Note: First I will talk about short term ways to earn extra cash. Then we'll talk about a long term approach to extra income.
Short-term Cash (1 week - 3 years)
1. Sell stuff on Ebay or Amazon. Ebay is more accessible to the cash-strapped homemaker because it has lower fees and you don't have to be any kind of monthly "member" to sell. You can also sell on Amazon without being a member, but fees have become so high for non-members that it's very hard to make a dollar. You are better off having a garage sale than selling stuff on Amazon.
2. Return recyclable cans. I know this won't apply to everyone, but those of you who do live in a bottle deposit state should take advantage of it. Whenever I go on walks or bike rides, I look for recyclable cans and bottles on the side of the road. I keep a big cardboard box in our mudroom, and when that is full we take it to the store and return it. Depending on how often I walk or ride my bike, I can make between $40.00 and $80.00 per year at this. It's not a lot of money, but it's not a lot of work either.
3. Sell homemade/vintage items on Etsy. To be honest I've had more success selling vintage garage sale items on Etsy than homemade products. However, the fees are low enough that anyone can try it.
4. Sell homemade products at farmers markets or craft shows. I've had some success selling homestead products (baked goods, soap, produce, eggs) at a weekly farmers market. If done right, I can make between $30.00- $80.00 per day after costs. The good news is that you can turn a consistent profit this way. The bad news (from my experience) is that you have to work at least one whole day out of the week (about six hours producing and another six hours selling) so your pay varies between $2.00 and $7.00 per hour.
5. Sell homemade products directly out of your house. I've had the best success doing this with eggs. Next year we are going to try a roadside strawberry stand. While we won't be selling right at our property, the stand will only be five minutes away and the cost to sell there will be free. My plan is to also take along other products (produce, eggs, etc.) and sell those at the stand as well. Without travel and booth costs of a farmers market, the profit margin and hourly pay should be MUCH higher.
6. Give private lessons. It's relatively easy to make money teaching beginning piano (or art, etc.) if you have the patience for little kids. Your skill level will have to be a little higher if you want to teach teens or adults, but I'm sure it can still be done. Hourly wage for this kind of work is often $20.00-$40.00.
7. Take on odd jobs. Some ideas include garden work, babysitting, sewing alterations, pet-sitting or anything else that folks need done. Odd jobs often pay more per hour than selling homemade products, but probably less than giving private lessons.
Next week we'll talk about long term strategies for earning a supplemental income. With short term income, you're just worried about dollars in the bank. If there are more dollars in the bank, you've succeeded. With long term supplemental income, you want your hourly wage to INCREASE steadily as the years go by. "Dollars in the bank" is no longer good enough. Next week we'll talk about increasing long term supplemental income with your own home-based micro business.