Do you feel squeezed by your monthly budget? If so, you're not alone. For many of us, there is only a bit of room between our monthly expenses and our monthly income. Whether it's because of sequestration, budget cuts, or the lingering effects of the recession, a lot of families and individuals are looking for ways to increase their income on the side in order to help make ends meet. This is particularly true for some military spouses who run their family's household but would like to generate a little side income in their spare time.
And surprisingly, it's getting easier and easier to do just that because of the rapid growth of the online economy. Below, we'll look at 4 of the best ways to make extra money from home. These are legitimate ones, unlike some of the ads you might see on other sites:
Become an Internet freelancer
These days, there are a wide range of options for doing freelance work online. But how do you get started? Well, one of the most common ways is to use sites like Elance.com and Odesk.com to bid on jobs and tasks that employers post there. These sites need writers, designers, transcribers, virtual assistants, organizers, accountants, researchers -- you name it.
There are so many projects and jobs posted on these sites every day that you will almost certainly find something that fits your skill set. It can take awhile to get a steady stream of work, so be persistent and keep bidding on job proposals until you get the hang of it. Once you get a project or task, make sure you do it well (and ask questions if necessary) so that you will receive good reviews for your work, which enables you to more easily get other freelance clients in the future.
Make things to sell online
One of the fastest growing websites of the last five years is Etsy.com, which gives people a platform to sell their homemade arts and crafts. If you have always enjoyed making things in your spare time then this would be a perfect opportunity for you to make extra money from home!
How do you do it? It's as simple as registering and then listing your items for sale on the site. You can also promote your items to friends and family, and if you want to combine the online sales with local sales you can seek out events in your community where you can set up a small booth to showcase and sell your items. Summer concerts, festivals, and farmers markets are the perfect kind of gathering for selling your homemade crafts.
Help your neighbors out
Speaking of your local community, there are probably some great opportunities to make extra money by helping out your neighbors with things they can't do themselves. A perfect example is if you have a good grasp for a particular field of study that many high school students have trouble with, like math, English, or a foreign language, then you can probably find a local high school student who would really appreciate getting tutored in that subject (and whose family would be more than willing to pay you for your help). Adults also may want a teacher to help them learn an instrument, use a digital camera, start gardening, or become better at public speaking.
Whatever interests or abilities you have, it's almost certain someone will need your expertise! Even if you are stationed overseas, there's a good chance people on your base or in your community could use your help. In order to find those people and connect with them, you can try using Craigslist.org or find newspapers or gathering places specific to your neighborhood.
Use what you already have
It's quite simple and yet it's something many of us forget: we can sell things we don't use anymore! Most of us have books, toys, clothes, dishes, furniture, or appliances laying around that we don't really need, and often those old/unwanted things are just taking up space in our houses or garages. So why not sell them and make some money to help with your monthly budget or increase your savings account?
You can use Craigslist and eBay to sell almost any item. (Craigslist is obviously best for the items that are hard to ship, while eBay works great for small, light items that can be shipped long distances)
Beyond the items in your house, what about using the extra space in your house? If you have an empty room or one that is currently being used for a study or TV room, you could clean it out and rent it out. That would provide tremendous help if you're having trouble paying your rent or your bills!
Hopefully the tips above can help you generate a little extra income and make your financial picture brighter. For more tips, check out our blog post on How to Make Extra Money from Home.
Benjamin Feldman is a writer and personal finance expert with ReadyForZero, a website that helps people pay off debt on their own. He recently paid off his own credit card, and he enjoys writing about how to save money, how to improve your credit, and how to get out of debt. You can follow @ReadyForZero and @BWFeldman on Twitter.