8 Easy Ways to Make Money
Investing requires money, and easy money is the best money. Here are some simple moneymaking strategies.
You can actually generate some decent cash without much labor or stress.
When it comes to the question of how to find money to invest – or simply, how to find money – it usually goes something like this: Either you scratch your head or bang it against a wall of cliches. (Drink less Starbucks coffee! Bring a bag lunch to work! Get a second job!) Those strategies can and do work for some, but they're not much fun.
From the conventional to the sensational, these eight methods have proven track records for generating income, from the hundreds to the millions of dollars. Another plus? They're all easy ways to make money.
Easiest catch: Employer match. No one would turn down free money in theory, especially with compound interest. But that's exactly what most folks do when they drop the ball on matching retirement funds when an employer offers them.
"A typical matching situation would be matching 50 percent of employee contributions for the first 6 percent of salary that an employee contributes," says Dirk Quayle, founder, president and board member of NextCapital, a digital-advice firm based in Chicago. "But many companies also offer a straight match of 100 percent up to a certain percentage."
Taking stock of taking stock. Your money can produce immediate returns through an employee stock purchase plan. The ESPP typically works by payroll deduction, with the money converted into shares every six months at a 15 percent discount.
"If you immediately liquidate those shares every time they're delivered, it's like getting a guaranteed 15 percent rate of return," says Dave Yeske, managing director at Yeske Buie and director of the financial planning program at Golden Gate University in San Francisco. To make it grow again: "Add the after-tax proceeds to your supplemental retirement savings."
When zero percent means profit. So long as interest rates remain relatively low, zero percent credit card offers will keep landing in mailboxes of people with healthy credit scores. Let's assume you can conduct a "balance transfer" – moving your credit card balance from a high-interest card to the zero interest card. On a fairly typical 18-month offer you'll be charged a 3 percent fee, meaning a $10,000 balance will be just $10,300 at the end of that period. Considering most credit card APRs can be in the 16 percent to 25 percent range, your net savings could range from $2,100 to $3,450.
If a penny saved is a penny earned, that's a pretty easy way to make money.
Here comes the sun. "On average, a homeowner is likely to spend over $30,000 on electricity over the next 20 years," says Vikram Aggarwal, CEO and founder of Energysage, an online solar energy marketplace.
"Installing solar panels significantly reduces or can even eliminate those electricity costs. This frees up capital for you to invest elsewhere, such as reinvesting the savings at regular installments back into the market." Some states allow homeowners to "sell" their energy back to a utility through solar renewable energy certificates, which can net as much as $2,500 a year.
The garage sale. Go ahead and laugh, as long as it's all the way to the investment bank. Statistic Brain reports garage sales generate about $4.2 million in weekly revenue.
In-demand items include old wood furniture, tools, vinyl records and musical instruments. In the span of a day or two, you can sell what you no longer need and use the money for whatever you want – which in this case is a piece of the action on Wall Street. Whether you turn your household junk into junk bonds is up to you.
Make life less taxing. Technically, this is a "financial investment," as a quality CPA costs more to hire. But they're also more thorough, and for those in the exploding freelance economy, it's a must to have an ace accountant who can claim every possible tax deduction the law will allow. So if you pay her $500 but she gets you an extra $1,000 in refunds from the year before, you've just snagged $500 without so much as lifting a pinky. And under special circumstances, the CPA's fee is tax deductible, as well.
When sitting back pays back. Sound investments represent the ultimate source of passive income, so it makes sense to collect money in ways that run on autopilot. In the digital economy, many of the best sources stem from repeated uses of the same slice of content. "Photographers, for example, can make 25 cents every time someone downloads their photographs from Shutterstock," says Kevin Gallegos, vice president of Phoenix operations for Freedom Financial Network.
YouTube gaming host. When it comes to great business ideas, the ones that sound the most outlandish often hide the biggest storehouse of golden eggs.
Many of the biggest moneymakers on Alphabet's (ticker: GOOG, GOOGL) YouTube are young hosts with minimal production equipment who earn seven-figure sums just for doing what they'd do regardless: gab about video games. Among the handful of YouTube gamers making an annual killing are Markiplier ($5.5 million) and the arguable King of the YouTube hill, PewDiePie ($15 million).
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