Tag: side gigs

Side Hustle Series

Part Three: eBay, Pawn Shops and On-Line Garage Sales

A great source of extra cash can be found hanging in your closets and tucked away in drawers.

Regular deep cleans of your home have several financial benefits.  You can help minimize the urge to buy new by being content with the things you already own.  Stay satisfied with your stuff by keeping it organized, easy to locate and see, clean and well kept.  And anything you no longer use, need or want, you can sell or donate to put money back in your pocket.  Here are a few ways to do this:

Pawn shops – When we were planning and saving for our wedding and merging two households, we discovered the pawn shop down the street.  Things we sold here included an old iPod, a well-worn gaming system, and jewelry from boyfriends past.  In addition to electronics and precious metals, we also saw home appliances and yard equipment for sale here.

Craig’s List – Use the same sales tactics for smaller ticket items as the ones I outlined in my post Selling Your Car On Craig’s List.

eBay – There isn’t much you can’t sell on eBay.  Just a few of our things that found new homes through eBay include collectibles and sports memorabilia (that bobble head you got for being one of the first 1,000 into the stadium might be worth big bucks online) and randoms like the new door locks I bought but was too lazy to install when I moved into our house seven years ago.

If you don’t already have one, create an eBay account and familiarize yourself with their website by browsing the site and looking at comparable listings.  Once you understand their fee structure, return policies and payment processes, start posting your stuff!  Many of the same suggestions for selling on Craig’s List also apply to eBay, but here are a few key tips:

  • Title your sale in a way to maximize search results.
  • Draft an easy to read, detailed description.
  • Be upfront about the condition of your item.
  • Include good, clear photos from a variety of angles.

Consider the seasonality of your items.  For example, I have a leftover stack of last year’s Christmas card (swoon-worthy Paper Source letterpress loveliness) that I’m holding back for listing in November.

Also, think about combining items into sets or packages.  One of my recent sales included the welcome banners, table centerpieces and other décor leftover from a baby shower I hosted in honor of a friend’s baby who is now in Kindergarten.  Marketed as a “party in a box,” it was snatched up super quick.

Be thoughtful about pricing your items and how you’ll handle shipping.  You can very easily negate any profit or even end up costing yourself money if you under-charge for shipping.  And don’t buy packaging materials.  Save the boxes and bubble wrap from your online orders or keep an eye out for old newspapers in the recycle bin at work.

After the sale, follow eBay etiquette by shipping quickly and giving buyer feedback.

Resale apps – I’ve yet to use them myself, but there are lots of new resale apps like Let Go.  If you have experience with these, please share your thoughts!

Brick and mortar consignment stores – For clothes, you can try Plato’s Closet or Clothes Mentor.  I’ve never had good success selling to stores like this.  I rock a capsule wardrobe with classic pieces that have been in my closet for years (future blog post!)  I love them, but my staple J. Crew Tippi sweater has never found favor at Clothes Mentor.

Selling textbooks can be much more lucrative elsewhere, but Half Price Books will take your used fiction as well as old CDs and DVDs.  Again, not the biggest of money makers, I’ve always been able to net at least $1 per item.

Online consignment sites – Another option growing in popularity.  I’ve yet to try them, but have heard positive things about ThredUp and Poshmark.

Donate – Don’t underestimate the financial benefit of donating the stuff you no longer need or want.  Not only are you helping others, but you can include donations of clothes, household goods and other items among the charitable deductions when you itemize on your taxes.  (Did I mention I’m the daughter of a CPA?)

I’ve prepared returns using both H&R Block and Turbo Tax online and have found adding these deductions to be straightforward and simple.  It’ll be shocking the amount you’ll be credited for a used pair of jeans or an inherited set of pots and pans.

Before drop-off, make a thorough list of the items you’re donating.  And before you part with your goods, be sure that you get a tax-receipt for your donation.  Staple your list and the receipt together and store it with your other tax-prep paperwork.

However you choose to do it, start fresh and help payoff old credit card or other debts by selling or donating the stuff that got you into debt in the first place.

Side Hustle Series

Part 2:  There’s No Shame in Swagbucks

Swagbucks is one of the simplest ways I earn extra income.  By spending a few minutes online with my morning cup of caffeine and adopting a few consistent digital habits like checking for Swag Codes when I log-on to Facebook or using the site as my primary search engine, I am shamelessly using Swagbucks to make extra money every month.

