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Side Jobs to Help You Buy a House

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For years, Kristin Larsen spent her daytime hours working a traditional 9-to-5 job as an interior designer. But her work wasn’t done when she left the office. She spent her free time on her “side hustles” — part-time/flex-time/occasional jobs she took to earn extra cash to fulfill her dreams of getting out of debt and upgrading her house.  

“I worked on nights and weekends,” said the Nashville, Tenn.-based Larsen, who runs the Believe in a Budget website for those interested in starting side gigs. “I found opportunities that didn’t conflict with my full-time job and was able to put the money toward new countertops and remodeling small things around my home.”  

Larsen is far from alone. According to Gallup, 36% of American workers are part of the “gig economy,” which the firm describes as “a labor market characterized by nontraditional, independent, short-term working relationships.” This number includes workers with a traditional full-time job and those who have “alternative work arrangements” as their primary means of employment. Breaking it down even more, Gallup estimated that 29% of all American workers have gig jobs as their primary source of employment.

The reasons many decide to pick up a side job — including saving for a down payment on a home or paying off one’s mortgage more quickly — are as varied as the types of jobs available.

“Every day at any given time in my Dream Catchers community, there is a post asking how to find fun and lucrative side hustles,” said Tiffany Aliche, a New Jersey-based personal finance educator who runs the website The Budgetnista and Dream Catchers, a companion Facebook group. “I’ve had Dream Catchers pay off their credit cards and car loans, save for down payments for their homes, go on vacations and save for retirement.

“Take something as small as an extra $200 a week over 52 weeks from a side hustle, and that’s an extra $10,400 per year,” she added.

And who wouldn’t want an extra $10,400 a year? Or more? Even with less, every additional dollar puts you that much closer to your financial goal.

A dozen (or more) side jobs to consider

Getting started is easy, especially with the number of platforms available in the digital space to advertise your skills. Aliche and Larsen say you should start by thinking of the skills you already have and how they can be used to make extra money.

Here are some options.

  • Rideshare driver: Uber and Lyft are ubiquitous names in the rideshare industry, and interested drivers can sign up online, complete the required screenings and be ready to go in a short period of time. Pick up hours at will and consider putting aside extra time to drive when a major event comes to your town.
  • Food delivery: Maybe you don’t want to transport people around the city but you’re more than happy to bring them a meal. From Uber Eats to DoorDash, you can sign up to bring restaurant food to hungry consumers.
  • Handyperson/household helper/personal assistant: Sites including TaskRabbit are filled with requests from busy individuals who just need someone to pick up the groceries, clean their home every week or fix that cabinet door falling off its hinges. Answer the ads that fit the bill to pick up some extra cash.
  • Babysitter: If you enjoy caring for children, consider offering your services to parents who need someone to watch their little ones for a few hours or more. Families have varying needs for babysitters, from daily after-school care to an occasional date night, all of which help caregivers determine which situations work best for their schedules and availability. Potential babysitters can post ads on Care.com or UrbanSitter, among other sites. To make yourself stand out, consider gaining CPR and first aid training through the American Red Cross.
  • Pet sitter: Our fluffy friends need care, too, when their human companions are away. Sites/apps including Rover let you advertise your pet care services, including pet sitting and dog walking.
  • House sitter: Not looking to care for children or animals, but think you’d do a great job keeping an empty home in good shape? Sign up for a house sitting service and offer your assistance to owners who need someone to bring in their mail, water their plants or perform other small tasks to keep their home in shape while they’re gone.
  • Rent a room in your home: Put that extra bedroom in your four-bedroom abode to good use by listing your residence on Airbnb or another room-sharing service. Travelers who use such services enjoy the opportunity to have a place to crash for the night or longer, often for a cheaper price than a hotel. Then, you can use that extra money to help pay down your own mortgage. Be sure you are aware of local laws that may limit how you can use Airbnb.
  • Tutoring: Teachers can offer tutoring services on the weekend, for example, or work part-time for an educational company such as Kumon. English teachers may find the market for college essay coaching quite lucrative as well. Work through an existing service or advertise through schools and parent groups.
  • Start an online store: Like to knit, paint, sew, create beauty products in your kitchen, or show your creative side in other ways? Set up an online store and sell your homemade wares. “Amazon makes this easy,” Aliche said. “You don’t have to carry inventory. Just share your favorite finds and earn a percentage of what your audience purchases from your store.” Other well-known sites include Weebly, Wix, Shopify, Etsy and Squarespace.
  • Catering jobs: Someone who needs the perfect Mickey Mouse birthday cake for their little one’s mouse-themed party is looking for a great cake artist — which could be you. Or maybe you make the best cupcakes in town or homemade ethnic grub that rivals that of any restaurant. Advertise online in local Facebook groups for your region.
  • Freelance writing/editing/design: Whether it’s for a major publication, a small website or a corporation’s collateral materials, good content is always in demand. Network at local business events to find companies looking for content creators, or visit sites such as Fiverr, where such freelance jobs are advertised.
  • Virtual admin: With so many professionals working almost entirely in the online space — such as life and business coaches, consultants and bloggers — they need assistance managing their virtual paperwork. If you have a clerical background or just impeccable organizational skills, consider a job as a virtual admin, or VA. Larsen got her start this way working as a Pinterest virtual assistant for bloggers and businesses, which she later converted into a full-time career. “This didn’t exist when I started,” Larsen said about being a Pinterest VA. She started with a higher number of clients who offered small amounts of work, but as she developed her skill set, she was able to get more assignments from a smaller group of clients who ultimately paid more for her work.

The bottom line

There’s no limit to the types of part-time gigs an enterprising person can pick up to finance their dreams and goals. Getting started can be just as simple — place an ad on one of the sites and connect with someone willing to pay for your services. Larsen also suggests creating a LinkedIn or Facebook page to advertise your skills and using it to pitch to potential clients.

“Anything that proves your credentials is helpful,” Larsen said. “You don’t have to invest any money to get started.”

You can work as much or as little as you want, depending on your personal schedule. Once you’ve gotten started, put the money aside in a separate savings account, watch it grow and gather enough for the down payment on the house of your dreams. Or take your extra earnings each month and sock it to that mortgage payment. You might not see a difference immediately, but you can pay off your home more quickly in the long run with significant savings in interest.

“It’s all based on how proactive you want to be,” Larsen said.


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