Landing your first job out of college can be tough, but even those who earn a paycheck may still struggle to make ends meet. Though entry-level wages aren’t likely to increase, expenses such as rent, groceries, and student debt will. Pay your bills and still have some fun with these creative ways to make cash on the side.
Unlock your creativity. Did you spend your afternoons beading necklaces or painting before final exams and presentations took over? Get back to your roots – or discover a new passion – by creating sophisticated crafts. Pitch your creations to friends, family members and coworkers; if they like your finished product, it may be worth selling on websites such as Etsy or Bonanza. A beautiful pair of earrings could pocket you $20, while an original painting could go for $200 or more. Be aware that these sites often charge a small commission, often three to five percent of the selling price.
Stay wired. Computer science majors are often in high demand – but if your salary just isn’t enough, know that you have valuable skills to offer the less computer-literate. Approach several small business owners and offer to revamp their websites or help them with their online marketing for a reasonable fee. You may also want to scan the Craigslist listings for people who need assistance with coding or website development.
Use your words. Don’t let that English degree go to waste. Even if you have a full-time job, there are many ways to get your work out there. Write freelance assignments for local media outlets or an online blog. A variety of job boards, including Craigslist, often feature opportunities to ghost write or edit manuscripts. Want something a little less demanding? Go to a site like Fiverr and offer to revamp resumes or write captivating dating profiles for $5 each.
Get moving. Not all of us are blessed with natural athleticism. If you are a former college athlete trying to stay fit, use your knowledge to help others. Get certified as a personal trainer and arrange sessions around your work schedule, or teach tennis or golf lessons to children on the weekends. Looking to satisfy your competitive spirit? Register to become a high school sports official in your local area.
Make an impact. If you love working with children but aren’t interested in making it a full-time job, know that you can still give back. Make a honed skill profitable by putting up flyers around your neighborhood for piano or Spanish language lessons. Are you a master at standardized tests? Sign up through a local school or national service to become a certified tutor for anything from the SATs to the MCATs.
Save Money Like a Pro
If you’re low on cash, it’s important to create a monthly plan to limit your spending. Follow this budget to keep tabs on your expenses.
- Spend 50% of your monthly income on essential expenses, including rent, utilities, transportation, and groceries.
- Save 20% for financial priorities, including student loan repayments, contributing to your retirement fund and building your savings.
- Spend 30% — or whatever is leftover — on lifestyle choices, such as dining out and shopping.
How to stick to your budget?
- Cut coupons from your Sunday newspapers. You could even learn something from an episode of Extreme Couponing.
- Talk to your Human Resources department to make sure you are taking advantage of all your benefits, including commuter programs, gym reimbursements, and insurance.
- Don’t use your credit cards, unless you plan on paying off the funds immediately.
- If possible, contribute more than the minimum payment on your student loans. You will save interest fees in the long run.