How to make extra money during rough times.

Please note: If you are collecting unemployment do some research on if you are allowed to make money and how much before it affects your benefits. This varies from state to state and if you do not report earned money it can lead to legal action against you from the state (some states it can even lead to jail time).

So, you got laid off or have free time and would like to earn some extra money. I’ve seen more posts than I can count promising to show you ways to make extra money but they are all the same – surveys, watch TV shows, etc. The problem with these is that you can put a lot of time into them but make little to no money (surveys have a habit of making you spend 30 to 45 minutes trying to “qualify” for the survey – even ask you dozens of survey questions only to tell you that you do not qualify and won’t get paid).

Other “make money” opportunities include spending money. Yeah, you can get a $100 credit on a new credit card but after you spend $500 (and pay it off) plus, not everyone is able to open and maintain a new bank or investment account.

This post is different. While almost none of these can be done from home (and actually require work) they can help you make extra money during hard times.

Start a website or blog.

This one is simple but won’t get in a lot of money but could be something enjoyable to pass the time. Companies like WordPress will let you set up a blog for free (even without a domain) and you can get a domain for less than $20 a year. If they give you access to the code then you can put some AdSense (Google) ads on the site and earn a little bit of money (again, not much, though).

Again, this is simple but won’t bring in a lot of money BUT – you can do it 100% on your own time and enjoyment. Find a hobby you enjoy or something you’re passionate about and get a blog going for it.

Part-Time or seasonal work

  • If you are collecting unemployment talk to your local office to find out how this will affect your benefits (and if it’s legal)
  • Also, I am not advocating “talking a job just for now” to leave it later. Companies invest a lot of time and money in hiring someone so please be open and honest with the hiring manager with your intentions.

After you’ve worked full time for a while (and before you retire) “part-time” starts to become a dirty word. Very few part time positions have benefits (health insurance, paid time off, etc.). There are some advantages of taking a part time job you will make contacts in the business which can lead to full time employment plus you will have flexibility with your hours for interviewing, going to school, etc.

Seasonal positions are easier to work with. The employer expects you to only put in a few months. This can be either during the holiday season or a time when traffic will be significantly increased (like in a tourist area).

Sign up for Uber or Lyft

  • This may require a background or driving record check.
  • This also requires that you keep your car neat and clean and, depending on the area and competition, you may also need to have other items for customers (like bottled water etc.).

Uber and Lyft are two services that allow people to sign up and offer rides to people in a geographic area (similar to a taxi service). You will have strangers in your car (and there have been some horror stories – like drunks vomiting – but those are far and few between) and it will require a lot of driving.
I have not signed up for these but according to reviews, Uber seems to have more customers (and more opportunities for you) but Lyft may have a better quality of customer and will pay a little more per customer.

The clients pay Uber or Lyft and then, after their fee, Uber and Lyft pay you (plus any tips the client gives you).

Become a dog walker (or sitter).

  • This often either suggests or requires a background check.

Sites like are popping up where people can sign up to be a dog walker / sitter and be found by local people looking for a walker or sitter. Pay varies but averages about $15 for a 30 minute walk. As you get more business you’ll get more (hopefully positive) reviews which will lead to more business.

The advantage is you can work on your own schedule and you spend it with dogs (if you like them). The disadvantage is that it can be low pay ($15 a half hour can easily turn into $15 for an hour if the drive is long). It is great exercise, though. The client pays Rover and then Rover pays you (minus their fee).


A lot of areas have testing facilities (and no, not all are medical). I used to do taste testing for a fast food chain (burgers mainly). I got paid $25 each test but didn’t get calls often (1 or 2 a month?). These usually require a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). These can lead other opportunities (I once got paid $250 to spend a day at a “mock trial”). There are many other types of trials out there plus there are some websites that offer product trails but those are typically not paid.

With in-person trials you usually get paid as you leave (either check or cash).

Per-diem positions

Many entities do not have the staff available to cover vacations, sick calls, etc. and will hire per-diem workers. Per-diem workers are hired and work for a day (or multiple days, as needed) and are paid by the day (or half day, it is atypical for them to be paid hourly). The disadvantages of this are you can have little to no warning if you are going to get work plus there is no guarantee but the advantages are that you can choose which days to work and possibly even which department. They are also a great way to get your foot in the door and meet people.

Remember – you can say no with most per-diem positions but the more you say no the less likely they will call you in the future and the opposite is true – the more you say yes (and do a good job) the more likely they will call you again.

Sign up with your local post office to become an assistant / associate carrier

  • This position will require a background check as well as a driving record check.
  • This position will also put a lot of wear and tear on your car.

Post offices need people on call to be able to handle call outs, days off, vacations, etc. This is where the associate carriers come into play. You will need to learn the (many) ropes of the job. You will need to learn how to sort the mail, set it up in your vehicle for the more efficient way to deliver mail and, oh yeah, you’ll need to learn to drive from the right side of your car.

The pay for being an associate carrier isn’t bad but you only get paid for the hours that the route is supposed to take. If it takes you longer then you don’t get paid extra (the same is true if you take less time – you still get the full pay).

The disadvantage is that you will put a lot of wear and tear on your car – driving from mailbox to mailbox.

One big advantage is that as you learn routes, you can cover for other post offices and in many areas associate carriers can easily work 6 days a week and make a lot of money (some even make enough to buy an inexpensive used car with a bench seat) which will help with your main car.

You will typically get a paycheck from your local post office.

Sign up to be a substitute teacher

  • This job will require a background check.
  • As obvious as it should seem, I think it’s important to mention that this involved working directly with school-age children.

Most schools are looking for reliable people to sign up to be a substitute teacher. This is often a per-diem (paid by the day) position and you can sign up with multiple schools to maximize your potential (school districts will also ask you which schools or age levels you feel comfortable subbing for). These typically do not require any certifications or education (outside a high school diploma) but do require a criminal background check. If something will flag on that it is best to discuss it with a school official before applying – many schools have you pay for the background check but some will reimburse you after you’ve subbed a certain number of times.

A great advantage of this is that you build up contacts who are often known in the community plus it can be very rewarding. It should also be mentioned that you need a lot of patience especially if you are subbing for an aide or a special education teacher and need to have a lot of self-control when interacting with students, especially younger ones.

If you have a CDL-A license you can also look into becoming a substitute bus driver (which would include a driving record check).

You will typically get a paycheck from the school district.

Look into other per-diem positions

There are many other companies that will hire per diem positions. Hospitals come to mind with their registration staff. Some hotels, restaurants, and even utility companies may be looking for per diem positions (customer service, etc.).

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