Job hunting is a time-consuming task, but learning how to make money fast doesn't pay a cent until you actually land a job. In the meantime, you still have to pay rent, utilities, health costs and somehow afford groceries. Unemployment benefits run out pretty fast, so there's little cushion for many of us.
I recently spent several years looking for work in my career area and learned how to make money fast while still leaving time to job hunt. It wasn't easy, but cleaning and using coupons helped me stay afloat and maintain some pride.
Here are 24 ways to earn quick cash with links to detailed instructions and useful connections. Combine several or focus on a single area, but make sure you get paid. Don't forget to file quarterly income taxes for the self-employed.
1. Human Guinea Pig
If you live near a university with a med school, you can earn anywhere from $15 to $2,000 for taking part in a clinical research study. The National Institutes of Health suggests ResearchMatch to get started and find studies that need volunteers in your area.
2. Clean Houses
No matter how bad the economy, some people will pay to avoid housework. And I'm not just talking the rich. Avoid working for a cleaning agency, where you'll get paid a maximum of $10 per hour and work like a dog. Instead, develop your own client base and put $20 to $30 per hour directly into your pocket. Granted it's hard work and requires an eye for detail, but the process goes much faster once you set up a regular schedule of clients. Page's Personal Cleaning offers a step-by-step guide to starting a housecleaning business from someone who's been there.
3. Give Blood
Some plasma banks pay up to $35 per pint. In the United States, federal regulations state that an individual may donate two times in a seven day period, with a minimum of two days in between donations. DonatingPlasma.org provides details and a searchable plasma-bank database to help you find a plasma bank in your area.
4. Walk Dogs
Do you love dogs and love spending time with them? So do lots of other people, but not everyone has the time to walk them, particularly in the middle of the day. Walking dogs is a good way to get some exercise while being paid for your time. StartDogWalking explains how to establish and advertise a dog-walking business.
5. Resell Your Unused Gift Cards
The average American household is holding on to $300 in unused gift cards. In fact, an estimated $30 billion to $40 billion gift cards lie unspent in dresser drawers across the country. But there are plenty of people who DO use budget gift cards, and they're willing to pay money for yours.
That's where you come in. You sell gift cards you're no longer using to resale companies for a percentage of the face value and they sell them at a discount price to others who will actually use those precious pieces of plastic. GiftCardGranny.com can link you up with the highest-paying gift card resellers in the industry.
You did it as a teenager so why not babysit as an adult. You'd need a license and state accreditation to provide regular child care in your home but occasional babysitting in your or a client's home requires nothing but patience and a talent for child care. Look on CraigsList under "Gigs" and "Domestic" to get your business started. The University of Illinois Extension can get you started in the babysitting business.
7. House Sit
Safety is the primary reason homeowners hire people to sit while they're out of town, but house sitters also water plants and care for the lawn, feed pets, collect mail, perform light housecleaning duties and take care of any emergency situations that might arise, like calling a plumber if a pipe bursts. Much of your work will come through referrals rather than advertising. Retirees who travel a great deal frequently need house sitters, so you can begin by volunteering your services to a friend and going from there. HouseCareers.com also can help connect you with housesitting jobs.
8. Flip Web Sites
This one takes computer savvy. Begin by searching for popular Web site topics, create a basic site on that topic then offer it to another e-commerce business involved in the same area. The idea is to build a site that has real money making potential, as well as being able to generate a good volume of traffic. You can do this by integrating elements such as GoogleAdSense, affiliate links and paid advertising into the site.
9. Sell Your Hair
Sales for generous lengths of tresses reportedly can net you several hundred to over a thousand dollars. NPR's Marketplace explains how one woman sold her hair and includes sites where you can list and market hair.
10. Deliver Phone Books
This is a fairly simple opportunity that can make anywhere between $7 and $10 per hour. You're responsible, however, for paying for gas and must have a dependable car, but the rest is provided.PhoneBooks .com can connect you to phone book delivery opportunities in your area.
