoughts on some of the work from home, make money while you sleep kind of offers. These are ways to make money doing little or no work.

Secret Shopper. I've worked with several of these, but I don't have a favorite. It really depends on where you live. I would only sign up for the ones that are free to join - they should be paying you, not the other way around. Some common tasks and what you get.

Eat out and rate the restaurant = reimbursement for the meal, plus a couple of dollars

Get an eye exam and buy a new pair of glasses = reimbursement for expenses, you get to keep the glasses

Check stock/display of a certain item in a store, take photos, submit report = $12

Consulting: Have you been downsized? What do you know how to do that companies like the one you used to work for still need, but aren't hiring full time for? Can you consult on a project for a fee? This would put cash in your pocket, and save the company money.

It isn't really work if you are just sharing your experience and expertise. Who doesn't like to talk about what they are good at?

INBOX Dollars: This is one of those 'get paid for reading emails' kind of deals. Here is the deal on this:

You sign up, and they start sending you emails. If you don't buy any of the items offered, but just read and confirm the emails, you get about 4cents for each one. That gets added into an account that you can cash out and get a check.

Here's the catch. You have to reach $30 to cash out, and then you are charged an $8 check writing fee/postage/handling, etc. So, you really only get $22. But, since I check my email every day, and it really isn't work to open up two or three extras to get a few cents, I'm doing it.

If you don't buy anything, and don't accept any of the bonus offers for more money, expect it to take a year to get to $30. They do have some other offers, like surveys, where you can get money into your account faster. Because they pay you to click links and accept offers, I can't give you a link, but you can sign up at this address

And, total disclaimer - YES, if you go to that address and sign up, it says that I referred you and adds money to my account for the referral.

My advice: read all you can about these types of programs before signing up. AND, don't give out personal information, especially your social security numbers to sources unknown. BTW, I don't do the surveys because I find the personal questions to be too personal. 


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    • yecall profile image

      yecall 2 years ago from California

      I have also done many of these. Let's see I have done mystery shopping, consignment and waitress. Probably more. However, I like your telemarketing idea. Particularly the part about "you don't care because you won't be staying long." Totally!

    • Dan Barfield profile image

      Dan Barfield 4 years ago from Gloucestershire, England, UK

      Great article - very informative. I have lots of ideas to take away with me - thanks!!

    • GracieLake profile image

      GracieLake 5 years ago from Arizona

      Network marketing is also another option for someone who wants to work from a home office. There are some great companies out there that are easy to jump into. From my perspective, a "job" isn't something I'm looking for; it's more about creating an income by providing a value. Great Hub!

    • profile image

      Daria 5 years ago

      You can also use Swagbucks. It's a search engine that randomly gives you points when you use it. When you get enough points you can pick from a wide variety of things. Me, I get the $5 Amazon gift card. I've gotten over $100 in the past few years I've been using it. Here's the trick: search something random, then set that search as your homepage. Every time you open up a new window you get a change to win points. :D

      htt p://w ww.swagbucks.c om/refer/LoveDaria

      ^My referral link (just remove the spaces) ;DDD

    • profile image

      Aiya h. 5 years ago

      Well some of these are actually jobs! But also most of these are fast cash so I approve and think this is a pretty decent website! Some of these if used wispy can get you a lot of fast cash.

    • Casey Strouse profile image

      Casey Strouse 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Selling college textbooks on Amazon is a quick way to get sales with minimal waiting and effort. Tech/computer books also sell pretty well.

    • TinaAtHome profile image

      TinaAtHome 6 years ago from California

      Great list, I think I've done most of those. The only one I would add is Fiverr. I've even written a hub about it, or if you prefer, read someone else's hub about Fiverr.

    • Corinne L Johnson profile image

      Corinne L Johnson 6 years ago

      xanzacow, thanks for the tip. I will wait for $40 to cash out. I'm at $21 now, after about 6 months, but I don't do the surveys or the extra offers.

    • Magdelene profile image

      Magdelene 6 years ago from Okotoks

      I like your hub, you must be extremely patient, I have .50 cents with my clicker thing. Your article is truly genuine. Thumbs up.

    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 6 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      Interesting ideas! Thanks

    • xanzacow profile image

      Cynthia 6 years ago from North Myrtle Beach, SC

      On the inbox dollars, you get 2 cents for each e-mail. After 1 year of reading e-mails and participating in offers, I finally got my check for $40.00, they don't charge you the check processing fee if you wait until you have $40.00 to cash out.

      Some great ideas to make cash!