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Times are hard so you may be finding yourself and your family budget in need of a little pick me up. It can be incredibly frustrating to work on creating a family budget that works for you only to find that it simply isn’t enough. When that happens, the only thing that you can do is to try and earn the extra money that you need. You can do this by working a side job, finding ways to earn free gift cards, starting a home business or even taking a second job. For me, working outside of the home just isn’t an option any longer. Not only do we homeschool our daughter, but the chronic health issues that I have had over the years have made it just impossible.
That’s why, when I found myself and my daugher in a homeless shelter in 2010 (which is why homeless advocacy is so important to me), I turned to the net to earn money after we got on our feet. For a while, all that I was able to do was earn free gift cards, but these days? I’m earning over $100,000 a year online (before expenses of course). Yes, some of that is in the form of free gift cards, but much more of it is a steady and regular paycheck which can be a huge help when you’re trying to stop living paycheck to paycheck. If after reading this post and using the earnings tips in it, you still need budget help, my book Six Dollar Family will very likely be a huge help. It is packed with ways to help you salvage a damaged budget, get on track and even more ways to earn free gift cards and cash.
15 Ways to earn free gift cards and work from home
When you first start your journey to making money online, you’ll likely go through several options at first. In other words, it will take you a bit to find a method of earning that you really like. That’s okay since you’ll want to be truly comfortable and successful at what you’re doing to earn money online. Give yourself time to really get comfortable doing what you’re doing and then move on if it isn’t working for you.
After you start earning, you may find that you have more money than you currently need. If that happens, be sure that you use the extra to pay down debt or stash it in a high yield savings account until you have a need for it or use it to build your emergency fund . A high yield account pays a higher interest rate than a regular account which is a great thing for you since it means that your savings account is actually working for you!
Before we get going, I do want to mention that you should sign up for an NCP account as well. With NCP, you scan your groceries in order to earn or win rewards! IT’s a program that I’ve been a member of for years and LOVE it!
Head over and sign up for a ShopTracker account. Once you do, download the app and within 48 hours, they will send you a FREE $3.00 gift card. It isn’t much, but every little bit helps.
Start a Blog and Make Money Blogging
Did you know that blogging can earn you money? It sure can! In fact, this blog provides a significant portion of our family’s income each month and in 2016 earned over $100,000! It does take work to learn how to make money blogging, but if you’re willing to work, you can absolutely make money blogging too! You can start a blog with Bluehost for only $3.95/mo and get a free domain name when you do. Once you’ve done that, I have a step-by-step tutorial that will walk you through how to start a blog on Bluehost to help you get started.
Sell Your Clutter to Earn Extra Cash
This one is pretty obvious to most of us but you wouldn’t believe the number of people that actually do not do this!Sure, donations are fantastic but when you’re in need of extra money, selling that item may be a bit better for your family. If you think you have nothing to sell, take a look at the top 101 things you can donate or sell today for ideas then go from there. You can sell on Ebay and Craiglist of course, but there are quite a few places that are not Ebay that are great for selling too.
If you’ve gone through all of those, you can also list on your local Facebook buy/sell groups or send items to places like Swap.com to consign. The other option is to hold a yard sale if the weather is warm enough. I’ve held quite a few yard sales when we’ve needed extra cash and if you use the yard sale tips that I use for my own sales, you’ll very likely have a huge success. My last sale earned over $1,000 and I’m sure that amount of money would be useful to just about anyone.
Complete Surveys to Earn Free Gift Cards and Cash
Ah, the old fall back. Completing surveys to earn free gift cards and cash. Surveys have been a staple of people who are looking to earn money and earn free gift cards from home for years. If you’re new to them, they’re pretty simple in how they work. You sign up for the website, confirm your email address (which is very important because you won’t get their survey invites if you don’t), then log in and start taking surveys. Payment methods are typically cash, gift card, Paypal or check and the amount that you have to make before you get paid can range from $0.00 to $100.00. I have been making money with paid surveys since 2008 and I still love it. Its one of my easy fall backs for when I need to pick up some extra cash or earn free gift cards for a holiday or birthday.