Here are my favorite ways to earn:

  • To Do List offers quick SBs for completing seven daily tasks, including a Daily Poll and clicking on the Deal of the Day. You’ll also get a bonus for completing at least six of the seven daily tasks.
  • Monitor your In-Box for earns like slideshows and videos. I focus on the opportunities that earn 1-2 SBs, since they’re the easiest and don’t require a purchase or an email address to redeem.  You can sort to see those first.
  • Use the Search function instead of Google.  You won’t earn SBs for every search, but their logarithm will have you netting frequent bonuses if you’re using it as your primary search engine.
  • Download the Swagbucks app to watch movie trailers from your phone or other device to earn SBs. (Aside from a tub of buttered popcorn and the Copa Di Vino stashed in my purse, the previews are my favorite part of going to the movies anyways!)
  • Activity Break streams commercials or interactive games promoting a variety of products, from pregnancy tests to veggie burgers. Unlike Discovery Break and nGage (mentioned below), if the opportunity is video-based, it’ll just be one video to redeem SBs.  Often you can redeem these multiple times a day before they expire.
  • Key your eye out for Swag Codes, which appear on social media and are shared online at Swag Codes Spoiler and SBCodez.  These free SB codes are released daily and sometimes, multiple times throughout the day.
  • Swagbucks will also payout bonuses if you hit their Daily Goal. Hitting your daily goal seven days straight will earn you 25 SBs, continue for two weeks and you’ll net another 100.  At three weeks you’ll earn 200 SBs, and a month of hitting your daily goal equates to a whopping 300 SBs.

Here are other ways to earn:

  • Discovery Break and nGage are series of sponsored video clips and internet content that you’ll earn SBs for exploring. These are more cumbersome than the Activity Breaks and SBTV app, plus in general I just don’t find the content as entertaining or interesting.
  • Similar to Ebates and Mr. Rebates.com, there is a Shopping Portal, through which you can make online purchases to earn SBs. I always compare the redemption rate of multiple rebate sites when shopping, and Swagbucks rarely offers the most cash back, but there have been times when they’ve offered rebates for retailers not featured on other sites.
  • Surveys are the most lucrative way to earn SBs. You do get SBs for updating your survey profile, as well as 1-2 SBs for surveys you attempt but are disqualified for after the first few initial eligibility questions.  However, since neither my husband or I travel frequently for work, surveys are one the ways we earn points and miles for free flights and hotel stays.  So if I’m going to spend my time taking surveys, I prefer eMiles, Opinion Miles Club and e-Rewards.

Throw-out any stereotypes or existing perceptions you might have about side hustles like Swagbucks.  Swagbucks is for SAHMs, WOHMs, DINKs, SINKs and AARP members.  No matter your acronym, Swagbucks is a great way for you to make extra CASH.

Next in the Series:  eBay, Pawn Shops and On-Line Garage Sales

Side Hustle Series

Part 1:  Freelancing Your Way to Financial Independence

Becoming debt free and financially independent takes two shifts in your mindset:

1.  Resetting your views on money and spending. We touched on this during the Budget Basics series.

2.  Ceasing to care about what others think. Friends, family and strangers don’t pay your bills. Quit buying stuff to impress them.  And as long as it’s ethical and legal, care even less about what they think about how you earn your money.

This series will detail easy ways to make extra cash money, most of which also offer opportunities to exercise the ability to disregard what others think.  In the spirit of stretching that muscle, we’ll kick-off the series with the most public:  Micro jobs.

Field Agent, GigWalk and Easy Shift are mobile apps that pay you for mystery shopping and store audits, and occasionally, surveys, website and product reviews.  Some require employee interaction, but most are seeking information on product placement, pricing and availability.

Grocery, convenience and big box stores, and fast food and fast casual restaurants are common job sites.  I’ve also done liquor store gigs (stack an Ibotta YellowTail rebate and it’s my dream job of getting paid to drink wine!), as well as a few where wine and beer distributors were looking to see if their brands were on tap or served in certain bars.

I live in a mid-sized city, but if your small town is big enough for a gas station, Wal-Mart or discount retailer like Dollar General, Dollar Tree or Family Dollar, micro gigs will be available in your area.

You’ll need a smart phone with a camera and a data plan to apply for and complete these micro jobs.  And if you don’t already have one, a PayPal account.  Payments are deposited there, and can be quickly and easily transferred to your bank.  If you receive more than 200 payments in a year, PayPal will issue a 1099-K to report the income earned on your annual tax return.

Here are reviews on the micro job apps I regularly use and the pros and cons of each:

Field Agent

+  Both Android and Apple versions are available.

+  Typically larger pay-outs for fewer questions and photos than the other two apps.

+  Payments are deposited to PayPal very quickly, usually one business day after the job is completed or on Monday for a weekend job.

+  Offers better instructions and examples of the photos required than its competitors.  You want to get the job done as directed, but as quickly as possible.  Clear and understandable directions without a lot of jargon are key.

