From the monthly archives:

December 2010

extra money making ideasHow to make money while at home is well documented, but what about literally using your home to make money? You may not have considered it in the past, but there are some great ways to use your home, and even your car, to boost your income. Here are 5 tips for making your assets work for you:

1. Rent Out Your Spare Room
If there is a bedroom in your house that isn’t being occupied, why not think about renting it out to earn some extra cash? There are several options here, including taking in a full-time lodger, offering a room to foreign exchange students who are in the area, taking in a lodger during the week, and taking in temporary guests who might stay for a maximum of a few nights. The latter two options can work extremely well if you happen to live near an airport or train station because you can take advantage of travelers who need a place to stay.

How to do it: If your preference is to take in guests on a short-term basis, you can list on iStopOver, which is marketed towards short-term business travelers. Listing is free, but they take a 3% admin fee is someone books your room. For any of the above lodging ideas, you can also use Craigslist. Be wary of anyone that seems suspicious, and meet the potential guest before committing.

Potential downsides: Taking in a lodger can cramp your space, so it’s best to set out ground rules on things like sharing space, rent, and chores as soon as possible. Get this in writing to avoid misunderstandings. For foreign exchange students, you’ll usually have to provide meals.

2. Rent Out Your Parking Space
If you have a parking space that you’re not using, why not rent it out? In areas where parking charges are on the steeper side or in short supply, this can help you earn some quality passive income. While this can be a long-term arrangement, you can also just hire out your parking space on specific days if you live near a popular sporting or concert venue.

How to do it: Join a site like ParkatmyHouse to advertise your parking space. It’s free to register, but they do take a 15% fee once you’ve rented out your parking space and made some money from the service. To avoid these type of fees, putting up an advertisement on Craigslist or in your local paper is another option. You can also use a service like Craigslist to see what other people are charging for similar rental spaces in the area.

Potential downsides: Some people might take the opportunity to park free of charge once they know about your spare parking slot, so keep an eye on your spot to make sure no one is freeloading. Also, make sure to collect money upfront so that people don’t “park and ditch.”

3. Pimp Your Car
Some companies will pay you to display advertising on your car (known as “wrapping” your car). It’s not the most subtle option, but it’s something to consider as long as you don’t mind having the exterior of your car emblazoned with advertising. If you live in an urban area with a lot of traffic coming and going, you’re more likely to be accepted as an advertiser, but a lot depends on the type of demographic that the advertiser is trying to reach.

How to do it: Sign up at Free Car Media to find out if your profile matches the criteria that’s being sought by advertisers. If you pass the test, you’ll be contacted. DrivenMedia offers similar services. If you fit the bill and you’re successful, you can earn hundreds of extra dollars for simply driving around like you would normally!

Potential downsides: Some forms of on-car advertising can be very obtrusive and obvious. You’re not just a regular driver once you agree to the advertising – you’re representing the brand.

4. Rent Out Your Home Office
Got a home office or study that you’re not using during the day? Hire it out to a freelancer who needs a calm environment to work in. Good office space that doesn’t break the bank is often hard to come by, so you might get more takers than you think, especially with people who are just starting a business and don’t yet have their own office space.

How to do it: Ask around and see if anyone in your circle knows someone who is looking for office space, or put up an advertisement in your local paper or on Craigslist.

Potential downsides: Your new office resident will be using your electricity, so account for this in your monthly rent. Also, be sure to set the ground rules for other areas of the house where this person is allowed.

5. Offer Up Your Storage Space
Is there any spare room in your garage that you wouldn’t mind giving up? Make use of it by storing other people’s excess belongings and you could earn some nice side income.

How to do it: Do you know anyone with more belongings than they have space for? Let them know that you’d be happy to hire out your spare storage space for an affordable rate. Or, as usual, you can easily put up an advertisement in your local paper or on Craigslist.

Potential downsides: You have someone else’s stuff to keep an eye on and therefore have an obligation to make sure that it doesn’t get damaged or affected by things like water.

Last Word
Your home and car can be making you a lot more money than you may have previously realized. But before you take the plunge, make sure you understand the tax implications of these side income opportunities. Once you’ve decided which options will work best for you, spread the word as much as possible. And be sure to take advantage of free advertising by having your friends and family pass along the message and using services like Craigslist. You can also take out some inexpensive advertisements in your local paper.

Have you used your home or car to increase your income? Was it successful? If you have any tips that weren’t mentioned in this post, I’d love to hear them!

(photo credit: spentrails)

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