In fact, I actually worked on a system that I use daily to earn. My system earns me $225 (or more) in free gift cards or cash every single month with what amounts to very little work. If you’d rather not take a look at how I work each of the sites, a few that you may want to consider signing up for are:
- Global Test Market
- Reward Shopping
- Pinecone Research
- Harris Poll
- Inbox Dollars
- Survey Rewardz
- Valued Opinions
- Shoppers Voice
- Survey Savvy
- MySoapbox Panel
- Quick Rewards
In addition to the free gift cards and cash that you can earn with a good survey site, some of them also offer the occasional product testing. They send you a new product to try for free. You try it then take a quick survey telling them how you did or didn’t like it. That little perk is a favorite among survey takers and makes it well worth signing up for a new site.
Drive for Uber to earn extra cash
Driving for Uber is a fantastic way to make extra cash when you need to. If you’ve got a car and you can pass a background check, it is well worth checking out. Uber drivers can make some pretty considerable cash even if they’re only driving in their free time. If you’re interested, taking the time to apply to drive for Uber is fairly easy and you should hear back pretty quickly. Once you’re approved to drive, you set your own hours which makes it perfect for stay at home parents or students.
Grow a Green Thumb
Selling extra fruits and vegetables from your garden is a great way to make some extra cash each month. This is especially true if you use an organic fertilizer and can sell your products as organic. If you’ve already got a garden going each year, you’re halfway there. If not? They’re not too terribly hard to get going if you take the time to learn how to start garden seeds and you use an indoor germination station to start them.. The prices that you’re able to get per item will really depend on your area and if there are any affordable farmers markets nearby but earning money from a natural lifestyle can be very lucrative. I have friends who earn an extra $500 or more just by selling their garden leftovers each month.
Just a quick word about this: Don’t sell food that your family needs. Instead, make sure you’re only selling your excess garden crops so that you aren’t actually hurting your family instead of helping them.
Babysit Kids to Earn Extra Cash
Starting an in-home daycare business can be a great way to make extra cash. In fact, you can actually make a better than full-time income by watching just a few kids out of your home. It’s insanely easy to get started too! Just decide how much you want to charge, how many kids you can handle safely and what your days and hours will be. Place a few advertisements to gain new clients and Bob’s your uncle. Just be sure to check all of your local city and state laws before you begin to be sure you’re within the law.
You’ll also want to pick up a few toys, books and kids board games. Most of these can be picked up at a second-hand store or a consignment shop like Swap.com pretty cheap. Doing so will allow you to keep the kids entertained while they’re visiting at your home. Once you’re ready to get started, Care.com is a fantastic place to find available jobs and to list yourself as available for baby-sitting or nanny work. You can also list here if you’re looking for a housecleaner or that type of work.
Write Articles to Earn Extra Cash
As a blogger, there’s no better way to earn your money than writing (in my not so humble opinion) and there are plenty of different places on the web that will pay you to write for them and whether you know it or not, freelance writing can be a fantastic way to earn money from home. In fact, when our family budget crashed mid-2014, I began freelancing myself. Because of the money I made freelancing, I was able to keep my bills paid and begin to set our budget right side up again.
You can find different places to write with a quick search, but if you’re looking for places to start with right now, The Work at Home Woman has a great list of 75 paid writing opportunities that you might want to check out.
Tip: If you do begin a freelance writing career, consider starting your own website where clients can find you and what services you offer. This also allows you to have a place to showcase client testimonials.
Complete Tasks to work from home
Did you know that Amazon has a marketplace where you can complete tasks for other people to get paid? Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk for short) is a marketplace where people who need work done will post those projects as available to be done. These tasks, called HITS are what helps you make money. Take the HITS you want to do and skip the rest. When a HIT is done and approved by the job poster, you get paid! All payments are handled from Amazon in the form of cash or Amazon gift card. Tasks range from clicking a link to writing articles and more. Plus? Mturk can turn into much more than a freelance gig if your work is done well. I have a friend that I suggested MTurk to a few months ago after he had lost his job and he was able to actually get a full-time job from one of his tasks!
Earn free gift cards from Home from your Smartphone
If you’ve got a smartphone, are you making it work for you? There are a ton of apps out that will let you earn free cash, earn free gift cards or both! Some will pay you free gift cards for scanning your receipts. Others will pay you for watching videos and more. I love earning this way because it’s so simple to do! I’ve included my 4 favorites with a quick description below:
- iBotta – Pays cash back for buying groceries. Payment is Paypal (instant when you reach $20.00) or free gift cards.
