One of the questions that I get asked the most is how I afford to travel. To be honest, I don’t even think I travel THAT often, especially after jumping into the travel space on Instagram and seeing how much other people travel. I do recognize, however, that I’m lucky enough to jet off as often as I do, even if it’s monthly or every other month. This definitely adds up quickly but to me it’s worth every penny.
The people asking me this question aren’t necessarily my insta friends – I know they have already mastered their own personal side hustles to fund their lifestyle. The people asking me are usually my parents (Mom, if you’re reading this I do still contribute to my 401K), my co-workers (I’m certain my boss thinks I live an entirely different life abroad) or friends of friends who just don’t have the same wanderlust inside of them as I do.
I thought I’d write about some of the ways I bring in (or save) extra cash money on top of my day job. I’ll preface this first by saying that some of these won’t be applicable to every single person but hopefully it can inspire you to start earning some extra money of your own!
Packing a lunch to work
Ahh yes, the age-old trick of brown paper bagging it. I’m sure you’re thinking this is a no brainer but allow me to jump into a little more detail. I actually have co-workers who buy their lunch out EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. “Oh but I don’t have time to pack a lunch”, “I never go grocery shopping”, “I’m too lazy”, or my favorite “It’s only a few dollars more to eat out.” Sure, I have my lazy weeks where I never get to the grocery store or meal prep the weekend prior but to do this is on a regular basis would kill my wallet. If you make a habit out of packing your lunch, it quickly turns into routine. Let’s say on average I’m spending $3 a meal to prep at home vs. $10 a meal to take out (Chicago prices are no joke) and assuming a 49 week work year after Holiday’s, that’s a yearly savings of $1,695! I’ll take the few minutes of prep work each night in exchange for an international trip each year, thank you very much!
Selling my clothes on Poshmark & Mercari
Thank the lord for modern day smart phone apps. What used to turn into hand-me-downs to my little cousins now turns into cash. I’m not ashamed to admit I love shopping. I was also a bit of a hoarder through my college years and early 20’s. Every time I would do a sweep of my closet I found myself asking, “Hmm, what if I need to wear that again some day?” LOL. Now with apps like Poshmark and Mercari questions like that are easier to answer. Goodbye old clothes, hello guilt free wardrobe replenishment. I can’t say I make a second income selling old clothes but it’s a nice supplement to my other side hustles and it declutters my space at the same time. In my first year using these apps I pulled in over $1,000 and it was out with the old, in with the new!
Renting my car out
This is the most passive form of secondary income that I have. The easiest way I explain this to people is that it’s just like Air B&B but for your car. Now fair warning here, this won’t work for everyone but I’m a car owner who also lives in a city with very reliable public transit. I use it to get to work and to get pretty much everywhere else I need to go. The only reason I keep my car is to get home to Michigan for the Holiday’s or for small road trips on the weekends. This obviously won’t be practical for those who don’t have reliable public transit or who need their car regularly but if you don’t fall into those categories this would be perfect for you. The app I use is called Turo but there are other ones out there on the market. If you’re nervous about handing your keys over to a perfect stranger, rest assured they offer a great insurance policy. Plus my car has collected it’s fair share of dings and scratches in the city so I’m not overly concerned about my 2007 Pontiac G6 collecting a few more if it happens. In my first year using the app I made just over $4,500 which not only helps pay for insurance and maintenance but puts a ton of extra cash in my pocket with very little work!
This is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. If you’ve ever gone to the grocery store and seen people pouring liquor samples out for customers, then you know what I’m talking about. My best friend is the queen of liquor promotion events and got me into this a few years ago. As my full time job has become busier in the last year and I’ve been promoted (read: nice raise), I haven’t had to rely on working these events recently. However, the pay is great (anywhere from $20-$30/hour), requires very little on-boarding training and is very simple work for the return. If you’re good at conversation with strangers and this sounds like something you would like to do, I suggest searching on Craigslist in your city for “liquor promotions” or “brand promotions.”
I know what you’re probably thinking. No, this isn’t some weird drug or medical related testing like you see in the movies. I wouldn’t jeopardize my health with something that extreme! This is essentially something that is ran by a 3rd party research firm who works with companies that want to collect consumer insights on their products. Most of the ones I’ve attended have been food or personal care/beauty related but they do have studies for technology, finances, etc. It’s an extremely easy concept. You show up, trial the product they are collecting data on (either by eating it, using it or watching a commercial about it), and provide your honest feedback. There is no right or wrong answer. Sometimes they collect your answers right on a the computer and other times it has been through group discussion. Either way it’s a very easy way to make money. Some that I have attended in the past paid up to $200 for 2 hours of my time. Easy, peasy.
Monetizing my Instagram
If you landed on this blog post, it’s probably because you follow me on instagram (I haven’t started promoting my blog on any other platforms yet.) And if you follow me on instagram, it’s likely that you’re also a travel blogger/influencer/lifestyle enthusiast yourself – or aspiring to be! If that sounds like you, did you know you can monetize your Instagram too? Some people only consider it monetizing if you’re making cold, hard cash but I consider brand collaborations a form of monetizing as well. Especially if you’re working with brands that you would already be buying from. Not having to spend that cold, hard cash on it means more of that money stays in your pocket, right?
I landed my first brand collaboration 6 months into this journey with less than 10K followers and I landed my first paid collaboration 5 months later with less than 15K followers. While I’m still considered a “micro-influence” (or so says the internet), I’ve had almost a dozen different brand collaborations and was recently invited to be an on-going ambassador for a brand that I love. This means I receive quarterly gifts from them in exchange for posts instead of a one-time deal. The one thing I’ll stress when it comes to brand collaborations is to make sure it’s a brand you actually use or trust and would feel comfortable telling your followers to buy from (do you really drink that skinny tea, girl?) Also find ways to get creative about promoting them either through your actual content or through your caption. That way you’re not spamming your followers with too many forced ads that scream “I’m just doing this to get paid” and that have a more natural feel to it – something that screams “yes I enjoy using this brand and you can too!” I think I’ll write an entire blog post later on about monetizing your Instagram and working with brands but if you have any questions until then feel free to send me a DM or leave a comment below!
Hopefully this gives you more ideas on how you can pull in extra cash. Been eyeing a flight to your dream destination? Start cleaning out that closet! Think you have what it takes to be an influencer? Start working on that insta-feed and then reach out to brands with confidence! Let me know if you can relate to any of these or share your own ideas in the comments below! I’m always looking for new things to try!