+/-  Some jobs are only available after first completing a quick Screener survey.  These will either qualify or disqualify you for certain jobs based on purchasing habits or demographic information.  However, if you’re one of very few qualified applicants, these jobs won’t be quick to disappear from your app.  And payout amounts can increase if they’re not filled a few days after being posted.

  Once you reserve a gig, you only have two hours to complete it.  I’ve even seen one-hour time limits.

  Field Agent has a job type called “Scavenger Hunt.”  These involve looking for specific product in a certain store by UPC code.  While it sounds easy, these are difficult and time consuming, if you’re even able to locate the product at all.  I’ve long since started ignoring these jobs, except there are so many and the way they’re arranged is a hot mess.

Easy Shift

+  Both Android and Apple versions are available.

+  Once you reserve a gig, you have 24 hours to complete it.

+  They have an active user forum accessible through the app, which offers beginner tutorials, tips from experienced Shifters and more information about pending jobs.

+/-  Of the three this app offers the most jobs in my city, though they are snatched up quickly.  And I like the map view it offers.  Available jobs are marked with blue pins.  Jobs reserved by others have a grey pin.  Clicking on a grey pin will show how much time is left on the reservation.  Occasionally members let their reservations lapse, so you could easily keep track and check back when their hold is set to expire.

 Typically, more photos and questions are required for each job than are required by the other apps, however, the shift reservation page will show you the exact number of questions required to complete the gig so you can judge for yourself if the pay-out amount is worth your time.

  New members can only sign up for a limited number of jobs, but Shifters receive “promotions” for completing a certain number of jobs, and with promotions the number of jobs that can be reserved at a single time increases.


+  Both Android and Apple versions are available.

+/-  Members apply for each gig.  Part of applying is indicating how quickly you can do the job.  Options are usually two hours, 12 hours and 24 hours, but I’ve seen other increments and occasionally a span of days versus hours.  Acceptance or rejection of your application is sometimes instant, but not always.

+/-  Gigwalk payments aren’t as quick as Field Agent’s, but they arrive faster than Easy Shift’s.

+/-  Similarly, the number of required questions and photos for the amounts paid are usually more than Field Agent’s, but less than Easy Shift.

 In my area, not as many jobs are available at any given time versus Field Agent or Easy Shift.

With the rise of a freelance economy through the mainstream use of Uber, Airbnb, Fiverr and others, the availability and prevalence of micro jobs is only going to grow.  These quick and easy money makers can help you become debt free, and you’ll collect a few free meals and some comp’d Chardonnay along your road to financial independence!

Next in the series:  There’s No Shame in Swagbucks & Surveys

Introducing Heartland Hustle

At the end of our days, our lives will be a reflection of how we chose to spend two things:  Our time and our money.

Even the measurement of a minute and how we  use it, represents our values. When it comes to wasting time, I’ve got that down. I spend more nights a week binging on Netflix than I’d care to admit and I can count the times I’ve been to the gym this year on my hands. But I’ve also invested my time in a college education, and a job that’s brought me joy and three promotions over a decade.

How we handle our money is also a reflection of who we are. I’ve taken a “set it and forget it” approach when it comes to maximizing my retirement savings and am so close to having our student loans paid off I can taste the celebratory champagne. But there’s a never been ridden $300 bicycle just sitting in my garage, and I haven’t updated our budget once for July with less than one week left in the month. Like time, it’s important we be mindful of the balance between wasted money and spending money to make our lives fulfilling. Do we use money as a tool, or does it control us?

This website is about working toward spending less money on the immediate gratification of stuff that eventually leaves us empty and our bank accounts drained and rethinking our use of time that may be convenient in the immediate but comes at the cost of our health and leaves us broke in other ways – and instead using our money and time in ways that enhance our personal relationships, promote wellness, and provide enriching experiences and a life we’ll have been proud to live.

But first, you can’t make your dreams and goals a reality if you haven’t identified them. Start with the big picture of how you’d like to envision your story at the end of your life. Did you travel the world? Stay home with your children? Retire early and live off the grid? Continue to work, but live comfortably in a huge mansion? Leave a legacy for your family or charity?

Our priorities and goals aren’t going to be the same. But the commonality of all our dreams is that we need a plan for each of us to get there. At Heartland Hustle, we’ll talk about topics relevant to your plan and tactics to help you make it happen. Topics like creating and sticking to a budget, earning points and miles for free travel, finding frugal solutions and creative life hacks, using side hustles to make extra income, creating cheap and healthy meal plans, maximizing the money you’re already spending, and how to empower yourself to save, invest and use tax advantaged accounts.

Thanks for reading and sharing in this journey with me! If you have ideas or topics you’d like to submit for consideration or you’re interested in submitting a guest post, please let me know by visiting the Contact Me page.

Hustle (verb) hus·tle \ˈhə-səl\
Definition: To move or work in a quick and energetic way.