Personal finance expert Farnoosh Torabi explains how you can you make extra money by renting your driveway, renting your car and sharing your opinion with focus groups around your city.
It goes without saying that we could all use some additional income these days. The trick is finding the time and figuring out where to start.
Well, if you have even just a few extra hours a week to spare and are open to some odd gigs, you're in luck. There are a lot of opportunities on the Web. In fact, that's where all of the ideas have originated from. So many of these easy jobs are facilitated by the Web, so if you have an Internet connection, you're in business more than ever!
There are some strange but easy ways to make some bonus cash.
There are a lot of Internet scams out there when it comes to making money. That said, there are ways to protect yourself from fraudulent Web sites or scammers offering jobs.
There definitely is a protocol to make sure you're working with the right company. Do some research. Go online and type in the company name and the word scam. If there is a history, there is going to be a record of that. Go to bbb.org and type in the company name and look to see if there were any issues. When you're on the site, use common sense. Look to see if it's legit. Is there a contact a phone number? An address? Call it and see if it's for real. Don't respond to sites that ask for sensitive information like your social security number or banking information. And NEVER give money to a company to reserve a job.
Make a fast five
Can you solve a Rubik's cube? Draw self-portraits? Speak with an Australian accent? If you're willing to showcase some of your eccentricities, the money's yours at one-off gig sites like Fiverr.com.
Here you'll find more than 750,000 listings for a wide range of small services, some quirkier than others. Or, create a gig of your own and name your price. Pay starts at $5 up to $150.
"It's become like a nice little permanent job, and it's opened some great opportunities for me," says Chris Ferretti, who earns up to $2,000 a month using Fiverr.com. The actor charges $5 to $65 for performing impersonations and phone pranks, and does two to three stunts a day. His most popular celebrity impressions include Alec Baldwin, James Gandolfini and Christopher Walken.
Sites similar to Fiverr.com: GigMeFive and GigBucks.com.
Recycle scrap metal
Soda cans aren't the only type of scrap metal you can recycle for money. Average appliance is made up of mostly steel, so many metal recycling facilities will pay you up for all sorts of household appliances from stoves to refrigerators to dishwashers.
Same goes for that clunker of a car that's sitting in your driveway. The average vehicle is made of 65 percent recyclable metal, and can fetch more than a few hundred bucks. Search YardQuest.com for a listing of scrap metal recyclers in your area. And RecycleInMe.com is an online marketplace for buying and selling scrap that also updates the going rate for various types of scrap - from copper to stainless steel.
Rent your driveway
Your spare parking spot or empty driveway could be an extra source of income, especially if you live in a high-traffic area, near a beach or other attractions. Try listing on Craigslist or ParkAtMyHouse.com, where parking spot owners are renting out their spaces for as much as average $100 per week. A parking spot within walking distance of Yankee Stadium here in New York, for example, could fetch you $195 per month.
According to a 2011 survey by Colliers International, the national average for monthly parking is $155.22. The most expensive areas: Manhattan, Boston and San Francisco range from $375- $541 per month on average.
Rent your car
While you're at it - rent your car, too!
And how often do you drive your car? Did you know the average car owner spends $715/month on a vehicle (including car payments, gas, insurance and maintenance), but drives it for less than 2 hours a day? That means driving it less than 9 percent of the time.
Peer-to-peer car-sharing companies like RelayRides.com, JustShareIt.com helps car owners rent their vehicles to neighbors and visitors by the hour, day or week. (Don't worry: Insurance is included, typically up to $1,000,000). Car owners can set their own rates, and the potential to make money is strong. RelayRides, for example, is in 47 states and the company says average car owners earn an average $250 a month.
Share your opinions
If you enjoy sharing your opinions about products, services or advertising concepts, you can pocket some side cash by participating in focus groups. Focus Pointe Global has research facilities across the country, where you can get paid for participating in small focus groups, interviews, and online surveys. Sessions last anywhere from an hour to several days and the pay ranges from $35 to $300, depending on the length of the session and format. Research topics are often consumer based and could include questions from shopping habits to product usage. You can find focus groups that take place online or over the phone. The best part: pay is often in cash on the spot.
You can find focus groups happening near your area at FindFocusGroups.com. The site adds between 25 and 45 new listings every weekday, with most listings added on Monday, so visit often. Every listing is selectively chosen and background-checked for legitimacy, but to be safe never give your personal information like social security number or bank account number to anyone saying they're conducting market research. If you're asked to give that information to secure the gig - let that be a red flag that something fishy is going on!
More money and business news: