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7 Side Hustles I Tried That Brought in a Surprising Amount of Money

cycling instructor teaching group fitness as a side hustle

“What’s the best side hustle if you work full time?” “How much do I need to earn for my side hustle to be worth it” “Side hustles you can do from home” Raise your hand if you’ve ever typed any of the above into Google after getting a big, unexpected bill! I’m guessing everyone reading this is raising their hand right now. We’ve all been there! One of the reasons I personally hate the word “budget” so much is that it immediately implies sacrificing, cutting back, going without or other restrictions. And as a Leo Rising, Sagittarius Sun, restriction is NOT in my DNA.

However, as a financial coach who has worked with plenty of Virgos and Capricorns, (and because my CPA training has taught me other meanings to the word “budget”) I also recognize that a budget is simply a tool to help us achieve our life goals in a more deliberate and successful way.

Sure, one way to balance a budget is to cut back, but another way is to increase income. And for lots of us who feel like we have extra time and energy to offer, this sounds WAY more fun than finding ways to cook more meals at home or cutting back on Target runs.

As such, here are seven ways to bring in some extra cash that I’ve tried myself.

7 Side Hustles I Tried That Brought In A Surprising Amount Of Money

1. Teach a class at your gym

For approximately 12 years of my earlier career, I taught Les Mills BODYPUMP™ classes for the gym where I was already a member. Not only did this get me a free gym membership, saving over $100 per month, I was also PAID to WORK OUT.

As someone who needs major external motivation for things like working out beyond a pleasant walk in the neighborhood, this was such a big win all the way around. Three days a week I got an excellent full-body workout while earning some extra money and saving on a gym membership. There was also the added bonus of scratching my spotlight-loving itch by performing in front of the class and motivating them to maximize the workout as well.

2. Babysit

Do you have any idea how much overworked parents are willing to pay a teenager to watch their kids for a night out? Imagine what they’d pay a fully-employed responsible adult, even for just a few hours on weeknights?! It’s easy money!

There are even services like Care, Sittercity and BabysitEase that connect you with families seeking help. I was a sitter for BabysitEase back in my Cincinnati days and it was great! If I had a Saturday night with no plans, I just logged into the website and signed up for whichever family looked like the most fun for me. I also ended up with a regular early morning gig where I basically got the kids up, fed, and on the bus so that their parents could jet off to early morning workouts, meetings or just spend some extra time in the shower. Then I headed in to work myself!

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3. Dogsit, catsit or housesit

If kids aren’t your thing, consider offering your services as a pet or house sitter. You can spread the word in your community as an independent provider or if you don’t want to deal with the hassles of scheduling, billing, getting insurance, etc. you can sign up through a service like Rover or Housesitter.

I personally contracted for a local pet sitting franchise that performed a background check on me and then offered me the chance to check in on people’s cats and dogs while they were out of town. I only did the ones I wanted to and they did all the work of collecting the money, providing insurance in case something happened, etc. This was an especially great way to make money when I was in town for the holidays.

4. Take a seasonal retail job

My friend Melissa, who manages a luxury brand outlet store is tasked with hiring 10 temporary associates each holiday season, a goal she struggles to meet because she’s “only” authorized to pay $15 per hour.

While that’s probably not comparable to what you make at your day job, adding in one weeknight and one weekend between Black Friday and New Year’s can bring in a couple extra hundred bucks without a ton of extra energy - just make sure you don’t spend all your wages on discounted merch!

I did this one year when I lived across the street from a Michael’s Crafts and I worked one day a week, where I basically stocked and organized the yarn department when I wasn’t working the register. It was physical work, but it was also tons of fun and the extra $60 a week was enough to pay my student loan payment each month.

An added benefit of this job (?) was that it gave me a much better perspective on the challenges of those who work retail and other lower-wage based jobs as their full living and not just a side hustle.

5. Sell the products of your hobby

Several years ago, I signed up for a booth at a local craft fair where I sold fingerless hand-warmers that I had knitted myself while binge-watching The OC. I was basically a one-woman sweatshop without the cruel conditions, but the products I didn’t sell at the show were sold on consignment at a local coffee shop that gave me 50% of the sales price. Alternatively, I had an ongoing coaching client who sold her original paintings on Etsy in an effort to escape her paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle without having to leave her beloved apartment. It doesn’t cost anything to set up your store.

6. Consign your clothing, accessories and household goods

Before you take the stuff you Marie Kondo’d out of your home to Goodwill, take a minute to sort out stuff that’s still in decent condition that might also either be trendy or old enough to be cool again and try taking them to a local consignment shop or online service like Poshmark. I’ve sold things like brand name outerwear, boots, designer handbags, vintage jewelry and even some furniture through both methods, which netted me way more money than any tax deduction I MIGHT get through a donation.

7. Sign up for market research

When a company is looking to launch a new product or release a new branding effort, they will often pay existing customers or people in their target market to participate in online surveys, phone interviews and focus groups.

The online surveys typically earn you points toward things like gift cards or merchandise, but they are usually vetting you to see if you’re who they would want to talk to for the in-depth research, which can pay quite well.

I’ve done focus groups for banking products, kitty litter, frozen meals and even tested Athleta swimwear for $100 or more. The key is responding quickly to surveys and being totally honest with your answers. is a great place to start!

The important final step

No matter what way you decide to earn some extra cash, it’s so important to make sure you take the extra step and actually apply that cash toward your savings goals. While the money you earn may seem like just a little, it adds up. Plus, if you’re just going to fritter it away with random spending, it might not be worth your time in the first place.

And if you’d like support and accountability around your financial goals, that’s what I do with my 1:1 coaching clients! I offer one-off sessions, packages, and even an ongoing, subscription-style service with a monthly call and email support. You can find more information here.


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