Side Hustles To Keep Your Family Finances Afloat

By Staff

Besides having a solid emergency fund, one of the best ways to hedge against financial ruin while surviving a layoff is to have one or two (or three) side hustles. Side hustles are a little different from traditional part time jobs in that they generally involve you starting up something on your own. They can range in complexity from selling yard sale finds on eBay to starting your own small business.

1. Dog walker. On the way to work each morning I pass a lady walking five or six dogs, usually three leashes in each hand. She carries a small shovel like a sword strapped to her waist, and has quite a few plastic grocery bags stuffed in each pocket. I’ve never seen them in action, but I assume these tools are for performing the neighborly deed of removing dog poop from lawns along the way.

Pros: You are getting exercise; your own dog can tag along and get exercise
Cons: Clean up (need I say more); untangling twisted leashes

2. “Date-night” sitting service. This is an idea we kicked around a few months ago when we were looking for ways to boost our income, without being away from the kids. A date-night sitting service is basically a Friday and/or Saturday night in-home service where neighbors and friends drop off their kids for a few hours while the parents enjoy a “date night.” Hosts charge a little less than a single babysitter would, but make a little more because they have more than one child to watch. Kids can play games, watch movies, and hosts usually order up some cheap pizza, or grill hotdogs and hamburgers (always a crowd favorite).

Pros: Your kids can participate in the fun; hourly earnings typically higher than retail job
Cons: Liability issues; five extra kids running around the house; no date night of your own

3. Survey participant. Anyone who has been on the web any length of time knows opportunities abound for participants to earn money completing surveys. What is less known is that there are only a small handful of reputable companies offering this service, in a space crowded by many scams. I have personal experience working with CashCrate, where I used to net $40-$60 a month working surveys a few minutes each day. Over time, I’ve managed to take advantage of their lucrative referral system and I now make a couple hundred dollars a month. It won’t make me rich, but it does add a little to the grocery budget.

Pros: No costs to participate; can be done from home
Cons: Email box full of offers (use a separate email account if you sign up)

4. Blogger. I’ve been writing for nearly a year now, but if I read this myself this time last year I wouldn’t have believed being a blogger could actually become an income-earning opportunity. The money comes very slowly, but for those with patience it can actually add up to become a nice supplemental income. It is not completely passive income though, as there is a lot of writing, editing and behind-the-scenes administration that goes along with being a blogger. Still, if there is a subject you are passionate about it is worth a try.

Pros: Work at your own pace; minimal startup costs; interacting with readers and other bloggers
Cons: Time consuming; requires mental effort tough to conjure up at the end of a long day

5. House sitter. I have family member that recently graduated high school. He is headed into one of the military services, but his enlistment was delayed. Instead of hunting down a place to rent, he got the opportunity to house-sit for a couple that would be away from their home for a few months. While this job doesn’t pay an income, money saved is money earned. Rather than shelling out several hundred dollars for a half-year lease, now he gets to live rent free and pocket earnings from his job.

Pros: Free rent; take advantage of amenities (pool, home gyms, etc.)
Cons: No place for your own things; wondering when you’ll be asked to move out

6. Lawn painter. No, that’s not a typo. Painting houses has always been a nice way to make a few extra bucks, but in times of dry climate and numerous foreclosures, greening up lawns with paint is in high demand. Realtors would much rather show a “green” home than one with a brown yard. But the benefits of a green lawn don’t stop with curb appeal. A green lawn makes the house looked lived in, lessening the chances of the home being vandalized, or squatters taking up residence.

Pros: High demand (especially in winter months)
Cons: Product costs; green legs and shoes

7. Holiday Decorations Installer. This one is seasonal, obviously, but with the holiday season approaching I’ve heard of many enterprising people advertising their services to install decorations. Many homeowners enjoy adding icicle lights and yard decorations, but don’t have the time, energy, or know-how to set them up themselves. That’s where you come in. Charge a flat fee based on the amount of decorations the owner wants displayed, and offer a discounted fee to come back after the holidays and take down the decorations and pack them away for next year. Who knows…you might earn a little extra Christmas shopping money by helping out your neighbors!

Pros: Minimal equipment needed (maybe just a ladder, scaffold, etc.); set your own schedule
Cons: A lot of patience needed (ever try to unwind a 100ft strand of tangled Christmas lights?)