How can I convert 80 hours of free time into $500 per month?
September 1, 2008 7:55 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for the most creative use of my time from 9 AM to 1 PM, Monday through Friday, that will result in me making an extra $500 per month.

I want to be free of debt by the end of 2009, but to accomplish this I need to make exactly $500 per month from now until New Year's Eve 2009. I've been self-employed for the last four years, and make enough to live comfortably, but not enough to pay down my debt in a timely manner. I can carve 20 hours out of my week to do something, but what?

Having been my own boss for quite some time, I'd like to stay away from being someone else's employee, but other than that, the sky's the limit. If my particular skill sets are important to better answer the question, I'll gladly list them below, but for now I wanted this to remain as broad and open as possible.
posted by (bb|[^b]{2}) to Work & Money (36 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Give plasma. Obviously you won't make $500 a month doing it, but it would be some extra cash.
posted by at 8:03 PM on September 1, 2008

When I was in university I supplemented my crappy student loans with money made from dog walking at lunch time. I made flyers and plastered them up in the vicinity of my school and ended up having a handful of regular clients until I graduated.
posted by zarah at 8:11 PM on September 1, 2008

Do a blog. Have readers. Run ads.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:15 PM on September 1, 2008

Can you get up before 9am? Working at a bakery or cafe might work. It is tough to fill those opening shifts.
posted by k8t at 8:18 PM on September 1, 2008

That's only 6.25 an hour. That, sir (or madam) is less than the minimum wage. So you could pretty much do anything that fits into that time-slot. Slinging burgers? Scooping ice cream? Telemarketing? Pick your poison.
posted by greta simone at 8:18 PM on September 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

Not likely, corpse. I have a website and it nets me $20 a month from Adsense, and maybe $5 a month from Amazon referrals. Granted it's not a blog but it's not easy to earn money that way anymore.
posted by IndigoRain at 8:18 PM on September 1, 2008

Response by poster: Having been my own boss for quite some time, I'd like to stay away from being someone else's employee
posted by (bb|[^b]{2}) at 8:19 PM on September 1, 2008

Oh, didn't catch the part about not being someone else's employee. So scratch my previous post.
posted by greta simone at 8:19 PM on September 1, 2008

Mow lawns.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:19 PM on September 1, 2008

Find some underserved area of town and open up a small snack bar / kiosk type thing. I'm always shocked when I see a Little League game going on, and there's no snack bar. Be the neighborhood ice cream man.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:22 PM on September 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

tech support? I put up flyers in the neighborhood and got a lot of loyal clients whose computers I fix by appointment.

freelance writing or editing? Put an ad in craigslist offering your services? Put up flyers around universities?

Depends on what your skill set is; put up flyers accordingly?

If you only have to hit 6 bucks an hour, I imagine you'd have potentially have a lot of options. Depends on what you can do I guess.

When I was paying down my school loans I worked evenings at a bookstore after a full day of work at my regular job. It did the trick, I paid them off way early and then happily quit the bookstore. Easy job, kind of fun even, low pressure and easygoing coworkers and customers. Very painless.
posted by jak68 at 8:28 PM on September 1, 2008

Panhandle. I'm not kidding.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:36 PM on September 1, 2008

Walk dogs.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 8:39 PM on September 1, 2008

if you're in a city or the kind of suburb that will sustain it: walk dogs! charge between $10-15 per hour or half hour per dog and the money ads up.
posted by lia at 8:40 PM on September 1, 2008

err, adds up. also: damn you kuujjuarapik!
posted by lia at 8:40 PM on September 1, 2008

You could try being a guide for ChaCha. You sit around and answer questions via the internet. It doesn't pay well, but there are no set time commitments, you log-on when you choose. You just have to maintain a certain number of questions a week to qualify for the better money ($.20/question vs. $.10/q).
posted by lizjohn at 8:46 PM on September 1, 2008 [3 favorites]

Likewise Amazon Mechanical Turk.

Also, sign up to things like Quidco and TopCashBack, so for any spending you do through them, you get a percentage back (those are UK based, but I'd imagine that there are US ones).

Mystery shopping might also be quite fun, and make you some money.
posted by djgh at 8:58 PM on September 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

Likewise Amazon Mechanical Turk.

Seems unlikely that you could make anywhere near $6/hour on the Turk
posted by meta_eli at 9:12 PM on September 1, 2008

Were I in your position, I'd go for a minimum-wage job: bookstore clerk, coffee shop employee, whatever. I hear that you don't want a boss, but I don't think I'd want to take on anything where I had a lot of responsibility or had to work at marketing even in a low-key way. The kind of job where if it turns out not to be as mellow as you'd like, or your boss is a jerk, you could just walk away. A friend of mine recently spent a year working a few shifts a week at a party store to supplement her professional income, and she found it kind of restful to have the kind of job where the work is immediate and short-term (stock those shelves, cash out those customers) and she could just walk away at the end of her shift.
posted by not that girl at 9:37 PM on September 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

not that girl has a point. Anything where you're your own boss is going to have a negative impact on the money you make per hour. For example, working at Borders (or wherever) and earning x per hour for 4 hours per day, or doing your own thing and earning x for 3 hours per day, with an unpaid hour devoted to administration, paperwork, managing customers, bookings, appointments, whatever.
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:45 PM on September 1, 2008

Not a regular gig, but you can sometimes check and see if local universities/colleges need participants in studies and experiments--the renumeration isn't so bad. The extra cash came in handy a few times when I was at school.
posted by elisynn at 10:15 PM on September 1, 2008