11. Shop for Money
Ever wish someone would pay you to shop or try restaurants? Well, that someone is often a retail or restaurant company interested in how their employees interact with customers. You can mystery shop for everything from clothing retailers to fast-food joints to car dealerships. Check out MarketForce for opportunities and read The Penny Hoarder's guide to mystery shopping before you get started.
12. Sell Your Eggs
Donating your eggs can pay serious bank -- sometimes upwards of $5,000. The process isn't easy, however, and requires a time commitment. Check online for egg donor and surrogacy programs in your area, as well as instructions on how to select the right program for you.
People have a constant need to get things from A to B, and not everyone has a truck or car. You can earn money helping people move, remove rubbish, recycle larger items and other jobs that require a larger vehicle. It helps to have a strong back and muscles.
14. Do Odd Jobs
Canvas your community for such odd jobs as shoveling snow, washing cars, mowing lawns, weeding gardens, etc. The elderly, single mothers and busy couples may be more than delighted to have these time-consuming jobs taken off their hands. See if TaskRabbit operates in your area or check out the "gigs" section of your local Craigslist page for opportunities.
15. Monetize Your Web Site or Blog
You're already spending a ton of time on your blog or Web site. Why not earn some money from all your labor? Google AdSense and nine other sites listed on MoolaDays require little to no supervision: Once it’s there, you don’t need to do much more.
16. Human Billboard
If you don't mind dressing up like the Statue of Liberty, a chicken or some other mascot, you can earn money standing on a busy corner to wave a sign and attract clients for various businesses. Not all jobs require a costume, but you do have to be willing to work in all types of weather. You'll frequently find ads for such work on CraigsList "Jobs," "Marketing."
17. Rent Out a Room
Sharing living expenses can put more cash in your pocket. Make sure you draw up a lease agreement specifying rent, security deposit terms, length of stay, etc. This becomes even more important if you're renting to someone you know.
18. Paper Route
It's a nasty job, but somebody has to do it and it's a quick way to earn cash. Newspaper delivery is almost always performed in the early morning hours, usually by 6:30 a.m. Don't forget to check with local weekly newspapers to see if they need delivery assistance. You'll likely need a dependable car as today's delivery routes are so large you can't complete them in the time required.
19. Teach English to Adults
Check with local schools and colleges to see if they need teachers for English as a Second Language classes. Not all schools require a language-specific degree for this level of instruction. ESL.com can connect you with ESL jobs across America and in other countries. You can also find ESL jobs through LinkedIn or local job aggregator Indeed.com.
20. Sell Your Stuff
A good alternative to the yard sale is to sell your stuff on Craigslist or eBay, depending on the quality and whether you want to deal with shipping. Both sites allow you to sell nearly everything, from furniture and bikes to artwork and crafts. CraigsList is free and organized by region. Consult the CraigsList FAQ before you begin. eBay will take a cut of your profits and requires more technical savvy, but is a good outlet for collector's items, higher-end electronics, etc. Read the eBay Sellers Guide before you get started.
21. Recycle Containers
Eleven states require consumers pay a deposit on bottles and aluminum cans, but many people don't bother with returning the empties. You can gather empties at parks, cafeterias, school and athletic grounds, and on busy roadsides. The 10 states with bottle laws are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon and Vermont. For state-by-state bottle-bill details visit BottleBill.org.
22. Paint Street Numbers
It takes just paint, stencils and a willingness to walk neighborhoods to earn from $10 to $40 per curb painted. HowToAdvice.com can help you start your own curb-painting business.
23. Recycle Scrap Metal
Some salvage yards and recycling centers pay for scrap metal. You'll need a truck to lug the metal around. RecycleInMe lists scrap-metal buyers and the latest prices.
24. Freelance Work
Many easy-money stories will suggest putting your creative skills to work by freelance writing, doing design work, etc. I don't recommend this as a feasible way to make quick cash as it takes time to build up a clientele, even if you're well connected. Freelance work often pays pathetically little until you're well established and collecting paychecks can require the muscles and intimidation skills of a "Guido." For some reason, people don't place as high a value on creative skills and many have no qualms about asking you to work for free. That said, freelance work can be an excellent way to maintain your skills while developing a network for a real job. Elance has an extensive list of freelance opportunities in many different areas.