The 10 Worst Ways to Make Extra Money
Having a side income can make life a lot easier. But there are some good ways to earn that side income and some seriously awful ones. I’m not talking about dirty jobs or hard work — there’s nothing wrong with sweating for your money or needing a shower after your side job. But it doesn’t make sense to slave away over something that isn’t actually going to put money in your pocket. The "opportunities" below fall into that category. (See also: Ways to Make Extra Cash)
1. Filling Out Surveys or Surfing the Web
This work isn’t particularly difficult, and it’s easy to sign up for. The catch is that you earn pennies (at most) for any survey you complete or any site you visit. Actually making enough money to make your time worth it is impossible. To make matters worse, most of these offers only pay out once you’ve earned $20, which can take months.
2. Investment Schemes
Whether we’re talking about day trading, trading in foreign currency, or other investment schemes, it’s rare to make a lot of money with these approaches — and fairly typical to lose a lot. There are a few individuals who have done quite well with various investment schemes, but that’s usually due to a combination of a lucky investment and the ability to invest quite a lot of money at once. For us mere mortals, it’s a bad bet.
3. Medical Testing
Agreeing to try out new drugs or other medical procedures for money sounds like an easy thing to do. But while there are some people who make something approaching a full-time income from being a test subject, it requires not informing one lab that you're working for another lab. That’s because being a lab rat doesn’t pay well. Of course, that’s not even considering the side effects you might experience.
4. Selling Body Fluids or Organs
While selling an organ is illegal in the U.S., selling plasma, eggs (if you’re a woman), and other bits of yourself is considered okay. It’s not particularly lucrative, though — even selling your eggs, which used to bring in a check of around $10,000, now pays closer to $3,000. Considering that there can be some major side effects, depending on how a doctor chooses to harvest those eggs, it’s not an equitable pay off. Giving plasma repeatedly can also impact your health.
5. Sign Spinner
Standing by the side of the road to draw attention to a local business, such as by spinning a sign, has a long history. Businesses have hired people to stand outside their locations and convince buyers to enter for centuries. But it’s become a less lucrative job over the years and can now rank particularly poorly, especially with the need to stand near busy streets and breathe in pollution for hours on end.
6. Renting Out Your Stuff
There are an increasing number of websites that let you rent out your car, parking spaces, a spare room, tools, or anything else you might have. But because most of these sites orchestrate short-term loans, you’re not about to raise a lot of money this way. You better have other motives for renting out your things than just cash.
7. Recycling Scrap Metal
The prices that recyclers pay for scrap metal fluctuate pretty regularly. Even when they’re good, though, it’s hard to turn recycling scrap metal into a lucrative opportunity. In order to make a sizable amount of money (think over $500), you need to turn in something like an old car or camper. Collecting old soda cans isn’t even going to earn you minimum wage, and you might get pretty smelly hunting them down.
8. Treasure Hunting
Infomercials for metal detectors promise that you’ll find all sorts of valuables while taking a relaxing stroll down the beach. But even if you take a more active approach to finding some treasure, the odds of actually finding something are slim.
9. Work-at-Home Schemes
There are plenty of lucrative ways to work from home, but there’s a particular work-at-home scam that goes around on a regular basis. Someone will post an ad offering people the chance to make money stuffing envelopes or assembling crafts at home — some sort of situation where you have to buy supplies from the advertiser before you can start making money. But when you actually do the work, the scammer tells you that your work doesn’t meet requirements.
10. Playing Video Games
There actually used to be some well-paying opportunities that went along with playing video games, like creating in-game items and then selling them for real-world money. But these days, you have to compete with players in cheaper markets who have dramatically driven down the value of most of the items you can commonly sell.
You may read through this list and think that you could make some serious money with any of these options — that you can buck the curve. But the reality is that with each of these situations, earning money is incredibly difficult. It requires more luck than it really ought to, and the odds are good that you won’t even hit minimum wage with any of these ventures. You’d be better off picking up a second job before considering any one of these options.