You could operate a food cart like the ones they have in Portland. 9am to 1pm gives you a chance to catch the lunch rush.
posted by PercussivePaul at 11:03 PM on September 1, 2008

Online poker
posted by cwhitfcd at 12:04 AM on September 2, 2008

I've been thinking more about this, and what you need is a paying job where you don't have to do a huge amount. So for the below AskMe, substitute 'reading time' for something else that will pay you money (filling out questionnaires online, playing online poker (if you're good enough) etc.). The money you make on the second one doesn't have to be good, but if you're on $6 and hour doing X, and earn an extra $1 an hour on Y whilst doing X, then I guess you're making more than you should.
AskMe question
posted by djgh at 9:19 AM on September 2, 2008

9am isn't quite early enough to have a paper route (I get $500 a month from mine, and I deliver from 5:30 am to 7am), but you could get a flyer route or two. My roommate delivers flyers Tuesday and Thursday mornings and makes a couple hundred bucks a month. No, you aren't your own boss - but you never have to see your boss or any other employees plus you get exercise and fresh air.
posted by arcticwoman at 10:07 AM on September 2, 2008

I should add that I charged $15 an hour per dog and usually walked 3-4 at a time for 60 min (taking them directly to the nearest dog friendly park), and made aprox. $675 per week. Of course that's useless to you if you don't have a way with dogs, and since 2 more people have suggested it since my first post & you haven't said anything you probably don't like the idea. But just thought I should mention how lucrative it can be.
posted by zarah at 12:47 PM on September 2, 2008

Transcription from audio recordings. Good transcriptionists get paid between $20-40 per hour of transcription (more if highly technical or specialist language is involved). I reckon that one hour of audio takes 3-4 hours to transcribe. But you do this in your own space and your own time. Post flyers in various colleges at your local University, or find an online transcription agency to work for.
posted by Susurration at 4:19 PM on September 2, 2008

It really depends on how creative you are in your quest for $500. If you are a literate sort, you may be able to be a proofreader for local companies, they are always looking for people to come up with a dazzling write up for marketing purposes. you can work as a sub contractor doing that part time. think outside of the box and look for small/medium size companies that need the marketing help.
posted by sharkhunt at 4:55 PM on September 2, 2008

In-home child care. And you can charge a LOT more than six bucks an hour.
posted by nax at 5:22 PM on September 2, 2008

sussuration - do you have any transcription agency in mind? Have you done that kind of work?

sharkhunt - do you have any proofreading/write-up subcontracting company in mind?
posted by jak68 at 11:05 PM on September 2, 2008

Offer to sell less tech-savvy friends' and families' stuff on eBay at a small profit.
posted by napdynmite at 8:25 AM on September 3, 2008

Play a MMORPG like World of Warcraft, and grind out high level characters, gold, and rare magical items to sell for cash on eBay. (Note : breaks WoW TOS.)
posted by Dave Faris at 9:11 AM on September 3, 2008

For someone that is self-employed, I am surprised you haven't come up with a way to turn 4 hours everyday into $500 (sorry to be Frank but it is quite surprising.)

What are you good at? You can sell advice and expertise at a high price. If you're good at computers, look at Geek Squad. They charge like 90 to install a stick of RAM into the computer. You can probably do it for 30-50 for someone.

You can also start a website. I'm a student, and I make about $500-700 every month on my blog. And the thing is, I haven't done anything to it since February.

Tutor somebody. Perhaps you have strong educational background? Teach music. Like Marge says, you only need to be one lesson ahead of the student ;) (Actually I'm just joking, there are many different learning levels)

Become a door-to-door salesmen such as Amway.

Or you can just get a job that has a 4 hour shift during that time. Why 9 and not earlier?
posted by rintako at 12:45 PM on September 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Seconding the tutoring idea. Looks like you might know some math - find some underachieving kids of type-A parents who'll pay you $50 an hour for math tutoring.
posted by mikewas at 5:32 PM on September 3, 2008

Cat sitting for people, go to their houses and feed the cat and change the little. We pay something like $20/day when we go away.

Offer to help people sell stuff on ebay and do the logistics

Scan people's pictures or CDs in for cash
posted by bottlebrushtree at 7:49 PM on September 3, 2008

There's a few things I'm wondering here. First, you mention you are self-employed and comfortable in your lifestyle. Instead of looking for another job, why not look for creative ways to increase the amount you make from your main job? If you have an established business, it seems it would be easier to leverage that into an extra $500/mo than starting fresh at something else that will inevitably be capped in earning potential (especially if you follow the advice of some here and get a minimum wage job).

In response to those suggesting start a blog--I would disagree. A blog can be profitable but is a HUGE time sink in terms of time spent writing and marketing for the site, and there is no guarantee of making jack.

I have a site I built that aggregates eBay auctions for a specific niche and I make commissions off of that (typically $300-$500/mo) with it just sitting there, but I coded the site from scratch.

It would help if you could clarify what your main profession is as there may be side jobs that could spring from that.

There's also the flip side of this which is, rather than looking for ways to make MORE money, look for ways to spend LESS. Make some lifestyle adjustments. I won't list out ways to do that here since there's a million and one places to find that info online but if you're smart enough to be posting here, you're smart enough to figure out ways to cut expenses.
posted by Elminster24 at 11:53 AM on September 23, 2008

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