clean up

Illustration: Naomi Wilkinson

Clean Up
In my 20s, while working a 9-to-5 job, I moonlighted as a babysitter and a freelance writer. The few hundred bucks I brought in each month from changing diapers and staying up till 2 A.M. doing articles helped me crawl out of debt and build a nice savings cushion in just a few years. Today, finding ways to make more is a necessity for many of us: Hourly wages have been at a near standstill since the 1970s, while the cost of key expenses like housing and healthcare has increased dramatically. Thankfully, it's never been easier to boost your bottom line, with so many websites and apps linking us to paying opportunities. These are just four ways that intrepid earners have found to generate a steady stream of extra cash each month. You might be inspired to do the same.

To save for a place of her own and pay off roughly $38,000 in student loans and credit card debt, Heidi Hall, 29, bought a vacuum. The Bethesda, Maryland, data analyst began cleaning houses earlier this year through TaskRabbit, a virtual marketplace that connects freelancers with locals who need help with tasks like cleaning, moving, and minor repairs. Hall earns an average of $22 per hour on TaskRabbit, netting between $600 and $700 a month, working evenings and some weekends. "I'm a people person, but my day job involves sitting in front of a computer. TaskRabbit hardly seems like work because I get to meet and network with people I normally wouldn't encounter."

Side Hustle
More than one-third of the U.S. workforce engaged in contract, supplemental, temporary, or project-based work in 2013.
bank on your vehicle

Illustration: Naomi Wilkinson

Bank On Your Vehicle
A car may be a depreciating asset, but it can also be a moneymaker. On weekdays GaNeane Lewis, 45, is a surgical technologist in Sacramento, but on weekends she's a Lyft driver, making about $200 per week ferrying passengers in her 2011 Ford Fiesta (Lyft takes a 20 percent commission on each of her rides; new drivers are charged a commission of 25 percent, or 36.4 percent in New York City). The mom of four started working part-time as a driver two summers ago to stop living paycheck to paycheck. "I can do it whenever I want," she says. "If I need a lunch break, I just turn off the app, grab food, and turn it back on when I'm ready." The cash gives Lewis some budgetary breathing room. "I can drive five hours and have more money in my wallet that week," she says.

Take My Car, Please
Own a vehicle but don't feel like driving? Rent out your ride by the day on The site even provides $1 million in liability insurance.

Wheel Life
The average American driver makes two car trips per day; total cruising time: about 46 minutes.
farnoosh get crafty

Illustration: Naomi Wilkinson

Get Crafty
Since Etsy's launch in 2005, the online marketplace has grown to include more than 1.6 million sellers of handmade and vintage goods and crafts supplies. Connie Weller, a full-time corporate trainer from Timonium, Maryland, earned about $400 in her first month of selling inspirational T-shirts on the site. Before opening her Etsy shop in May, the 43-year-old learned how to screen-print by watching YouTube videos. Weller invested about $200 in materials and now sells tees for $18 to $26 a pop, of which Etsy takes a 3.5 percent cut.

Learning Experience
Etsy's online Seller Handbook offers tips on everything from photographing your items to filing your taxes.

Extra Credit
Seventy percent of Etsy sellers have a job outside their online business.
farnoosh subsidize in style

Illustration: Naomi Wilkinson

Subsidize in Style
Student loans, credit card debt, and a high cost of living inspired 34-year-old Pheniece Jones, a public relations consultant in Seattle, to take on a side gig. She's now a "stylist" with accessories company Stella & Dot. Jones paid $199 for marketing and training materials, as well as credits toward buying display products for in-person trunk shows. She also sells products online using a personalized site the company created. Products ship directly from the manufacturer, so she doesn't need to keep inventory on hand. Jones takes home 25 to 35 percent of sales. The $500 in monthly commissions—combined with her full-time income—has helped her pay off her $3,000 credit card balance, knock 40 percent off her student loan bill, and visit Paris. Her new goal: "Travel more!"

Earn, Baby Earn
"You can cut costs only so much, but you can always earn more. When you turn your skills into a side business, the cash you bring in will provide a richer life in so many ways," says Ramit Sethi, founder of

Farnoosh Torabi, personal finance expert and author of When She Makes More, hosts CNBC's Follow the Leader and the podcast So Money.