- Perk – Watch videos on your phone in exchange for points. Points can then be changed into Paypal payments or a gift card. Payments are sent three times per week.
- Receipt Hog – Scan your shopping receipts for spins on their slots. Change your points into cash or a free Amazon gift card.
- Checkout 51 – Just like iBotta. Get paid cash back for your groceries. This one can also be done on the pc so you’re not limited to just your phone.
Collect Broken Electronics to work from home
This one is a bit odd, but sites like Craigslist, Freecycle, and local Facebook buy/sell groups are full of broken electronics that are only going to be thrown away. Pick them up for free when you can and sell them. You can send used or broken electronics to Gazelle to get paid cash or you can send them to Amazon in exchange for free gift cards.
If you really wanted to get going quickly, you could try posting wanted ads and when you get a response, send it in for cash! Most of the companies that offer this service will even pay for shipping. You’ll get to earn some extra cash and you’ll be doing something good for the environment too!
Learn to Coupon to “earn” money from home
I know. Doesn’t make much sense to include couponing in a post about earning money from home, does it? Yes. It actually does. When you learn to coupon you begin to save your family money. When you’re saving money at the store, you’re putting money back into your family’s budget. So while you aren’t actively earning anything, you are in fact causing yourself to have more money! This is probably one of the easiest ways that you can “earn” money from home without a lot of cost to yourself!
My only caution is to make sure that you’re practicing balanced couponing instead of following the extreme couponing fad. Coming from someone who stopped extreme couponing, it just isn’t worth it.
Bake a Cake to work from home
There is always someone who needs a nicely decorated cake and most of those people pay very nicely for well decorated cakes. From wedding cakes to birthday cakes to just a surprise for a loved one, cake baking and decorating can be a very lucrative business from home. This is especially popular around the holidays but baking and decorating cakes is almost always a hot item. If you aren’t sure how to get started, Craftsy offers a few free cake decorating classes and Cake Central is a very good jumping off point for recipes and ideas.
Before you start selling your cakes though, be sure to check with all local and state laws. The last thing anyone wants is to get in trouble for selling a home baked good.
Take and edit photos to work from home
I’m more than certain that you already know this, but there are a lot of bad photographers in the world today. Those people? They need their photos edited. Who better to do that than you? Whether you charge an hourly rate or a flat rate for your editing skills, there are people that will pay for someone to edit their photos! You can use a free program like Paint.net or Gimp for your editing platform or you can go full out and buy Photoshop. Its up to you! Again, advertise on Craigslist, Facebook, and your local newspapers and you’ll soon be making a good income!
If you’re good at actually taking the photos, selling your photos online to be used as stock photos can be a great way to add some extra cash to your budget. Bloggers like me use them in their posts quite often (like the photo at the top of this post). How much you earn will depend on how many photos you have up for sale.
Get crafty to work from home
If you’re the crafty sort, you can earn extra cash at home by selling what you make! Etsy, Ebay, and Craigslist are all fantastic places to peddle your wares and this is a crazy easy way to make a few extra bucks! Just about everything has a market these days so whether its homemade jewelry, a hand sewn skirt, baby blankets or pretty throw pillows, if you can make it, you can sell it!
Another great option for crafty folks is to make your own homemade creams, salves and ointments and sell them! Local farmers markets and the sites listed above are all great markets for those items too! We have some awesome homemade product tutorials and recipes to get you started.
Become a Party Planner to work from home
Planning birthday parties or weddings from home can be a great way to earn extra cash! Not all moms have the ability to plan a memorable party for their little ones so they’ll hire people to do it! The same goes for a wedding planner! To get started, brush up on your party planning skills, your decorating skills and your people skills then advertise! You’ll need to figure out what you’re going to charge (call around to other planners in your area to get their prices if you’re unsure) and if you’ll be a full time party planner or only work part time. Once you get going, you’ll be raking in the cash because these people get paid very well!
Before you get started, make sure that you’ve done your research on how to save your clients money. Planning a kids birthday party on a budget or planning a wedding on a budget can be a big draw in for customers who might not want to spend a ton of money. Being able to say in your ads that you’ll do what you can to save them money will go a long way.
Earning free gift cards or money from home isn’t as hard as most people make it seem. It can be done and it can absolutely provide a full-time income for your family. Do you have any other ways that you like to earn free gift cards or to earn money from home?