in Basics of Budgeting & My Experience, DIY Projects to Save Money, Uncategorized

4 Side Hustles I Did Last Year & How They Worked for me

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While I was reviewing my budget from last year,  I noticed quite a few things. Not only did I save myself over $3,000 just by tracking my spending, but there have been a few side hustles that I’ve tried that have failed miserably and a few that have worked out in my favor.

I value my time highly and do not want to spend much time on one avenue when the payoff is poor. I work a full-time job already, and anything that takes away from my off-time has to be worth it. That’s why I don’t do any extreme couponing – because of the amount of time it can take. I would rather just shop smart and live beneath my means – which is why I made this blog. I want to be able to share my techniques (which should be realistic) with the rest of you. So, let me tell you what I tried in 2016.

  1. Rover.com

    If you love animals, this may be worth checking out. Rover is like a Care.com for pets. You can find pet sitters, or list yourself as a pet sitter, dog walker, drop-in visitor, etc. The standard rate in my area for a drop-in visit is about $13-$15 per visit, which I feel is reasonable.

    Let me tell you, I’ve had my Rover account for years. I have never given it much of an effort until last winter, when I updated my location (forgot I don’t live in Boston anymore!) and photos. I never received one message until this summer to do drop-in visits on someone’s cat. We decided to operate under-the-table, but I have been working with this person now for about six months and have never had an issue.

    I wouldn’t recommend working under-the-table since you aren’t guaranteed to have the check waiting for you when you walk in, but you can always do a meet-and-greet with the owner and judge for yourself.

    Overall, I made about $300-$400 by occasionally checking in on this cat just in the last six months.

    Rover would not be a practical way to make your living, unless you could build up the necessary clientele, and this is likely only possible in a bigger city. Even then, very few of Boston pet-sitters I found in my search had more than 15 reviews.

    Not one for dog slobber or cat hair? Care.com, like I mentioned, operates on a similar idea for children or adults.

  2. Global Test Market

    I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of those survey websites; where you sign up for product surveys or lifestyle surveys in exchange for cash. I heard about this particular one through Pinterest years ago, and really went to work in 2016 filling out these surveys.I wish I hadn’t, honestly. In the end, yes I redeemed my points in for a $50 Sephora gift card, but I don’t think it was worth the amount of time I put into it.  For the gift card, I may have spent upwards of 40-60 hours filling out surveys.

    This would have been a different story if I actually qualified for every survey that it invited me to. Instead, each survey will ask you the same series of questions in the beginning (or sometimes the end) of a survey, and then will throw it out if you do not qualify. This means that sometimes I would spend 10-15 minutes on a survey just to be told at the end that I didn’t qualify. If you don’t qualify, you may get sweepstakes entries, which would be fine, except does anyone ever really win sweepstakes? /cries

    That being said, the website itself is not a scam, so that is a plus.

  3. Furniture Rehab

    In spring of 2015, I decided I wanted to start painting furniture. I had my great-grandmother’s drum table that my mom had been bothering me for years to paint. So I did – I spent an entire weekend working on this and then when it was done, I wanted more.

    This is the first table. It has plenty of mistakes, but it was a great learning experience.

    Let me tell you – Annie Sloan paints are NOT cheap. At $38 per can (at my closest two stores), it’s not the most economical way to paint many things, particularly walls. However I must say I will never use another type of paint to rehab furniture. The colors are spectacular, and you don’t need to prime (which will save you time and money).

    Here is the table that my friend bought. It is beautiful, isn’t it?

    I bought a table from Savers for $6 that was absolutely gorgeous (it just needed a little bit of help). I put one coat on this bad boy and then put a picture up on Facebook. One of my friends wanted to purchase it right away. I painted another two coats (which may be overkill), and waxed the piece. Overall, yes, it took me about 8-12 hours of my time, and I sold it for $60. This was more than fine for me because I enjoyed it so much, and I look forward to doing the same again.

    Tip: start out with small furniture, like the table I painted. If you have trouble getting a buyer, you will be kicking yourself for painting a huge piece that will take up tons of space in your house.

  4. Clinical Trials

    I was nervous to even list this because of the possible wariness people will have towards it, but let me give you some background. I have had migraines for as long as I can remember – I was medicated at 8 years old, cut off sugar – and still I had headaches almost daily. Today, I continue to suffer but go un-medicated.

    I signed up for a clinical trial last year, which has now completed. I probably completed about 7 visits or so. Each visit paid over $100. I was given an injection at some of these visits, which was either a placebo or a new medication in the works. You may be surprised that I never had even the slightest issue and was very well taken care of. In my case, if I had any type of reaction at all, I was able to reach a doctor by phone 24/7 at no cost to me. Luckily, I never needed to.

    Don’t do this for the money you will make. I only recommend this if it is something that you would try if you didn’t get paid. However, I had a great experience and would consider again in the future.

    The consent forms should tell you everything you could possibly want to know. It will tell you what phase the research is in, what symptoms have come up in the previous phases, and how many people suffered those symptoms. In my case, only about three people out of hundreds had had any kind of rash.

    I made roughly $750-$1000 doing this last year.

    Tip: If you live in an urban area such as Boston, you may be able to participate in research studies that don’t involve medication. In college I made $500 just by wearing a watch that tracked my heart rate for three weeks, when at the end they tested my “pain tolerance” with a finger clamp and warm water on my feet (it wasn’t painful!).


    So what’s next for the new year? I will be trying more side-hustles. Heck, this blog is a side-hustle in itself. Tell me some side hustles that you’ve done? Ones you like and ones you didn’t? Let me know in the comments below!

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